By Adam Iosefovich
Originally posted on Workers’ Voice
An election looms in Israel, and bombs fall on Gaza. The macabre cycle has repeated itself with such regularity over the decades that a cruel metaphor is used in Israel circles–“mowing the lawn.”
Almost before the bombs fell, U.S. Ambassador Tom Nides quickly tweeted that “the United States firmly believes that Israel has a right to protect itself” before laughably calling for “calm.” It’s odd to call it “protect[ing] itself” when, as of the time of this writing, the number of Israeli deaths stands at exactly zero, while 44 Palestinians have been confirmed dead and many wounded, including numerous children.
Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system, paid for by U.S. dollars, has generally prevented the Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, from being able to reach targets within Israeli borders with its rockets. The damage and the deaths have all been Palestinian. That the Palestinians continue to fight back against impossible odds is a testament to their bravery and steadfastness.
It must be stated that Gaza itself is a war crime. Any analysis of the situation needs to begin with the fact that Gaza is the world’s largest ghetto. Packed with refugees from the 1948 Nakba and the 1967 Six Day War, it is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Israel strictly limits who is allowed to enter and exit, and restricts the flow of materials to the barest levels, including food, medicine, and building materials. Fishermen who venture too far from shore are fired upon by Israeli patrol boats. It’s from this context that Israel bombs Gaza every time the ruling party faces re-election and wants to score easy points with its racist settler base.
That Israel is able to act with absolutely no consequences from the international community would be shocking if it weren’t so commonplace that it’s become a cliché. Just this past May, Israel murdered Shireen Abu-Akleh, a journalist—and U.S. citizen!—but has faced absolutely no consequences. Nor will they face any for this latest brutal assault on the Palestinian people; the cycle has repeated itself too many times to believe otherwise.
It is no longer debatable that Israel is an apartheid state. Mainstream human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have characterized it as such, amassing enormous amounts of evidence of Israel’s systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, from Nelson Mandela to Desmond Tutu, had no qualms about calling Israel an apartheid state. Systematically, Israel discriminates against the Palestinian population, restricts their civil rights, and violates their human rights with complete impunity.
For Palestinians, the cruelest of ironies is that the U.S. and its allies celebrate Ukrainian resistance against Russia while they condemn Palestinian resistance against Israel. It’s even possible that Biden will declare Russia to be a “state sponsor of terrorism,” while Israel “has the right to defend itself” against a people that it oppresses. Of course, as socialists, we point out that there is a political and moral obligation to stand with oppressed nations, whether they be Ukrainians fighting against Russian imperialism, Palestinians against Israel settler-colonialism, or the Irish struggling against the last vestiges of the British Empire.
Clearly, the Palestinians will never be able to depend on bourgeois governments for help. Even bourgeois Arab governments, once allies of the Palestinians in line with their professed pan-national solidarity, have started to abandon them as the lure of Western money draws them in. The United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain have normalized relations with what they used to call “the Zionist entity.” There is a growing suspicion that Saudi Arabia, who has been engaging in a similar genocidal campaign in Yemen with U.S. backing, may join them.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been an outpouring of support for the Palestinians. Demonstrations erupted in Montreal, Rotterdam, Gothenburg, and many other cities. Even within Israel, people have taken to the streets throughout the country in protest. A major demonstration has been called for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, in New York City, and more are expected to be called around the world. However, the fact that the response has been so muted seems to indicate that even in the “progressive” world, this is more “business as usual.”
Within the United States, in recent weeks there has been an all-out assault against the progressive Jewish movement. Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League have declared war on pro-Palestinian Jews, launching attacks on Jews for Racial and Economic Justice that accuse them of being “fake Jews” and even, outrageously, of anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee has poured money into right-wing candidates, even theocratic Christians, all in the name of defending the Israeli state. When the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow called them out on their support for far-right politicians, ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt outrageously and hypocritically accused them of “stoking the flames of anti-Semitism.”
As Israel continues to treat Palestinian lives as disposable commodities in an election cycle, it is incumbent upon socialists to stand with the Palestinians; we support their right to resist, by any means necessary. We stand with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement; it remains the most effective way for the international community to support the Palestinian cause. As the world brought pressure to bear against apartheid South Africa, we must bring that same pressure against apartheid Israel.
At the time of this writing, a “cease-fire” remains in effect. Israel has graciously allowed Palestinians to collect their wounded, their crippled, and maimed, while IDF administrators are hard at work restarting the Iron Dome servers. Israelis remain safe and protected, while people in Gaza anxiously await the next time Israel decides to “mow the lawn.”
Join your local demonstrations and pickets against the Israeli assault. The Palestinians need our solidarity now more than ever. Build the BDS movement! For a democratic secular Palestine, leading to a socialist Middle East!
Photo: An Israeli bomb explodes in Gaza City on Aug. 6. (Mohammed Salem / Reuters)