Detroit Workers' Voice #30

. The following two articles, "Solidarity with the Palestinian people!" and "G-8 energy ministers in Detroit plot new deregulation disasters" are from Detroit Workers' Voice #30, May 1, 2002, which is published by the Detroit Marxist-Leninist Study Group. It is reprinted in Communist Voice, vol. 8, #2, issue #29, June 20, 2002,

Solidarity with the Palestinian people!

Down with Sharon's massacres!


. On March 29 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) began an invasion of the Palestinian towns and refugee camps on the West Bank. They claimed to merely be rooting out some terrorists, but they took the entire Palestinian people as their enemy. They regard everyone who fights against them as a terrorist, and every civilian as a supporter of terrorism. They put the whole population of towns under 24-hour curfew for days at a time. They have destroyed block after block of houses, and bulldozed whole neighborhoods into rubble. They have acted with intentional brutality in order to terrorize the population into submission: wounded people have been left on the streets to bleed to death; bulldozers have pushed houses down on top of their residents; and Israeli soldiers have used Palestinian civilians as human shields. In many places, they rounded up all males between 15 and 40, stripped them, and removed them for questioning and torture.

. Sharon ordered this offensive in order to destroy as many of the institutions of Palestinian national life as possible. The Palestinian economy, poverty-stricken as it is, has been brought to a halt. Houses, factories, vehicles, offices, and water lines have been smashed; jobs are gone; and starvation threatens, The Israeli government had been bombing one office of the Palestinian Authority after another for months prior to the invasion, and in the last month it sought to complete the destruction at one stroke. It even destroyed the ministries of statistics and education, thus laying the grounds for denying Palestinian claims to have gone to school or owned land on the West Bank.

. The Palestinians, both fighters and civilians, have taken many casualties, but they have not been subjugated. IDF troops met protracted resistance in a number of towns and in the Jenin refugee camp. There are tales of heroism from all over the West Bank, concerning fighters and civilians alike. The intifadeh has not been extinguished, but it is gaining new support. A wave of anger is sweeping the Occupied Territories and the Arab world.

Bush and the Democrats back Israeli aggression

. Originally, after his election, the Bush administration stood aside from negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authority. But this didn't mean that Bush was neutral. The billions of dollars of US aid to Israel never stopped; and the US-Israeli military cooperation never stopped.

. Today Bush talks of seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but has given Sharon a free hand to devastate the West Bank. He called for Israeli withdrawal, but he then interpreted the blowing up of one Palestinian town after another as "steps to withdrawal". Meanwhile the congressional Democrats have called for Bush to take an even harsher line against the Palestinians.

. This bipartisan consensus backing Israel is not because pro-Israeli PACs like AIPAC give money to politicians. It is because support for Israel is a key part of US imperialist policy in the Middle East. US imperialism regards the Middle East and its oil as an area of "vital US interest". Israel provides a continual pressure against other Middle Eastern countries. Since its formation, Israel has always coordinated its policy with one or another Western imperialist policy. As a result, today many ultra-conservative fundamentalist Christian politicians support Israel.

. Thus the brutality of Sharon's current offensive is an indictment not just of Israeli zionism, but of US imperialism as well.

Who supports the Palestinian people?

. If US imperialism is no friend to the Palestinians, what about the Arab governments? They talk a lot about the Palestinians, but they do little. It is the Arab working masses who have gone into the street and demonstrated against Sharon's offensive. Reactionary governments like that of Saudi Arabia have put forth a peace plan because they are afraid that they may be overthrown by their own people.

. It is the working masses around the world who are the real friends of the Palestinian people. The Arab masses are the most immediate support for the Palestinians, and their action is feared by both Arab governments and the imperialist powers. But many common people everywhere are shocked at Sharon's genocidal frenzy against the Palestinians. A number of Jewish workers have also been horrified, even inside Israel itself. Jews have been prominent at demonstrations against Sharon in the US. And hundreds of IDF reservists, the "refuseniks", refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories.

. This is a time to go among the workers and rally them to the side of the Palestinian people. The majority of the workers aren't yet clear on either imperialism or the situation in Palestine, but a ferment is beginning. The success of the April 20th demonstrations in Washington, DC and San Francisco shows that more people are getting angry at this or that aspect of Bush's "war on terrorism". It shows that Bush's policy on Israel is especially hated. It is the working people who will provide the best base for future work on this issue. It is in their class interest to oppose imperialism, just as supporting imperialism is in the class interest of the big oil and other capitalist interests who finance both the Bush-ite Republicans and the Congressional Democrats.

For the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people

. The root of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is based in the very existence of Israel as a zionist state, where Jews have privileged rights over non-Jews. This depends on the continual oppression of the Palestinians. If there were a vote of all the people of the area, the expelled Palestinians as well as the current inhabitants of Israel/Palestine, Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state. To obtain a zionist majority in this region, it was necessary to expel the large majority of the Palestinians in 1948 when Israel was established. To keep this majority, it is necessary to give citizenship to any Jews from any part of the world, while denying the "right to return" to expelled Palestinian families. It is necessary to make Israeli Arabs into second-class citizens, while denying any rights to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, to destroy their institutions, and to force as many to leave as possible. Sharon is a particularly blood-thirsty leader, but all Israeli governments have followed the same basic policy of denying rights to the Palestinians.

