Wednesday, 01 April 2020

The Anti-Proletarian Alliance of the Arab and Israeli Bourgeoisies

After more than 50 days of bombing and over 2000 deaths, including women and children, the Israeli attack unleashed on Gaza’s proletariat over the past few months has temporarily ceased. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has reassumed its role as controller, according to the security agreements stipulated in Oslo in 1993 with the Israeli attacker-occupiers. Villages, enclaves, shelters, refugee camps, West Bank towns in area A (18% of the territory, the administrative area governed by the Palestinian National Authority), area B (21%, the area where civil administration is the responsibility of the Palestinians and security that of the Israelis) and area C (controlled exclusively by Israel) thus return to so-called normality.

 In this territory, euphemistically called “Palestinian”, where poverty, misery and unemployment run rife in houses piled one against the other, with walls as high as 8 metres surrounding towns and cities, lookout towers keeping an eye on the territory and urban density beyond its utmost limit, the two States and their police forces rein in the proletariat, taking over control of the streets and the hunt for young demonstrators (arrests are a normal, everyday occurrence). “Securing” the territory is a task shared by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli army and has become a slogan. But there are still a few “naïve souls” who, unable to lie about the real conditions of the Palestinian proletariat, continue to quibble about the claimed “lack of an acknowledged State” and at the same time lament the “pressure from the Palestinian police” … One and the same thing: either the Palestinian police force is a fifth column, a reserve of the Israeli State, or else it is the expression of the Palestinian bourgeoisie and its own State.

The media report that at the end of the umpteenth massacre perpetrated in Gaza a “showdown” occurred between the various factions of Hamas, with so-called “collaborators” being shot: this demonstrates that the social division between the classes is advancing and penetrating deep into militant files. We dare to hope and believe that proletarian elements, too, are slowly gaining “consciousness” of their social conditions and preparing to fight back – unfortunately without any hope of victory today, unless they are supported by the proletariat in western countries.

On the basis of the Oslo agreements, the Palestinian National Authority (so Italian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique explained to us in October 2014) “has no right to use force in the case of attack by Israeli settlers, […] must submit to the Israeli authorities, cooperating to identify and interrogate Palestinian militants who may constitute a ‘potential’ risk for Israel”. The Palestinian police are recognized by the population as collaborators because of the numerous arrests of opponents over the last few years, explains the head of the Aida refugee camp (Bethlehem), “at times ordered by Israel […]. How can one trust an organism that obeys the will of the occupiers and that is actually a threat to us?” At the beginning of 2013, the refugees wrecked the police station in the camp, chasing away the policemen. “In the end we have the impression that the only thing that distinguishes them from Israeli soldiers is the (Palestinian) flag they work under.” Both the PLO and Fatah are quite aware of this situation, since the declarations by Abu Mazen in a meeting in front of journalists and militants on 28 May this year in Ramallah have not given rise to any scandal: “The coordination [with Israel, ed.] of security is sacred, sacred. And will continue, whether we agree with the Israelis or not.”

The agreement signed in Cairo in 1994 reads as follows: “work systematically against any incitement to terrorism and violence against Israel”, “prevent any act of hostility” against the settlers and “coordinate [their] activity” with the Israeli army, mostly through exchange of information and joint operations. On 9 January 2005, after the elections of Abu Mazen, this policy gained new impetus with the reform of the security services. From the Report of the International Crisis Group (Squaring the circle: Palestinian security reform under occupation, 7 Sept. 2010,www.crisisgroup.org), we gather some facts: the Palestinian police forces and gendarmeries amount to around thirty thousand members (1 to every 80 inhabitants of the West Bank – a ratio amongst the highest in the world: in France it is 1 to 356). These forces were organized by the USA, which formed special units equipped with modern vehicles and sophisticated arms. The security forces financed by Washington and by the Europeans absorb 30% of the Authority’s annual budget, equal to 3.2 billion euros in 2014, a sum greater than the total allocated to education, health and agriculture. The ex-Minister for Home Affairs in Palestine, Said Abu Alì, who held office from 2009 to 2014, explains this as follows: “Coordination policy is a success for both sides… the efforts we have made to re-establish law and order have succeeded in ensuring some stability in the West Bank and conquering terrorism and extremism. There are those who condemn the cooperation of our services with Israel and accuse us of being ‘collaborators’, but it has nothing to do with this. Our aim is to build a State and security is one of its pillars.”

