War criminal elected Prime Minister of Israel


The latest Israeli election of 6 February, which resulted in the notorious war criminal, Ariel Sharon, being elected as prime minister, is more a symptom of the incurable crisis gripping the Zionist state than a solution to its problems. Israeli society and the Israeli electorate stumble from one election to another at ever-shortening intervals in the search for peace and security, but their goal remains elusive. And this for the sole reason that so far the Israeli population, the majority at any rate, has refused to confront, and come to terms with, the stark reality that as long as the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination, with all that this implies, is denied, there will be no security and peace for the Israelis either. If Zionist settler colonialism continues to force on the Palestinian people the existence of the ghetto, the lives of the Israelis will also come to resemble those of the inhabitants of a ghetto, albeit a materially posh ghetto, but under increasing threat from Palestinian amed struggle for national liberation.

The fact is that the Zionist state is built on a stolen land belonging to another people who have been deprived of it at gunpoint. In the words of the well-known Palestinian/American writer, Edward Saïd,

“…it is difficult to look at an Israeli landscape, for instance, without also seeing the obliterated farm or village which it has replaced. It is hard to hear of someone immigrating to Israel from Romania or Russia without also feeling the anguish of an exiled Palestinian prevented from returning home. So it has gone on for over 50 years – life in one community has meant frustration and suffering in the other, measure for measure, tit for tat, inexorably and remorselessly”

(‘Murderous case of delusion’,

Morning Star,

12 February 2001).

Not surprisingly, imperialist-backed Zionist robbers of the Palestinian people’s land, of their country, has engendered Palestinian resistance over decades. This resistance has assumed, especially since the first

Intifada

, which broke out on 18 December 1987, proportions which have thoroughly destabilised the Zionist state and thrown Zionist society at all levels into confusion and disarray, out of which they cannot emerge unless the Israeli population at large forces the Zionist establishment to give up the thief’s logic according to which if the Zionist settlers can manage to hold on to their gains – stolen land – long enough, they will acquire a prescriptive right to it. So far the Israeli population – with the exception of a small honourable minority – has not shown sufficient signs of staring this truth in the face. It wants peace but without cost – without making meaningful concessions to Palestinian national rights. This being the case, it continues to alternate between Likud and Labour, between right and ‘left’, secular and religious, elect prime minister after prime minister, none of whom can deliver either peace or security.

Not so long ago, the Israeli electorate kicked out the supposedly peace-loving Simon Peres for his failure to provide security, replacing him with Netanyahu. The latter was hailed as the new Messiah destined to teach the Palestinians a lesson and restore security to Israel. Within a very short period, Mr Netanyahu bit the dust and was replaced by Ehud Barak who, it was hoped by the Israeli electorate, would make peace with the Palestinians, disengage Israel from its murderous and increasingly costly war in Lebanon, make peace with Syria, and bridge the divide between religious and the so-called [so-called because they are all Zionists] secular Jews. Far from bringing peace with the Palestinians, under Barak the Israeli state unleashed the worst wave of oppression (of which more later) witnessed since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. He brought the nutters of the ultra-orthodox Shas party into his government and thereby alienated the secular portions of the population. Within a matter of 18 months, he managed to alienate practically all sections of society in Israel/Palestine – Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, right and ‘left’. In the manner of his two immediate predecessors he too has been unceremoniously kicked out, to be replaced by the most notorious of butchers of innocent Arabs from Palestine to Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

Record of Sharon’s sadistic brutality

In an election which saw the lowest turnout of any Israeli election (about 60% of the electorate), Sharon won a ‘landslide victory’, receiving 62.3% of the vote as against his opponents’ 37.3%. Over the decades, Sharon has achieved notoriety for his sadistic cruelty towards the Arabs, especially the Palestinian Arabs, and is acknowledged even by the propaganda organs of imperialism to be a war criminal. During the 1950s he headed Israel’s Unit 101, a special force which organised cross-border raids against Palestinians and other Arabs. In 1954 he led the raid on the West Bank Palestinian village of Kibbya (then under Jordan). In this raid several houses were blown up by dynamite, resulting in the massacre of 69 people in them. It is this Unit 101 on which the Israeli army of occupation has, ever since 1967, modelled its repression of the Palestinian population.

