Israel’s murderous attack on peace activists attempting to bring much needed aid to Gaza has outraged the world. The horrific deaths of nine activists has isolated Israel internationally. Even traditional friends of Israel like the British and Australian governments have been forced to condemn the massacre.
The outcry has meant Israel must be seen to be doing something about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. They claim to be easing the blockade by allowing some food and household goods into Gaza. But the changes are window dressing—crucial supplies like cement and iron needed for reconstruction are still prohibited. Exports are still banned, meaning the economic strangulation will continue.
The blockade has shut down 95 per cent of industry in Gaza and left nearly all the population dependent on aid. The flotilla ships were filled with cement mixers, school books, pre-fabricated houses and medical supplies. Amnesty International has called the siege “a form of collective punishment over the entire population of Gaza”. It is designed to starve the strip—and cripple its Hamas government.
The unleashing of this murderous assault shows just how far it is willing to go.
Some hoped that Barack Obama would end the US’s support and arming of Israel. But Obama has refused to condemn the Israeli assault, simply expressing “deep regret at the loss of life” and calling for an investigation.
Despite the public spat between the Obama administration and the Israeli government over settlement building in the West bank, Israel’s military power remains the cornerstone of US foreign policy in the region. Israel continues to receive $3 billion in US aid every year—including the largest US military aid package to any country. The US supplies Israel the weaponry that it uses to destroy Palestinian lives.
Israel was established by British imperialism at the end of WW2. 750 000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in the process. Millions more were expelled and live as refugees in the surrounding Arab states and around the world. Since then, imperialist powers have courted the Zionist state as an ally in the oil-rich Middle East. As the US emerged as the world’s superpower after the Second World War it began to arm and fund Israel to act as its “watchdog” in the region.
Recent years have seen Israel suffer the first military defeats in its history. It was defeated in the Lebanon war of 2006 by the Hezbollah resistance movement. Its war on Gaza last year failed to remove the Hamas government. These setbacks and increasing international isolation have caused Israel to become more and more aggressive.
But Israel can continue to act with impunity as long as the US and other Western governments support it. Obama may regret some of the more outlandish acts of Israeli aggression, and want it to revive the “peace process”. But Israel knows Obama will continue to provide support regardless.
The weakening of US control of the Middle East—with it mired in two unsuccessful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and trying to contain the increasing power of Iran—means Israel is of heightened importance to it.
The US agenda of dominating the region is fully supported by the Rudd government, which remains as committed to the US-Australia alliance as was the Howard government. Australia maintains its commitment to the US war in Afghanistan, with Rudd recently announcing more Australian Federal Police to assist with the operation.
Protests across the globe can further isolate Israel and force governments world wide to break off diplomatic ties. They will also help strengthen resistance inside Palestine and in the surrounding Arab states. Egypt has been forced to temporarily open its border with Gaza. Turkey, once Israel’s strongest ally in the region, has severed some diplomatic and military ties. These shifts are the result of the massive popular pressure for solidarity with the Palestinians.
Israel can’t and won’t make peace with the Palestinians. The plight of the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has settled with Israel, shows that peace with imperialism doesn’t mean an end to Palestinian suffering. Palestinian refugees need the right of return—and that means ending the basis of Israel as an exclusively Jewish state. The solution is a single secular and democratic Palestinian state in which Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims can live together on the basis of equality.
Revolt across the Middle East to topple the corrupt pro-US governments like Egypt and Jordan has the power to defeat the hold of US imperialism and its Israeli watchdog. Only that can win one state for all—and with it, true liberation for Palestinians.
Amy Thomas and James Supple