The only Way forward for the Palestinian Masses: Proletarian Struggle!
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 3; October 2007)
The situation of tle Palestinian proletarians and masses has worsened during the last months, especially in the Gaza Strip which is subjected to a veritable blockade by Israel which has closed the principal passage point for people, goods and raw materials since Hamas assumed power. A charge d’affaires for the U.N. Office for Refugees affirmed on 9 August that the local economy was in danger of collapse if this blockade continued.
In industry, 80% of the companies in Gaza were forced to close, leaving more than 30,000 unemployed (their wages allowed a considerable fraction of the 1,400,000 inhabitants of the zone to live, since up to ten people are often obliged to live from one workers’ wage): this is the case particularly in the textile sector which sells more than 90% of its production on the Israeli market. Nearly all day laborers were laid off, while only 5000 monthly employees remained on the job. (1). The employers’ organization stated that 120,000 additional jobs were threatened if the blockade continued (2). Before the most recent events, unemployment in Gaza was already estimated at approximately 40% and the rate of poverty at more than 70% of the population (“extreme poverty” being the lot of 42% of the inhabitants in Gaza) (3).
The throttling of the Palestinian economy has its origin in the dissatisfaction of American imperialism and its local power broker– Israel – towards the Palestinian Authority (PA) directed by Fatah, the principal party of the nationalist front of the PLO which had been lead by Yassir Arafat. Installed by imperialism to put an end to the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, the PA was unable to prevent the acts of violence of the second Intifada (insurrection). To ensure that the anger, frustration, and exasperation in the face of such a desperate plight did not lead to uncontrolled movements, Fatah and its Hamas rival (and other organizations of lesser importance) took control of this Intifada by directing combative energies towards the fatal dead end of suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. Basically it was a question of avoiding what had occurred at the time of the first Intifada which, undertaken in a spontaneous way, had taken on a mass character; at that time the Israelis had the greatest difficulties in crushing it, while the Islamists, the only ones present on the ground, endeavoured might and main to attract the young insurrectionists. To push the Palestinian leaders to go further and stop all attacks and any guerrilla actions, the imperialists and the Israelis, after having multiplied all kinds of economic and military pressure, raids and assassinations, estimated that elections to renew the Palestinian Authority were necessary.
But, opposite to what they hoped, it was not the more “moderate” currents, i.e. – more collaborationist – of Fatah which won the elections in January 2006, but Hamas! The organizations of the left and “extreme” left, were also defeated. A representative of the P.P.P. (Palestinian People’s Party, the local incarnation of the Communist Party) gave this reason for the defeat: “the left paid the debts of Fatah” (4); by rejecting the corrupt and incompetent bourgeois politicians of Fatah, the voters also rejected the left organizations, who were members of the PLO, unlike Hamas, because they were perceived simply as PLO appendages. Despite its politically reactionary character, its law and order (including moral) program aimed at its bourgeois supporters, Hamas was able to conquer an audience among the masses while providing assistance to the most deprived while affirming its intentions of fighting against corruption and the resistance of Israel.
From the moment of the electoral victory of Hamas, the American and Israeli democracies openly declared that they were going to do everything to strangle the new government. The European democracies agreed to stop their subsidies to the Palestinians without batting an eyelid (5), as did the Arab allies of the United States; while the Israeli State itself kept the sums due to the Palestinian Authority (PA), kidnapped Palestinian ministers and drastically increased their murderous military raids. International law, just like Democracy is only used as a smoke-screen in the world capitalist jungle, where the only right which obtains is the right of the most powerful.
Hamas had however implied in various declarations that it had renounced its program of destruction of the Hebrew State, which it was ready to recognize and to stop fighting against; but, without speaking about its ties to Iran, this kind of declaration is completely insufficient for Israel and its imperialist godfathers (and also for other Arab States like Egypt).
Because of the potential menace of the combativeness which the Palestinian masses have demonstrated for decades, these states are prepared to accept only one force to head the PA, a force which they are certain has the will and especially the ability to maintain, including by force, imperialist order in Gaza and in the West Bank. This is why they derailed various attempts at governments of national unity (6) and pushed their liege men in Fatah, starting with Dahlan, the chief of the Security Forces of the PA, into confrontations with Hamas, even providing their weapons.
