Behind a smokescreen of ‘peace talks’, the brutal oppression of the Palestinian people goes on apace.
A report by Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) notes that the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem is intensifying, with demolition orders recently issued for thousands of homes in Ras Khamis and Ras Shahada, to affect over 15,000 Palestinians.
Already in the period from January to October this year, 270 inhabitants of East Jerusalem have seen their homes bulldozed, up from 23 in the corresponding period last year. Meanwhile, plans have been announced to build another 3,660 settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
These settlements are not the peace-loving kibbutzim of the liberal imagination, but armed centres of fascist provocation. Each new wave of settlement makes itself felt through a corresponding increase in acts of intimidation and economic sabotage.
To illustrate this, from 2009 to the end of August this year, a total of 38,532 olive trees, many of them hundreds of years old, were vandalised by these hooligans, who like to boast that they ‘make the desert bloom’, deliberately trashing the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers.
Just like the Nakba of 1948, the pattern of eviction of Arabs and the expansion of jewish colonisation is reinforced by a drumbeat of outright murderous violence on the West Bank, with 17 Palestinians murdered by IDF (Israeli occupation force) thugs so far this year and another 3,340 injured, a rising percentage of whom are children. Already in 2013, 1,070 children have been injured.
Meanwhile, Gaza is in dire straits. Fuel shortages have been causing power cuts for as long as 16 hours at a stretch, with an immediate knock-on effect on clean water supply, sanitation, medical services and transport. The destruction of the tunnels through which supplies could be smuggled has sparked a surge in the price of food basics and building materials.
On top of all this, Israel continues its sporadic bombardment of this vast prison camp, in between bombing Syria.
Yet despite Israel’s bombing of Gaza and continued ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, all played out to a cynical soundtrack of a ‘peace process’ in which nobody believes (least of all its architects), Washington’s humiliating retreat over Syria is creating the objective conditions for a renewed advance in the Palestinians’ struggle to regain their homeland from zionist colonisation, if only the axis of resistance can remain strong and united.
That is why it is more than ever necessary to support the steadfast resistance waged by the Palestinian people against the occupation of their homeland, whatever form it may take. Yet the sad reality is that some of that support risks being dissipated as a result of sectarian traps set by imperialism.
Imperialism in general, and Anglo-American and French imperialism in particular, has suffered a grave humiliation over the collapse of its proxy war against Syria and the related refusal of the Egyptian people to tolerate any longer the Muslim Brotherhood’s mix of austerity, rent-a-jihad and collaboration with the West.
It should come as no surprise then that, thrown onto the back foot and with splits opening up within its own ranks, imperialism should resort to the age-old colonial strategy of divide and rule, hoping thereby to limit the damage arising from this humiliation.
The same hateful strategy that was used in Iraq to try to undermine national resistance by setting sunni against shia was again employed in the attempted subversion of Syria, grotesquely portraying the elected secular and progressive national coalition leading Syria as a ‘minority sectarian dictatorship’ bent on persecuting those adhering to another faith.
Imperialism is an old dog and never gives up its old tricks. It now hopes to pull the same stunt to divide the forces working for the liberation of Palestine.
Defend the unity of the axis of resistance
Reports that the Hamas leadership is in some measure revising its previously hostile stance towards the Syrian government are, if true, most welcome evidence that in Palestine, too, imperialism will fail in its designs.
The glee manifest in imperialist circles when the Hamas leadership quit its Damascus headquarters, spoke against Hizbollah’s fraternal assistance to the Syrian army, meddled in the Egyptian revolution and gave apparent succour to the death squads spreading terror in the northern Sinai was palpable. Conversely, indications that Hamas might now be turning its back on this ruinous sectarian distraction, mending its bridges with Iran and resuming its rightful place in the anti-imperialist ranks will go down like a lead balloon in London, Washington and Tel Aviv.
However, in Britain, where workers have for so long been starved of any sense of the dialectical nature of history, these developments in the Middle East have been a rich source of confusion – even for many of those who genuinely want to fight against imperialism.
Where bourgeois propaganda already predisposes the unwary to hostility against both Syria and Iran, it is but a short step thence to mix up support for Hamas’s excellent anti-zionism with support for Hamas’s misguided antipathy towards Syria, a key comrade in the axis of resistance. Conversely, some of the strongest, most anti-imperialist elements of Palestine’s supporters may wrongly start to distance themselves from the cause, alarmed to see some Palestinians and solidarity activists coming down on the side of Morsi in Egypt and against Assad in Syria.
Saddled with an ‘anti-war’ movement that actively joins in the imperialist denigration of President Assad, and with a ‘left’ that insists on viewing the Egyptian revolution through the wrong end of a parliamentary-democratic telescope, it is not to be wondered at that rank confusion reigns even in progressive circles when it comes, for example, to evaluating the significance of Egypt’s destruction of Gaza’s tunnels.
It is clear that destroying these tunnels, so vital to the survival of the Gazan population, is an unqualified disaster. Yet those who point to the bombing of the Gaza tunnels as conclusive proof of the reactionary character of the Egyptian army should ask themselves a number of questions.
Why, if General Sisi is so pliant to zionism and imperialism as is alleged, has the United States just frozen a considerable part of its massive subsidy to his army? Should it not make us wary that the pro-zionist BBC consistently constructs a mendacious narrative about ‘Muslim Brotherhood democracy’ versus ‘army dictatorship’?
And why did the sainted Morsi himself also fail to keep the tunnels open during his year in charge?
The difference would appear to be that, whereas former president Morsi blocked access to the tunnels in compliance with the wishes of Tel Aviv and Washington, General Sisi blocks the tunnels because he fears that, in addition to importing the necessities of life to the besieged Gazans, they are also providing aid and succour to the terrorists infesting the northern Sinai and blowing up army posts.
When such elements seek to advance Morsi’s ‘democratic’ cause by, for example, stopping a busload of Egyptian soldiers, lining them up with hands tied then mowing them down in cold blood, what response could be expected from the army? And what can be said about Hamas’s judgement in compromising the tunnels in this way, gambling with the lives of the inhabitants of Gaza?
The truth is that, by having fallen for imperialism’s trickery and laying sectarian obstacles in the path of the axis of resistance, Hamas itself must bear some responsibility for the aggravated plight of the Gazan population. Its change of heart, if correctly reported, is welcome indeed – and must itself in part be attributed to the success of the Syrian people in defending their country’s independence.
Workers in the metropolitan centres of imperialism, inhabiting the belly of the beast, have a particular responsibility to give solidarity to the Palestinian resistance struggle, under whatever form it presents itself.
For the record, we have been second to none in exposing and repudiating all those who have pleaded misgivings over the ideological shortcomings of Hamas as an excuse for withholding support from the resistance and its rockets. This is so, not because we are closet islamists, but because sometimes one can discern, behind the robes of the mullah and the cadences of the Qur’an, a social content that is none-the-less anti-imperialist for being expressed in the language of theology.
It is on that basis that we have consistently supported Hamas in its struggle against zionism, respecting the resounding mandate which that combative leadership received from the Palestinian people in 2007 and seeing in the courage and initiative of their fighters a fitting reflection of the steadfastness of the Palestinian nation itself.
Nor does that support slacken now, wherever the struggle against zionism is single-mindedly pursued. May the axis of resistance stand united against the common enemy: imperialism.
Death to imperialism!