Israel’s “Jewish Nation-State Law,” Escalating U.S.-Israeli Crimes Against the Palestinian People, and Threats of War Against Iran

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On Thursday, July 19, Israel’s Knesset (parliament) passed a new law proclaiming that Israel is the “Nation-State of the Jewish People.” This bill legally enshrines—and heightens—the racist oppression and subordinate status of Israel’s 1.9 million Palestinian citizens. And its declaration that only Jewish people have the right to “national self-determination” and its call for more settlements ominously opens the door to accelerated ethnic cleansing, even genocide, of the Palestinian people.

A Palestinian member of the Knesset wrote in the Los Angeles Times (July 20) of the new law:

It threatens to set the country on a course to full-blown Jewish theocracy.

The so-called “Jewish nation-state” bill formalizes in Israeli law the superior rights and privileges that Jewish citizens of the state enjoy over its indigenous Palestinian minority, who comprise roughly 20% of the population. It demotes Arabic from one of two official languages to a mere “special” status, deepens racial segregation by directing the government to “encourage and promote” Jewish settlement, and declares that the right to self-determination in Israel is “exclusive” to the Jewish people, denying the history and ancient Palestinian roots in this land. It also prioritizes the Jewishness of the state over its democratic character, omitting any reference to “democracy” or “equality.”

Israel’s founding 1948 Declaration of Independence promised all its inhabitants “complete equality of social and political rights” regardless of religion, ethnicity, or sex. And for decades the U.S. imperialists—Democrats and Republicans—have hailed Israel as the Middle East’s only “democracy.”

In reality, Israel has been a thoroughly reactionary state serving the interests of Zionism (a movement for creating a Jewish state through U.S.- and European-backed colonization) and imperialism—a reliable bastion and backer of U.S. domination in one of the most strategically significant parts of the world. The Palestinian people—including the 1.9 million who are Israeli citizens (21 percent of the country’s population)—have never had anything close to equality or basic rights. Israel’s very existence is based on the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population—more than 700,000 were driven from their homes and lands when Israel was founded. Since then, Palestinians inside Israel have faced racism and apartheid-like conditions (including some 50 laws specifically favoring Jews). In the West Bank and Gaza (outside Israel’s formal and often expanding boundaries), Palestinians have been subjected to draconian and often murderous military occupation aimed at crushing any possibility of their national self-determination.

Yet as bloody and horrendous as this history has been,1 the passage of this new “basic law”—which legally supersedes Israel’s founding Declaration of Independence and other laws—drops even the pretense of equality for all citizens and represents a very dangerous fascist leap. It literally obligates the state to discriminate against non-Jewish citizens, and to enshrine and expand Israeli apartheid. It raises the specter of Palestinians and other non-Jewish Israelis being stripped of their citizenship and further brutalized. The law calls building Jewish-only settlements on occupied territory a “national value”—raising the specter of accelerated ethnic cleansing, even genocide. (See also “The Genocidal Implications of Trump’s Embrace of a ‘One-State Solution’ for Palestine.”)

While things have been moving this way for a while, this move represents “the official beginning of fascism and apartheid,” as an Israeli Arab legislator described on Twitter (emphasis ours).

Trump/Pence Regime Endorses Israeli Fascism

Israel’s new law—and the escalation of its murderous brutality against the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza—have been uncritically backed by the Trump/Pence regime and leading Democrats, whose profound silence in the face of this fascistic outrage speaks volumes.

Fundamentalist Christian fascist forces, now key backers and forces in the Trump/Pence regime, are rabid supporters of Israel, with a great ideological affinity for its extreme right-wing Jewish fundamentalists. As we’ve written, these Christian fundamentalist fascists “see the clash with fundamentalist Islamic Jihad as a continuation of a historic global conflict between the white Judeo-Christian West, and Islam as a whole, with Israel on the ‘front lines’ of that clash of civilizations.” For more on this, see Bob Avakian’s work—in particular, “The Pyramid of Power And the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down.

The week this fascist legislation was passed, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, together with other Trump operatives including the U.S. ambassador to Israel, published opinion pieces in the Washington Post and at CNN blasting Hamas—the Islamic fundamentalist party which is currently the dominant Palestinian political force in Gaza—as solely responsible for the barbaric, subhuman destitution suffered by the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza.

“Life could significantly improve in short order for the Palestinian people if Hamas allowed it,” Kushner and his cohorts claimed. “The world is moving forward, but bad choices are causing Palestinians to fall further and further behind.... Hamas leadership is holding the Palestinians of Gaza captive.”

