50 Year Ago: Middle East War – the Aftermath

The Middle East War must be seen in perspective. Firstly, it is only the latest in a long line of comparatively minor wars since the world was carved up anew by the victorious Allies in 1945. It has been a common feature of most of the so-called settlements which followed the Second World War, that they succeeded only in making new trouble spots, new tensions, new provocations. The creation of Israel is no exception to this.

A war in the Middle East is more, of course, than a number of minor powers in conflict. Always behind the scenes the big power blocs are operating, supporting one side or the other with arms and military advice, with aid and loans, as part of a larger and more menacing clash of interests. Thus the Egyptian army in the latest war was equipped largely with Russian weapons, the Israeli with British and French.

The reasons for this interest by the world powers in the Middle East is clear. The area is vital to them, for its oilfields and its strategic position astride the trade routes to Australia and the Far East. The complexities of the mass feudal sheikdoms which rule over a large part of the area, complicated  by  the  building  of modern  capitalism  in Israel and Egypt, have made the task of keeping a diplo­matic balance there a very delicate one.


The Israeli working class were convinced that their interests lay in taking up arms against the Arabs, and in this they were supported by countless Jewish workers abroad. Some of them went even further, attaching great importance to the capture of the ancient shrines and religious symbols of Jerusalem. Here is evidence that the Israeli working class have all the delusions which are so necessary to the continuance of capitalism.

Experience, and a knowledge of capitalism, should have taught them differently. The wars of capitalism are fought to settle the disputes of its ruling classes; no working class interests are at stake in them. The problems of the Israeli workers are the same as those of workers all over the world, and they will not be solved in a war. Their interests are the same as those of the workers of Egypt, and of every other capitalist country—to unite for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.

(from Editorial on the ‘Six-Day War’, Socialist Standard, July 1967)

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