The US president, George W. Bush, has been visiting Israel today. Bush will seek to advance peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, following on from the US-hosted international peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland last November.
About 1,000 rooms in three different hotels have been booked to lodge the massive delegation. In honour of Bush, Jerusalem's municipal council has decided to shut off the lights illuminating the Old City's walls to allow Bush to see it under the natural moonlight!
On the first leg of a week-long Middle East tour, Bush was greeted on arrival by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport. "We greet you as a great friend. You towered at moments of need; you paved the road to peace," Peres said at the welcoming ceremony. "We embrace you as the leader of a great nation, which - once having secured its freedom - never tired of providing it to others."
The aim of the visit of Bush is to push forward an imperialist-based solution to the long lasting Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After decades of brutal bloodshed, whilst the national bourgeoisies proposed nothing but endless war for territory and national liberation within the entire territory of the mandatory Palestine, Bush arrives with the latest "solution" to save the ruling elites: two capitalist states under imperialist patronage.
Uzi Benziman, well-known Israeli publicist, urged Bush to advance his political plans and force it on the leaders. He wrote in Haaretz (January 9), "Your mission, Mr. President, is to shake them out of their self-defeating attitude, which accepts the current pathology as predestined. Exercise your influence and use the dependence of both sides on your country in order to motivate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to embark on talks on a final-status agreement".
Dr. Yossi Beilin MK, the outgoing chairman of the Meretz party and former justice minister and the architect of the unofficial Geneva Initiative, wrote more critically but finally endorsed the mission of Bush. "A visit in and of itself will not do the trick", claims Dr. Beilin. "Moving the parties toward an agreement within the coming year requires the presence of a permanently based and accessible apparatus that will engage in hands-on diplomacy, set timetables for achieving the goals set by Bush and try to ensure that the sides meet them".
He continues, "If Bush comes to our region with such a concrete agenda, his visit may well mark a constructive step toward peace. If, on the other hand, all he intends to do is utter his usual platitudes about the hard work that needs to be done and the courage he sees in the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, he might as well save the American taxpayers the airfare".
In fact, apart from the Communist Party and its satellite organizations, the organized Left - the ruling Labor and the opposition party Meretz - hope that any true advancement toward genuine peace will be gained only thanks to imperialist intervention. Their criticism of Bush is ambiguous; none of them wishes to spoil the marvellous show of the Texas cowboy who came to impose some order as the wannabe World Sheriff. No one is courageous enough to speak loudly against the imperialist murderous policies in Iraq, the vicious campaign against the Revolution in Venezuela, the attempt to bring about another War through ludicrous lies about the real power of the chauvinist regime in Iran. Thus, the established Left has lost all of its ability to produce an independent agenda, even a liberal one that examines critically the imperialist atrocities of Bush and its true barbarous legacy of bloody war mongering.
United front, but with whom?
The visit of Bush to Israel was criticized only by the Communist Party. However, the Stalinist leadership of this party did absolutely nothing to build a united front against Bush and arrange a mass protest rally that would challenge imperialist intervention in the region. The CP leaders have an infamous past of tail-ending the nationalist bourgeoisies, thus betraying the workers and youth. This time they had been asking people to come to the demonstration but they did not initiate any kind of collaboration with anyone. There was one exception to this on: their uncritical support given to the ruling bourgeois Fatah government, led by Abu-Mazen et al.
In the last convention of the popular front led by the CP, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash), the leaders hailed one of the Palestinian leaders who came to deliver a speech and explaining the leadership's position on the Annapolis summit. However, the only thing that the speaker, Saeb Erekat, did was to clarify why the Palestinians reject Israel's demand to recognize it as a Jewish State. As if this were the real obstacle to true peace, as if the Israeli ruling elite really wants to end the occupation, as if the pro-imperialist ruling Fatah party truly comprehends why the Palestinians will never be freed by imperialist "peace" agreement. He didn't explain how the masses could effectively remove the grip of the reactionary Hamas and Islamists from their neck. One can only wonder whether Israel's requirement to acknowledge its Jewish character would end the conflict if the Palestinian agree to it! This is really living in the world of dreams and fantasy.
The whole of the Israeli Left is trapped in the National question. On the one hand the Zionist Left leaders offer a front with imperialism to maintain the occupation and the long lasting bloodshed: on the other hand, the Stalinist leaders and their friends wish to build a united front with... the Arab bourgeois leaders! They capitulate to the bourgeois policies of Abu-Mazen, a discredited puppet of U.S. imperialism, and ignore the only true revolutionary policy advanced by Lenin and Trotsky: the independence of the working class.
