October 9, 2023
- The War in the Middle East, the Real Threat of Global Catastrophe, and the URGENT Need to Prepare for REVOLUTION — Three Points
On the morning of October 7, armed forces of the Hamas organization, the Islamic fundamentalists who govern the Palestinian region of Gaza, launched a surprise, multi-pronged land, missile, and hang-glider attack against Israel.1 There are reports that between two and three thousand missiles were launched from Gaza at Israel, some breaching Israel’s “iron dome” anti-missile systems. Hamas says it captured Israeli troops, and news reports show destroyed or captured Israeli military vehicles. And as we post this, there are reports that after more than 24 hours, fighting continues inside Israel near the border with Gaza, and that the Hamas forces are holding Israeli hostages, military and non-military.
The way this action is being spun in the ruling class media of U.S. capitalism-imperialism starts in the middle of the story. It whites out the history of violent, terrorist ethnic cleansing by Zionist settlers that brought about the state of Israel. It whites out 75 years of ongoing and escalating Apartheid-style discrimination,2 dehumanization, terror, and genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and throughout what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories it occupies illegally. Living under a brutal Israeli blockade, 45 percent of the population of Gaza is unemployed and 80 percent depend on international food aid to avoid starvation, according to Palestinian and U.N. data.
Israel has the most powerful missile defense system in the world, and a military with state-of-the-art death machinery including a substantial nuclear arsenal, enabled or provided by the U.S. The people in Gaza are basically defenseless against air strikes and missile attacks.
Immediately after the attack began, Israel destroyed a major office and residential building in Gaza. As we post this piece, Israeli officials are saying several hundred people were killed (how many were military and how many were civilians is not clear). Palestinian officials are reporting hundreds of Palestinians killed. And while news coverage in the U.S. focuses only on the suffering in Israel, all of Gaza is under siege, preparing for worse, and people there are living in imminent danger of much more deadly attacks.
Cedric Leighton, a former U.S. military commander, told CNN that while Israel’s military and political objectives in bombing Gaza were unclear, possibly even to Israel’s rulers at this point, the immediate response of the bombing of Gaza is “frankly for retribution.” In other words, indiscriminate mass murder of civilians as collective punishment. All indications are that Israel is preparing for much worse in the hours and days to come.3
There is complexity to the current conflict, not all of which we can address here and now. There is also a basic right and wrong. Israel’s oppression of and attacks on the Palestinian people are egregious crimes against humanity. And that is true no matter “who shot first” in this particular clash, or the nature of forces that attacked Israel. People everywhere need to demand no Israeli massacre in Gaza. And, be challenged to confront and oppose the fundamental nature of Zionism, a racist ideology in service of U.S. capitalism-imperialism.4
“Indiscriminate Violence and Terrorism”—PERPETRATED BY ISRAEL AND ITS BACKER, U.S. CAPITALISM-IMPERIALISM
In response to the attack from Gaza, U.S. Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin denounced the Palestinian forces for attacks on civilians with “indiscriminate violence and terrorism.” “Indiscriminate Violence and Terrorism,” in four words, only scratches the surface of the history and present-day actions of the state of Israel towards the Palestinian people.
The State of Israel is literally built on, and exists on the basis of, indiscriminate violence and terrorism against the Palestinian people. Including these nodal points:
- In 1948, during the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe), almost a million Palestinians were forced from their land, villages and homes by terror, rape, and mass murder.5 To ensure that there would be nothing for the Palestinians to return to, their villages and even many olive and orange trees were thoroughly destroyed. This barbaric slaughter, and the ongoing terrorization and murder of Palestinian people, was justified by the racist ideology of Zionism that dehumanizes the Palestinian people.
- From December 27, 2008 to January 19, 2009, Israel, backed by the U.S., attacked the Palestinian people in Gaza with U.S.-supplied F-16 bombers, Apache helicopters, massive and indiscriminate missile attacks, tanks, and an invasion by thousands of troops. The number of Palestinians killed during the 24-day assault, is estimated to be between 1,166 and 1,417, including 844 non-combatants, 281 of them children. Israeli officials express outrage that in the current outbreak, Hamas forces killed non-combatant civilians. And Israel claims that in their violent oppression of people in Gaza, they avoid civilian casualties. That’s an obscene lie. Emblematic of the depravity of Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, 42 Palestinians were killed and another 55 wounded in a single Israeli attack on a United Nations school that was sheltering Palestinians who had been forced to flee their homes. Doctors said all of the victims were civilians, not connected with Hamas military forces, and that many of the victims were children.6
- In 2014, Israel carried out massive attacks on Gaza for 50 straight days in July and August. In this extended slaughter, Israel killed 2,251 Palestinians—1,462 of whom were civilians, including 551 children. The death toll on the Israeli side was 67 soldiers (who were invading Gaza) and six civilians. More than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza were left without a home they could return to.7 A year later, not a single home had been rebuilt. Ever since, Israel (backed by the U.S.) has enforced blockades that prevent humanitarian aid from rebuilding from this massacre.
