Occasional Historical Reprint series of Alliance Marxist-Leninist
"CLASS AGAINST CLASS"
ORGAN OF THE MARXIST- LENINIST ORGANISATION OF BRITAIN
No. 2. SPECIAL EDITION October 1973.
Web edition by Alliance Marxist-Leninist July 2003
On October 6th, 1973, the armed forces of Egypt and
Syria, crossed the cease-fire line established after the war of June 1967
into Israeli –occupied territory seized from these states in that war.
But the new war differs from that of 1967 in one
very important respect – for reasons that will be analysed later, Israel
no longer enjoys the full support of world imperialism, even in the eyes
of United States imperialism. Already in the first few days of the
war the powerful Israeli war machine has suffered great losses in men and
machines, already the first arrogant communiques of the Israeli High Command
have given way to gloomy admissions that the war is likely to be long and
bitter, already the myth of the "invincibility" of the Israeli armed forces
has melted away.
, the political philosophy of the Israeli
ruling class, has been since its inception at the end of the 19th. century
an ideology serving objectively the interests of developed capitalism,
. It presents workers and petty bourgeois of Jewish descent
as members of "a Jewish nation", as "aliens" in the countries in which
they live; it tells them that, to be "free", they must emigrate to their
ancient "national homeland" in Palestine. Thus, the participation of a
Zionist worker in the struggles of the working class for a better life,
for socialism, can at best be only half-hearted, for he regards himself
as an "outsider" whose eyes are directed towards "his own" country, which
has now taken concrete shape in the state of Israel. Thus, Zionism is
complementary to anti-semitism in its reactionary divisive effect.
The desire of the British imperialists to win the
support of the Zionist movement for the Allied war effort in the First
World War brought the Balfour I)eclaration of November 1917; this promised
that the British Government would facilitate the setting up of "a National
Home for the Jewish People" in Palestine. The British imperialists
were unworried by the fact that two years earlier, in July 1915, they had
won Husein ibn Ali, the Grand Sherif of Mecca, to the side of the
Allies by promising to support the establishment of "an independent
Arab state" in Palestine and that in 1916 they had signed a secret
treaty with the French imperialists dividing a Palestine between them.
Palestine became simply "the much promised land"'.
When the First World War was over, the British and
French imperialists took over the Arab Near East disguising their colonial
rule under the cloak of "League of Nations mandates”. As Jewish
immigration continued, both legally and illegally into Palestine, the rise
of Arab national liberation movements led the imperialists to adopt neo-colonial
manoeuvres: Iraq was granted "independence" in 1932, Syria and Lebanon
in 1941, Jordan in 1946. And in 1947 the British government announced that
it was ending its rule over Palestine in May of the following year and
was transferring its "responsibilities" there to the United Nations.
The United Nations envisaged the partition of
Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Jerusalem as
an independent city. But it’s scheme was never put into effect. On May
14th, 1948, the Zionists proclaimed most of Palestine "the state of
At the time of its formation, the state of Israel contained
1.3 million Arabs and 0.7 million Jews. The Zionists took steps to establish
a Jewish majority
. As Michael Bar-Zhchar says in his sympathetic
biography of the founder of Israel :
"Ben Gurion never believed in the possibility of coexistence with the
Arabs. The fewer Arabs within the frontiers of the future state the better
... A major offensive against the Arabs would ... reduce to a minimum the
proportion of the Arab population within the state .... He may be accused
of racism, but in that case the whole Zionist movement would have to be
put on trial".
Thus, even before the declaration of "independence"
Zionist armed gangs had begun a campaign of massacre and terror against
the Arab population
, driving great numbers of them to seek refuge in
the neighbouring Arab states. By 1950 a million Arab refugees from Palestine
were officially receiving United Nations aid, and by 1971 2.6 million of
the 3.0 million population of Israel were Jews.
Dependence upon Imperialism
The establishment of a Jewist racist state in the heart
of, and hostile to, the Arab world gave world imperialism a valuable
bridgehead against the Arab national liberation movement
- a bridgehead
dependent upon the active support of world imperialism for its very existence.
At first Israel continued to depend upon British
imperialism. It was Britain, together with France, which collaborated with
Israel in the war of aggression against Egypt which began in October
1956. But the more powerful US imperialists were unwilling to allow
their British and French rivals to extend their influence in the Middle
East, and compelled the British, French and Israeli forces to withdraw
ignominiously from Egyptian territory.
From this time on, the Israeli ruling class transferred
their dependence to US imperialism which supplied huge quantities of
military "aid" to Israel. It was as a result of this military "aid" that
in June 1967 Israel was able to launch its war of aggression
against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, compelling these states to accept
a cease-fire which left Israel in control of large areas of their territory.
Later, in the UN General Assernbly,, the United States
representative defended the Israeli aggression as an action of "self-defence",
but in November 1967 the UN Security Council unanimously adopted
a resolution, drafted by, Britain, which demanded that Israel
withdraw all troops to her former boundaries and bring about a just settlement
of the refugee problem. The Council appointed Gunnar Jarring, of Sweden,
as UN Special Representative charged with securing the fulfilment of the
resolution, but the Israeli government has always refused to carry cut
The Palestine Liberation Movement
The 1967 defeat of the Arab states, and the new numbers
of Arab refugees which the war added to those of earlier years, stimulated
the rise of a Palestine national liberation movement
, formed largely
from among these, refugees. Although, this resistance movement soon fragmented
into a considerable number of rival organisations, and their declared aim
of the liberation of Palestine was greatly retarded when the leaders of
some of these organisations turned from organised guerilla warfare to acts
of individual terrorism
in various countries, it remained a significant
By the summer of 1970 it had become clear to the most
influential section of the United States imperialists that it would be
essential for the USA to import large quantities of oil
in the next
few years from the Arab states in the Middle East. This meant that full
support of Israel against these Arab states was no longer in the best interests
of the US imperialists.
