For a working-class struggle against
US imperialism's attacks on the
peoples of the Middle East

(from Detroit Workers' Voice #61, September 29, 2006,
reprinted in CV #39, Jan. 2007)

. While attacking workers here, the Bush administration is ruining the masses overseas. The US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon is the latest atrocity. Lebanese civilians were the main target of cluster bombs and other US-supplied Israeli weapons. Much of the country's infrastructure and tens of thousands of houses lie in ruins. The Israeli army thought it would steamroller through Lebanon, and the Israeli government thought that this would blackmail the Lebanese people into doing whatever Israel wanted.

. But the Lebanese masses were overwhelmingly opposed to Israel, and stiff resistance by militia forces in southern Lebanon made the Israeli invasion bog down. This has had an electric effect in the Middle East. It may cause the Bush administration and the Israeli government to think twice about plans for attacking other countries. And the present Israeli government is in trouble, as recriminations fly back and forth about what went wrong in Lebanon.

. The mass resistance in Lebanon has shown itself a force to be reckoned with. But it is still necessary for the working class there to put its stamp on the movement. Over the years, different political trends have vied for supremacy in the resistance. Presently it is Hezbollah which is leading the military resistance to Israel. The cause of repelling the Israeli invasion was just. But Hezbollah's vision of an Islamic theocracy is major problem for the masses and for the resistance. A good deal depends on whether the Lebanese working masses can develop a progressive leadership for the resistance, a leadership which unites them on the basis of their class interests and not their religious affiliation.

. Not only the Bush administration, but most of the American bourgeoisie supports Israel strongly. They see its importance to the American empire. Hillary Clinton's statement, "The United States must stand by Israel" is typical of the Democrats. Nevertheless, even today, some American working people see through what is going on in the Middle East. Locally, a number of demonstrations have taken place against the US-backed destruction of Lebanon. In Dearborn, as many as 10,000 people have demonstrated. There was a thousand-strong demonstration at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. And tens of thousands demonstrated against the US-backed Israeli aggression in Washington on Aug. 12. Though there is a UN-brokered truce now, the supposed peacekeepers of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, are not neutral. They occupy only Lebanese territory, and impose restrictions on the Lebanese people, while allowing Israel to violate the truce at will. They will be no more an obstacle to Israel deciding to go into Lebanon for a second round, than they have ever been in the past. So it's important for working people around the world to maintain their anti-imperialist solidarity with the Lebanese people and their resistance struggle.

. The problem with Israel is not that there are many Jews there. It's that the Israeli government is a theocracy, a government that gives special rights to Jews as opposed to other people. Similarly, the problem with the Islamic fundamentalist movement isn't that it organizes among Muslims, but that it stands for Islamic theocracy. Today Hezbollah is at the forefront of the just resistance to Israeli aggression in Lebanon, and Hamas is prominent among Palestinians. But the theocratic goals of Hezbollah and Hamas pose a serious danger for the resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine. For example, the fundamentalist groups involved in the struggle against the US occupation of Iraq have led Iraq into a sectarian civil war pitting Shiites and Sunnis against each other. It is important for the working class to put its own program in the forefront of the resistance movements. At one time, communist and left-wing trends based on the class interests of the working people as a whole, Shiite, Sunni, Jewish, Christian, or nonbelievers, rather than the theocratic interests of this or that religion, had strong support among Middle Eastern workers, and the time will come when this is true again.

. The roots of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon can be found in Israel's desire to maintain its oppression of the Palestinian people, whose land it has robbed. We must therefore stand with the Palestinian struggle against US-backed Israeli oppression. The only lasting solution for Israel and the Palestinians is the replacement of the discriminatory Zionist system in Israel with a democratic, secular (non-religious) state with equal and full rights for both Jews and Arabs. And the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians forcibly exiled by the Israeli authorities in the past must have the right to return to their historic homeland. In order to prevent this return and deny rights to the Palestinian people, the Israeli government continues oppressing the Occupied Territories. Today it has even imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, bombed infrastructure, and imprisoned much of the elected government of Gaza and the West Bank. We must demand an immediate end to these Israeli atrocities.

The occupation of Iraq

. Meanwhile US imperialism is directly oppressing the people of Iraq. There is massive anger among American workers about the continuing war in Iraq. Countless demonstrations large and small have taken place across the US. Disillusionment is spreading in the armed forces, and some soldiers have even fled to Canada. Bush staked his presidency on the invasion of Iraq, and the fiasco of the continuing war has been dragging him down.

. Bush claimed the occupation of Iraq would lead to freedom throughout the Middle East. But his real goal was not liberation, but domination of the Middle East and of its oil. That's why the US occupation has been met by massive opposition from the Iraqi people. The longer the US stays, the more Iraqis there are who want the US to get out.

. The leadership of the armed resistance to the occupation is dominated by fundamentalists and ex-members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, but the strength of the resistance is the mass anger of the Iraqi people at a corrupt and foreign domination. The occupation cannot even provide basic living conditions for the masses, and it has become a horror for the Iraqi people. The chaos created by the US occupation has even paved the way to civil war, as rival Iraqi bourgeois and religious hierarchies compete for power at the expense of the Iraqi masses.

. But, despite the tragic conditions facing them, Iraqi workers have been trying to develop their own class movement. For example, new trade unions have been formed, and Basra oil workers struck on August 22 and 23 in defense of their wages and working conditions. Moreover, the 23,000 workers of the General Union of Oil Employees have been struggling against a new law privatizing Iraqi oil fields. The growth of workers' organization is crucial for undermining the various sectarian and bourgeois factions in Iraq.

. The American bourgeoisie still wants to hold onto Iraq, and the bourgeois politicians haggle over how to do this. Bush wants to "stay the course", while most Democratic politicians say Bush has made mistakes, but pledge that they too would not "cut and run". The American workers should instead demand that the US gets out now, and we should focus on international solidarity with workers overseas. We should oppose not just Bush, but the whole imperialist system and its wars for domination of regions of "vital interest". And we should give special support to the Iraqi workers, who are striving to build up a working-class alternative in Iraq.

Target US imperialism, Israel's main backer!

. Working people and activists in the US have a special duty to support the peoples of the Middle East, as "our" government both occupies Iraq and is the main supporter of Israel. No matter how clear it is that the Iraqi people want the US out, the occupation continues. No matter what atrocities Israel commits, the flow of high-tech US weapons continues. Republicans and Democrats seek to secure US "vital interests" in the Middle East, and they alike cheer on Israeli aggression. Behind these parties is the capitalist class. This is a class struggle. While the American bourgeoisie drives US workers down here, it seeks to impose its will around the world. Let's help organize the working class to target the imperialist system here in the US. And let's support all attempts to rebuild a working-class movement in the Middle East.

Down with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon!
Down with US imperialist aid to Israel!
Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza!
For a democratic, secular Palestine with equal rights for Arabs and Jews!
US imperialism, get out of Iraq now!

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Last modified: February 25, 2007.
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