Is Israel Pushing for a Middle East War?

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By GERRY FOLEY

The recent escalation of Israeli attacks on Palestinian villages, leaders, and institutions has given a new boost to speculation that the Sharon government is preparing to reoccupy the territories ceded to the Palestinian authority and to launch a Middle Eastern war.

War is certainly the logic of the conflict. What exists now is virtually an undeclared war between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. An open war against the Palestinians would threaten to unleash a war engulfing the Middle East.

The war logic is all the more compelling because there is clearly no way to stabilize the Zionist state without expelling a large part of the Palestinian population and crushing the residue. In order to do this the Israeli rulers and their big imperialist backers need the cover of a large-scale conflict.

The Zionist policy makers have studied assiduously the demographic trends in the area they rule and obviously know that they have no hope of maintaining a Jewish majority for very long unless they can get rid of a large part of the Palestinian population some way, either by forcing them to emigrate or by expelling them.

The only way, moreover, the Zionists could totally safeguard themselves against desperate acts by the ruthlessly suppressed Palestinians would be to erect a thoroughgoing apartheid system. Even the corrupt and servile Arab regimes could not control the anger of their peoples against open genocide of the Palestinians and a reduction of the survivors to an openly helot status.

However, other opinions argue against the likelihood that Israel is gearing up for a full-scale blitzkrieg against the Palestinians-at least for now.

In an interview in the Aug. 21 issue of the Italian newspaper of record, Corriere della Sera, Martin Kramer, director of the Dayan Center, one of the principal Israeli research institutions, discussed evidence that the Zionist regime was preparing for a long war of attrition against the Palestinians. For example, the army planning office is projecting a continuation of the present level of military spending for the next six years.

The main evidence for a projection of a long-term war of attrition, according to the Zionist expert, is that there is no short term solution to Israel’s dilemma. He did not think that conditions existed for a new regional war.

Kramer, on the other hand, argued that the present Palestinian protests could eventually run out of steam, as, he said, the first Intifada of 1987-1992 did. Of course, the oppressors always underestimate the capacity of the oppressed to resist. But the Zionist expert did point to a real danger.

The continuation of the Palestinian resistance depends on the emergence of a leadership that can mount effective ways of fighting the Zionist regime and thereby offer the oppressed people some palpable hope of victory.

The present leaderships have been unable to do this. The worst is the Palestinian Authority, which seems to be able only to offer the Israelis easy targets by trying to maintain the apparatus of a fictional government. Then, after every Israeli assault, it calls on the Palestinian people to step back and wait for a new round of negotiations.

Some pro-Zionist commentators in the West have counseled the Zionist government to wipe out the Palestinian Authority by a lightning strike. But if it did that it would have to permanently reoccupy all the Palestinian areas, exposing far more of its troops to guerrilla attacks, and the Palestinian leadership would go underground and be much harder to hit. Moreover, an underground leadership would be a lot harder to negotiate with.

(The fact that an Israeli daily newspaper, Yedioth Aharonot, actually sponsored a roundtable to discuss the pros and cons of assassinating Yasser Arafat is a barometer of the increasing bloody-mindedness of the Zionist establishment, but it is unlikely that any of the real policy-makers think that they would really have anything to gain by getting rid of him.)

Hamas, which has been the main alternative to the Palestinian authority, has not had an effective strategy either. The suicide bombings it has supported have only solidified the Jewish population behind the Zionist war drive. There is a long experience to show that populations cannot be intimidated, even by the most extensive bombing campaigns. Regimes only buckle when their military machines are demoralized by effective attacks.

The recent outrageous murders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader, Abu Ali Mustafa, and of Abu Zeid, a leader of the People’s Resistance Committees (killed along with his two small children), indicate that the Israel is paying new attention to those leaderships that could organize a real guerrilla campaign or a campaign of mass armed resistance against the Zionist occupation forces.

The Israeli attempts to blame some of its assassinations on quarrels within the Palestinian organizations probably reflect the hope that as they become more and more frustrated the Palestinians will turn on themselves, as tended to happen toward the end of the last Intifada.

However, the Zionists cannot themselves avoid the deadly logic of the campaign in which they are engaged.

A regime that boasted that it did not apply the death penalty against terrorists is now carrying out missile attacks on political targets, indifferent to the risk of killing uninvolved civilians, even small children. Politically, the long-run effects of that will be devastating for the Zionist project.

Moreover, it is impossible to maintain such an inhuman campaign of repression without poisoning the social and political climate even among the oppressor people, who are relatively secure from violence.

What sort of public morality can there be in a state that admits that it murders its political opponents and openly discusses this as an ordinary political question? Can this murderousness be limited forever to external oppositionists?

Even in the United States, the climate created by CIA “covert operations” convinced at least one of former President Nixon’s retainers that it was normal to contemplate the assassination of a journalist that his employer found annoying.

Furthermore, fascist-like Zionist gangs have begun to appear that are carrying out assassinations of Palestinians on their own, as Giancarlo Lannutti documented in the Aug. 30 issue of the Italian left journal Liberazione. One Israeli premier, Yitzak Rabin, has already been assassinated by a rightist opposed to any compromise with the Palestinians.

What kind of a “Jewish state” can result from this? It would certainly not be the dream of many of the original Zionists who, though they were misguided, sincerely hoped for a progressive solution to the Jewish question.

It can only be a monstrous, bloody, reactionary state that will be eventually swept aside by the struggle of the peoples of the region to liberate themselves from imperialist domination.

The present dilemma of the Jewish community in Israel is a dramatic confirmation of the conclusion of Marx and Engels that no people that oppresses another can be free.

Socialist Action News

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