Revolution #233, May 22, 2011

Courageous Protests Challenge Israel at Every Border

The wave of popular uprisings that have shaken the Middle East swept up to, and momentarily into Israel on Sunday, May 15. On that day, thousands of Palestinian and other protesters throughout the region marched up to and in some cases across the borders of Israel. Mainstream news media are reporting that Israeli troops killed a dozen protesters.

Revolution will have more news, background and analysis in our upcoming issue. But from the picture that is emerging, this is an important and positive development. Until now, the whole issue of Palestine has been all too absent from the overall positive upsurges in the Middle East. Yet Israel is a crucial and pivotal bulwark of imperialist domination in that region. And the Palestinians have suffered an all-out murderous war against them in which hundreds of Palestinian villages have been obliterated and massacres of civilian populations have taken place. They have been exiled from their homeland and subjected to an attempt to write their very national existence as a people and culture out of existence. For generations they have been penned in and confined in refugee camps, living under military occupation in the few territories that they managed at first to hold onto. They face constant humiliation, daily aggression and murder, savage political repression and torture, and periodic murderous military assaults.

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May 15 marked the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba—the terrorist ethnic cleansing that drove hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes. This was a defining event in the establishment of the State of Israel.

Protests took place on the borders of Israel and Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank. Other protests took place in cities in the region, and around the world. The following accounts of protests at the Israeli border on May 15 are drawn mainly from pro-U.S. (and pro-Israel) mainstream news sources:


Resources on Israel

"EGYPT 2011: MILLIONS HAVE HEROICALLY STOOD UP...THE FUTURE REMAINS TO BE WRITTEN," A Statement By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Published in Revolution #224, February 14, 2011. Available online at

"The Case of Israel: Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?", Revolution #213, October 10, 2010. Available online at

"Revolution Responds to Question on Nature of Holocaust," Revolution #215, October 31, 2010. Available online at

Bringing Forward Another Way, by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. RCP Publications, 2006. Available online at

"After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel." Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Available at

The Nakba

In the wake of the protests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that "The leaders of these violent demonstrations, their struggle is not over the 1967 borders but over the very existence of Israel, which they describe as a catastrophe that must be resolved."

First it must be stated calling unarmed protesters "violent" while killing at least a dozen unarmed protesters is the height of obscenity. But it is a fact that the Nakba has been a catastrophe ("catastrophe" is the English translation of "Nakba.")

A special issue of Revolution—"The Case of Israel: Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?"—provides a concise picture of the Nakba: "During the Nakba almost a million Palestinians were brutally forced from their land, villages and homes, fleeing with only the possessions they could carry. Many were raped, tortured and killed. To ensure that there would be nothing for the Palestinians to return to, their villages and even many olive and orange trees were thoroughly destroyed. When the Nakba ended, there had been 31 documented massacres—and probably others.

Between 400 and 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed in this reign of terror that, by any legal definition is illegal ethnic cleansing, and by any credible moral code was barbaric. The Nakba—terrorist ethnic cleansing—was foundational and essential in the establishment of the state of Israel. It created the conditions, and set the stage, for other initiatives like the purchase of Palestinian land and diplomatic initiatives.

As we go into in depth, from different angles, in the special issue of Revolution, the Nakba, and the State of Israel, have been a disaster, not just for the Palestinians, but for the people of the entire world—including Jewish people. We encourage readers to themselves study and widely get out that special issue online and where possible in print at support demonstrations and in the midst of controversy over the past days' events.

A Call for a 3rd Intifada

Israeli officials blamed Iran and other repressive regimes in the region for coordinating the protests, even though the New York Times reported that Israel "offered no evidence" of this. Whether or not, and to what extent, repressive regimes in the region may have seen the May 15 protests as a chance to divert public anger from their own role as oppressors, the essential question is the nature and role of Israel and its oppression of the displaced Palestinian people.

Beyond that, while we are not in a position to know or evaluate different forces and programs involved in the May 15 protests, they clearly reflected widespread grassroots anger at Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people, and in many cases, anger at the collaboration of other reactionary regimes in the region with that oppression. Palestinian activists and others organized for May 15 as the beginning of a "3rd Intifada" (uprising). They gathered more than 300,000 members at their Facebook before it was taken down in March by Facebook administrators. In Lebanon, posters went up on Lebanese highways reading, "People want to return to Palestine," taking off from the slogan made famous in Egypt and Tunisia, "People want the fall of the regime."

The Future Is Unwritten

Revolution will have more reporting and analysis in our upcoming issue, including regarding the nature and role of the State of Israel, and how and why that country plays a critical role, on a level far beyond that of any other repressive pro U.S. regime (or anti-U.S.) regime in the region, in enforcing a world of oppression and suffering for people in that region—and beyond.

But what can be said right now that these developments represent a potentially historic moment. And that the future—and where this story ends—is far from written.

We strongly encourage readers and distributors of Revolution to let us know of any protests, forums and other actions in response to these developments, and to get the special issue of Revolution on Israel out at these events.

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