Israel’s assault on the Freedom Flotilla last week was not an aberration. The state of Israel was born in violence—and continues to exist because of its perpetual use of violence.
It used overwhelming force to dispossess the Palestinians of their homeland and then to stop them from reclaiming it.
It could only do this with support from the great powers.
The Zionist movement, which argued for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, appeared at the end of the 19th century as a response to growing antisemitism in Europe. Zionists argued that this racism could not be defeated and that Jews must live separately.
There was a problem with their prospective homeland. As two rabbis on a factfinding mission wrote, “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.”
To overcome the “problem” of the existing Arab population, the Zionists looked to the great powers.
They pledged that they would be faithful supporters of imperialism. Western leaders hoped that a friendly regime in the oil-rich Middle East could control unruly populations in the area and secure oil supplies for them.
In 1917 Arthur J Balfour, British home secretary, declared that the government supported the idea “of a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
Jews made up less than 10 percent of the population of Palestine at the time. Britain took control of Palestine in 1918 and Jewish immigration increased.
Zionism was a minority trend among Jewish people until the Nazi Holocaust led many to despair of ever ending antisemitism.
After the Second World War, the United Nations agreed a partition plan that would give around 55 percent of Palestine to Zionist settlers.
This did not satisfy the Zionists. In 1948 Zionist terror gangs killed civilians and destroyed villages, driving 750,000 Palestinians from their homes.
Many fled to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as the new Israeli state grabbed 80 percent of Palestine.
Palestinians describe this event as the Nakba (the catastrophe).
Israel proved its worth to the US in 1967 by defeating the combined forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the Six Day War. US aid increased dramatically after this blow to the Arab nationalism of Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser, which was threatening US influence in the region.
Israel brought Palestinians under its control, grabbing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It continues to dominate these Occupied Territories today.
Armed Palestinian resistance to Israeli oppression grew throughout the late 1960s and 1970s. Neighbouring Lebanon became the base of Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 in an attempt to crush the PLO. Thousands were killed, including 2,000 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps who were massacred by Israel’s fascist Lebanese allies—while the Israelis provided security. The PLO was forced out of Lebanon.
Resistance moved into the Occupied Territories when the first Intifada, or uprising, broke out in 1987. A mass movement brought the Palestinians’ plight to the world’s attention and increased the pressure on Israel.
Israel’s leaders were forced to enter into the peace process with the PLO. This process was never about the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Israel and the US wanted the PLO to accept limited autonomy to police its own people—while remaining under Israel’s dominance. Israel continued to build illegal settlements throughout the Occupied Territories.
While Arafat accepted this process, the Palestinian people did not. The second intifada broke out in 2000. Israel crushed this uprising but Palestinians have continued to defy their oppressor.
While Israel removed its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it only did so to consolidate its control. It has punished the 1.5 million inhabitants with a blockade since 2006 after they democratically elected the Hamas Islamic resistance movement.
Israel has continued its repression of the West Bank and Gaza. It continues to build illegal settlements. And it is constructing an apartheid wall to further isolate the West Bank.
Israel has suffered a number of setbacks in the last few years, notably its defeat in the 2006 war with the Lebanese Hizbollah group. There is growing questioning of its legitimacy across the world.
But its relationship with the US remains strong.
The Israeli state exists to serve imperialism. As long as this racist state exists, it will terrorise its neighbours, the Palestinian people and those offering them support.
A two-state “solution” leaves an oppressive state backed by imperialism free to dominate Palestinians. It will not give Palestinians dispossessed by Zionists the right of return to their homeland.
The only way to win justice for Palestine is to have one democratic, secular state where Jews and Arabs can live side by side in peace.