This Dahlan, who has a long history of collaboration with the Israeli security services, is undoubtedly “the most hated man in Gaza”: he has been accused of the torture and murders of opponents and of enriching himself through various forms of trafficking. Unfortunately for himself and his silent partners, the armed confrontations quickly turned to his disadvantage, with a part of his men even deserting to Hamas, others simply fleeing, whereas the inhabitants stayed in their place without taking part in one camp or the other; to symbolize its victory and to increase its popularity, Hamas took to pillaging the residence of Dahlan which was the richest villa in Gaza!
The military victory of Hamas and its consequent control of all the Gaza Strip has had as an immediate consequence the closing by the Israeli government of the points of passage into this territory and the payment of a part of the sums which it owed, to a new anti-Hamas government hastily formed by Palestinian president Abbas. That made it possible for him to pay complete wages for the first time to 150,000 Palestinian civil servants – excepting those which had been hired by the government after the 2006 elections (Hamas retorted by promising that it would ensure the wages of these 10,000 people).
For their part the European Union and the United States announced that they had ended the financial and various other sanctions imposed on the PA, in support of Abbas and his Fatah partisans. Fatah asked Israel for the authorization to import “combat material” coming from Jordan and Egypt into the West Bank: machine-guns, assault rifles, jeeps, armoured vehicles, etc, “to defend Fatah against Hamas” (the Americans undertook to restructure the Palestinian security forces “affiliated with Fatah in the West Bank”) (7). The Abbas government also asked all Palestinian factions to surrender their weapons. In addition the American government decided at the end of June to increase its military aid to Israel by 25% to reach 3 billion dollars per annum over ten years; it also agreed to sell up-to-date fighter planes and other sophisticated weapons.
Throughout the last months Israel has unceasingly continued its policy of insidious colonization of the West Bank, by the establishment of so-called “illegal” colonies but actually with governmental support, comprising thousands of people; by the construction of the infamous “Wall” which includes Palestinian territory; by the development of “strategic roads” which continuously carve up more and more territory and by the permanent gnawing away of Jerusalem all designed to drive out the Arab inhabitants. Today the 240,000 Israeli colonists and their infrastructures occupy 40% of the territory of the West Bank, while the 2,400,000 Palestinians are forced to cram themselves into the 60% remaining! At the same time raids and various attacks take place continuously, not even causing an echo in the international press anymore, nor of course even the least, platonic protest by the imperialist States supposedly working towards “peace” in this area.
At the time of the writing of this article, August 14, 6 people died in Gaza (including 4 civilians) while a hundred people were apprehended by Israeli soldiers and “several dozen kidnapped”...
In spite of this, support to Israel, implicit or explicit, was reinforced, not only at the behest of its traditional imperialist godfathers, but also by the majority of Arab States. Egypt had left its border points with the Gaza Strip closed, blocking the passage of more than 5000 Palestinians at the border. It required a hunger strike of a hundred of them so that, finally, at the end of 2 months, they were allowed to return to their homes; meanwhile forty people aged, and ill, died…
In March, Saudi Arabia organized a summit of the Arab League which proposed a global peace accord with Israel, where for the first time the claim of the “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees was abandoned. The Israeli leaders answered with ringing phrases, and by affirming that peace with the “enemies” of Israel was not possible before 3 to 5 years: the important thing for them is that the Arab States less and less concern themselves with support to the Palestinians. Rumours (contradicted by Riyadh) talked of secret negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Americans signing large contracts for armaments with both.
In a visit to Israel on August 2, Condoleezza Rice declared that “in the Palestinian Territories there is a government devoted to the guiding principles of peace and it is an occasion which shouldn’t be missed” (to be devoted to peace means not to be opposed to imperialist interests and objectives); she promised 80 million dollars to the “Palestinian security services” of this government. The Israeli Foreign Minister responded that “Israel will not miss this occasion”, explaining that it wished to benefit from the situation in the Territories to arrive “at an agreement with the moderate government of Abbas” (to be moderate means to give up all its demands). In effect, the Americans and Israelis are counting on the weakening of what remains of the Palestinian authorities to make them accept new concessions within the framework of a new orientation known as “West Bank first”: “to reinforce the power of Mr. Abbas by standardizing the living conditions in the West Bank while letting the situation in the Gaza Strip degenerate, to get control over Hamas” (8), with only a minimum of humanitarian aid being provided to this territory to decrease the risks of a social explosion.
