For Palestinian Freedom and Dignity! Workers’ Voice Statement on the Situation in Palestine
On May 2, the Israeli Jerusalem District Court ordered the immediate removal of six Palestinian families, and the further removal of seven families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem by August 1 in order to clear the way for settlers to move in. These families have been living there for generations. A significant portion of the neighborhood consists of Palestinians expelled from their home in Jaffa and Haifa during the Nakba (the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” used by Palestinians to describe the foundation of Israel in 1948). Jewish settler organizations, mostly funded by US donors, have been challenging Palestinians’ rights to their homes in Sheikh Jarrah since 1972, and have already succeeded in removing dozens of Palestinians.
The Israeli state in its current form is an apartheid state. Its project of settler colonialism — lavished annually with billions of dollars, no questions asked, by the United States — informs or determines nearly every aspect of state policy. The annexation of East Jerusalem is simply a part of that project, alongside the never ending seizure of land in the West Bank and its encirclement by a giant apartheid wall, the constant brutalization and bombardment of Gaza, and the discrimination against Israeli citizens of Palestinian backgrounds. The racist gangs who provoke the violence against the Palestinian population, and who have again been a prominent feature of the latest escalation, are merely the cat’s paw of the settler state. The forced evictions such as those of East Jerusalem create a “coercive environment” which may lead to “forcible transfer”, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Today approximately 200,000 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem, with settlement and evictions escalating over the past year. The settler project is backed by the Israeli courts, which Palestinians rightly see as an illegitimate, colonial institution that merely provides a legal veneer to the process.
On Saturday, Israeli police provoked a clash when they prevented Palestininan Muslims from gathering for the Laylat al-Qadr (“Night of Power”) prayer, which occurs on one of the last days of the holy month of Ramadan. This is one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar, believed to be when the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Israeli police injured over 500 worshippers, sending more than 300 to the hospital. Israeli forces wounded a further 200 Palestinians in the West Bank. On Tuesday, with the usual pretext about Hamas rockets, Netanyahu began a vicious bombing campaign against Gaza. So far, 53 Palestinians, 14 of them children, have died, with many more left homeless as bombs destroy apartment complexes. Two Israelis have also died as a result of the rocket attacks.
Why now? Netanyahu is currently fighting a corruption trial and has failed to form a government. Netanyahu claims, as do all Israeli leaders, that his actions are merely self-defense. Given Israel’s overwhelming military superiority and its instigating role both in regard to the evictions of families and attacks on worshippers in Jerusalem, as well as its position as a settler-colonial entity with respect to the conflict as a whole, this is an absurd statement. In reality, the latest assault on Palestinians is simply sordid politicking by a shabby politician needing to shore up his base. And that base is the most rabidly right wing and racist section of the Israeli population. To defeat the challenge of an opposition coalescing around Yair Lapid, Netanyahu must show the ghouls of his base that he is a “tough guy.”
But make no mistake. As is the case with the campaign of state terror and killings launched by the Duque government to repress the ongoing national strike in Colombia, none of this would be possible without the blind and effectively unanimous, bipartisan support of the US political regime. The US offers Israel $3.8 billion in annual military aid with a further $8 billion in loan guarantees; more than any other regime, it unfailingly protects Israel from censure at the UN; and its political and media establishments refuse to even concede the humanity of the Palestinians, let alone the apartheid nature of this specially favored client state. From Palestine to Colombia to Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Egypt and beyond, the US imperialist state, commanded by Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, continues to oppress working people throughout the world.
The Palestinian protests, including an astonishing mass protest in Lydda/Lod inside “Israel proper,” to which Netanyahu and Gantz responded by dispatching the IDF, have exhibited the unwavering dignity and resolve that have always typified the Palestinian national movement. Unphased by the Israeli police’s use of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live rounds, Palestinians are spending Ramadan evenings protesting in Haifa, Lydda, Jerusalem, and beyond. In the words of one young protester: “There’s a new generation that is fearless and we will not give up on our neighbourhood, we’re not scared of being arrested or being shot – we won’t let our neighbourhood go, we will take back our homes again.” Workers’ Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle to defend themselves against racist and colonial violence, for dignity, and for self-determination. We demand:
- An immediate end to the bombing of Gaza
- An end to all US aid to Israel
- Dismantling of the Separation Wall
- The right of return of Palestinians expelled during the Nakba
- An end to the occupation and the establishment of a multinational, secular, and democratic state in Palestine.
- Full and equal rights to all citizens of this state, regardless of religious or ethnic background
-Drafted and discussed by the Political Commission of Workers’ Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores, and approved by the Central Committee of Workers’ Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores, May 12th, 2021