Róger Calero, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York mayor, released this statement May 12.
The latest violence in East Jerusalem, Israel and the Gaza Strip highlights the necessity for the Israeli and Arab governments and the leadership of Palestinian organizations to begin immediate talks, both to end the deadly Gaza-Israel fighting and for recognition of both an independent Palestinian state and of Israel.
The spark for today’s crisis is the refusal of the Israeli government to halt attempts to evict 300 Palestinians from 13 households in Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem. Regardless of who “owns” the homes, Palestinians have lived in them since the 1950s.
While the Israeli government portrays this as a private landlord-tenant dispute, Palestinians rightly fear that allowing the evictions would open the floodgate to more, and to Israeli government refusal to ever accept East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
The Israeli police’s heavy-handed attack with stun grenades and “skunk” water following Ramadan services at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Muslim protesters outraged by the threatened evictions only made matters worse. More than 200 were injured.
Arab citizens of Israel protested the evictions and the police repression at the mosque. At the same time, small groups of Arab youth rioted in Lod, Ramle and other cities where Arab and Jewish citizens have lived together for years. They attacked a Jewish synagogue, a Yeshiva, Jewish homes and individual Jews.
Hamas, the reactionary Islamist group that rules Gaza, then fired hundreds of rockets targeting residential neighborhoods in Israel, killing at least six Israelis — two of them Arab citizens of Israel. The Israeli army retaliated, killing 56 people in Gaza, including 14 children. Shelling back and forth has continued.
My party, the Socialist Workers Party, has explained that if talks on recognizing Israel and an independent Palestine are to succeed, “there is no question that Palestinian representatives would insist on East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”
The party also insists that successful negotiations must recognize the right of Jews everywhere to take refuge in Israel in face of the global rise today of Jew-hatred and anti-Semitic violence.
Agreements in the last year of the Trump administration in which the governments of Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv provide an opening to advance this perspective.
The proposed evictions, police attacks on protesters, the anti-Semitic rioting, the deadly attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Israeli retaliation are setbacks for working people in Israel, Palestine and the region, and a threat to steps toward broader discussions.
Workers and toiling farmers in Israel, Palestine and across the Middle East need to fight for a different course. To organize and defend the class interests and solidarity of working people —whether Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, Kurdish, Turkish, Persian or otherwise, and whatever their religious beliefs — independent of all the capitalist parties and governments. The current crisis shows this course is needed more than ever.