And this is what this security policy leads to (again from Italian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, cit.): “In 2013 the Israeli army arrested over 4600 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank with around 4000 interventions… around thirty were killed… as to the Authority’s police force, it is regularly accused of abuse, as well as of the arbitrary detention of several political opponents (just like the Hamas police force in Gaza).” This data is followed by the considerations of the sociologist Abaher al Sakka, who teaches at the University of Bir Zeit (Ramallah): “This security policy that our leaders justify in the name of the future State, really serves as a guarantee to the ‘international community’ the Authority depends on financially and to prevent hotbeds of rebellion in the Territories.”

The situation of widespread crisis, which of course affects this area, too, has witnessed a protest by the population against government policy. Like everywhere else, the laissez-faire policies that Capital has resorted to in the attempt to deal with its own crisis “have seen support from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and donations from other countries, since 2007”. As in many countries, much of state and social spending has been cut and placed under the control of private companies: “the elimination of 150 thousand jobs as civil servants, containment of salaries, readjusting of social security, increase in social inequality, doing away with jobs and increase in the cost of living, a drop in GNP from 7% (2008) to 1.5% (2013)”. The “economic boom” by the “Palestinian tiger” of the pre-crisis years, so highly praised by the experts and actually due to international aid which “covers half the Authority’s budget”, upturned into “an unprecedented financial crisis, as soon as the aid from donations was exhausted in 2010”. The trend of the unemployment rate at present hovers between 20% and 30% in the West Bank and 40% in Gaza, poverty affects a quarter of the population, whilst the income of the rich has grown 10% during the course of the crisis.

Abaher al Sakka again: “Most of the country’s economy is concentrated in the hands of important families and of the new rich, mostly linked to the centre of power and taking advantage of its networks. They are the heads of companies that control sectors such as telecommunications, building, energy, food, etc. Some of them invest on the Israeli market and in industrial colonies. In exchange they enjoy privileges conceded by Israel, such as the possibility of being first past the checkpoints. In Ramallah it is quite common to see these VIPs shooting through the city centre in brand new cars; they live in areas that are light years away from the universe of the refugee camps.” Once more Le Monde Diplomatique offers some figures on trade (Palestinians import 70% of their products from Israel and export 85%) and on customs duties (cashed by Tel Aviv whilst they are due to the Palestinian Authority).

So what is to be done?

The anger expressed by a young man who saw a friend killed by Israeli soldiers is most interesting: “The élite and the capitalists of Ramallah with their big Mercedes and their jeeps do not represent us. They treat us as ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists’, when all we are trying to do is resist the occupation! We must dismantle the Authority. It is of no use, merely to carry on vague negotiations which, in the end, are its only reason for existing, its business interest!”

These radical political affirmations contain a mixture of the needs and illusions of the new generations of proletarians. These proletarians are the ones we turn to: they should realize that there is a confederation of two bourgeoisies allied against them and it is these that must be fought;there are two States and both have to be attacked. Nothing can stop the advance of colonization, the régime of military occupation, the growing misery and exploitation, the close link (between the two bourgeoisies) hidden behind the apparent contrast, except for the organization ofrevolutionary defeatism at various different levels (economic, social, political and military) of theproletarian united front. It cannot be done either by a “third Intifada”, or a general uprising involving the whole Arab-Israeli territory, unless the national straitjackets in which the two States have confined their proletarians, and which weigh like millstones on their class objectives, are ripped off. The limited horizon of Intifada was outstripped half a century ago by the wars brought by the Israeli army to the various territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: a general proletarian uprising confined inside the Palestinian State would be destined to succumb. The international dimension that the Middle East has acquired no longer allows for refuge in national issues or alibis. For some time the great imperialist metropolises, of which Israel is merely a keen pupil, have been imposing their terrible diktats on civilian populations by means of devastation and massacre. Given the present state of affairs, all variations of the Palestinian bourgeoisie must be attacked, both lay and religious; its governments for national unity and the alternate reconciliations between Fatah, Hamas and the various liberation fronts are merely advance notice of weighty defeats for the proletariat.

The anger and contempt expressed by the young Palestinian in the name of them all must be directed at all the nationalist sirens: the “right to return” of the Palestinians just as the fabled “promised land” of the Jews. The proletarian and class perspective has to resound in all social fractures, in every economic clash, in all the strikes: the historical-social and economic conditions for a revolutionary comeback are all in place.

 

International Communist Party

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