In 1974, he joined the first Likud government of Menachem Begin, an equally notorious terrorist and murderer of Arabs, as minister of agriculture. He also chaired the ministerial committee for settlement affairs, in which position he oversaw (between 1977 and 1981), the establishment of 64 new Zionist settlements in the West Bank and Gaza – in complete violation of UN resolutions and total disregard of international law.

In 1970, while commander of the southern army front, Sharon gave an order for the eviction of several thousand felaheen and Bedouins from their homes to make way for new strategic roads and Zionist settlements. Several thousand of the victims of his decision were taken to, and pushed over, the Egyptian border, while several hundred others were expelled into Jordan, with the remainder being compelled to eke out a miserable existence as displaced persons in the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.

In 1982 he spearheaded Israel’s unprovoked war of aggression against Lebanon, the purpose of this war being to expel the Palestinian refugee population from Lebanon. This war claimed the lives of 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese people. In September 1982 he unleashed the fascistic Lebanese Christian Phalangists on the Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps, massacring 2,000 innocent men, women and children. This led to such an international outcry that the Israeli government was forced to set up the Kahan Commission, which found Sharon guilty. He resigned his position as defence minister and was banned from occupying that office again.

In September 2000, Sharon, by his only too provocative visit to the Muslim holy compound of Haram-al-Sharif, provided the spark that lit the prairie fire of the Al Aqsa

Intifada.

Why was Barak trounced?

During the brief period of his premiership, Barak managed to disillusion and alienate practically all sections of the Israeli/Palestinian population. As to making peace with the Palestinians, Barak refused to withdraw, as Israel is legally obliged to do under resolutions 242 and 338 of the United Nations, from the territories occupied in 1967. He refused to dismantle the Zionist settlements, all of which are illegal under international law. He refused to give in on the right of return of the Palestinians forcibly expelled in 1948 (now numbering over 3.5 million) back to their own land and homes. He even failed to implement the Wye Plantation accord under which Israel was to have withdrawn from another 13% of the occupied land and released several hundred Palestinian prisoners who have for years been rotting in Zionist concentration camps. As if all this were not inflammatory enough, on 28 September last year, Barak sent a 2000-strong police and army contingent to accompany Sharon on the latter’s provocaive attempt to enter the Al Aqsa mosque. Not content with allowing this provocation, the following day the Israeli army, through indiscriminate firing on worshippers, gunned down 10 and injured 500 Palestinians – thus sparking off the second – the Al Aqsa -

Intifada.

A million Arabs still live within the boundaries of the state of Israel. While constituting a fifth of the Israeli population, they are treated as third-class citizens, subjected to gross discrimination. In May 1999, Barak easily beat Netanyahu with the support of the Israeli Arabs, 95% of whose electorate voted for Barak, believing as they did that Barak would make peace with the Palestinians and end discrimination against Israeli Arabs. No need to say that Barak disappointed the Israeli Arabs on all fronts. Worse, at the beginning of last October, Barak’s police force joined a group of Zionist pogromists, entered an Arab neighbourhood in Nazareth and the Arab town of Umm-al-Fahm, and shot dead in cold blood 13 Arabs. There was no apology from Barak’s government, no redress, no dismissal of the avowedly anti-Arab and racist police commander, Alik Ron, who had led the gun-toting murderous party which had gone on the rampage. No surprise, then, that 80% of the Arab electorate (who had overwhelmingly voted for Barak in 1999) boycotted these elections or spoilt their ballot papers. They treated with contempt the pleas from the Barak camp that a Sharon victory would mean the end of the process of peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians for they correctly argued how could Sharon be worse than Barak, what could the former throw at them which the latter had not already done?

