Stop the Policy of War and Brute Force!

The Israeli Communist Forum strongly condemns the continuation and intensification of the criminal acts committed by the Israeli armed forces in the Gaza Strip. These activities have already claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including many children. In addition, vital infrastructures were destroyed, causing severe disruption in the supply of water and electricity to the general civilian population and to hospitals and other vital institutions.  Moreover Israel, with the help of the United states, does all in its power to hold up budgets and donations hitherto flowing to the Palestinian Authority – causing further severe deterioration in the population’s living conditions. Some of those promoting such policies hope to bring down the elected Hamas Government on the Palestinian side, while others intend to foment an all-out civil war among Palestinians. All of those are making a dangerous gamble, which in the end will boomerang against Israel itself.

The military operations in Gaza are also designed to distract public attention from the Government of Israel’s major failure in the war which it had initiated in Lebanon. In the Israeli public there continues a debate on the need of forming a Judicial Commission of Inquiry about the events leading up to the opening of this war and to the way it was conducted. The almost complete consensus in the Israeli public is that that war ended with an Israeli failure – which is why the popularity ratings of PM Olmert and Defence Minister Peretz have plummeted to an unprecedented low (less than 7%).

Among other things the war in Lebanon was aimed at strengthening the position of the United States in this region, especially considering its ongoing entanglement in the Iraqi "swamp"; to disarm Hizbullah, the main force in Lebanon resisting Israel and the US, and exclude it from any real influence on Lebanese political life; to bring large parts of the Lebanese society to a position of sharp division from and opposition to Hizbullah and to the fighters of the Lebanese resistance; to increase the so-called "deterrence" of the Israeli army. The original reason/pretext had been to release the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah.

These two soldiers, whose release was the official war aim, are still held by Hizbullah. Rather than enhanced, the "IDF's deterrence" was severely eroded – with the Lebanese resistance causing the Israeli army severe casualties throughout the days of the war.For the first time many Israeli communities – among them communities which are far from the Lebanese border – were targeted. The northern part of Israel was effectively paralyzed until the end of the war.Not only was the position of Hizbullah not undermined, but it had become stronger than ever – in Lebanon and throughout the Arab World. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has become, in the wake of the war, a most popular figure all over the Arab World. This is not necessarily due to an endorsement of his ideology or of all his political statements – but rather, due to his heading a relatively small guerrilla army which withstood for over a month a much larger Israeli army equipped with some of the world’s most advanced tanks, fighter planes and warships.

The overwhelming majority of the Lebanese people, regardless of religious denomination, did not blame the forces opposing Israel for the mass killings and widespread devastation which Israel inflicted upon Lebanon; rather, it was Israel itself (and the US) which was held responsible for what they have done. Also the attempt to drag Syria into the war ended in naught, and the position of Syria – in Lebanon and throughout the region – was greatly strengthened. All these failures caused ruling circles in the United States to feel disappointed with Israel’s failure to "deliver the goods", which was an American failure as well.

It should be noted that while Israelis agree that the war ended in failure, there is a widespread debate about what conclusions should be drawn from that failure. Unfortunately, many Israelis seek the solution among the right-wing opposition parties, and regard it as a "technical" failure which one "alternative" leader or another might have prevented. And some seek for a "second round" in which Israel will "restore its honour" and "rebuild its deterrence".

The real lesson of the war is quite different. Once again was it proven that there are limits to the use of force; that there are many problems which just cannot be solved by the use of tanks and fighter planes. The perpetration of war crimes against a neighbouring state and people in the end rebounded against Israel itself. During the war also in Israel civilians were hurt and destruction sown, and a heavy economic price exacted – borne mainly by the weakest sectors in the Israeli society. In Lebanon more than thousand civilians were killed, a million forced from their houses, and thousands of homes and vital installations were destroyed.

The conclusion should be to end the policy of war and brute force and turn to a policy of peace instead. Israel should respond to Syrian President Assad, who extends his hand for peace and who on several recent occasions reiterated his willingness to reach peace on the basis of the June 1967 borders. The withdrawal from all parts of Lebanon must be completed forthwith, and all further provocations, aimed at re-igniting the fire, must be strictly avoided. Above all, the murderous operations against the Arab Palestinian People must end, talks started with its elected leadership, and peace reached on the basis of withdrawal to the June 1967 borders, the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem, and the solution of the refugee problem in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.

The outward policy of war and occupation is integrated with the increase of discrimination against the Arab population inside Israel, with the most extreme forms of racism being increasingly welcome at the center of the political spectrum. This is especially manifested in the renewed move, which we strongly condemn, to include the arch-racist Avigdor Lieberman in the government. Lieberman is, however, not alone. For example, on September 9 Knesset Member Effie Eitam, an ex-general, called for "expulsion of most of the Arabs" from "Judea and Samaria" (i.e., The West Bank) and to "expel the treacherous Arab Knesset Members". There are increasing efforts to exclude the Arab population and its leadership from Israeli political life.

Against this background, we call for intensification of the struggle against the policies of war, occupation, oppression, discrimination and racism. In that cause, the maximum possible unity of forces must be achieved – both among the Arab population and jointly with democratic peace forces active among the Jewish population.