Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israel launches Regional War on the Road to World War III

Defend the Palestinian People and Lebanese Shiites -
Defeat Zionist Expansionists! No to U.N. Mercenaries!

Drive the Zionists Out of the Occupied Territories!
Drive the U.S. Imperialists Out of Iraq and All the Near East!

Israeli girls write messages on a shell at a heavy artillery position near Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel. Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

On July 14, Israel began a full-scale assault on Lebanon, bombing targets, military and civilian, throughout the country. The first target was Beirut's airport, followed by blowing up bridges and highways leading out of the country. Aside from a few tens of thousands who managed to rush to the Syrian border before the main roads were destroyed, the entire Lebanese population is now trapped. Having blockaded the country, the Zionist militarists are proceeding to pulverize the southern part of the capital, flattening whole city blocks, as well as attacking cities and Palestinian refugee camps from north to south. Particularly hard-hit have been the Shiite Muslim communities where the Islamic organization Hezbollah is strong. To date (July 18) well over 200 Lebanese have been killed in the indiscriminate Israeli bombing.

Leaders of the Zionist state portray their assault as "retaliation" for Hezbollah's July 12 surprise attack on Israeli military forces on the border, in which eight soldiers were killed and two captured. This effective attack left the Israeli army smarting, but what followed is far more than a reprisal. It was "a wonderful option to do something the army was already prepared to do, with a well-constructed operational plan on the shelf," commented the head of an Israeli "peace" center. War minister Amir Peretz, head of the Zionist "Labor" Party, declared that "we shall not allow Hezbollah forces to remain any further on the borders of the state of Israel." The only way that can be accomplished is by an Israeli occupation, and today the first Israeli troops moved into southern Lebanon.

Whatever the pretext used by Israel to justify its aggression, the international workers movement must stand squarely for defense of the Palestinian people and Lebanese Shiite population under attack and for the defeat of the Israeli assault. The current invasion of Lebanon is part of an overall plan by the Zionist expansionists to unilaterally withdraw the borders of the Near East and impose their military dominance on the Arab peoples. Having declared the bogus "peace process" dead, the Palestinians are to be fenced in and confined to giant prisons in Gaza and the West Bank, the Zionist settlements will fill in huge swaths of the Occupied Territories, and the stage will be set for a future mass expulsion, euphemistically known in Zionist circles as "transfer." This "final solution" to the "Palestinian problem" today is openly avowed only by Zionist hardliners, but it is the logic of the decades-old policy of "creating facts on the ground.”

There is no "equivalence" between the blows struck by the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah and Palestinian groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and various secular nationalist resistance forces on the one hand, and the Zionist military juggernaut on the other. Contrary to the hysteria trumpeted by the bourgeois press in the West, the existence of the Hebrew¬ speaking population of Israel is in no way threatened today whereas the Palestinian Arab and Lebanese Shiite populations are very much in danger of being decimated and driven out of their lands. At the same time, while noting that the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank are far deadlier, proletarian internationalists oppose indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population such as suicide bombings of non-military targets and the rockets which struck a railway repair shop in Haifa, killing eight workers. The League for the Fourth International calls to drive the Zionists out of all the territories conquered by Israel in the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem. All the West Bank settlements are military outposts for the subjugation of the Palestinians.

Revolutionary Marxists recognize the right of self-determination of both the Palestinian Arab and Hebrew speaking peoples, that is, their right to national existence in the area. The creation of the state of Israel, a theocratic Jewish state which is inherently oppressive to the Palestinians, was a historic crime by the Western imperialists, coming on top of the monstrous annihilation of 6 million European Jews in the Nazi Holocaust. Instead of accepting the Jewish refugees from the fascist slaughter, the "democratic" imperialists pushed them into Palestine. But the fact is that there is now a Hebrew-speaking nation in the same territory as the Palestinian Arab population, and proletarian revolutionaries defend the democratic rights of both.