As regards the extreme right of the Israeli population, which is not only opposed to any deal with the Palestinians but indeed wishes to expel them all from all of historic Palestine, Barak angered them by his willingness to make some concessions, which, while not enough to satisfy the Palestinians, were serious enough to make the extreme religious right see red and smell treachery. Precisely for this reason this extreme right staged a 200,000 strong demonstration on 8 January in support of Sharon.

By his willingness to concede that some Jewish settlements in the occupied territories may have to be dismantled, that a few Palestinians expelled or forced to flee their homes in 1948 might be allowed the right of return, the Palestinians might after all have sovereignty over east Jerusalem – even some form of sovereignty over a part of the Haram al-Sharif compound, Barak angered the Israeli ‘left’ and the peace camp, for just as most of what passes for the ‘left’ in Britain is actually an imperialist ‘left’ (left in words and imperialist in practice), so the Israeli ‘left’ is merely the left wing of Zionism. This ‘left’ wants peace but without paying the cost. In the apt words of Yaron Ezrahi, political science professor at the independent Israel Democracy Institute,

“the left is not ready for the big leap. It supports peace but is not ready for the big concessions, such as evacuating the settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. It wants peace without costs”

(quoted in the

Financial Times

3 February 2001).

Thus, Mr Barak was deserted by Arabs and Jews alike, by the Orthodox right (truly nutty as a fruitcake) as well as by the ‘left’ and the peace camp. The only promise that he did manage to keep was to lead the humiliating withdrawal of the Israeli army from the southern fifth of Lebanon, the country which it had illegally been in occupation of for 18 years. One thing that can certainly be said for Barak is that by merely talking for the first time about things which no Israeli leader has dared to do so far – the evacuation of some settlements, the future of east Jerusalem and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees – he has broken a taboo and made the Israelis think about the most hurtful aspect of their life, namely, should they continue stubbornly to refuse to part with ALL that they have stolen from the Palestinians, leaving the latter to suffer the misery of occupation, displacement and denial of all rights. Israeli society and the Israeli state will never be the same again. There is nothing that this butcher and war criminal, Sharon, and his Arab-hating coterie can do about it. They too will either have to concede Palestinian national rights or will in turn bite the dust. If Barak lost the election for the reasons enumerated above, Sharon won it because the Israeli electorate put security before peace, deluding itself that one could be achieved without the other. As long as Israelis continue to entertain this delusion, they will have neither peace nor security and will have to, while they continue to inflict such dreadful pain and misery on the occupied, continue to pay the price that goes along with being an occupying power.

Sharon’s victory speech

In his victory speech, in the early hours of 7 February, Sharon, calling upon the Israeli Labour Party to join a national unity government, promised to suppress

“Palestinian terrorism”

and “

to teach the Palestinians a lesson, so they would comprehend the new era of guaranteeing Israel’s security and national unity”.

Further, he asserted that no settlements would be dismantled, not a single refugee would be allowed back, that all concessions made by the outgoing Barak government were null and void, and that all of Jerusalem and some other areas of the occupied territories would be annexed to Israel. At the end of all this, displaying a fascistically sick sense of humour, he called upon the Palestinian leader, Yassir Arafat, to assist him in his endeavour.

“I call on the Palestinians to abandon the path of violence and to return to the path of dialogue”,

he said, having already firmly banged shut the path to any dialogue. Sharon’s entourage includes some truly weird characters and outfits. These include parties such as Yisrael Beitenu and Moledet, which advocate bombing Palestinian and Arab towns. Then there are the Shas, whose spiritual leader (don’t laugh!), Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has characterised the Arabs as

“venomous”

snakes. Yet another collection of insensate, insane and insalubrious ante-diluvian cranks supporting Sharon is Rehavan Zeevi’s National Union Party, which calls for the expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens.

