Jenin threatens US war plans

Now that the Sharon regime has wreaked its planned toll of death and destruction on the West Bank, it is making a show of withdrawing some of its troops from those cities and areas where it believes it has effectively crushed the inhabitants. Indications of massacre abound, hardly surprisingly. The 'collective punishment' of the Palestinian people by Sharon's army of brutalisation is symbolised by the wholesale, deliberate destruction of enormous numbers of civilian homes by armoured bulldozers. It is impossible to believe that, given the mentality involved in this, the physical lives of many ordinary Palestinians fared better than the means of life itself, so callously and deliberately destroyed. One disgusting indication of the murderous policy of the Israelis was the riddling of water tanks on roofs of houses with bullets to render them unusable and deliberately waste the existing supplies. The aim was to deprive the civilian population of clean water, and thereby create epidemics of cholera and typhoid as desperate people drink any water they can find, with the prospect of many more deaths. Such terror in a refugee camp, which provided a tenuous existence to people who are themselves already victims of previous Israeli atrocities, only underlines the mentality of the current Israeli regime. The guilt of Sharon's government is obvious from the fact that they rigorously excluded the press, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and the various pro-imperialist and/or charitable 'humanitarian' relief agencies, from the so-called 'combat zones' (in reality terror zones), particularly from Jenin. Evidently the Israelis knew full well what they intended to do, and did not want any 'unreliable' liberals or foreigners watching them at it. Now Sharon is trying to brazen it out, pretending that nothing of significance happened - after, the locals say, numerous bodies of victims of the Israeli forces were removed from the scene of the crime during the period of curfew and exclusion. But the stench remains of numerous rotting corpses buried beneath the mountains of rubble the Israeli tanks and bulldozers left behind. This horror is only a foretaste of what could be in store for the Palestinians if the Zionist right is able to consolidate and carry out its programme of massive ethnic cleansing and slaughter of the Palestinians of the occupied territories - what Sharon and those on his right flank see as the 'final solution' to the Palestinian question in pursuit of the goal of Eretz Yisrael (Greater Israel). Such a dreadful possibility is brought closer by the activities of the far right among the Palestinians, principally Hamas, whose programme of suicide bombings of Israeli civilians only helps the ultra-reactionary Zionist right to maintain its grip on the jewish population by posing as the only people who can defend them against annihilation. The Israeli regime, of course, has its own political reasons for putting on a show of 'cooperation' with a UN-initiated enquiry into its actions in Jenin. And indeed, given the delicacy of the situation regarding its chief ally, the United States (and more particularly the Americans' relationship with the so-called 'moderate' Arab states: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc), the common interest of Sharon and Bush in a whitewash of Israeli crimes in the occupied territories is obvious. The problem is that such a whitewash will not be easy to pull off effectively, in such a manner as it could reasonably be believed in the Arab world. In current circumstances, it beggars belief that any Arab government could even pretend to believe Sharon's version of events in Jenin and elsewhere. There have already been Israeli objections to some of the proposed observers in the UN's investigation team, underlining the difficulty, with the plethora of different shades of even pro-imperialist opinion and perceived national interests likely to colour any such 'investigation'. The chances of any effective and believable whitewash of Israeli conduct in the West Bank invasion do not look good. The level of dissent the Israeli actions have stirred up among its would-be allies, even in Britain, is shown by the sharp attack on Sharon by Gerald Kaufman, prominent jewish Labour politician, 'friend of Israel', and Neil Kinnock's shadow foreign secretary through the years of witch-hunts against the Labour left. Attacking Sharon as a "war criminal", Kaufman compared the suicide bombings of the Palestinians with the terrorist actions of the Zionist irregulars in their 'war of independence' against the British in the 1940s, and noted that, unlike in those days, when massacres of Arabs were perpetrated by irregular Zionist fringe groups such as Irgun, today the perpetrators of such crimes as Jenin are the regular Israeli armed forces and the Israeli government itself. The only reason the Bush administration, and his allies/poodles in Blair's government here, have been objecting to Sharon's actions in recent weeks is the fear that Sharon is screwing things up for the cause of a possible US/British invasion of Iraq, which is said to have been pencilled in for the autumn. Kaufman pointed out that, thanks to Sharon's terror against the Palestinians, an attack on Iraq by the so-called 'international community' has been rendered politically "impossible". However, it remains very likely that the Bush administration will press ahead regardless with its plans to bring about 'regime change' in Iraq, even if any plans to do so by force have to be postponed for a while. Such an event, if it happens, would be the most contentious and politically risky imperialist armed action since the Anglo-French-Israeli attack on Egypt over Suez in 1956, and could have catastrophic consequences for the Blair government in particular. Socialists and communists do not despair in these circumstances; we see the crises caused by the bloody crimes of imperialism and its Zionist allies as opportunities to strike blows for the oppressed and exploited. We seek, above all, the defeat and overthrow of our 'own' rulers, by the working class. But we are not simple, knee-jerk parochialists or nihilists in this regard: we do not automatically place a minus-sign where our rulers put a plus, or vice versa. We believe that the only way the crisis in the Middle East can be resolved in a progressive manner is through a democratic solution - one that recognises the national rights of all the peoples of the region, including the Israeli jews. * For a democratic and secular Palestine, and a democratic and secular Israel! * For a democratic federation of the peoples of the Middle East! * Massive reparations to the victims of Israeli ethnic persecution and oppression! * For the dissolution of all national antagonisms in a new, socialist world order! Ian Donovan