While Hamas is a reactionary and oppressive, not emancipatory, force, Kushner’s charges are monstrous lies—and the height of hypocrisy—to justify monstrous crimes. Seventy percent of the Palestinians now living in Gaza are refugees. They did not make the “bad choice” to have imperialist-backed Zionists violently expel them from their homes in 1948. They didn’t make the “choice” to have Israel impose a crippling, sadistic blockade that leaves Gazans with two hours of water and electricity a day, no materials to rebuild their homes and cities devastated by Israeli bombs, and life-threatening poverty and unemployment. And the Palestinians didn’t “choose” to have Israeli snipers murder 140 overwhelmingly unarmed protesters and wound another 12,000 this past spring for the “crime” of demonstrating on their own land to end Israel’s siege and for the right to return to their stolen homes. And it’s Israel—not Hamas—that has literally built, and now patrols, the walls of the open-air prison of Gaza, where Palestinians are held captive.

Israel, Imperialist Maneuvering, and the Threat of War on Iran

Israel’s new law was passed at a moment when it may be preparing for another murderous assault on Gaza, and when it and its imperialist backers—mainly the U.S., but also Russia—are maneuvering to isolate, squeeze, and perhaps attack Iran, a reactionary theocratic power that America’s and Israel’s rulers consider their most dangerous regional adversary.

Trump pinpointed “the security of Israel” as the first in a list of things he discussed with Russia’s Vladimir Putin at their recent summit in Helsinki, Finland. “We discussed Israel and the security of Israel, and President Putin is very much involved now with us and the discussion with Bibi Netanyahu on working something out with surrounding Syria,” Trump said, “and specifically with regards to the security and long-term security of Israel.”

All that Trump and Putin discussed is a carefully guarded secret. One item, according to the Washington Post, was reportedly a deal between Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to prevent Iranian forces in Syria from being deployed near Israel’s border.

But there clearly are bigger and more ominous things afoot. Israel has been calling for a more aggressive posture, even war and regime change, against Iran for over a decade. Now the Trump/Pence regime has pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal the U.S. and other global powers negotiated with Iran, is re-imposing sanctions, and has stepped up its threats and denunciations against Iran’s Islamic Republic. (See “Alert: U.S. Ratchets Up War Threats Against Iran.”) There are also reports of high-level White House meetings on Iran and the possibility of U.S. strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. To understand the larger contradictions and overall necessities driving the U.S. imperialists and Israel toward conflict with Iran, see “Trump Says Iran Violating Nuclear Deal: An Ominous Move, A Gangster Escalation.”

Why Does America Support Israel No Matter How Many Crimes It Commits?
Why Is It Once Again Threatening War on Iran?

WHY has the U.S. continued to support Israel no matter who is in the White House—Democrat or Republican—and no matter how many towering crimes Israel commits, from the terrorist ethnic cleansing of 1948, to the war of aggression and conquest in 1967, to its barbaric blockade and slaughters in Gaza in recent years? Because Israel is America’s most reliable bastion and powerful military outpost in the Middle East. This murderous settler state is one of America’s deadliest weapons in maintaining its stranglehold on this region. And dominating this energy-rich region, whose location is key to global trade and military power, is critical to U.S. global power—and to the functioning of its entire capitalist-imperialist system. These are also the very reasons the U.S. is once again threatening to unleash a cataclysm of death and suffering—this time against Iran—in order to maintain its global empire of exploitation and oppression.

U.S. and Israeli (and possibly Russian) moves towards inflicting further horrors on the Palestinian people and stepped-up aggression or war against Iran must be resisted as part of building a movement in the U.S. for an actual revolution to get rid of this system, which by its very nature and workings gives rise to unending horrors. Building such a movement, and then actually making revolution when the necessary conditions have emerged, would change the whole dynamic in the Middle East—now characterized by the clash of outmoded, reactionary forces—and open up whole new possibilities for human emancipation.

STOP Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!

1. For much more on this, see Revolution Special Issue: Bastion of Enlightenment… or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL. [back]

 In the West Bank and Gaza (outside Israel’s formal and often expanding boundaries), Palestinians have been subjected to draconian and often murderous military occupation aimed at crushing any possibility of their national self-determination. Here, a Palestinian man inspects  damage from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City July 15, 2018. (Photo:AP)

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:28


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