Jerusalem Bombing/New York Arrests

The Buried Issue: Justice for the Palestinian People

Revolutionary Worker #918, Aug. 10, 1997

On July 30, two bombs exploded in an outdoor market in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed, including two Palestinian men who allegedly carried the bombs. Israel's Netanyahu government immediately began a punishing clampdown on the Palestinian people, sealing off the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israeli troops raided Palestinian homes and arrested dozens of people. Netanyahu threatened further retaliation, including commando raids into the "autonomous" areas which are supposed to be under the control of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

As usual, Israel's Zionist rulers are carrying out a cynical and deadly tactic. They pretend to be "victims" of violence, and then use this as an excuse to carry out vicious vendettas against the Palestinian people. In reality, Israel--with the backing of the U.S. and other major powers--has dispossessed the Palestinian people of their land and resources, driven millions into exile, waged wars of aggression against nearby Arab countries, and committed countless other crimes. It is the Palestinian people who are the victims of Israel's reactionary violence.

Netanyahu is using the bombing to put pressure on Arafat to make more concessions around the "peace process." But from the start, this U.S.-directed "peace process" has been about stabilizing Zionist domination--by containing the Palestinian people in small islands of "self-rule" areas, surrounded by a sea of Israeli military and reactionary settlers. It is designed to keep the Palestinian nation at the mercy of Zionist economic and military stranglehold. But even all this has not satisfied Netanyahu and the Israeli rulers. They have repeatedly made provocative moves, such as starting construction on new Israeli settlements in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. And they have ordered brutal suppression of any opposition by the Palestinian people.

It's still unclear who was behind the Jerusalem market bombing. Israel first accused the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas. But as we go to press, there are reports that Israel is backing off this claim. Whatever the case, the Zionist rulers have no right to pose as "victims"--and no right to use the incident to carry out more attacks against the Palestinians.


Two days after the Jerusalem bombing, two men were arrested in a Brooklyn apartment and charged with planning to detonate bombs at a nearby subway station and on a commuter bus. According to news reports, the twomen are Palestinians with Jordanian passports.

At this point, no direct statements from the two men have been allowed to come out, and the only information available is from the police and federal officials. So the stories being reported in the media about the so-called "bomb plot" must be looked at with much suspicion.

According to the authorities, the accused men came to their attention when another man, from Egypt, flagged down cops in the middle of the night and "confessed" that his roommates were planning bombings. The police sealed off the neighborhood around the building where the men lived, evacuated people and burst into the apartment. The two men were shot and injured during the arrest. The police claimed they seized parts of two pipe bombs in the raid.

The arrest in Brooklyn touched off a frenzy of "anti-terrorist" hype and hysteria, especially in New York City. The media and U.S. government officials immediately tried to link the arrest with the Jerusalem bombing. But the supposed evidence for this link is rather flimsy. One of the men is said to have expressed support for the Jerusalem bombing--but this is based on an account by officials, not an actual statement from the accused. The Jordanian passports of the two wounded men were pointed to as another incriminating factor, supposedly linking them to a Hamas leader now in Jordan. But the fact is that many Palestinians have Jordanian passports. One of the men reportedly admitted that he had been detained by Israelis in the West Bank as a suspected Hamas supporter. According to his family, what happened was that when he was 17, he was caught up in a mass arrest by Israeli troops after a stone-throwing incident.

There is something fishy about the official story. Isn't it a little too convenient that the Brooklyn arrest happened just two days after the Jerusalem bombing? Who is the man who informed on the others and brought in the police, and why are the media and the officials saying so little about him?

There is a principle in law called qui bono, which means "who benefits." If you are trying to figure out who is behind a mysterious act, it is useful to ask: "Who will benefit?" This principle of qui bono puts Israel at the top of the list.

While the U.S. is Israel's main backer, some of the immediate interests of the Zionists come in contradiction with the overall interests of the U.S. imperialists. For example, the U.S. has expressed opposition to Netanyahu's construction of housing in East Jerusalem, because of fears this will create more Palestinian opposition to the "peace process." The discovery of the "bomb plot" in Brooklyn allows the Zionists to make the case that Islamic fundamentalists and Palestinian nationalists pose a threat to both Israel and the U.S.--and therefore the U.S. should be tougher in dealing with the Palestinians. It is also an opportunity to whip up public opinion in the U.S. in support of Israel and against the Palestinians.

Israeli intelligence agencies are known to infiltrate Islamic fundamentalist groups. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a number of Palestinian and Egyptian immigrants were convicted. But there was much evidence that connected Israeli as well as U.S. and Egyptian intelligence agencies to the bombing, pointing to the strong possibility that the immigrants were set up. Could it be that a similar intrigue was behind this most recent "bomb plot" in Brooklyn?

If it does turn out that some people--angry with Israel and their U.S. backers--were planning an action in the U.S., what should be the attitude of the oppressed people here in this country? The masses of people need to distinguish between the unjust violence of the oppressors and the just violence of the oppressed. The people in this country should understand that many different political forces have contradictions with U.S. imperialism. Some, like Islamic fundamentalists, are based on backward-looking, feudal ideas. But people from oppressed nations--who have been exploited, dominated, robbed and bombed by the U.S. and its allies--have many just grievances against U.S. imperialism.

The U.S. government labels anyone who uses violence against them as "terrorists." And the ruling class uses incidents like the Brooklyn arrest to draw people into an "anti-terrorist" hysteria, which is often directed at immigrants. During the evacuation of the Brooklyn apartment building where the three men were arrested, the police handled Pakistani residents very roughly and took them to the station for interrogation--just because they were Muslim immigrants. There are reports of Arab immigrants being harassed around the city. When it was reported that one of the arrested men had been detained by the INS at one point, New York Mayor Giuliani demanded that the INS tighten up its procedures. And the so-called "terrorist threat" is being used as justification to mobilize a huge police presence, institute "security" checks and beef up other police-state measures in the city.

Those who are being swayed by this reactionary tide need to put themselves in the shoes of the Palestinian people. What if the land your people were living and working on for centuries was taken over by a brutal occupying army? And you, your family, whole villages and towns--in fact your whole nation--were uprooted from your homes, and your houses were torn down? And what if you were forced into concentration camps or desert land or into exile, while the occupiers took over the best land and key resources like water? And what if, year after year, you were humiliated, brutalized and treated as less than human by those occupiers? Wouldn't you feel a burning anger at the occupiers--and the big powers who back them up? Wouldn't you feel the need to strike out, by whatever means available, against the hated enemy?


The U.S. imperialists are putting themselves forward as the "peacemaker" in the Middle East, the "reasonable" negotiator trying to bring Israel and Palestinians together. Clinton stated that the Jerusalem bombing was "aimed at the majority of Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs who want a lasting and just peace."

There are two big lies in what Clinton said. One, the U.S. is not an impartial party between Israel and the Palestinians, but the main imperialist power behind the Zionist state. The U.S. supplies the Zionist state with billions of dollars in military and economic aid each year, and counts on Israel as the main imperialist outpost in the Middle East.

Two, there can be no peace in occupied Palestine until there is justice for the Palestinian people. And the "peace process" orchestrated by the U.S. will never lead to any justice, liberation and self-determination for the oppressed Palestinian nation.

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