The Middle East - The Explosion Has Come

We received this article yesterday evening. It was written as the situation between Israel and Lebanon was escalating. The Israeli ruling class has decided on war to "solve" its problems. In reality it is opening up even greater problems destabilising the situation even further. The crisis of Israeli capitalism is dragging the peoples of the region to fratricidal war.

This morning, Hezbollah militants attacked Israeli forces in the Lebanese border. The militants attacked two Israeli Hummer jeeps, wounded several soldiers, killed seven, and kidnapped two. Several Katyusha missiles were fired at several villages in the Upper Galilee.

We Marxists have been saying for a long time that the Middle East is a powder keg ready to explode. The contradictions are widespread, with the Israeli imperialist ruling class constantly provoking Iran, Syria, and the Palestinians in order to get an excuse to wage war against the people of the Middle East, so as to silence domestic opposition to its policies. A little over two weeks ago, Israel began a campaign of terror in the Gaza Strip, destroying bridges, knocking out power stations, and murdering civilians. There have been several clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters in which tens of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers have been killed.

The attack by Hezbollah was, despite preposterous claims by pro-imperialist commentators, in response to Israeli aggression in Gaza. No rational person could doubt this. As explained in past articles, the recent so-called "terrorist" attacks against Israel - in reality legitimate, if ineffective, guerrilla operations - were entirely provoked by Israeli aggression. Israeli forces have been targeting civilians while the Palestinian guerrillas had only attacked military targets. Hezbollah hasn't attacked Israel once since the pullout from South Lebanon by the Barak government in May 2000 up until this recent attack. To try and claim that these two things are completely unrelated is truly worthy of these reactionary propagandists.

In spite of all this, Israel took the opportunity to launch a massive assault against Lebanon, blaming the collaborationist, pro-American government for this attack. It is using the excuse that the Lebanese government is responsible for any attacks that are launched from its territory. Israel has divided Lebanon into several fire zones. Israeli naval and air forces, as well as ground forces, are "scanning" for Hezbollah agents - in reality attacking Lebanon and terrorizing the population.

It is becoming clear that much like in the case of Gilad Shalit, this kidnapping too could have been avoided. Again, the Israeli Defence Forces decided to sacrifice common soldiers in order to get an excuse to attack. Many are asking how did a small group of Hezbollah fighters manage to cross the border and ambush Israeli soldiers? Labour MK Yuli Tamir has already mentioned that there was prior knowledge that something like this could happen in an interview to Channel 2 News. Some left-wing commentators have mentioned that the generals might have allowed this attack not only to attack Lebanon but also to avert any further cuts to the defence budget (Several weeks ago, the defence budget was cut by half a million shekels - a tiny amount, although still opposed by Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who had previously promised to cut this budget in order to raise the welfare budget). Also, another question that has been raised is, why did Israeli forces only begin attacking hours after the kidnapping?

Hezbollah and Nasrallah's Speech

Hezbollah is an organization born out of popular resistance to the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon in 1982. It is a reactionary organization, basing itself on an Islamic fundamentalist doctrine similar to that of the Iranian regime. It has been responsible for many acts of guerrilla warfare against the Israeli army in Southern Lebanon. Despite its reactionary ideology it has focused on guerrilla warfare (as opposed to terrorism) and has even condemned several terrorist attacks, including 9/11.

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader, made a speech a short while ago [this is being written in the afternoon of the 12th of July]. He said that the attack's purpose was to force Israel to free several Lebanese prisoners held in Israel. He said that although Hezbollah is willing to make an exchange and to accept a cease-fire, it is also prepared to defend itself should Israel attack. He is not bluffing - Hezbollah is a powerful organization, rooted in the Southern Lebanese population, and can certainly fight the Israeli army.

Nasrallah is not a revolutionary and therefore did not appeal to the Israeli masses or to the masses in the rest of the world. He appealed to the Israeli government, to the European parliament, and to the Lebanese ruling class to form a "national government". His perspective is that of a nationalist and the sort of struggle that he wages is that of a petit bourgeois guerrilla and not of a proletarian movement. However, Hezbollah expresses the genuine anger of the Lebanese masses at the reactionary Israeli government and its repression of Palestinians. It did not attack civilians but soldiers. The moralistic indignation is out of place and is truly the work of hypocritical bourgeois reactionaries.