NEITHER ABBAS, NOR HAMAS, NOR THE NATIONALIST LEFT ARE ON THE SIDE OF THE PROLETARIANS
Faced with the confrontations between Fatah and Hamas, the so-called “left” organizations were able to answer only by impotent calls for the cessation of hostilities and a “return to reason” (manifestation of June 14 in Gaza organized by the PFLP the DFLP). These organizations being only the tail of nationalism, cannot go beyond national “unity” in the name of the fight against the Israeli enemy (9).
This national unity, means unity with the bourgeois forces which dominate politically in the Palestinian Authority in the same way that they dominate economically. For the Palestinian bourgeoisie, what counts is to see itself recognized in the administration of a small bit of land where it would be able to develop its business, to exploit its proletarians and to garner its profits quietly. Having given up its dreams of a large Palestine, for a long time it has been resigned to accept what the Israelis and the imperialists offer it, if the resistance of the oppressed masses did not force it to play out the comedy of the national struggle. National unity, the traditional aspiration of the small bourgeois who fears the confrontations between classes, is for the oppressed proletarians and masses a formula for the inability to defend oneself, whether it is against the Israeli oppressor or the Palestinian exploiter.
But actually these calls for national unity launched by the left nationalist organizations, were prosaically transformed into unity with...Fatah and the Abbas government. On August 13, responding to a call by this government, the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), the DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and the PPP organized a demonstration of a few hundreds of people with Fatah in Gaza against Hamas with chants of “We want the unity of the people!”. A few days previously, Nayef Hawatmeh, the old historical chief of the DFLP, formerly denounced and hunted by the Israelis as a dangerous terrorist, had been authorized by the Israeli government to come, for the first time, to the West Bank: that is he came to support president Abbas. He was also allowed to speak on Israeli public television: where he spoke in praise of the collaborator Abbas and ultimately legitimated the policy of the Israeli government by criticizing only its inability “to act concretely” for peace (11)...
The Palestinian nationalist organizations, politically all bourgeois, including their “leftist” fringe, thus complete their political trajectory by their ignominious but inevitable homage in the face of colonial-imperialist oppression.
It is false to conclude from this, as many pro-Palestinians do, that Hamas is now an organization incarnating the struggle of the masses or basing itself on their struggle. Hamas is an organization quite as bourgeois as the various nationalist factions, only more reactionary. In spite of its speeches, of its assertions that it will not give up “resistance against the occupation”, Hamas itself aspires to nothing else than to be itself recognized by imperialism and by Israel. As for its victory in Gaza, it multiplied its declarations for an agreement with Abbas and therefore for maintaining the government of national unity, with an even more “moderate” program. It was very careful not to extend the confrontations to the West Bank where it was stronger electorally and politically. It proclaimed that it was ready to recognize Israel if Israel recognized the rights of the Palestinians to the Territories occupied after the 1967 War and ceased colonization. It prohibited any demonstrations. To show its ability to keep order in Gaza, at the beginning of July, Hamas succeeded in obtaining the release an English journalist held for months by a gangster clan that the Palestinian Authority Security Services didn’t dare to face (10).
The provision of these services brought certain important politicians like the former American Secretary of State Colin Powell, to plead for recognition of Hamas and an end to the blockade in order to prevent Gaza being transformed into a “tinder-box” of instability: they do not at all fear that this organization represents the struggle of the masses, but are quite conscious on the contrary that Hamas is perhaps the only one able to control them and to impose respect for the imperialist order over them. However, this position is in the minority in leading American circles because of the bonds which Hamas still has with Iran. In addition, control of the Gaza Strip by Hamas is considered to be uncertain.
