“The destruction was so pervasive it defied comparison. Throughout the streets of Tyre, and in much of Sidon, lay the rubble—ragged masses of broken cement, twisted metal, shattered glass, garbage. Corpses lay still under these piles. You knew them by their smell—unmistakable, as powerful as the gasses from some putrefying swamp.”
Forty-one years ago, American journalist Ellen Cantarow captured the trail of destruction left by Israeli troops as they rolled into Beirut. Back in 1982, the airwaves echoed with claims that the invasion would root out “terrorists.”
Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin told the Knesset, “We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off.” Today a similar spectacle of brutality is being played out in the ruins of Gaza.
The invasion force that was assembled to wreak vengeance on millions of Palestinians is the perfect embodiment of the role that the Israeli state plays in the wider region. As Israeli fighter jets drop phosphorous shells on Gaza’s captive population, British and American warships prowl the coast.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s dictator Abdelfattah al-Sisi has held shut the gates of Rafah, enforcing the siege from the south. All these different elements—the Israeli state’s own repressive capacity, backing from the great imperialist powers and the crucial supporting role of the neighbouring Arab regimes in maintaining apartheid in Palestine—combine to reinforce each other.
Palestinians, whether their resistance is armed or peaceful, are never simply taking on the Israeli state alone. This is why the question of victory in Palestine is not ultimately going to be decided on the battlefield, despite the events of the last week. Armed resistance is one part of a wider struggle, which if it is to succeed has to build a mass movement from below.
The general strike of May 2021 gave a glimpse of how Palestinians who have been divided from each other in the apartheid prison Israel has created for them could unite in struggle. But to sap the foundations of the Israeli regime’s regional allies, it needs to go much further.
The Palestinian general strike revealed the real social fault lines which traverse society across the whole of Palestine. Those at the bottom of this society are Palestinians, crushed by oppression and exploitation, but they rose to claim their right to make history.
It was driven by the same fundamental processes that in 2011 to 2012 led to mass strikes and protests confronting dictators around the region, and the later wave of uprisings in Algeria and Sudan. The Egyptian revolution of 2011 gave the lie to the claims of the regime to be standing with the Palestinians.
A massive march from Tahrir Square shut down the Israeli embassy and sent the ambassador back to Tel Aviv. The leadership of the Egyptian military did everything they could to break this movement. The security state knows full well that repression of the Egyptian people is the currency in which they repay the billions of dollars in US military aid received.
That was the price for betraying the Palestinians by signing the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Protests are stirring in Egypt, despite the risks. In the backstreets of Giza, the Palestinian flag is flying. Thousands have marched in the Jordanian capital Amman.
We must play our part too. Our government is more than complicit in war crimes, it is once again an accessory to massacre. All eyes must remain on Gaza, but it will be the voices raised and the feet which march in the streets of Cairo, Amman, Beirut, and London, Paris and Berlin which are crucial now.
Anne Alexander is author of Revolution Is The Choice Of The People—Crisis And Revolt In The Middle East and North Africa. Available to order from bookmarksbookshop.co.uk £12Original post