[Note: the articles in this series were written for a new pamphlet that you can pre-order from wellredbooks.co.uk. Starting from next week, we will publish them on socialist.net. Some of the articles will also be uploaded in expanded form on marxist.com soon.]
Deep cracks have begun to emerge within the Israeli regime. The 2023 legislative reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – which would clip the wings of the Supreme Court, undermining its ability to overrule legislation decided in the Knesset (parliament) – have pitted the government against the majority of the Israeli ruling class.
The plans have since been stalled, under enormous opposition from the upper echelons of Israeli society.
This bizarre spectacle was explained rather candidly in Haaretz in an article titled “Bibi’s Blunder: He’s Made Enemies With Israel’s Elite”. In this, the guise of ‘democratic’ concern is dropped entirely, as it explains that the flagrant ‘power grab’ was not to be tolerated by “the high-tech leaders, bankers, economists and business people”.
It is a dangerous gamble for different sections of the ruling class to be locking horns so brazenly. After all, the bosses forcing a government retreat, no matter how despised that administration is, reveals who really holds the power in society.
The protests have so far had an overwhelmingly liberal, pro-Zionist character. They treat the ‘rule of law’ as sacrosanct, and generally approve of the role the Supreme Court plays in the dispossession of Palestinian land and the continued occupation.
In spite of this, the fact that half a million flooded onto the streets, in a country of nine million, is significant. On the one hand, it shines a spotlight on the divisions at the top; and on the other, it indicates a deep ferment in society, especially amongst the middle classes.
Underwriting this is a deep economic malaise in Israel, which is one of the most unequal societies in the advanced capitalist world, and has dynamite built into its very foundations.
This whole debacle has massively undermined the credibility of the Israeli establishment. The consternation about the direction that the Netanyahu coalition is taking Israel has ricocheted around the world. The Zionist international network was rock solid only a few years ago, reaching its peak with the Trump administration. Now it has fallen from such heights, with even the Zionist lobby in the US deeply divided and embarrassed at the problems Netanyahu has caused, and applying pressure on the Biden administration to clean up the mess.
Netanyahu opposes the rule of law for his own personal, criminal reasons. But the gallery of crooks he has called upon – ranging from the deranged to the deadly – fundamentally expresses the total deadlock at the Knesset, and the fragility of the political landscape.
Indeed, the far-right fringe – epitomised by Itamar Ben-Gvir, the current minister of National Security who was turned down from the IDF on the grounds of his extreme political views – has become the mainstream. This is already having huge ramifications in regard to the Palestinian question.
Nakba never relented
This year has marked the bloodiest start in the conflict in decades. In April, thousands of armed Israeli settlers took to the streets in the Nablus area to demand the continued occupation of the West Bank. Just down the street from this reactionary carnival you will find Huwara, a Palestinian town that has been plagued by pogroms at the hands of these thugs.
Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister (and a self-described ‘fascist homophobe’), stated that Huwara should be “wiped out” after two settlers were shot in the Palestinian territories.
He then had to volte-face when Netanyahu publicly reprimanded the settlers, reminding them it is the job of the IDF to terrorise Palestinians, and to not to take such matters into their own hands. But Ben-Gvir, a proud settler who lives in Hebron, welcomed the protest, praising the “statement” that it delivered: we are here, and we are going nowhere.
This motley crew of murderers have one point that unites them all: a burning desire to erase all Palestinian blemishes from Israel. They rely on whipping up nationalism and sectarianism to serve their own narrow interests and distract from problems brewing at home.
Indeed, the divide-and-rule playbook has been called upon increasingly in recent years. But as the wanton bombardment of Gaza in 2021 showed, the more aggressive the Israeli state is, the more its aims to cow the Palestinians are subject to the law of diminishing returns. In fact, its massacre in 2021 cemented Palestinian unity across the occupied territories and within the Israeli ‘Green Line’ itself.
The arrogance of the Israeli ruling class – who assumed they had demoralised and divided the Palestinians such that coordinated mass action was ruled out – blew up in their faces. The Palestinian general strike on May 18, 2021, in particular was undoubtedly a qualitative shift in the situation.
All of the accumulated anger and humiliation of the Palestinians came crashing down, and a unified, mass movement emerged.
Although this has subsided for now, the combustible material accumulating beneath the surface, of bitter injustice and inequality, continues to gather. And the brute repression which every wing of the Israeli ruling class must use to rule contains the potential for a much greater conflagration; spreading like wildfire amongst the oppressed and exploited people of the region.
In truth, Palestinians today are reliving the experience of their ancestors. There are clear echoes wherever you look to the brutal methods used by the Zionist forces to establish the Israeli state 75 years ago. For millions, the Nakba never relented.
The occupation, grinding poverty and everyday oppression is a continuation of war by other means. But this has not cowed the Palestinian masses; in particular the youth are searching for a way forward to throw off their shackles, and fight for a dignified life. From the struggles against expulsions in Sheikh Jarrah and Masafer Yatta; to the fight against inequality in policing and pay in the Israeli ‘Green Line’: the resolve of the Palestinian masses is colossal.
Intifada until victory!
This article series will explain the background to the proclamation of Israel in 1948, and counter the infamous slogan ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’. Though it is customary for the Palestinian population to be depicted as a backward people that just happened to be passing by at Israel’s birth, this is a blatant lie.
Articles will cover the role of the imperialists, as well as key junctures in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Six-day War to the First Intifada. Analysis will go on to cover the post-Oslo period and address popular ideas on the left regarding a solution.
This series will also put forward a revolutionary perspective on the conflict, and propose an alternative to the failed methods and politics of the past.
The developments this year alone show that the Israeli state is being shaken to its very core. Implicit in the situation is revolutionary developments in the region, and beyond. Everywhere you look, the youth are in revolt because of the dire situation they find themselves in.
As the capitalist system lurches from one crisis to the next, a Marxist understanding is essential to understand the world in order to transform it.
As Marxists, we stand in full solidarity with the oppressed over the oppressor. We repudiate the lies and distortions of the media – in its attempt to cover for the actions of the Zionist ruling class. Furthermore, we denounce the actions of the Israeli state and the poison of Zionism, which is fuelled by Western imperialism.
We have no illusions in the ‘international community’ becoming a benevolent prime mover for meaningful peace between any peoples. There can be no progress towards such a peace on the basis of capitalism: it is the profit system that not only created, but promulgates division and enmity between Israelis and Palestinians. The nation state and private ownership of the means of production present a monstrous fetter on society moving forward.
For those wanting to struggle for a world free of war and want; of imperialist intrigue and aggression; of oppression and sectarianism: let us emblazon on our banners the following words – Intifada until victory! For a socialist federation of the Middle East!
Pre-order your copy of ‘Israel-Palestine: A Revolutionary Way Forward’ from wellredbooks.co.uk.