Imperialist hypocrisy & double standards

Notwithstanding, in fact completely ignoring, the record of this butcher and war criminal, Sharon, the leaders of ‘western democracy’ – which is but to say the political representatives of the leading imperialist powers, who only yesterday waged a genocidal war against the people of Yugoslavia in the name of ‘humanitarianism’, who continue to maintain against the people of Iraq the cruel sanctions which have already claimed the lives of 1.5 million innocent Iraqis, who continue to enforce the illegal exclusion zone over the northern and southern parts of Iraq, allegedly to protect the rights of the Iraqi Kurds and Shias – have conveyed their heartfelt felicitations to Sharon on his election victory. George W Bush telephoned Sharon to congratulate him, as did the British Foreign Office, headed by our most immoral (sorry, ethical) foreign secretary, Robin Cook.

Nothing could provide a better gauge of the hypocrisy, the duplicity and double standards of these servitors of imperialism than the contrast between their attitude to the rights of the Palestinian people and their treatment of the present Iraqi regime and the former Yugoslav regime of Milosevic, on the one hand, and the criminal Zionist gangsters ruling Israel, on the other.

Writing in the

Guardian

of 9 February, in the immediate aftermath of Sharon’s electoral victory, Seumas Milne, one of our very few honest, decent and courageous journalists, pointedly reminded the political spokesmen of the principal imperialist powers of their recent highfalutin, not to say hypocritical and vacuous, statements, in such devastating terms that it is worth while quoting him at length:

Governments and their leaders can no longer hide from global justice, we have been repeatedly assured. They cannot shelter behind national jurisdictions and state sovereignty. Those responsible for human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing, atrocities and, most of all, war crimes, must and will be pursued regardless of national boundaries in an interdependent world.

That was the theme of NATO’s ‘humanitarian war’ against Yugoslavia – enthusiastically championed by Tony Blair – and of the hunting down of Serbian and Croatian war-lords, the plans for an international war crimes court and the millions of dollars handed out by the US congress for the prosecution of Iraqi leaders and their families.

It was the message of the citizen-led attempt to prosecute the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and the rupture of political relations between Austria and the rest of the European Union in response to the rise to power of Jörg Haider’s far right Freedom Party in Austria.

But the partisans of this brave new ‘doctrine of international community’ have been strangely subdued since the election of the extreme rightwing general Ariel Sharon as Israel’s prime minister. It has, it transpires, been business as usual with the man held personally responsible for the largest massacre of civilians in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The British prime minister had a reportedly cordial chat with Sharon on Wednesday, while Robin Cook looked forward to ‘building on common ground’ and ‘moving the peace process forward’ with a politician whose swaggering provocation in Jerusalem last year triggered the current Palestinian uprising and whose suggestion for dealing with demonstrators was to ‘cut off their testicles’. President Bush meanwhile promised Sharon that US support for Israel was ‘rock solid’.

Of course, governments deal with all sorts of leaders with ugly records. But Sharon is more than that. By any reasonable reckoning, he is a war criminal. This is a man of blood, whose history of terror and violation of the rules of war stretches back to the early 50s, when his unit slaughtered Palestinian villagers, through his brutal onslaught on the refugees of Gaza in the 70s, to his central role in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon in which up to 20,000 people died.

Around 2,000 of them were butchered in 36 hours in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by Phalangists effectively under Sharon’s control. Sharon had repeatedly insisted that the camps were full of terrorists. In reality, the victims were overwhelmingly unarmed civilians, the PLO’s fighters having been evacuated with an American-brokered promise of protection for their families.

Israel’s own Kahan commission found Sharon ‘personally’ but ‘indirectly’ responsible for the massacre, though whether an independent court would be so generous is open to question.

Now Sharon’s return to power will put the good faith of supporters of an international justice system to the test. Their critics maintain that the new supranational doctrine of intervention and extra-territorial legality is a fraud, designed to give a spurious human rights legitimacy to big power bullying of weaker states that threaten their authority or interests. War crimes or human rights violations committed by the major powers, or by western allies in particular, they argue, will always be treated according to different standards and go unpunished.