In any event, the proletarians cannot grant any confidence to an organization which already displayed its real face during the general strike of Public Sector employees last autumn: trying to ruin the strike which began at the beginning of September and was followed by the majority of the 150,000 workers of the public sector to force payment of their wages, Hamas had recourse not only to the traditional propaganda of national unity in the face of Zionism, but also to intimidation and repression (dismissals of supposed “strike leaders”). The strike however held, punctuated by demonstrations and torching of Hamas buildings. On January 14, an agreement was concluded: immediate payment of one month’s wages, payment by instalments of the arrears, payment of the transportation costs of the employees during the strike, suppression of dismissals, etc. (12). It was a real, although temporary, victory won by the workers over a government which wanted to be inflexible.
The Hamas government also took antisocial measures (big cuts in the Health budget), even if it didn’t apply its reactionary program to the question of the women’s rights. Today the situation of the proletarians and the exploited masses, plunged into increasing misery deepened by the economic crisis caused by the Israeli blockade, is terrible. They are gripped between the pincers of the imperialist pressure exerted by the armed Israeli rabble and the confrontations between rival bourgeois organizations. Their potential ally, the international proletariat, paralysed by class collaboration, is still unable to bring its assistance to them. However the only way out is that of proletarian struggle, of the class struggle, including at the elementary economic level which they have already amply demonstrated.
It is the duty of the proletarians of all the other countries, first and foremost the proletarians of the big imperialist powers, not to leave their Palestinian class brothers and sisters isolated and crushed. They have the possibility of delivering, not charity, but the only assistance which is really effective: by engaging themselves in the resumption of the class struggle, they can indeed weaken “their” imperialism and smash the vice which suffocates the proletarians of the dominated countries. It would be the first step towards the united struggle of the proletarians of all countries to overthrow world capitalism.
This perspective is unfortunately not immediate; it is however infinitely more realistic than all the prospects presented to the proletarians and the Palestinian masses for decades and which come to nothing but to steadily worsen their situation. As long as they do not have the force to break with these bourgeois prospects to find the path of struggle and class organization things will not change and their blood will run only for the profit of the enemy classes.
Class solidarity with the proletarians and oppressed of Palestine!
For the resumption of the class struggle and the international communist revolution!
(1) See “The Financial Times”, August 4-5, 2007
(2) According to the Association of Palestinian Businessmen. cf “International Herald Platform”, 10/8/2007
(3) Report of the UNDP (Program for Development of the United Nations), 17/7/2007. It speaks of an investigation near 5000 Palestinian households carried out between 3/4/2007 to 8/5/2007, therefore before the blockade of Gaza and its economic collapse (www.undp.ps).
(4) See “L’Humanité”, 1/2/2007.
(5) In fact, the European imperialists, completely conscious of the need for the maintenance of the existence of official structures so that the Palestinian Territories do not explode, partially continued their payments, which are normally used to pay the wages of civil servants and more precisely of police officers, to short-circuit the Hamas government.
(6) Mustapha Barghouti, the former spokesman of this government which, according to him included “the best democratic, pacifist and moderate” Palestinian leaders noted bitterly: “the Palestinian government that Israel wants is a government of collaborators acting like its henchmen” and it added: “They will never obtain it”. This is less than certain... cf “International Herald Tribune”, 7-8/7/2007.
(7) The Israelis are dragging their heels with their deliveries because a part of the 5000 assault rifles provided to Fatah to fight Hamas ended up in the hands of the latter! cf “Haaretz”, 9/8/2007
(8) See “Le Monde”, 20/6/2007.
(9) See the official statement of the PFLP of 25/6/2007, signed by a long string of Arab néo-Stalinist organizations: “Today the Palestinian people need more than ever to reinforce national unity, to refuse fratricidal division and fights, to link the fatherland and the people, to stick to these national objectives and these historical rights in a democratic Palestinian State” or that of the PFLP of 29/6/2007: “We call on all of our people, Fatah and Hamas, for the return to reason and the consciousness of the national interests. We call on our people for unity, cohesion, the going beyond of the wounds and the sufferings, by the condemnation of bloody solutions and the reprobation of the insurrectionary logic whichever side it is on” Amen.
(10) The spokesman of Hamas declared that it hoped that the message of the release of the journalist “would reach all Europe and the Arab and Islamic countries and would convince their governments to deal with Hamas” cf “Financial Times”, 5/7/2007.
(11) See “El Moudjahid” (Algiers), 10/8/2007
(12) www.imemc.org, 14/1/2007.