The struggle of the Palestine people for self-determination is one of the longest in the world, probably only the Kurds have been nationally oppressed for longer.
Before World War Two, Palestinians and a long-standing Jewish community lived together relatively peacefully in what is now Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
The Jews in Europe lost six million to the Nazi barbarians during the war, out of a total of up to 70 million military and civilian deaths. Not surprisingly the traumatised Jewish survivors wanted security. The US, backed outrageously by the USSR, cynically exploited this trauma and supported the establishment of the new state of Israel on Palestinian land in 1948.
The forerunners of Socialist Party and our international grouping the Committee for a Workers’ International, argued at the time against the creation of Israel. They warned that the new state would offer no long term security for Jews as it was a state based on stolen land, guaranteeing Palestinian resistance.
Many wars later, our prediction has proven to be correct. Israel is a pro-western prop in the region, backed financially and militarily by the US. While it possesses nuclear weapons its citizens still have no security. The ideology of Zionism is used to cement the classes together by offering fake protection from the Palestinian and Arab masses.
The Palestinians remain squashed inside the Gaza Strip and West Bank or in exile elsewhere in the Middle East. Waves of conflict are guaranteed as long as the Palestinians are denied their own independent state.
However 2009 is not the same as 1948. Inside Israel, a national consciousness has developed over the past 60 years. While big industrial struggles between unions and bosses inside Israel have helped to develop a class consciousness, there is still a lot of work to do in regards to building up trust between Israeli and Palestinian workers.
This Israeli state is armed to the teeth including with nuclear weapons. The small band, individual urban guerrilla military tactics of the PLO in the past and Hamas today have not made a dent in this military power and more importantly has pushed the Israeli working class into the hands of their Zionist rulers. The exact opposite is what needs to happen.
At the moment the Israeli working class do not want to live with the Palestinians and the Palestinians want their own state, not one that includes the more numerous Jewish population.
Hillel Schenker, an editor of the Palestine-Israel journal summed this up: “There is absolutely no meaningful constituency in Israel that will respond to an international struggle for a single state. And… I doubt whether one can find such a constituency among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza either”.
The only way for the Palestinians to achieve genuine liberation is to break with the system that has created this conflict. They need to prepare the way for running their own society in a way that can guarantee decent living standards for all within it. The beginning of this process is the building of mass, democratic organisations based on the interests of both the Palestinian and Israeli workers and poor.
Only then can decision-making be taken out of the hands of competing, secretive leaders who often have vested interests, and placed in the hands of the mass of the people through electing their own representatives and making them fully accountable.
It is essential that socialist ideas are developed within the workers movement of the region. It is clear that it will not be possible to achieve a poverty-free Palestinian state on the basis of capitalism. Even in Israel, with its far more developed capitalist economy, capitalism is completely unable to provide acceptable living standards for a vast layer of ordinary people. The necessity is therefore for a socialist Israel, and a socialist Palestine, and for capitalism to be swept away in all the poverty-stricken countries of the region to create a socialist confederation in the Middle East. The democratic rights of minorities within all states must be defended, and the right of return of refugees also.
As one British socialist put it: “The solution is in the hands of the workers themselves – Israeli socialists have the very difficult task of breaking the working class from Zionist ideology and identification with the Jewish state. Socialists in the surrounding Arab states face the equally difficult task of building their forces in extremely testing circumstances while seeking to build strong links with oppositional movements in Israel.”
A single state solution will be fought against to the death by the Israeli state, backed by their own working class. A capitalist two-state solution, as pushed by the likes of US and the EU, will be a Jewish dominated state with second-class rights and standards of living for the Palestinian masses. By far the best solution for working people and the poor in the region is a socialist two-state solution.
By Stephen Jolly