Beset with unresolved political crisis in Israel, corrupt criminal Netanyahu has unleashed Israeli Army and chauvinist gangs against Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank and inside Israel. With four consecutive indecisive elections over last two years and the prospect of losing power and start of proceedings in corruption scandals, Netanyahu led Likud and allies have precipitated this crisis. While domestic compulsions have influenced the timing of the offensive, intensifying contradictions in the world, specifically in the region in the specific context of readjustment of US hegemonic policies in the region under new US President Joe Biden and Israel’s resistance to any change in the Trump era policies in the region, is the regional context in which the present offensive has been launched. All these are obviously part of the long term Zionist strategy of creating Greater Israel, evicting Palestinians from their entire historic homeland and largely eliminating Palestinians as separate people, as a national identity.
Over a hundred people have been killed in Gaza, whole civilian neighbourhoods have been deflated by air strikes. Children are being killed, hospitals, orphanages and shelter homes are being targeted. Scores have been killed in West Bank by Israeli security forces. Police has fired bullets at those praying in Al Aqsa mosque.
However, all these have for long become ‘normal’ for the strengthening of the ‘only democracy’ implanted, nurtured and sustained by western imperialist powers amidst the Arab people of this oil and gas rich region. Even talk of any right of the Palestinians is bamboozled under the heavy hand of ‘anti-semitism’, any sympathy for the Palestinians is tarred with the brush of terrorism- that omnibus cover which the state repression has used since the collapse of bipolar world. Every few years Zionist occupiers launch an avalanche of mayhem and destruction to destroy whatever Palestinians have built in the period and to further expand annexations, even as the paid lecturers on human rights- ruling politicians and celebrities- go on vacation for a few weeks.
All these to build a new Middle East- Greater Israel for Jews and total control over resources of the region for the imperialists. But every such attempt is resisted by those living and willing to die to live as a people- the most prosecuted of the people of imperialist era who hold a mirror to the powers – what injustice they have heaped on them while talking about bringing about a just and democratic order! These- Palestinians- are not only the most persecuted but also most advanced people of the region- their persecution steeling their resolve and their deprivation forcing them to develop capabilities in the face of threat of extinction. Palestinians have refused and refuse to die as a people; their resistance rising in proportion to the attempts to eliminate them. Their resistance is their assertion of being alive, the prosecution they take as a reward of this assertion.
The immediate context of the present conflagration was a forced displacement of some families from Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian locality (named after personal physician of Saladin who had conquered Jerusalem from Crusaders) situated a mile north of Al Aqsa mosque in the heart of East Jerusalem which is sought as the capital of Palestinian state. This is part of territories occupied by Israel in violation of the UN resolutions. Any forcible displacement of the residents from such territory is violation of international law and a potential war crime. For its expansionist design, Israel has enacted some laws, again without any international sanction, which allow Jews to claim Palestinian houses. Court has postponed decision on the expulsion of Palestinian families. But the Jewish supremacists have forcibly captured the houses and have, with the help of the security forces of the Jewish state, thrown out the residents. Similar incident of forcible capture took place in another Palestinian neighbourhood- Sulivan- as well.
Palestinians protested these expulsions. People assembled in Palestinian areas and confronted the police which was siding with the supremacist gangs. In this atmosphere, police fired rubber bullets on the people who had assembled in Al Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers on May 7. More than 200 Palestinians were injured. On May 10, Jerusalem Day, Palestinians again assembled for protest against forced evictions, were again fired upon and over 300 were injured.
On May 10, Hamas gave the ultimatum of 5 pm for vacation of eviction. Rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza at the expiry of the ultimatum. And then followed a barrage of air strikes and artillery fire. Propaganda machines of western imperialist world are focusing on rocket fire, totally ignoring the eviction, mass repression and suppression under military boots. This is a dilemma familiar to all resisting oppression under gross imbalance of power- if they do not resist they are deemed to acquiesize in their oppression and if they do resist, they are deemed to indulge in terrorism! Both the options expressing that there is no alternative for the oppressed. But living people always make obvious choice of resistance and Palestinians have repeatedly proved their will to live.
The precipitation of the present crisis has a temporal relation with the troubles of Netanyahu who has failed to win majority in the last four elections conducted over the last two years and has survived because of the lack of unity among the forces arraigned against him. Reason for that is simple- pro-annexation Zionist forces have majority in the Parliament and are so divided that alternative to Netanyahu is not possible without cooperation of parties representing Arabs in Israel. Netanyahu faces serious charges of corruption and the charges are before the Court- starting of the trial awaiting his stepping down as Prime Minister. On May 2nd he failed to form the govt. and the President has asked the second largest party to try to garner majority which cannot be done without Arab parties. This precipitation has made cobbling together of such a majority even more difficult. This is the life line that Netanyahu has sought for himself, forcing pro-setter parties into his coalition or at least making them unable to join hand with Arab parties.