These crimes are but punctuation points in an endless reign of terror by the official Israeli military against the people, overwhelmingly civilians, in Gaza. And this “indiscriminate violence and terrorism” is escalating in sync with increasingly genocidal terror by KKK-style, rabidly Zionist, heavily armed “settlers” against Palestinians in the West Bank region of Palestine, illegally occupied by Israel.
An Explosive Situation, and the Interests of Humanity
On the morning of the outbreak of fighting, Biden announced, “The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made clear to [Israel’s] Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel. Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation. My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”
Note three points here.
One: U.S. military and other backing for Israel is “rock solid.” Meaning, Israel is an essential and invaluable enforcer (regional and global thug) for the interests of the U.S. empire. And, with its persecution of the Palestinian people, Israel is a bitter example of a model of what the rulers of the U.S. call the “free world.” From Gaza to Bangladesh, from Guatemala to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that “free world” is a world of slums and sweatshops, environmental devastation and war, and every kind of oppression.
Two: Yet again, the endless hypocrisy of the world’s most horrific perpetrators and enablers of terror (see the American Crime series at revcom.us and A FINAL NOTE: On the Real Nature and Monstrous Crimes of This Country at the end of THE TRIALS OF FASCIST DONALD TRUMP, AND THE CRIMINAL NATURE OF THIS WHOLE SYSTEM… by Bob Avakian).
And three, note the threat to “any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation.” That threat comes in the context of ferocious, escalating, and extremely dangerous confrontations between U.S. capitalism-imperialism, and Russia and China, its global capitalist-imperialist rivals. For background, including how this conflict is taking place in the context of and interpenetrating with the fierce clash between traditional imperialist and fascist sections of the U.S. ruling class, and what that has to do with the need and basis for revolution, see THE TRIALS OF FASCIST DONALD TRUMP, AND THE CRIMINAL NATURE OF THIS WHOLE SYSTEM… by Bob Avakian.
Russia and China are “seeking advantage in” conflicts in the Middle East, moving to extend their influence and contend with U.S. domination through economic, diplomatic, and military initiatives and alliances. If the current conflict expands, it could draw in more direct involvement of the U.S., Russia, and China and escalate in dangerous ways into regional war, or even be the spark that could lead to a world war, with the existential threat that would pose to the survival of human society.
The October 7 attack on Israel involves forces that do not represent a way out of, and in fact reinforce oppression. But as we emphasized, there is a basic right and wrong here: Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people is an egregious crime against humanity. And people must not stand aside while Israel threatens and prepares yet another massacre against the people of Gaza.
But even beyond that, imagine. Imagine the impact of an actual revolution in the “belly of the beast,” the world’s most massive perpetrator and enabler of reactionary violence and terror, the United States. Imagine the impact that would have on the people of the Middle East, and the whole world, not just ending the crimes of this system but setting whole new terms, and a whole new standard for what humanity can aspire to.
That is not just a dream. This historic moment, with all its horrors, is also a time when revolution in this monster is more possible. The revcoms have the leadership, the strategy, and the vision to make that happen. Everyone outraged by the state of the planet, including how it is bringing such misery and death to the Palestinian people, has a responsibility to get with that revolution. Now.
2. The Apartheid system that was in effect in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s classified only whites as full citizens. It prohibited sex or marriage between whites and blacks. It confined black Africans to regions that were essentially massive concentration camps, and required them to carry a “pass” when entering white areas (most of the country). Black Africans were deprived of the most basic rights including the right to vote. Human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem have made carefully documented and damning cases that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people “is Apartheid.” [back]
3. Since 2007, Gaza has been ruled by Hamas, a reactionary Islamic fundamentalist movement. Hamas has called its action the start of an “Al Aqsa Typhoon,” framing it in clashes at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem between Muslims, and reactionary Jewish fascist fundamentalists who have carried out repeated provocations there, backed by the Israeli military. Framing the oppression of the Palestinian people by Zionism as a holy war between Muslim fundamentalist theocracy and Jewish fascist Zionism serves the interests of both sides in a clash defined by those terms. The actual interests of the majority of the people in what today is Israel and Israeli-occupied territories, are represented by a secular state that moves to overcome the legacy of Zionism and all forms of exploitation and oppression. Bob Avakian poses a powerful and inspiring challenge on this in the video clip from a Q&A with him, Bob Avakian on the Existential Crisis Facing Israel. [back]
4. For an understanding of the reactionary nature of Zionism, including why the horrific crime of the NAZI genocide against the Jewish people in Europe does not justify the Zionist state of Israel, see the Revolution special issue on Israel. [back]
5. The role of rape of women by Zionist forces in the ferocious ethnic cleansing of Palestine is documented in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappé, which draws on and cites reports from the UN and the Red Cross, along with firsthand Israeli military sources, and Palestinian accounts. For more on the Nakba, see the section “The Nakba: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” in the Revolution special issue on Israel. [back]
6. For more and documentation of these crimes by a wide range of reliable sources, see American Crime Case #30: Israel’s U.S.-Armed and -Backed Massacre in Gaza (2008-2009). [back]
7. Statistics from a June 24, 2015 UN Human Rights Council report and from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. [back]