Revolutionary Worker #1116, August 26, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
In the early hours of Tuesday, August 14, Israeli army tanks rumbled into the Palestinian city of Jenin, at the northern tip of the West Bank. The tank invasion was described as the "deepest thrust" by the Israeli military into Palestinian areas in the West Bank since the mid-1990s. The Israeli troops took over the city government offices and demolished the adjoining building housing the Palestinian police. They withdrew after several hours.
The next day, Israeli tanks surrounded another Palestinian city in the West Bank--Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. This time, the Israeli military threatened yet another invasion but did not order the tanks to roll into the city.
These tank maneuvers took place just a few days after Israeli forces seized nine Palestinian offices in East Jerusalem, including the Orient House--described as the "political center" of the Palestinian administration in the city that Palestinian people consider their capital. The Israeli government made clear that this was not a temporary takeover.
This Israeli action in East Jerusalem was the single most massive military move by Israel since the current clashes began ten months ago. Israel carried out a virtual reoccupation of the Arab part of Jerusalem and basically dismantled the Palestinian administration there.
These recent Israeli military moves in Jerusalem and the West Bank were a deliberate and calculated action with far-reaching implications. The Israeli rulers wanted to deliver an unmistakable message: The state of Israel will decide whether the Palestinians can have a state--and what kind of a state will be permitted. And Israel can and will use its overwhelming military might to enforce this power over the Palestinian nation.
At the same time, Israel describes its military moves as defensive--a justified response, the Israeli government says, to the violence of the Palestinians. The Israelis claim that they are the victims, and the Palestinians the perpetrators.
This is the same shameless justification that oppressors and occupiers throughout history have used to carry out horrendous crimes against the oppressed--from the genocide of the Native people by the European colonizers of the Americas to the carving up and devastation of the African continent by the imperialist powers, the raping and killing of millions by the Japanese occupiers of China and Korea, the Nazi Holocaust of Jews and others in Europe, the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the savage U.S. invasion of Vietnam, the mass murder from the air by the U.S. in Iraq…
In one sense, the situation in Palestine is a complex tangle of contradictions involving strategic interests of U.S. imperialism, infighting within the overall reactionary unity among the Israeli rulers, the class interests of the Palestinian national bourgeoisie, the maneuvers of the pro-U.S. Arab regimes in the region, and many other factors.
But in another sense, there is a clear central issue that defines the situation: The Palestinians are an oppressed people who have been dispossessed of their land at gunpoint by the Israeli settler-colonial state and its imperialist backers. This is not some "mutual tragedy"--there is not some "equivalence" of blame between the two sides. There is a basic question of right and wrong here--of colonialism and people’s resistance. And justice is on the side of the Palestinian people.
The Israeli state was born in ethnic cleansing. Millions of Palestinians were driven from their homes by imperialist-supplied Israeli military and terror squads--forced into refugee camps or into exile far away from their homeland. This is not some distant history. The ugly expansion of the Israeli state and the theft of Palestinian land continues today with the building of fortified Israeli settlements, the Israeli monopoly over precious water resources, and the cruel destruction of Palestinian homes by Israeli bulldozers.
Being Palestinian means seeing your kids being shot down by Israeli troops for throwing stones against the arrogant, heavily armed soldiers who occupy your land. Being Palestinian means having your house torn down, your town shelled by tanks, or your olive and fruit orchards leveled as part of "collective punishment" carried out by the Israelis. Being Palestinian means having to show IDs to Israeli soldiers just to get to a hospital, school, or friend--or being locked down in your village or town for days or weeks by Israeli-enforced "closures."
The Palestinians are totally justified in rising up against all this with fierce resistance--including armed resistance. The courage and determination of the Palestinian people as they go up against a brutal and powerful enemy is inspiring to people around the world. And the Palestinian people would be deeply in the right to wage struggle on a higher and more intense level--a war of national liberation to actually free the Palestinian nation from the iron grip of the Zionist occupiers and the imperialist dominators.
After the recent Israeli military moves in Jerusalem and the West Bank, U.S. President Bush issued another call for "ending the cycle of violence." But the U.S. is not some neutral and fair "peace maker." The settler-colonial state of Israel would not have survived a single moment on Palestinian soil without massive backing from the imperialist powers--especially the U.S. The U.S. is the main arms supplier of the Israeli army of occupation--and billions of U.S. dollars each year prop up the Israeli economy and government.
The U.S. is an imperialist power, and its moves in the Middle East are driven by its global interests. The U.S. waged massive war on Iraq and continues to station large military forces in the region--to better control a major source of the world’s oil as well as those who depend on that oil. The U.S. backs Israel to better dominate people of this region and the people of the world.
When U.S. officials call for a ceasefire and peace between Israel and the Palestinians, they are really calling for surrender by the Palestinian people to their occupiers. The masses of Palestinian people have made it clear they will never give up their rightful claims to their land, will never abandon their just demands for liberation. You can see this defiance in the eyes of the young fighters who take to the streets every day to confront the Israeli tanks and guns.
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