Organise and develop mass democratic protests against war and capitalism in the Middle East
The following article by CWI members in Lebanon was written on 16 January, during the most intense period of the Israeli regime’s assault on Gaza.
Gaza burning under Israeli State Terror
The past two days (January 14 & 15) have seen the most severe conflict since the outbreak of the war on Gaza. Israel is trying to give the impression of an imaginary victory before ending its aggression. The death toll is now at more than 1000, one third of those children, and the numbers injured has exceeded 5000, with many injuries, caused by terrible explosions, resulting in the loss of body parts. Doctors, treating burns from phosphorous bombs, report that new deadly weapons must be behind some of the wounds.
The Israeli army has been breaking the ceasefire, announced for a period of three hours a day, and has been bombing hospitals, humanitarian workers, ambulances and aid trucks, which are clearly marked. However, as well as the terrible deaths and injuries and the lack of food and water, many of the residents of Gaza who were refugees before the terrible invasion, are now finding themselves refugees once again, as their homes are bombed.
Psychological torture is being used in many cases, such as the dropping of leaflets and telephone calls to homes in the Gaza Strip, saying that the attacks would escalate, and warning civilians to move away from Hamas fighters. However, civilians and combatants, alike, have nowhere to escape to.
The determination of the Palestinians, of all factions, in the Gaza Strip, and their resistance, proves again that the use of force cannot bring victory for Israel, but the opposite, as the electoral victory of Hamas has been shown to be a result of its militant stance against Israel. Hamas won 64% of the votes in 2006, and this victory was a reflection of the results of the corrupt Fatah government and the failure of its policies.
Islamic movements do not represent a genuine alternative
Rockets, fired from Lebanon into Israel, have raised fears of renewed fighting in the south that could spread to all of Lebanon, similar to what happened in July 2006. But these missiles are only messages from the so-called "sleeper cells", who are now working to open another front in the south. Despite the fact that Hezbollah does not want to open a conflict at present, they are not able to control the situation or the other Islamic movements, and could be dragged into a conflict, if the situation erupts and Israel launches another attack on Lebanon.
But the missiles do not damage the Israeli regime, the embargo, the military occupation, or the repression. The rockets are used by the Israeli regime to justify the aggression and wars they inflict on the region. In practice, these rockets strengthen the Israeli regime and drive many Jews to support the government and war, and even the racist Lieberman party. The military tactics of Hamas are the result of a policy which does not offer a comprehensive strategy for the struggle of the Palestinian masses, only revenge and the dream of liberation, in the invisible future.
Arab leaders’ summit
While demonstrations and protests are expanding and calling on governments to take action immediately, the corrupt and repressive Arab regimes tolerate this war, as if it is on another planet. Some, such as Egypt, refuse to even hold a summit, to avoid facing up to reality on the ground and to avoid having to make decisions and pass resolutions about the United States and Israel. The boiling mood in the region is driving the masses to raise demands around current economic projects, such as deals between regimes in the region and pro-Israeli powers. However, Arab governments are not interested in saving the people of the region from war and impoverishment. They participate in the capitalist system and control the region’s resources, including oil and water, and therefore find their interests coincide with imperialism and the big corporations.
The movement on the Left must attempt to take struggles beyond the call for the boycotting of various companies, such as Starbucks, who profit from Israeli state terror, and make calls for workers in these companies to organize themselves for collective action. Those who work for these big companies have no alternative but to fight to improve their work conditions Thus the most effective form of struggle would be to link issues, such as wages and trade union rights, to the question of Palestine and Middle Eastern wars. It is common knowledge that the Israeli regime is the hand of US imperialism in the Middle East and even many Arab governments blatantly admit being linked to these regimes (US & Israel), for economic reasons. Therefore, it is clear to the poor masses of the Arab world that their rulers have a hand in the Gaza massacres and oppose any attempt at bringing about genuine change in the Middle East.
Spread the movement across the world
The Left should orientate towards trade unionists, workers and the poor, and towards uniting the working class around an alternative programme of pro-worker policies; against wars, and for the nationalisation of land and resources, to be used to raise living standards. Arab regimes, with the boiling mood on the ground, feel forced to respond to the minimum demands of their people, and are afraid of losing control of the situation on the streets, which can happen, especially in Egypt and Jordan. Therefore, the attempt to postpone the Arab summit was an attempt to buy time, until the end of the Israeli onslaught.
The Left in Lebanon and the world need to clarify the role of the ruling powers, and intensify actions against the capitalist regimes that can only bring war and starvation. We must work to show the political nature of the Israeli state as a capitalist, racist and brutal regime which exercises, along with its allies, including Arab regimes, control over the Middle East. It is in this spirit that the working class could rally behind a movement against the attacks on Gaza. Such a movement could succeed in putting pressure on the government through the actions of the mass of workers – the only power that can change the reality in Palestine, Israel and the Middle East.
For the building of workers’ organisations
It is important for the Left, at this time, to be clear and to build a class based movement of workers and youth which can struggle to build socialist organisations and independent trade unions, and form mass workers’ parties, capable of challenging the capitalists. The masses can then impose their collective strength, through democratic and revolutionary organisations. History is full of such examples, and it is time to defeat this rotten system and to transform society. We strive for the unity of workers and socialism, despite the difficult conditions we face.