Palestinians gather around West Bank building that was attacked by Israeli helicopter gunships firing missiles July 31. Tel Aviv has stepped up and intensified military assaults in preparation for a war to try to crush Palestinian fight for self-determination.
Such an assault will have ramifications across the Mideast, including the potential for Israeli military attacks against Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and possibly Iraq. Every government in the Middle East sees war approaching and is preparing militarily.
The Israeli rulers are preparing for a war that would be--as they have done in previous wars--a rapid, punitive onslaught using overwhelming force, in order to impose "peace" on their terms before any opposition can develop at home or abroad.
Growing layers of the ruling classes in Washington and the European imperialist powers are weighing in on the side of their cohorts in Tel Aviv, taking the position that the only way to bring "peace" is to wage a quick and brutal war against the Palestinians, out of which a new "settlement" can be established, possibly capped off by United Nations blue-helmeted troops coming in. As always, Washington, Paris, London, and Berlin let Tel Aviv do their dirty work against the Palestinians and Arab masses for them. And the U.S. and British rulers are already doing their part to prepare for war through the stepped-up bombings of Iraq this past week.
The Militant encourages working people who are resisting the employer and government attacks in the United States and elsewhere to begin speaking out and acting against this accelerating war drive, explaining the results and direction of Tel Aviv's military assaults, and bring the truth about the historic struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and a democratic, secular Palestine to as many workers, farmers, and youth as possible. Such a campaign can help combat the numbing effect that the step-by-step escalation of the conflict by the Israeli regime can have on working people.
Organizing now to get out the truth about the Israeli government's assaults and war plans, holding public educational forums and speakouts, planing protest actions that can rally the broadest possible forces in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and campaigning to expose the root cause of the conflict--the refusal of the Israeli ruling class to grant the demands of the Palestinian people for self-determination and to withdraw from the territories it occupied in earlier wars of conquest--can have an impact among working people and ensure that this assault does not go unanswered. In this effort, Pathfinder books, the Militant, and Perspectiva Mundial are invaluable tools through which thousands can learn the history and working-class approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Elements of the war drive
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has built up a sizable majority to back an Israeli war. Unable to crush the Palestinian resistance or to impose a settlement short of the aspirations of the Palestinian people, they are headed once again to defend their imperialist state by military means. Concrete elements of the acceleration of the war drive include:
Sections of the Israeli and U.S. ruling classes began heading in the direction of imposing a settlement through war following the collapse of the sham "negotiations" organized by U.S. president William Clinton in the final months of his administration. Since then, U.S. official responses to Israeli military assaults on the Palestinians have become more and more muted; many are explicitly sympathetic to the "need" for Tel Aviv to "respond" to Palestinian resistance. The degree to which Washington has no alternative to offer can be seen in the fact that a much-publicized trip by U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell to Israel in June produced no change in Israel's preparations for war.
Response in Mideast
As in its wars against the Palestinian and Arab peoples in 1967 and 1973, the impending assault by Tel Aviv may also be directed at Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. Although none of the pro-imperialist regimes in those countries seek a confrontation with Israel, any one of them could respond in self-defense to threats from Israel or in order to appear to be aiding the Palestinians.
The Egyptian government is massing its Third Army on the edge of the Sinai Peninsula. Syria has moved to assert its military prerogatives in Lebanon to prepare for war. Expanded ties have recently been opened between Damascus and Baghdad. And the Iraqi regime itself could respond militarily. And while Washington prevented Tel Aviv from striking Iraq during the 1990–91 imperialist war against the Iraqi people--even though Scud missiles were fired at Israel by Baghdad--this time there is no massive U.S. military presence in the region capable of overwhelming military action against Iraq. Air raids by the Israeli regime against Iraq would add another destabilizing factor in any war.
Tel Aviv's military response to any perceived threat from its neighbors or Iraq would be swift and disproportionate. The Israeli ruling class hopes to deal its blows to the Palestinians and Arab governments quickly, ending the war before protestations slowly start to come out of Washington and other imperialist centers and calls for UN blue helmets to be deployed increase.
For a democratic, secular Palestine
The state of Israel is a death trap for the great majority of Jewish people who live there. The present and future perspectives of those driving toward war illustrate that fact. This state serves only the interests of the tiny minority of superwealthy capitalists who are its ruling class, and the ruling classes in other imperialist countries. It offers working people who are Jewish only more insecurity, permanent conflict with the Palestinians, and frequent wars with other countries in the region.
The perspective of a secular and democratic state in the region--a slogan put forward by the Palestine Liberation Organization in the period of its rise--points the way forward for Palestinians, Jews, and all working people in the region. Around such a demand, they can unite against their common exploiters and class enemies: the Israeli rulers and their imperialist allies.
The immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces is an elementary step toward ending the bloodshed, and a prerequisite for the formation of a contiguous and independent Palestinian territory--itself a necessary step in the struggle for a democratic, secular Palestine. Such moves would get the jackboot of the Israeli police and armed forces off the Palestinians' necks, and give them space and time to discuss their situation, to win new allies, including among working people in Israel who are Jewish, and to organize the next steps in their fight.
Israel out of occupied territories! Self-determination for the Palestinian people! For a democratic, secular Palestine! Stop the Israeli assaults!
Israeli regime steps up assault as Middle East girds for war
Israel's wars against Palestinian liberation
U.S., British planes bomb Iraq in stepped-up attack
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