The Middle East – A Capitalist Flashpoint
To live in a region like the Middle East that is abundant in natural resources and with its easy access to the world’s main waterways would, in a rational society, be a blessing for its inhabitants, but under capitalism, with its ruthless and competitive quest for profit, it is an unmitigated curse. Greedy and hungry capitalist vultures are continually circling ready to pounce on their prey. From Iraq to Syria to Yemen, hundreds of thousands of lives have been sacrificed in wars dedicated to the god of profit, more powerful and blood-thirsty than any Sumerian deity.
Palestine was a focus of rivalry between imperial powers long before Israel was established. The Ottomans ruled there until their defeat in the First World War, whereupon the British received a mandate to rule Palestine as part of the spoils of war. In 1948, after facing a guerrilla campaign by Jewish settler groups, the British rulers relinquished their rule over Palestine and the Israeli state was born. Once in power the new regime set about expelling the Arab population (the Palestinians), from their homes and villages. They were exiled to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and many found themselves in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab countries.
Given its strategic location, Israel was always going to be courted by the major capitalist powers. The USSR was one of its earliest supporters until about the mid-fifties when it became an ally of the United States. During the Cold War, the US backed Israel and the Arab states were supported by the USSR. The workers in the region, including the dispossessed Palestinians, were the pawns in this geopolitical power struggle.
Conflict between the Palestinian population and the state has dogged Israel since its inception. A resolution appeared possible when the Oslo accords were agreed in 1993 which proposed a two-state solution. However, In the last 20 years, more stridently nationalistic Israeli governments have encouraged illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The tensions arising from this led to military conflicts between the Israeli state and Hamas in 2009 and again in 2014. The United States government has continually backed Israel, including supplying arms. Donald Trump, when he was the US President, ramped up the tensions by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The triggers for the current violence have been the attempt to evict Palestinian families in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers and the firing of stun grenades by Israeli police at worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Reacting to this provocation, Hamas fired rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The Israeli military retaliated with airstrikes against buildings in Gaza. As in previous military confrontations, casualties fell more heavily on the Palestinian side, including the deaths of many children. However, an ominous new development has been an outbreak of sectarian violence between Jewish and Arab Israeli workers.
Hamas, would-be capitalist rulers of the Palestinians with links to Iran, are vying to wrest control of the Palestinian areas from their Fatah rivals in the Palestinian National Authority. The odious Mr Erdogan of Turkey is weighing in pretending to be a champion of the Palestinians.
Despite the media narrative, this is not a conflict between Jews and Arabs, but between different capitalist factions fighting over the oil resources and strategic routes. Jewish and Arab workers have no interest in fighting each other, but they have a common interest in uniting with other workers in abolishing capitalism and establishing socialism.