The prospects are certainly not encouraging in the case of Israel, which has long been allowed by its western sponsors to violate a string of UN security council resolutions, while other states in the region are subjected to lethal regimes of sanctions and bombing attacks for their transgressions.”

Concludes Mr Milne:

“Of course, no western government is likely to lift a finger against Sharon… There is little prospect even of some mark of disapproval, such as Haider style diplomatic protest or suspension of arms sales.”

Reminding the readers that during the Yugoslav war, Tony Blair had stated that his policy of intervention was based on a

“subtle blend”

of self-interest and moral purpose, Mr Milne adds:

Given the reaction to Sharon’s election, this seems to boil down to moral purpose with enemies, but self-interest when it comes to friends

[i.e. self-interest in both cases – LALKAR]

(‘The man of blood).

Resistance continues unabated

The Palestinian people in the occupied territories, as well as the Arabs in Israel, have ignored the recent Israeli elections with supreme contempt and indifference, for they have nothing to expect or gain from Labour or Likud. Resistance alone can help them realise their legitimate goal. Only the use of revolutionary violence against their occupiers, tormentors and oppressors can force the latter to give in to the rightful claims of the Palestinian people. And this resistance refuses to die down even in the face of the full might of the Israeli state, with its economic blockades of Palestinian territories, countless road blocks, uprooting of olive groves, bulldozing of houses, the use of murderous weaponry, assassination squads and concentration camps and torture centres. Braving the closures, the expropriations and settlement activity, enduring endless delays and detours, the daily searches, interrogations and humiliations, facing helicopter gunships and tank artillery with bare hands or small arms, the Palestinian masses continue to put up heroic resistance, surprising their friends and enemies alike. Since the beginning of the second

Intifada

in late September, 400 (all but 60 of them Palestinians) have been killed and 17,000 injured. The Palestinian economy has been shattered as a result of Israeli closures and blockades. The construction industry has ground to a halt; businesses are in a state of ruin; the finances of the Palestinian Authority are in a shambles – its income having shrunk from $90 million a month to a mere £15 million. There is a huge increase in poverty, with a third of the population living below the poverty line of $2 a day. Journeys which normally ought to take a few minutes now take hours and humiliating encounters with the Israeli forces of occupation. Palestinians dependent for their livelihoods on work in Israel have been prevented from earning their living. All this, and much more, has failed to weaken, let alone extinguish, the raging fire of Palestinian struggle for national liberation. There is nothing that Sharon can do to stop it – unless, that is, he is willing to come to his senses and reach a satisfactory settlement with the Palestinians.

Bombs greet Sharon’s victory

As if to cock a snook at him, the Palestinian liberation fighters greeted Sharon’s victory with a bomb blast on 8 February in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem, which injured several people. Even before the new Israeli government has taken office, Israel is continuing with its siege of Palestinian territories, uprooting of citrus and olive groves, demolition of houses and assassination of Palestinian leaders. The Palestinian people have risen to the occasion and responded to increased Israeli repression by intensified resistance. On Wednesday 14 February, a Palestinian bus driver ploughed into a queue of people, mostly Israeli soldiers, waiting at a bus stop in Azur, close to Tel Aviv, killing 9 and wounding many more Israelis. The incident followed days of Israeli violence and atrocities in the Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of 2 Palestinians and left more than 60 wounded. Palestinians were incensed at the then latest Zionist outrage, the murder of Major General Massoud Ayyad (a senior officer in Mr Arafat’s bodyguard) who was killed when Israeli helicopter gunships opened fire on the car in which he was travelling. The action of Khalil Abu Albeh, the bus driver, is believed to have been in direct response to the murder of Major General Ayyad. On 4 March, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in the coastal resort of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, killing himself and three Israelis, and wounding at least 45 others. It was the third time within a very short period that bombs had exploded in the heart of Israel. The latest explosion came in the wake of a violent weekend in which 5 Palestinians were killed throughout the occupied territories, including a 46-year-old woman and two boys aged 9 and 13. The incoming Israeli government of national unity, comprising Likud and Labour, the hawks and the ‘doves’, the ‘secular’ and the religious, the ‘sane’ Zionists and the nutty weirdos, will be at its wits end as to how to deal with the bloody mess of their collective creation. No one will be able to blame the others.