. The only democratic solution to the problem would be to merge the region now divided into Israel and the Occupied Territories into a democratic state, where no religious group has special privileges. This would provide the right to self-determination to the Palestinian people, who would be the majority in such an area. The Jews who either lived in Palestine prior to 1948, or who have since emigrated to Israel, would also be citizens in such a Palestine. This would not only provide a durable peace, but the fastest integration of Jewish and Arab working people.

. It is a fundamental democratic principle that no state should be based on religion. Religious belief (or lack of it) should be a private matter. There should not be a Jewish state, an Islamic state, a Buddhist state or a Christian state. Democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere requires eliminating all such theocratic states.

The mirage of the two-state solution

. But US imperialism isn't interested in a democratic solution. Its interest lies in dominating the Middle East and its oil, and it finds the existence of Israel useful to this aim. Thus Bush has stated repeatedly that the cornerstone of US policy towards the Palestinians is to preserve the Israeli state.

. So the diplomats aren't talking about a democratic solution. They take it for granted that a Jewish theocratic state is to remain, and that the majority of the Palestinians will stay exiled. Once again they are making vague promises about a two-state solution, and even Bush has joined the game. There may be a mini-state in the Occupied Territories if Israel is given enough guarantees of its security. The wishes of the Palestinians aside, the "two state" solution has never meant two equal states, neither in territory nor in rights. Israel is to have a monopoly of tanks and aircraft, while the Palestinians are to entrust their security to the Israelis. In the name of Israeli security, the mini-state will be an Israeli protectorate, stripped of any real power, possibly not even over its water supply, its borders, and its immigration policy. And Palestinian families will still be divided, with some members living in Israel, some in the mini-state, and some still exiled abroad.

. Meanwhile Israel is pondering what it calls "separation". Under this plan, Israel would unilaterally create its own "two-state solution". It would annex more of the Occupied Territories, build a wall around the rest, and withdraw from the walled-off area. The Palestinians wouldn't get a state, but a non-state, consisting of several walled-off enclaves, and they would live under constant threat of more IDF incursions.

. Any new two-state plan would have to surmount the same obstacles that sunk the Oslo agreements of 1993, which were also supposed to result in a Palestinian state. Under Oslo, there was an end to the direct military occupation of part of the Occupied Territories. But right from the start, Israel kept building more Jewish-only settlements, and dragging its feet on withdrawal from the West Bank. It's been a decade since Oslo. And still today there's no Palestinian state. Instead there are Israeli tanks rolling over the West Bank cities, and Israel is trying to wipe out the limited Palestinian Authority set up as a result of Oslo. And so the first intifadeh, which Oslo was intended to end, has been replaced by the second.

. If a Palestinian mini-state does come into being, there would still be need for further struggle for Palestinian rights. The division of Israel/Palestine into two states would continue the present system of religious apartheid. The form of the struggle would change. Class divisions among Palestinians will sharpen, just as they did under Oslo. Palestinians workers and would-be capitalists would increasingly quarrel over what the mini-state should do with the meager resources at its disposal. But at the same time, Israeli harassment, and the struggle against it, will also continue.

Palestinian resistance

. The ferocity of the IDF's invasion of West Bank cities has been matched by the persistence of the Palestinian people. The IDF was afraid to engage in hand-to-hand fighting with the Palestinian fighters. It couldn't dislodge them from the refugee camps and towns of the West Bank without flattening whole neighborhoods and holding entire cities hostage.

. But the Palestinian resistance faces a crisis of orientation. The new Israeli tactics; the destruction of so much of the West Bank; the assassination of so many leaders by Israel; the pent-up dissatisfaction with the Palestinian Authority; and the dire economic situation has led to the views of many of the existing groups being questioned. This is a time of realignment among the Palestinian masses.

. The Palestinian Authority has been led by Yasser Arafat and his associates. Arafat may have stood up to Sharon's tanks, but he also makes one deal after another to jail Palestinians and suppress anti-Israeli protest. He seeks to obtain a Palestinian state by wheeling-and-dealing with the Arab bourgeoisie and the big powers. He has represented the would-be Palestinian bourgeoisie. His administration has been autocratic and unconcerned with the needs of the poverty-stricken masses.

. The fundamentalist groups have been trying to fill the vacuum left by the Palestinian Authority. They would like to replace Jewish theocracy with Islamic theocracy. This expresses their general idea of fighting against Jews, instead of against theocracy.

. The secular groups of fighters are at a crossroads. While many won't directly flout Arafat, they increasingly follow their own direction. The growth of such action is crucial for the Palestinians. But these groups haven't put forward a different class orientation from Arafat. But it is precisely the development of a movement that recognizes the antagonism between the class interests of the toiling Palestinians and the interests of the bourgeoisie of all countries, that is essential. How these groups evolve, and whether a class- conscious trend grows within the Palestinian resistance movement, will have a big influence on the evolution of the Palestinian struggle.

