Socialist Worker

Israel - the imperialist outpost in the Middle East

Issue No. 2604

Tory foreign secretary Arthur Balfours declaration laid the basis for Palestinian oppression

Tory foreign secretary Arthur Balfour's declaration laid the basis for Palestinian oppression

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe. This is how Palestinians describe the expulsion of 850,000 Palestinians from their homes by Israeli forces in 1948.

This horror lies at the foundation of Israel. And it flows from the nature of the Israeli state.

Israel’s supporters portray it as a progressive, democratic safe haven that helps Jews escape antisemitism. In reality it is a violent, racist state that exists to serve imperialism.

The Zionist movement, which argued for a separate Jewish homeland, emerged at the end of the 19th century in response to horrendous antisemitism across Europe.

Eventually Zionists decided on Palestine as the place for the new Jewish state. But an Arab population already lived there.

So Zionist leaders needed support from the great powers. And they made clear that they would act as imperialist lapdogs in return.

This was attractive to Western rulers, who wanted a friendly regime in the Middle East to help protect their interests. The Zionists first won backing from Britain.

They promised the British government that their settlements in Palestine could help consolidate Britain’s empire. Britain took control of Palestine in 1918 and more Jews moved there.

Zionism grew stronger after the Holocaust, as more people despaired about the possibility of overcoming antisemitism.

After the Second World War, the United Nations partitioned Palestine. It gave 56 percent to Zionist settlers, who made up just a third of the population.


This wasn’t enough for the Zionists—who then launched the Nakba. The new Israeli state grabbed 80 percent of Palestine by 1949, driving Palestinians to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Later, Israel proved its worth to the US. In 1967 it beat Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the Six Day War. This dealt a blow to the Arab nationalism of Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser, which posed a threat to US influence in the region.

The US dramatically increased aid to Israel following the war. It has continued to fund, arm and back Israel ever since—last year it paid the terror state £2.8 billion. Between 1946 and 2016 it handed over almost £100 billion.

Israel today acts as a watchdog for the US in the Middle East. Though its vicious attacks sometimes cause concern for the US it remains a key ally.

Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem has encouraged Israel’s murderous violence this week.

The massacres this week are another reason to protest against Trump when he comes to Britain on 13 July.

Israel acts in the interests of its imperial sponsors and relies on racist violence to survive. It can’t be compromised with.

The only solution to the horror in Palestine is one democratic, secular state where Jews and Arabs live side by side.

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