As the Stalinists and the reformists do not consider that capitalism is in senile decay, as they do not see its death agonies, as they believe that socialist revolution is a thing of the past to be dealt with only in history and philosophy books, they trust the imperialists and the bourgeois order. They do not see the mobilisation of toilers in Egypt against their ruling class, or the revolutionary spirit of workers and youth across Latin America. They even refuse to read and acknowledge what the capitalist press writes: that we have entered a period of major economic decline, that the robbed and exploited slaves in Asia will not work as slaves for ever in order to eternalise the rule of the capitalist West.
But the workers in the Middle East know well that imperialism cannot bring peace and tranquillity; that Bush is a reactionary ruler that wishes to create a comfortable and US-friendly Free Trade Zone in which workers will be exploited by the world bourgeoisie and social rights, decent pensions, good working conditions and wage increases will be a sweet memory of the past. The "visionary" Shimon Peres greeted Bush and poured compliments on him as the imperialist sheriff arrived. It was precisely Peres himself that wanted to build a Free Trade Zone for capitalist exploitation and he negotiated with the Europeans to industrialize the Palestinian economy offering its supply of cheap labour. This is far removed from anything genuinely left-wing. It is a decaying, rotten leadership; and that explains why the masses feel contempt toward these scoundrels.
The workers, youth, pensioners and peasants do not want to ally themselves with world imperialism but they wish to fight for their rights, their true human rights as workers who deserve free healthcare, free education, good social services, decent salaries, wage rises and public housing. They reject a reality of instability, austerity measures, brutal exploitation and the ongoing attacks against them through anti-working class policies.
There is a way forward
Our opponents claim that the idea of socialist revolution and the alternative of socialist federation of the Middle East sound good but are utopian. They propose other alternatives. For instance, some propose an alliance with Hamas or support for Islamism as some kind of anti-imperialist tool for revolutionizing society. Others support the idea of a two-stage revolution: democratic first and socialist later. They believe that socialism at best is a distant perspective, that the era we live in is not one of wars and revolutions. They believe that although capitalism is in stagnation it will rule for centuries. Ironically, all of these people also believed in the past that Stalinism would rule for many years and most of them could not see its inevitable collapse, as a parasite on the back of the Soviet workers.
Nevertheless, when we examine the bitter struggle between Revolution and Counterrevolution in Venezuela; when we see the militancy of workers in Egypt; when we observe the mass workers' movement in Latin America, when we see how US workers are becoming antagonistic towards the ruling elites, including the Democratic Hillary Clinton; and when we observe the growth of the workers' movement in the Russian Federation - despite the brutal oppression of the Putin-led oligarchy - we can firmly state that socialism is the alternative. It is not a matter of some "future society", or "optimistic vision". It is a concrete alternative to be posed now.
The Israeli and Arab workers and youth have nothing to lose but their heavy chains. They will trust neither the policies suggested by US imperialism nor those advanced by the European Union. They know quite well that their rulers have been making deals behind their backs. There are not fully aware of what to put in its place but they understand that something is very wrong with the capitalist system. They can build genuine, revolutionary workers' unity by rejecting all forms of nationalisms, and putting behind them the bitter memories of the bloody past and the terrible mistrust that has accumulated after decades of capitalist divide-and-conquer policies.
A way forward is suggested by the workers themselves. Their labour is the key to their liberation from years of wars, bloodshed, mutual killing and nationalist hatred. They can transform their class interests into a political solution: overthrowing the ruling exploitative leaders and elites and building a socialist federation of the Middle East in which cultural and national autonomy will be given to all ethnic and national minorities.
Since socialism is the only alternative to the brutal murderous sheriff from the White House, we raise the unblemished banner of Marxism as the real way out from so many years marked by terrible warfare, bloodshed, ethnic conflict and bereavement and sadness of so many families who have lost their dear ones on both sides of the divide.
Down with imperialism and imperialist pseudo-peace pacts!
No more imperialist wars and bloodshed!
No to nationalism, fundamentalism and chauvinism!
Hands off Venezuela!
For socialist federation of the Middle East!
For Jewish-Arab workers' fraternity!
January 9, 2007
- The Middle East, Annapolis and the Palestine problem: More talks about talks by Alan Woods (December 6, 2007)