The present crisis is also rooted in the changing dynamics of the power equation in the middle-east, especially at a time when Biden Admn. is trying to re-adjust power equations in the region under the umbrella of US imperialism. Biden has indicated that he would like to re-enter Nuclear Agreement with Iran which Trump had left in 2018. Over the last decade, two factors have shaped the region- decline of US willingness to commit endless military power to maintain status quo and rise of the anger among the Arab people- expressed vaguely as what is known as Arab Spring. US ‘decline’ is also rooted in the growing contradictions among the imperialist powers and need to relocate its forces to other regions, tiredness of the people with the war of aggression and lingering effect of Great recession. With this decline and failure of war of aggression especially in Iraq, rise of Iran also became a problem to be managed. With the people’s resentment growing and lack of trustworthiness of imperialist overlord, monarchs and dictators, installed and maintained in power by imperialist powers, grew anxious particularly of their own people and the regional powers like Iran and Turkey. Their response is of deepening Shia-Sunni rift and military suppression of their people besides arming and funding mercenaries in other countries. But they remain fearful of their own people, over whom they rule by bribing the gullible and silencing those who refuse. They had to find additional military strength to buttress the US military commitment to the region.
In 2017 Trump came to power in USA. He modified the policy of Obama Admn., a policy of maintaining hegemony by other means. Two pillars of the US hegemony in the region i.e. Zionist Israel and imperialist puppet monarchs and dictators had been coordinated by US imperialism. Trump brought their collusion into the open. Puppet monarchs and dictators were asked to openly embrace Israel to get military support from the Zionist power. Agreement with Iran was torn asunder and enmity with Iran was rachetted up to justify this open alliance. But for this, Palestinians had to be abandoned openly and clearly. This was done with what are known as Abraham Accords i.e. an accord of formal renunciation of the Palestinian issue by the Arab monarchs and dictators. The so-called peace accords were signed when even a bullet had not been fired! What was behind the scene was brought into open; after all Trump signified open and unashamed declaration of pursuit of loot.
Along came the Kushner Plan authored by the son-in-law of Trump. It was a further development of Bantustan Plan of Bush presidency- a plan that was later abandoned. Palestinians were offered unspecified economic benefits in exchange for totally renouncing national rights and aspirations. Plan presented in Manama was endorsed by UAE and Bahrain Emirs and supported by Saudi monarchy from behind. To make his intentions clear, Trump supported Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He openly denounced the two state solution which had hitherto been the declared policy of the US Admn. even if they had acquiesced in the steps of Zionist rulers of Israel, making its realization harder and harder. It was at least a fig leaf their puppets could show and with which people could be deceived. Again, that unashamed imperialist, Trump, had no use for such niceties. Under him, US imperialists were out to openly and unapologetically squeeze the region. He would boast that these puppets could not last in power even for a week without US military power- their pretensions not worth bothering when their economic interests had been taken care of.
Biden had signaled his intention of rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal reached under Obama in 2015. He also expressed reservation on conduct of Saudi-UAE war in Yemen. He also mentioned support to two state solution. Broadly, Biden foreign policy, especially in this region, is a continuation of Obama policy with some modification. Obviously, there are many changes that have occurred over last four years. Besides Obama policy was facing serious problems at that time as well. Saudi-UAE war against Yemen has gone badly for aggressors and forces led by Houthis are ruling over major part of Yemen including capital Saana and are striking inside Saudi Arabia. In Syria, with Russian help Assad regime has consolidated its control over larger area. And in Iraq, despite US sporadic attacks, influence of Iran has continued to grow bringing it almost to the cross-roads between US imperialism and Iran. On the other hand, China has increased its trade, economic and strategic foot print in the region. It has reached a huge 400 billion $ deal with Iran covering economic and military aspects. Russia has consolidated its presence in Syria and increased its presence in the region including North Africa.
In this changed situation, when maintaining US hegemony has become increasingly difficult, Biden has hit out in all directions. He has heightened tensions with Russia while continuing to target China. He would be a pathetic figure but his office makes him dangerous. He has been a keen war mongerer, an acknowledged imperialist. What he will make of the present situation may be a dangerous gaffe. Or he may simply bide time and time may force him to show his true colour.
