Neither Israeli Nor Palestinian Workers Will Win in Latest War

Gaza Palestine1

Palestinians and their supporters are elated by today’s surprise attack on Israel from Gaza. Not only were Israel’s highly touted security services caught off guard, but Gazans actually were in control of several Israeli border towns for a few hours. For a while anyway, there is a sense of retaliation for 75 years of occupation and dire hardships. In Gaza, two million live imprisoned in a tiny area starved for vital services like electricity and water, divided from relatives, and subject to massacres of thousands every few years by the Israeli army. In the West Bank, there are also inadequate jobs, education, health care, water and sanitation and frequent house demolitions, imprisonment and killings of civilians. Even Palestinian citizens who live in Israel are treated like second class citizens, subject to living and working restrictions and a different legal system.

Given the overwhelming military superiority of Israel with its massive Western support, we can feel sure there will not be an ultimate military victory for Gaza. What the actual motivation for the conflict is we cannot be sure – release of prisoners, stimulating a wider war involving the West Bank, Lebanon, Yemen or Iran, scuttling the impending deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, or simply improving the profile of Hamas and other militants. But for sure, thousands of civilians will be killed, many more Palestinians than Israelis, and more infrastructure destroyed, even more so than during the many Israeli attacks on Gaza over the last two decades.

The main problem in applauding this new upsurge in struggle is that the leaders of Gaza, like those of the West Bank and Israel, do not have the interests of the majority of their citizens at heart. All three are overtly capitalist societies where small elites rule and gather most wealth and privileges unto themselves. In fact, the indices of economic equality (GINI) in all three areas are about equal to those of the United States, Turkey or Estonia. (For a more detailed economic analysis, see   and on this blog.) Hamas in Gaza pays high salaries and sells land only to its own members while it taxes others at a rate of 60%.  The West Bank, with capitalism enshrined in its basic law, is dominated by a small elite with many ties to Israeli and international businesses. In Israel, most wealth is in the hands of a few, and there are great deficits in education, housing and health care and discrimination against immigrants, darker skinned Jews and women

Although US and British media are allowing some interviews with Palestinians, who describe the decades of Israeli oppression, they all reiterate the demand for a two-state solution. Given the massive land grabs in the West Bank by Israel lately, almost no one really believes this is even a possibility today. However, the main point is that as long as the current rulers are in power, there would be no advantage to any workers in either supposed state except a continuation of racism, nationalism and their own exploitation. In fact, some of these capitalists would be glad to cooperate more openly with each other without the constant conflict.

The Israeli ruling class has moved ever more rightward until they now openly espouse the removal of all Palestinians so that the entire territory can be for Jews. Ever increasing racism is used to justify this policy, and most of the Israelis who are objecting to recent fascist trends within Israel have no concern for Palestinians whatsoever.  Even though the present right wing government is a source of some discomfort to Western allies like the US and Britain, there will be no decrease the massive military aid of $3.8 billion a year to Israel, which serves as the prime US base in the region.

So what should we be fighting for? As in every nation of the world, Jewish and Palestinian workers are in need of a society that they run in their own interests, where exploitation, racism, nationalism and sexism are banned. Only then can there be peace, equality and happiness for all. There have been movements for One State in recent years, which are strongly anti-nationalist. However, they ignore the question of how a future society would be structured except to say “democratic.” But that word, as we all know, has come to mean capitalist democracy, the right to choose which capitalist rules over you. Nonetheless, this movement does involve a broad group of anti-racists, with whom we can struggle.

Whether we are in the West, in Israel/Palestine or in any other land, let us build movements against racism, nationalism, imperialist war, and capitalism until together we gain the strength to fight for the egalitarian world we need.

Ellen Isaacs is a physician, an anti-racist and anti-capitalist activist, and co-editor of She visited Israel/Palestine 7 times from 2004-2015 and can be reached at [email protected]

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