Nasrallah is quite willing to release the prisoners. Had the Israeli government actually cared for these common soldiers, it would be negotiating the release of prisoners with him as we speak. However, the Israeli government represents not the Israeli people but the Israeli bourgeois and its imperialist aspirations. It will attack, and Hezbollah will counter-attack, and the bloodbath will continue. Had Nasrallah appealed to the Israeli masses, he could have prevented this attack and even brought them to his side. As he represents not the Lebanese proletarian masses but petit bourgeois Islamic reactionaries, he will not do this either.

An 'Emergency Government': Bringing the Extreme Right In through the Backdoor

The conservative Likud party and the extreme right nationalist Israel Beiteinu took the initiative of proposing the formation of an "emergency government", a broad national government of sorts, which was warmly greeted by Kadima and right-wing Labour MKs. Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu said that he prefers to support the government from the outside, however most Likud leaders said that they are willing to join the government. The semi-fascist NRP/National Union stated that it is willing to join the government unconditionally in return for massive action in Gaza and Lebanon.

The right wing is certainly scheming to corner the government or at least try and take it over in order to topple it and regain its lost power. There have been talks of firing Labour chairman Amir Peretz from his position as Defence Minister and replacing him with an ex-General, something that has caused many Labour right-wingers to favour this initiative as well, not to mention the Kadima leaders. If this succeeds then the Israeli ruling class will force an unpopular government on the Israeli masses. Although we Marxists acknowledge that the presence of social-democratic leaders in bourgeois governments is not beneficial, but harmful to the interests of the workers, we have no doubt that a government of the right wing and the extreme, semi-fascistic right, can only make matters worse.

Such a government would combine an aggressive foreign policy with an aggressive social policy, i.e. it would attack beyond the borders of Israel while continuing the onslaught on the social rights of workers in Israel. In the short term this could have a demoralising effect, but eventually it would clarify where the classes stand and would force the workers in Israel to come out fighting against their own class oppressors.

The most telling statement regarding this was from Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman. Liberman said that he is willing to enter the government and that he thinks that a government in the style of the one that was set up in 1967, prior to the Six Day War, should be formed. The subtext is clear: the Israeli ruling class is preparing an all out war of conquest.

A Way Out

While this article is being written, we are constantly receiving news regarding the situation. In every respect, recent events completely confirm our perspectives regarding the Middle East. The Israeli ruling class has gone to war in order to further repress both the Israeli workers and the Palestinian masses. The reactionary Arab regimes can only help it by issuing more provocative statements. They are incapable of making any class appeal to the Israeli workers because they fear the workers of whatever nation, starting with their own that they are oppressing. The degeneration of capitalism on a world scale has brought on this disaster. Only by replacing it with socialism can we hope for a better future.

Israeli society is not one bloc. There is the Israeli imperialist ruling class, but there are also the workers and the poor, who suffer from the government's policies. They were fooled by bourgeois politicians into believing that this government represents them. They are angry, and they do not trust their government. We believe that at the moment, the majority of Israelis do not support the actions of their government.

In this context it would be worth mentioning an incident from today. When two reporters from Channel 10 News discussed Olmert's refusal to free Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldiers, they said that this policy only leads to more destruction and in fact polemicised against Olmert's reactionary policy, though of course in a half-hearted manner. The Israeli media has always been extremely reactionary - which means that if they are forced to say these things this definitely reflects popular opinion regarding this subject.

We are going to go through a very hard period. It is possible that the government for a period will be able to whip up reactionary sentiments within Israeli society. Though this war will very likely be very brutal, in the end we are certain that our analysis is correct and that the Israeli working class will, sooner or later, rise against this bourgeois regime. In Russia, just before the 1905 revolution, most Russian workers had succumbed to the chauvinist position of the regime. The same was true for most European countries during World War I, but within just a few years by the end of the war there was a revolutionary wave everywhere, with its high point being the Russian revolution. We Marxists will do all we can to alert the Israeli and Palestinian masses to the dangers of war and to the need for class unity, internationalism and socialist revolution.

No to imperialist war!

No to nationalist massacres!

For a socialist revolution and the setting up of a Socialist Federation in the Middle East!

July 12, 2006

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