While focus of Biden Admn. is on domestic issues particularly pandemic and economic difficulties, Netanyahu struck. He got alarmed by the US Admn. efforts to rejoin Iran Deal and tried to subvert these efforts by organizing attacks against Iran’s nuclear programme. Netanyahu also got alarmed at the unraveling of so-called Abraham Accords and discussions held between Saudi monarchy and Iran’s leaders and UAE’s efforts to bridge differences with Iran especially through Syria. All this is obviously at the instance of US Admn. Netanyahu did not have time and did not want to give time. Biden Admn. does not have even an Ambassador in Israel.
The asymmetrical war unfolding in Palestine, which is causing death and destruction of Palestinian people, has once again exposed the hypocrisy of western imperialist powers particularly US imperialism. Biden talked to Netanyahu and expressed support to Israel’s security. His Admn. condemned rocket attacks from Gaza but kept mum on the killing of children and targeting of civilians. Netanyahu and the developing situation is not giving him enough reaction time, so he has gone with the default mode, tying himself and his Admn. in knots, most of them due to the inherent contradictions of the US imperialist policy in the region. He is laden with Trump framework and finds himself unable, or perhaps unwilling as well, to shake it off. His Admn. has blocked even issuing of any statement or even appeal for ceasefire, terming any public measure “unhelpful”. They even got the discussion in the Security Council moved by Tunisia, Norway and China, postponed probably to make some arrangement prior to this public discussion.
However, there are some new features as well which may have a bearing on the present situation. There is a stronger articulation of the opposition to Israel’s present war, particularly attacks on civilians, within the Democratic Party. A number of prominent leaders have openly voiced opposition to Biden Admn.’s handling of the situation. Though Democratic Party has strong pro-Israel section, such an opposition was not there earlier.
Importantly, this time opposition parties which are trying to form a Govt.in Israel have blamed Netanyahu for the war, almost for the first time. Generally, parties in Israel close ranks behind the Govt. during any war, but have not done so this time. This also has relation with the not so unanimous support in US as well as their own fight with Netanyahu.
Very importantly, this time there are wide clashes between Jewish supremacist thugs and Arab youths in several cities inside Israel itself. Lod had been one such centre but it has spread to several cities. Jewish supremacists are attacking Arabs with the active support of the security forces. An Arab youth has been shown being lynched by these thugs with the police looking on. This has torn down the façade of democracy inside Israel. Though for our country it does not shock, but it undermines the myth of so-called democratic society in Israel propagated by western media. These Arab-Jewish supremacists have had some influence on the public opinion in Israel who regularly acquiesize in the violence on Palestinians in occupied territories but this is inside Israel and has disrupted life inside Israel.
Also, there has been growing anger in the Arab world. Large demonstrations have been held in Arab countries. This is rousing the people against Arab monarchs and dictators who have been openly friendly with Netanyahu. There may be pressure on them to work for some sort of a ceasefire and quickly so. In fact it is a long known fact that the road of national aspirations of Palestinians goes via Arab regimes’ capitals. Their continuation in power is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the realization of Palestinian national aspirations and they act as a backwater to support imperialist supported racist Zionist regime.
Indian Govt. has been unmasked on this issue despite not much criticism in the mainstream media. In a change which has been there some time, Indian Govt. has sided with Israel; one among the few. Though Security Council minutes are not made public, T.S. Trimurti, Permanent Representative of India at UN, in a tweet outlined Indian Govt.’s position which had as the first point: “Condemn all acts of violence, especially rocket attacks from #Gaza”. Note the singling out of rocket attacks but no mention of targeting of civilians, even children, by Israeli air strikes.
RSS-BJP Govt. has been at a loss at the defeat of Trump in the last elections. RSS had mobilized Friends of BJP in America and many of their fronts to support Trump even as most of Indian Americans had opposed him . Even Modi had called for “Abki Bar Trump Sarkar” in his Howdy Modi attended by Trump. Hindutva zealots feel a natural affinity with white supremacists and see validation of their agenda. They also banked on full support of Trump for enhancing their role in Indo-Pacific region. Though the orientation of US imperialism continues to be the same, there is not much enthusiasm. Moreover, they find attack on democratic rights in India irritating, something Trump and Republicans did not bother about. While pro-Israel tilt has been there for some time, Indian Govt.’s stand is shameful, against the earlier practice and out of step with most of the countries of the world. Here again, ruling Hindutva zealots feel affinity with aggressive Zionists like Netanyahu who openly advocate violence against Muslims.
Palestinians are resisting. Their resistance is winning increasing support. Every progressive and democrat, peace and justice loving people, must support their resistance. Organize protests against this attack on humanity in whatever form possible. Lend support to Palestinians’ struggle which is at the forefront of the struggle of the world people against imperialism and against supremacist ruling groups.
CPI(ML) – New Democracy
May 14, 2021