. The increase in bomb atrocities against random Jewish civilians has been a result of the extreme desperation of people whose lives have been utterly crushed, and who no longer have faith in any other method of struggle. They are victims of atrocities from the IDF, which is responsible for the large majority of civilian killings in the region, and they have decided to reply in kind. These attacks are harmful. Each bomb shows that the feeling of class solidarity among workers of different backgrounds has been swamped by the nationalist hatreds by Israeli occupation and by the murderous savagery of the IDF.

Solidarity with the Palestinian people!

. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict might have been resolved long ago if the Israeli government hadn't been backed by US imperialism and other big powers. The Palestinians face the weight not only of Israeli intransigence, but of US economic, military and diplomatic pressure. This shows that this struggle is likely to be a long one, and that the Palestinian people need the support of other peoples. It is important for American workers to render them support. The bourgeois parties aren't going to do this. Indeed, exposing what US imperialism is doing in the Middle East helps discredit the bourgeois parties and encourages struggle here against the exploitation of our own American bourgeoisie. We should expose the lies about the Palestinian struggle. The main massacre of civilians in Israel/Palestine is from the IDF. We must show the root of the present violence in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the root of the entire conflict in the denial of the right to self- determination of the Palestinian people. We should oppose the persecution of Palestinians and other Arabs in the US, which is being stepped up under Bush's "war on terrorism".

. We should demand an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the removal of the Jewish-only settlements, and an end to IDF incursions on Palestinian towns. We must also demand the "right to return" for Palestinians, an end to the second-class status of Israeli Arabs, and an end to Israeli dictation over Palestinian institutions. We should recognize that a Palestinian mini-state with mini-rights, although better than direct Israeli military occupation, is a mockery of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. A democratic and lasting solution requires the creation of a single, democratic, secular state embracing the region of both present-day Israel and the Occupied Territories.

. We should give support to the struggle to build up a class-conscious trend in the Palestinian resistance, separate from either the fundamentalists or the secular bourgeoisie led by Arafat. And we should encourage the Jewish dissenters in Israel to oppose not only the oppression of the Occupied Territories, but the maintenance of a zionist theocracy as well.

. The struggle should be developed on an internationalist basis. While exposing the Israeli government, we must debunk notorious anti-semitic forgeries like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and ridicule holocaust revisionism, which denies the Nazi massacre of the Jews in World War II. Anti-semitism deflects the struggle away from fighting imperialism, and prevents unity among workers of all religions and nationalities.

. Solidarity with the Palestinian people is an important part of opposing US imperialism. It builds unity between American workers and peoples around the world oppressed by US imperialism, its allies such as the Israeli government, and US-backed local bourgeoisies. And it helps undermine the Bush administration's drive for more wars and more repression.

Down with Israeli occupation!
Freedom for the Palestinian people!

G-8 energy ministers in Detroit plot new deregulation disasters


. The energy ministers of the eight influential western capitalist countries are meeting on May 2-3 in Detroit. Their aim is to step up the privatization and deregulation of energy. Their concern isn't to ensure energy to working people at reasonable prices, or to cut Green House gas emissions. The most important thing on their minds is to increase the stock prices and dividends for big oil and big energy around the world.

. The neo-liberal agenda is leading to disaster in energy. Energy deregulation in California produced shortage in the midst of plenty. An entire state was subjected to sky-high prices for the benefits of a few oil and energy monopolists, such as Enron. And then it turned out that one of the main profiteers, Enron, having squeezed billions out of California, went bankrupt anyway. The money Enron squeezed from the masses didn't even go to the energy infrastructure, but to speculation and financial swindling. This is neo- liberal energy policy in action! But it is of no real concern to the G-8. For them, it's full speed ahead for deregulation.

. As the G-8 meets, the agony of Argentina continues. True, this isn't due to energy, but to the overall neo-liberal policy that was foisted on Argentina. The same privatization and deregulation which the energy ministers want for energy, was applied to everything in Argentina. Argentina was a poster child for the IMF. And neo-liberalism has managed to turn the most prosperous country in Latin America into a basket case. But this too hardly fazes the G-8 energy ministers. Hey, you can't make ever- increasing profits without breaking a few eggs, in this case, a few million eggs, the entire livelihood of half the population.

. Just a couple of weeks prior to this energy meeting, a document leaked from the European Union (EU). Europe may have more social programs than the US, but the capitalists have the same things on their mind there as here. This document showed that the EU was going to demand extensive privatization of public monopolies around the world, including energy, as the price for giving up its own protection of agriculture. (The US, Japan and Europe have preserved much of that same protectionism whose elimination they demand of others. ) So the EU may be in a small trade war with the US, but it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the US on the issue of global neo-liberalism.

. We cannot rely on one section or other of the capitalists, whether pro-Bush or squabbling with Bush, whether free trade or protectionist. The struggle against neo-liberalism must be waged as a class struggle. While opposing energy deregulation, our goal must be not to restore the old-style capitalism, but to build the class struggle against the bourgeoisie. <>

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Last changed on May 27, 2002.