BY EMMA JOHNSON
AND JOHN STUDER
The decision by the lame-duck administration of President Barack Obama to allow passage of a Dec. 23 United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel weakens both the right of Israel to exist and the fight for the national interests of the Palestinian people. It gives the green light to anti-Semitic currents that call for destruction of the Jewish state — including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions forces — and to those like reactionary Hamas in the Palestinian Gaza Strip that organizes terror actions against Jews in Israel and in West Bank settlements. And it encourages aggressive anti-Arab currents in Israel.
The U.N. resolution, which Republican President-elect Donald Trump urged Obama to veto, states that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution.”
Secretary of State John Kerry added insult to injury in a 70-minute lecture Dec. 28 blaming Tel Aviv for sinking the prospect of a negotiated peace settlement and calling the coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.”
Kerry’s critique excoriated Tel Aviv for robbing Obama of his “legacy,” ignoring his advice and instructions for what they should do. Like the liberals and those on the petty-bourgeois left who are aghast at U.S. workers who rejected Hillary Clinton and voted for Donald Trump, Obama and his meritocratic brethren find it unfathomable that Netanyahu doesn’t jump to follow their proscriptions for Israeli policy.
The key question here is the Jewish question, the right of Israel to exist as a homeland for Jews, and the right to return to Israel for Jews everywhere in a world where Jew-hatred is on the rise. As the crisis of capitalism and the class struggle deepen, history teaches, the capitalists lose confidence that “normal” methods will defend their rule, and they turn to fascist terror against the working class. Key to this is fanning Jew-hatred and pogroms to divert the toilers from fighting for power.
The need for a refuge for the Jews was etched in the consciousness of workers around the world during the second imperialist world slaughter when the Nazis marched across Europe, annihilating 6 million Jews — two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe. The capitalist rulers in Washington and across Europe closed their borders to Jews who tried to flee the Holocaust.
Out of this catastrophe Israel was established. The world Jewish population has still not reached its prewar level. In 1939 there were almost 17 million Jews worldwide, largely in Europe. Today the number is just over 14 million.
“Over 2,000 years they were subjected to terrible persecution and then to the pogroms,” Fidel Castro, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, said of the Jewish people in 2010. “I think their culture and religion kept them together as a nation.”
The fight between Israeli authorities and the lame-duck Obama administration takes place as political alliances among capitalist regimes in the Middle East are undergoing tectonic shifts. Tehran has increased its military presence and political influence from Afghanistan to Lebanon. Shiite and Sunni-led regimes are lining up against each other. As Washington’s influence declines, Moscow attempts to move in.
Israel is a Mideast nation. Today Tel Aviv is forced to take another look at who are its allies and its enemies. While most governments in the Mideast do not recognize Israel, many Sunni-led regimes, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, are looking to work with Tel Aviv, sharing common interests in blocking Tehran.
Last year the Israeli government resumed diplomatic relations with Turkey after a six-year freeze following a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish ship delivering aid to Gaza.
Tel Aviv is warming up to Moscow and looking to closer relations with the incoming U.S. administration of Donald Trump.
Jew-hatred on the rise
Jew-hatred and anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in many parts of the world. That’s why the right of Israel to exist and of Jews anywhere to live there is even more important today. And such a view is the only road to rebuild a movement capable of winning recognition of a Palestinian state today, opening the door to fight for a contiguous, viable homeland for the Palestinian people.
The U.N. resolution encourages the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which has growing support in U.S. and European liberal, academic and governmental milieus. BDS supporters seek to make an international pariah of Israel, treating its Jewish population as one reactionary mass and labeling it an “apartheid state.” They demand boycotting Israeli goods and shutting down artistic, musical and academic exchanges with Israel.
But Israel today bears no resemblance to apartheid South Africa, and the position of Jews there and worldwide has no comparison to the murderous Boer overlords who ruled Pretoria before Nelson Mandela.
Hamas and Palestinian Authority leaders welcomed the U.N. resolution and Kerry’s speech. This is in line with the course they have followed for decades, including using terror attacks to try to get the attention of Washington and other imperialist powers to pressure Tel Aviv. This course relies on turning the Palestinian masses into passive bystanders.
To defend Jews both in Israel and worldwide, and the only road that can open the door to mobilizing Palestinian workers and farmers to fight for their rights, requires recognition of the state of Israel.