The Ongoing Barbarism of Two Nationalisms: Hamas and Israel
Hamas and Israel exploit their mutual weaknesses to revive their national agendas within the increasingly critical Middle East region (Reblogged from http://www.leftcom.org/en)
The pundits are scrambling around to explain the “usual” crisis between Hamas and the State of Israel. It appears they have nothing new to tell us. Hamas is attacking Israel which is repaying them with interest. On the one hand three young people dead, on the other, more than 1900 are dead and about 10.000 seriouysly injured after the Israeli raids. Hamas is provoking, Israel is responding, as ever with yet another demonstration of excessive force. A tragic but repetitive tale which has already been seen in the days of Arafat’s PLO, only to be revived by other organisations attempting to reconquer all Palestine and to destroy the state of Israel, right up to Hamas. In reality things are not quite the same, both in terms of the political condition of the actors and the international political context.
First, the context. In the entire Middle East and North Africa there is an increasingly tense economic and social situation, which goes from political uncertainty in some countries to real civil wars in others, and always with the involvement of the big imperialist powers. In Egypt, the situation is only partially under control “thanks” to the heavy hand of the Sisi government, which continues to eliminate its opponents in the Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria, there is civil war with the peripheral involvement of Russia, the United States, Iran and Turkey. Libya, after the devastating French and American interventions under the auspices of NATO, is a country in disarray, struggling with a shifting civil war for control of oil and the means of marketing it. In Iraq, things are even worse. The clash between the current government of the Shiite al Maliki and the Sunni revanchist wing of the bourgeoisie in Iraq, under the leadership of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi for the fantasy re-establishment of the “Caliphate of Iraq and Syria,” has led to the killing of tens of thousands. In the background, as always, is the energy question that extends from the oil fields of Kurdistan to those in the Basra area, through the management of pipelines that cross the centre of the country from north to south and from east to west. The risk is that the crisis in the area could also involve Jordan, where there are some Isis (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) cells. Not surprisingly, Jordan’s King Abdullah has strengthened border controls and asked for help from his ally, Israel. The gravity of the situation is shown by the fact that Isis, which operates in Iraq, controls about 90% of the border along the Golan Heights, a strategic territory eternally disputed between Israel and Syria, which was annexed in the Six-Day War (1967). This has been used to justify sending 200 U.S. special forces into Iraq, adding to the 500 already in Baghdad to protect Washington’s embassy there.
The political crisis and authority of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has to be located within this scenario. The international crisis has hit the frail economy of Gaza like a hurricane. Over the past five years, thanks to the closure of the crossing points both to Egypt and to Israel, demanded by the Tel Aviv government to stem the flow of weapons, but also all kinds of supplies including food, unemployment has reached statistically preposterous levels. The vast majority of the population lives below the poverty line. The Hamas government, after the withdrawal or drastic reduction of aid by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, with Syria and the new Iranian government engaged in many other issues, found itself in deep shit. Not only was it unable to continue its “mini welfare” policy which had so helped its political fortunes and which had given it roots in the Palestinian population at the time of the election victory of 2006, but was now no longer even able to pay wages to civil servants. Basic necessities are scarce, other goods cannot be found anywhere, the already meagre services are now at absolute zero; the only things found in abundance are poverty and hunger, which by contrast, are rampant.
The other wing of the Palestinian bourgeoisie, the secular Palestinian National Authority of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is in no better shape. It has not found anything better to do than to establish an alliance with Hamas in a sort of “national unity government “, helping to accelerate their decline and that of Hamas in the eyes of a Palestinian population, exhausted by the crisis and disillusioned by the ineffectual and unrealistic political practices of their corrupt bourgeoisie. It is not for nothing that the jihadism of a myriad of small armed groups has taken over, falling out of the control of the military leaders of Hamas itself. It is not imposssible, therefore, that the spate of incidents involving the kidnapping and murder of three young Israelis is the work of one of these groups of “lone wolves” to embarrass Hamas, and accuse it of cowardice against the historic enemy and political compromise with the weak and “pro-Israel” Abu Mazen. This has made it necessary to force the government of Gaza to attempt to regain control of the operations, and that authority over the Palestinian people that it is fast losing.
Israel could not wait. Netanyahu, lacking consensus and attacked even within his own party, immediately took up the challenge, trying to turn the weakness of Hamas into a moment of strength for his government. He first ordered Abbas to break the alliance with Hamas and to renounce the project of “a government of national unity” as uniting with “terrorists.” He then stated, in order to disrupt negotiations, that Israel will always refuse to countenance the establishment of a Palestinian state as long as this state of affairs has not completely come to an end. Even if he did not have the story of the kidnapping and killing of three young Israelis and the launching of Qassam missiles skimming the outskirts of Tel Aviv, to fall back on he would have been forced to come up with a similar excuse.
These are the new scenarios within which we have to put the old conflict between the two nationalisms in the “holy land”.
Unfortunately, what does not change is the enslavement of the proletarian masses, both Palestinian and Israeli, to their respective bourgeoisies and their agendas for preserving their own rule through bellicose policies of either attack or defence, depending on your point of view. These, however one evaluates them, are always within the economic framework of the capitalist bourgeoisie, whether, secular, fundamentalist or Zionist. Either the masses in the Middle East with the guidance of a revolutionary vanguard, the revolutionary party, set off along the road to an autonomous, anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist solution, or the barbarity of war, civil wars, of attacks and punitive raids will remain their present as well as their future political destiny.