Israel is now using its full might to oust Arafat and drown the Palestinian uprising in blood.
On Friday, March 29: Israel launched an all-out drive against the Palestinian areas, smashing into Yasser Arafat's West Bank base, killing seven Palestinians, arresting more than 70 and unleashing a new wave of blood and destruction.
According to press reports, dozens of Israeli tanks, troops and helicopters took control of the city of Ramallah in an early morning sweep through the West Bank. Heavy clashes erupted, leaving six dead and 29 wounded, as the Israelis moved on Arafat's headquarters and raked his office with machinegun and tank fire in a declared attempt to "isolate" him.
The excuse for this act of naked aggression was the massive suicide bombing.that killed 20 Israeli civilians on the eve of the Jewish Passover festival. Israeli state radio quoted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as saying Friday's push was the start of an offensive to end Palestinian attacks that will last "at least weeks" and feature operations "on a large scale without precedent".
Our position on suicide bombings and other actions of this sort is clear. We oppose them, not for the hypocritical reasons of the leaders of the Western world, who do not hesitate to bomb and kill innocent civilians whenever it suits their purpose.
We are opposed to the tactic of individual terrorism because it is futile and counter-productive. However, terrorism is very often the response of a people driven to desperation by long years of oppression. It is the weapon of the weak against the strong, and it is a reaction against the immeasurably more savage, brutal and inhuman tactics of Israeli imperialism.
In occupying lands which do not belong to them and attempting to hold an entire people in chains for decades, Israeli imperialism - that bulwark of reaction in the Middle East - has sown the winds and is now reaping a whirlwind.
The latest events have a kind of fatal inevitability about them. We explained from the very beginning that the so-called Madrid and Oslo agreements would solve nothing. They did not concede any of the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people. The so-called Palestinian Authority was not an expression of self-determination but a cruel trap for the Palestinians, who remained completely under the control of Israel.
Now the deception has been cruelly exposed. The comedy is over, and a new tragedy begins. Israel has decided to put an end to the Palestinian Authority and eliminate Arafat.
Sharon has said that Israel would take "all the necessary measures to act and destroy the infrastructure of every terror element that exists". He blames Arafat for the wave of terrorist attacks. "The government has decided to consider Arafat, who is the head of a terrorist coalition, as an enemy, who at this stage must be isolated," Sharon said at a news conference on Friday after an all-night cabinet meeting.
But the very idea that Arafat is the mastermind behind the suicide bombings is laughable. This is complete surrealism. For many months, Arafat has lost control of the situation. Hence his desperate attempts to conciliate Tel Aviv by arresting Palestinian militants and above all his ceaseless efforts to convince the Americans that he is their man.
Arafat, in fact, had tried to head off the assault with a last-ditch appeal for an unconditional cease-fire on Thursday. But he was rewarded for his efforts by being attacked in his own headquarters which at this time of writing was under tank and missile attack
Now, according to a report on Al Jazeera TV, Yasser Arafat is standing at the ready with his gun, ready to face martyrdom. : "They (the Israelis) want me to become a prisoner or fugitive, or dead," he said. "But I tell them no, (I'll be) a martyr, a martyr, a martyr." But what the Palestinian people need is not martyrs but a leadership and a programme that can show a way out of the infernal mess. We are certainly opposed to the crushing of the Palestine Authority by the Israeli army, but Arafat and the other leaders of the PLO must bear a heavy weight of responsibility for what has happened.
Arafat had attempted to get the support of the imperialist powers against Israel. But what support can the Palestinian people expect from the European governments who have for decades cynically stood aside and watched while the Palestinians were crucified? Yes, they shed crocodile tears and wrung their hands in hypocritical protests against "violence". But they only play the shameful part of Pontius Pilate. They wash their hands but in reality are engaged in a criminal complicity. To the degree that they occasionally make noises sympathetic to the Palestinians it is with one eye placed on their oil interests in the Middle East.
Yasser Arafat has for some time been trying to get the backing of the Americans. This is blind in the extreme. Although US imperialism would like tranquility on the Middle East, and at one time was attempting to restrain Israel, in the last analysis, Washington will always back Tel Aviv because Israel remains America's only reliable ally in the region.
The idea that it is possible to eradicate terrorism by bombing and killing on a massive scale is extremely stupid. Every time Israel acts in this way, it only creates the conditions in which hundreds of Palestinian youths volunteer for new suicide bombings, against which there can be no real defence. The very day the Israelis launched their attack, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman killed herself and two Israelis in a supermarket in occupied Jerusalem. Twenty-eight people were wounded, two seriously, in the attack claimed by the Al-Aqsa Brigades, an armed offshoot of Arafat's Fatah.
The latest action will lead to more of the same. Thus, the reactionary clique that now governs Israel is placing its citizens in even greater danger. Sharon's government said it was calling up 20,000 reservists after the new escalation of the conflict. This seems to be the only kind of reaction which this narrow-minded reactionary is capable of. But a further escalation of military action will do nothing but inflame a situation that is already out of control.
The mood in the occupied territories is explosive. Israeli police stormed the Al Aqsa mosque complex after alleging that youths had thrown rocks at worshippers at the Wailing Wall below. One policeman was slightly injured and five Muslims hurt. Killings continued elsewhere, too. Four Jewish settlers were shot on the West Bank. There will be many more deaths on both sides, with the Palestinians, as usual, bearing the brunt.
Predictably, US imperialism has decided to look the other way. They cannot afford to break with Israel. But their main stooges in the Arab world are horrified. The Saudi plan which was meant to establish peace by Israel withdrawing to its pre-1967 borders in return for recognition, has been firmly rejected by Tel Aviv. The prospect of a wider conflict looms in the Middle East. The pro-Western Arab states feel the ground move under their feet.
The workers of the world must condemn the Israeli aggression against Palestine with all the power at its disposal. And the working people of Israel must ask themselves how much longer must this madness continue? Karl Marx long ago pointed out that no people can be free if it oppresses another people. The Jews were the victims of terrible oppression for centuries. Now they have been pushed into the role of oppressors of the Palestinians. Along this road no future is possible for either Jews or Arabs.
It us time to raise the voice of the international labour movement and to act decisively. Halt the aggression against Palestine! For the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces! For the self-determination of Palestine! Down with capitalism and imperialism, the real source of all wars and national oppression! For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East as the only solution to the lunacy of wars and national hatred!
March 30, 2002