Since the demise of the phony "peace" process following the collapse of the Camp David talks in 2000, when U.S. president Clinton demanded Palestinians submit to the carving up of the West Bank, and the subsequent provocation staged by Ariel Sharon at the Al Aksa Mosque with the full cooperation of the "Labor" Zionist government of Ehud Barak, many Palestinian secular nationalists and Israeli leftists have abandoned their earlier support for a Palestinian "mini-state" and call for a democratic, secular Palestine. This was the original program of the Palestine Liberation Organization. However, there is no way that under capitalism there can be an equitable and democratic solution to the conflict between two competing claims to national self-determination on the same territory. How would the water rights be divided between Israel and Palestine, for example? What about the undeniable right to return of the Palestinian refugees forced from their homes in 1948?

The Trotskyists of the Internationalist Group and LFI oppose forced population transfers and all religiously based states, whether a Jewish state of Israel or an Islamic state in Iran or U.S.-occupied Iraq. We hold that in the case of historically intermingled peoples, the only possible framework for a just solution to national rights is under proletarian rule, when the working people of all nationalities, peoples and minorities can resolve democratic questions through their common efforts in a collective economy. In the present case, while recognizing the right of national self-¬determination on behalf of both the Palestinian Arab and Hebrew-speaking peoples, we fight for an Arab-Hebrew workers state in a socialist federation of the Near East. This can only be achieved by joint struggle of the working people against their Zionist, Islamic fundamentalist and Arab nationalist rulers.

The current Israeli assault is in many respects a repeat of Ariel Sharon's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which led to almost two decades of occupation and Israel's ultimate withdrawal. Last year they tried to set up a puppet government in Beirut by forcing Syrian forces to leave the country. While giving no political support to the nationalist Syrian government, Marxists point out that Lebanon was carved out of Syria in the 1940s by the departing French colonialists as an artificial state, then dominated by pro-Western Christian forces, in order to hold Arab nationalism in check. As demonstrated in the civil war of two decades ago, Lebanon is a checkerboard of communalist enclaves, which under capitalist rule is will always be oppressive to one national minority or another (Shiites, Christians, Alawites, Druzes, etc.)

But the current military escalation comes in a new context, of U.S.-led imperialist invasions and colonial occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Palestinian "president" Abbas, a figurehead without a state or a government, warned that the attack on Lebanon could lead to a regional war. In fact, Israel has already launched the war. The Zionists are counting on the Saudi, Egyptian and other reactionary Arab regimes to do nothing, which they undoubtedly will do, and is calling for the Lebanese government to control Hezbollah, which it will not and cannot do. As a result, many European imperialists in the Group of 8 meeting in the tsarist palaces of St. Petersburg, Russia, have called for United Nations intervention. But U.N. "blue helmets" will only serve as mercenary border police on behalf of Israel and U.S. imperialism.

The U.S. imperialists have been attempting to impose a Pax Americana on the region for decades, particularly since the 2001-2003 attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. The Zionists have always sought to serve as cat's paws for imperialism, going back to when they got British foreign minister to issue the famous Balfour Declaration in 1917 by offering to act as pawns for Britain astride the vital Suez Canal. But the interests of the Zionists and the imperialists are not always identical. In fact, crazed Israeli right-wingers and their defenders abroad are perfectly prepared to blow up the world in pursuit of their messianic expansionist plans. Currently, Zionist spokesmen in the U.S. have declared that World War III has begun, and that the key is for the United States (and Israel) to "prevail." Democrats and Republicans alike rushed to defend Israeli aggression, with warhawk Hillary Clinton taking the lead in saber-rattling. Against the bipartisan war party, we fight for a revolutionary workers party.

At the time of World War I, the German communist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg declared that the choice facing mankind was barbarism or socialism. Certainly, the Zionist rulers of Israel and the imperialist warmongers in Washington show the ugly face of barbarism as they rape and pillage their way through Iraq and dismember the Palestinian people. We call on the workers of the world to unite in class struggle to drive the imperialists from Iraq and Afghanistan, to defeat the colonial occupation and the "war on terror" which is actually a drive to terrorize the world into submission, as well as to drive the Zionists from all the occupied territories, from Gaza to the West Bank to Lebanon. And to put an end to the imperialist chamber of horrors, from the carnage of World War I to the Nazi holocaust (and U.S. atom bombing of Japan) in World War II, to the torture and murder camps of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, it is necessary to sweep away the capitalist system through international socialist revolution.

For more information, write to: Internationalist Group, Box 3321, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008. Telephone: (212) 460-0983 Fax: (212) 614-8711 E-mail:
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