Israeli Army Threatens Wider War as Palestinians Stand Up: ‘U.S. backs repression by apartheid regime’: a resource overview

The new Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, continues, backed by millions marching in the streets throughout the Arab world. At the same time, the Israeli army, backed by the United States, continues its deadly repression. Since Sept. 29 at least 90 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 seriously wounded.

The new Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, continues, backed by millions marching in the streets throughout the Arab world. At the same time, the Israeli army, backed by the United States, continues its deadly repression. Since Sept. 29 at least 90 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 seriously wounded.

On Oct. 9, the Middle East appeared to be on the brink of war. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s ultimatum to Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat–to end the Intifada or face “the full force” of an Israeli army attack in the West Bank and Gaza–was set to expire.

That day the front page of the New York Times revealed that the Israeli military command “was weighing a major strike against Lebanon and Syria.”

Such a momentous decision could lead to the overturning of the established order in this strategically key region. Therefore, it could not be made by Israel alone. Top U.S. officials intervened, forcing Barak to back off–at least for the moment.

As we go to press Oct. 11, a furious round of diplomatic moves is underway. In addition to U.S. representatives, a familiar cast of diplomatic players has appeared on the scene, including United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. In the past, both diplomats have advanced U.S. interests in the region.

The U.S. ruling class fears that while the Israelis might achieve a short-term military victory, the long-term consequences could be catastrophic for its interests in Middle East.

One very real scenario could be the collapse of the genocidal sanctions against Iraq. As anger against the United States and Israel has risen, so has the number of Middle East governments defying Washington by flying planes to Baghdad loaded with humanitarian relief.

Even the most compliant regimes, like those in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, have been compelled to create at least the impression of distance from Washington’s anti-Palestinian policy.

Decades of suffering propel outrage

Behind the immediate mass outrage in the area lie decades of suffering and humiliation at the hands of imperialism. Israel is almost universally seen in the Middle East as a settler, garrison state, established–at the Palestinians’ expense–to safeguard the interests of the Western imperialists.

In this oil-rich region, the masses live in poverty while a thin layer at the top lives in luxury. These rulers serve as the junior partners of Washington, London and Paris.

The inherent instability of the situation is well understood by the strategists of the U.S. national security apparatus. They also know that nothing is more destabilizing than war.

At the same time, the United States and Israel are proposing no viable solutions to the crisis. So the danger of a new and wider Middle East war remains very real.

The Israelis, who have military superiority thanks to massive U.S. assistance, would like to shoot their way out of the crisis. It is certainly possible that U.S. decision-makers could still reach the same conclusion.

Israeli fascist provokes uprising

The latest uprising began on Sept. 28, when the notorious war criminal Gen. Ariel Sharon and his entourage invaded the Haram al-Sharif, site of the Al-Aksa and Dome of the Rock mosques. The site is revered by Muslims worldwide and administered by Islamic and Palestinian authorities.

Sharon presided over the massacres of more than 2,000 Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. He is known as a virulent anti-Arab racist.

His “visit” was intended to affirm Israeli control of Haram al-Sharif. It was a gross insult and provocation to the Palestinians, who fought back, despite the fact that Sharon was accompanied by over 1,000 Israeli troops.

The next day, 2,000 Israeli soldiers surrounded people coming to the mosques for Friday prayers. Intense fighting broke out and rapidly spread throughout the West Bank, Gaza and inside the 1948 borders of Israel, where more than 1 million Palestinians–called “Israeli Arabs” by the media here–live.

Some Palestinian Authority police joined in the fighting, siding with the people, after the Israeli Army began to fire indiscriminately into crowds armed only with stones.

In addition to the nearly 90 Palestinians killed, hundreds more have suffered disabling injuries. On the Israeli side, four have died.

Despite this enormous disparity, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke abstained on a Security Council vote condemning the Israeli brutality. Holbrooke said the resolution was “one-sided” and that “Israelis are dying, too.” The resolution passed 14-0 with the U.S. abstaining.

Washington didn’t veto the resolution out of fear that it could provoke widespread anti-U.S. revolts in the Middle East and beyond. But the abstention makes clear that the United States is far from being the “honest broker” it pretends to be.

Despite the lethal repression, the new Intifada has spread to virtually every city and town in the West Bank and Gaza.

Racist mobs backed by Israeli gov’t

Inside the 1948 Israeli borders, an unprecedented, widespread rebellion broke out. Palestinians inside Israel are concentrated in the northern part of the country, with the largest concentration living in Nazareth.

While the “Israeli Arabs” are citizens, they face heavy discrimination in jobs, housing, social services and every other respect. Their communities receive few development funds from the central government.

Sitting above Arab Nazareth is the well-to-do Israeli town of Nazareth Illit. On Oct. 9, thousands of Israelis came down the hill to attack the Arab residents, shops, mosques and churches in Nazareth.

The Nazareth authorities called for help. According to press accounts, when the Israeli police showed up, a number of Palestinians were backed into alleys. They fought desperately with stones to hold off their attackers.

The Israeli police pulled back the racist mob, then opened fire on the trapped Palestinians. Two were killed and several wounded.

Similar attacks were reported in many cities, including Haifa, Bat Yam and Tiberias. The same day in Tel Aviv, more than 500 Israelis chanting “Death to the Arabs” set fire to a restaurant because they thought there were Palestinian workers in the kitchen.

These attacks bear an indisputable similarity to the anti-Semitic pogroms that targeted oppressed Jewish people in pre-1917 Russia, Poland and other European countries.

In the West Bank, fascist settlers protected by the military launched many attacks. They besieged small villages, smashed cars with Palestinian license plates and attempted to burn down mosques and churches.

U.S. media draw equal sign

The U.S. corporate media have attempted to draw a false equal sign between the Palestinian uprising and the Klan-like Israeli mob attacks.

But there is no similarity between the two. The Palestinians are waging a just struggle against a brutal and illegal occupation. Even under bourgeois international law, they have the right to fight to liberate themselves from occupation by whatever means they choose.

The Israeli fascists and their followers, on the other hand, are using mob violence and terror to crush any challenge to their racist apartheid-style state. In this respect, their attacks are reminiscent of white racist assaults on African American communities in the United States after World War I. Those assaults were meant to crush the mood of Black assertiveness that arose out of the war.

The Palestinians’ long, determined and heroic struggle richly deserves the support of all those who fight for economic and social justice. Against incredible odds, the Palestinians have stood against the militarized Israeli state and U.S. imperialism’s plans for domination in the Middle East.

The latest developments make crystal clear that there will be no peace until there is real justice for the Palestinian people–including a truly independent state with its capital in Jerusalem and the right of the 5 million Palestinian refugees to come home. And there will be no peace in the Middle East as a whole until the United States gets out.

Author: Richard Becker

News Service: Workers World News

URL: http://www.workers.org/ww/2000/palestine1019.html

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