October 1998, Canada
Perhaps one of the saddest and longest lasting examples of a working class divided against itself is the continuing factional struggle between Israeli and Palestinian workers.
Recently the Israel and Palestine government leaders met under the supervision of United States President Bill Clinton. An agreement was made to try and stabilize the violent cross-border disputes. Socialists say that this is for naught.
The creation of the state of Israel after World War II introduced a new dynamic into the Middle East. Rather than exert a blatant imperialist intervention for control of the area as in the past, a new state was formed to ensure a capitalist and state-capitalist foothold. This threatened the moribund quasi-feudal and growing capitalist elements of Arabic countries.
Enter into this dynamic a reactionary nationalism, racism and religious animosity, skilfully manipulated by political leaders, religious fanatics and vested capital interests on both sides. Zealots from Israel expounded Jewishness as a separate race and Islamic fundamentalists did the same. Both looked upon the other side with an irrational hatred. This reflected itself in continuous war, forced settlements by Israeli citizens, the evictions of Palestinian workers and the bulldozing of their homes, arrests and torture of those who fought back. Palestinians were swept up in terrorist activities, bombings and the reactionary Islamic fundamentalism of “Hamas”. A sickening war ensued that shattered the lives of many.
With the establishment of recognized “self-rule” in Palestine many hoped that things would be for the better. The first thing that Palestinian leaders did was to implement a standing police force and army not only to defend their border interests, but as a force to preserve capitalism’s new gains against potential class clashes. Yet the violence continues.
The political leaders of Israel and Arabic countries say that their choices are based on the vested interests of “the people”. But Socialists take a more critical view. “The people” do not exist except as an ideological construct, an abstraction manipulated by defenders of a capitalist status quo (through government, media, schools) to cover up very real class divisions.
The land, the factories, the oil – none is owned by “the people”, but by a small group of capitalists who profit very well, safe, many miles away from the violence.
Socialists have always argued that the workers of all countries have more in common with each other than with those representing the interests of capital. The poor worker from Palestine and other Arabic countries face the same condition as the Israeli worker. Both are faced with the fundamental problem of capitalism which forces worker against worker not for their own interests, but for the interest of profit.
We ask that workers set aside the reaction of nationalism, religious bigotry, ethnic hatred, racism and join together to root out the real problem itself – capitalism.
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