Sharon’s victory – a blow to imperialism and to Israel

The election of Sharon, far from bringing security to Israel, the promise that swept him to victory, is a blow to the plans of Israel and its imperialist masters, especially the US, on several counts. It knocks a gaping hole in the American and British policy of isolating Iraq, and accelerates the process of Iraqi rehabilitation in the region, and undermines US-led sanctions. People in the Middle East can clearly see that while US and British imperialism are prepared to bomb Iraq every day and maintain draconian sanctions against it, for alleged violation of UN resolutions, they go out of their way to give financial, military, diplomatic and political support to Israeli Zionism, which really does violate UN resolutions, which truly oppresses the Palestinians in the occupied territories, which practises discrimination on a grand scale against its Arab population. No wonder, then, that during his recent visit to the Middle East, Colin Powell, the new US Secretary of State, got a real drubbing. He had gone on a trip to isolate Iraq. No Arab country, no Arab leader, with the sole exception of the despicable Kuwaiti ruling clique, wanted to hear about it. Instead they all, even Saudi Arabia of all places, wanted to know what he and the US administration were going to do for the national rights of the Palestinians.

Even before Sharon’s election, the Conservative Saudi press had accused the outgoing US president, Clinton, of trying

“to hunt and strangle every bird in the Arab sky”

and of trying to

“obliterate the history and culture of

[the Arab]

nation”

(from an editorial in the daily

Al-Riyadh,

quoted in the

Financial Times

of 10 January 2001). Anti-American feeling has become widespread even in countries like Saudi Arabia, let alone elsewhere. It has become commonplace for westerners, mistaken for Americans, to have rotten tomatoes, eggs and insults (sometimes bullets) hurled at them.

In the wake of the Al Aqsa

intifada

, anti-American feelings have hardened throughout the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. The Americans, for all their hardware, are terrified out of their wits at what might lie in store for them – frightened by a mere rustling of the leaves. The

Financial Times

of 21 November 2000 gave the following vivid descriptions of the fear which characterises the lives of the personnel of the US Fifth Fleet in the Gulf:

According to officials close to the Clinton administration, US armed forces throughout the seven Arabian peninsula states have twice in the past two weeks been put on ‘Delta’ status of alert, the highest level of four categories of readiness that is only announced when there is a specific known threat to US armed forces or military bases.

At these times, no US naval ship goes into port. In Bahrain, the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet, 23 naval ships, including a carrier group, have twice left the port for international waters ‘where we can better defend ourselves’, said an official. At all other times, since the October 12 suicide attack on the USS Cole, an American guided-missile destroyer, in Aden harbour, that killed 17 sailors and injured 39 others, US forces have been on the second-highest alert status. This is code-named ‘Charlie’ and is used when possible attacks are imminent but neither the target nor the aggressors have been identified.

Throughout the Arabian peninsula, the US is being widely blamed for the break-down last month of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, and the upsurge of the Al Aqsa ‘intifada’, the Palestinian uprising, in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza”

(‘Gulf States show growing public hostility to US presence’, Robin Allen).

A guilty conscience, as they say, knows no rest.

Sharon’s election will only harden the anti-imperialist feelings of, and radicalise further still, the Arab masses and force their rulers to take a tough stance in their dealings with US imperialism. Even in Saudi Arabia, so pusillanimous in its dealing with the US, the

al-Medina

newspaper reacted to Sharon’s election with these words:

The rivers of blood are coming, and the Palestinians and Arabs must be prepared to confront it.”

Further, the election of Sharon serves to isolate Israel even more than before, with the possibility of a diplomatic break between it and Arab states such as Egypt and Jordan.

Finally, Sharon’s election puts a question mark against the very existence of the Zionist state by serving to emphasise the lesson of Hizbollah’s victory over, and expulsion from Lebanon of, the mighty Israeli army – namely that force is the only language that the Zionists understand, that only through a people’s war will the Palestinian people achieve victory.

Zionism will never succeed in exterminating the Palestinian resistance

Palestinian resistance has already made remarkable gains. The Oslo agreements, regarded by our ‘left’ as a total sell-out by the Palestinian leadership, were not merely the product of Palestinian weakness; they were also the product of Israeli weakness – an admission, no matter how tacit and oblique – that the Zionist project had come to a dead end and was incapable of realisation. The tortuous road of negotiation, hand in hand with resistance, has brought tremendous strength to the Palestinian cause and struggle. Israeli society today is bursting at the seams and coming apart. The highest of Israeli state institutions – civilian and military – are increasingly characterised by paralysis, unable to solve, by their traditional methods of force, repression, expulsion, expropriation and closure, the problem at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, that is, the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. The new unity government will solve this problem no more successfully than did the three earier unity governments, unless it is forced to come to terms with reality and accept that if the past seven decades of repression have not brought Palestinian resistance to an end, the next seven or more will certainly see no end to resistance either. Paraphrasing, and adapting, Engels’ words, written 130 years ago in a different context, we can say: if the past 70 years of oppression of the Palestinian people have not put an end to their resistance; if the fighting is yet not over and there is no prospect that it can be ended in any other way than by the extermination of the oppressed Palestinian people – then, all the religious and geographical pretexts in the world are not enough to prove that it is Zionism’s mission to conquer and rule Palestine.

The proletariat in imperialist countries must support the Palestinian liberation struggle

Everyone opposed to imperialist and colonialist plunder, oppression and subjugation has a duty to express solidarity with, and support for, the struggle of the Palestinian people for national self-determination. It is the duty of the proletariat in the imperialist countries, which have been the major architects of the creation of the Israeli state and the consequent misery heaped on the people of Palestine, to render all material, moral and political support to the Palestinian people in their hour of need. Jewish proletarians, in and outside of Israel, have a special role to play in this solidarity movement, for a single Jew speaking against the crimes of Israel and its imperialist masters, and in support of the Palestinian cause, counts for more than several thousand non-Jews. The Jewish proletariat must follow the example of courageous Jews, such as Norman Finkelstein and Naom Chomsky, rather than be led by the nose by the Zionist elite.

In this context, it is heartening that Yesh Guval (conscientious resisters) has reported a significant increase in the number of soldiers refusing to serve in the occupied territories ever since Sharon’s lead in the opinion polls began to surface. It is equally a matter of satisfaction that, following Sharon’s victory, some thousands of Israelis marched through Jerusalem to commemorate the 18

th

anniversary of the murder of Emil Gruenzweig, a peace campaigner killed by a Sharon acolyte during the 1983 demonstration demanding Sharon’s resignation as defence minister. The following day 17 of them were arrested while blocking the road in front of the defence ministry in a protest against the medieval and inhuman siege of the Palestinian population. This is the kind of movement that must be developed, strengthened and supported by ever-wider sections of the Israeli population. The Israelis must grasp that

“like Guy de Maupassant in the Eiffel Tower restaurant, an Israel led by a hawkish general is going deeper into a place from which it can neither escape nor win the battle”

(Edward Saïd,

op. cit.

). Only a break with the policy of conquest, occupation and oppression, only the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to statehood, can bring peace and security. Without this, Sharon’s promise to bring security to Israel, to allow Israelis to sleep safely, will remain the absurd, foolish and impossibly fantasy it has been thus far.