From this time on the US imperialists made their
position clear to the Arab Middle East governments. They would endeavour
to persuade the Israeli government to withdraw "voluntarily" to the boundaries
existing before the war of 1967. And if those attempts failed, they would
hold back (without discontinuing entirely) their military "aid" to Israel
and would tacitly approve of an all-out war on the part of the Arab
Palestine national liberation movements were effectively liquidated; and
representatives of Soviet imperialism were expelled from the Arab states.
Whatever the military outcome of such a war might be,
it would gravely weaken the military and economic power of Israel and facilitate
the imposition upon its government of a new cease-fire compelling it to
accept the terms of the Security Council resolution of November 1967.
The European imperialist powers – even more dependent upon Middle East
oil than the USA - could be depended on to take the initiative in this
The Execution of the Plan
In 1970 and 1971 the US government pressed its "peace
plan" through visits to, the Middle East by Secretary of State William
, Assistant Secretary of State: Joseph Sisco
, and diplomats
and Michael Sterner
. The Israeli government,
over-confident of its position, refused to consider withdrawal to its old
Meanwhile, using as a pretext the hi-jacking of several
airliners to Jordan by Palestine commandos, in September 1970 King Hussein
of Jordan launched a large scale offensive against the national liberation
forces within Jordan; this offensive was resumed in July 1971, after
which Hussein announced that the resistance forces within Jordan had been
In April 1973 the government of Lebanon, using as
pretext the Israeli commando raid against Palestinian guerillas near Beirut
in February, launched an offensive against the Palestinian national liberation
forces within Lebanon. The attack ended in May after the guerilla's had
suffered heavy casualties.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government took action
against the representatives of Soviet neo-imperialism, as described
at the time in the MLOB’s journal RED FRONT:
"Since the death of Nasser, two conflicting trends have emerged within
the Egyptian capitalist class - each standing for a different method of
trying to solve the problem of the continuing occupation of Egyptian territory
by the troops of their U,S. dominated neighbour, Israel.
One section, headed by former Vice-President
Ali Sabry, favoured the adoption of a phoney programme of "socialism"
as a pretext for completely subordinating Egypt to Soviet neo-imperialism
in an alliance which would force Israel to retreat from her present positions.
The other section, headed by President Anwar
Sadat himself, favoured confederating Egypt with Syria and Lybia, in
order to offer to subordinate this confederation, to US imperialism
in return for US pressure, on her Israeli puppets to withdraw their forces.
The US imperialists having indicated their interest
in this second line of approach, the President dismissed Ali Sabry on the
eve of the visit to Egypt by US Secretary of State William Rogers, at the
beginning of May 1971.
Soon afterwards several hundred prominent persons
associated with the pro-Soviet faction within the capitalist class - including
Ali Sabry; the Secretary-General of the ruling "Arab Socialist Union",
Abdul Nur; six Cabinet Ministers, including the Minister of Defence, General
Mohammed Fawzy, and the Minister of the Interior, Sharawy Gornaa - were
arrested in the name of "preserving the independence of Egypt from
a coup engineered by a foreign power".
Apprehensive for the safety of their massive economic
and military investments (more than half of Soviet "aid" has gone to Egypt),
the Soviet neo-imperialists immediately despatched a high-level
though "unofficial” delegation to Cairo headed by President Podgorny.
The Egyptian government was pleased to sign a15-year "Treaty of Friendship
and Co-operation" with the Soviet Union, and to use it as blackmail
to further persuade the US imperialists to pressure their Israeli puppets
into a peace settlement acceptable to the Egyptian capitalist class."
(RED FRONT, July-August 1971; p.20).
In September 1973 the Syrian government imposed “strict
" on the movements of Soviet personnel in the country.
Meanwhile, in August, US Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Sisco had
made the position of the US imperialists only too clear when he said bluntly
on Israeli TV:
"While our interests in many respects are parallel to the interests
of Israel, they are not synonymous with those of the state of Israel. The
interests of the United States go beyond any one nation in this area. ..
There is increasing concern in our country over the energy question and
I think that it is foolhardy to think that this is not a factor in the
In September King Faisal
of Saudi Arabia
whose country is a long-standing semi-colony of the USA to which it exports
almost all its oil, declared (in support of the US plan) that continuing
US support for Israel might be purchased "at the cost of Saudi oil
President Nixon commented on this statement in a manner strikingly different
from his earlier statements of full support for Israel, saying, "Both sides
are at fault. Both sides need to start negotiating. That is our position.”
The Israeli leaders, becoming aware that they might
be as expendable to the changing needs of US imperialism as the Chiang
Kai-shek regime, made frantic approaches to the British and German imperialists.
But Chancellor Willy Brandt invited to Israel for a state visit
in June 1973, said only what British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Hume
had declared move bluntly in Cairo in September 1971, that Israeli withdrawal
from the occupied Arab territories was "a vital requirement".
When at the beginning of October 1973, the Austrian
government closed down the transit camp for Jews from the Soviet Union
(a capitalist government does not change its policy to save the lives of
a few Jewish hostages), the relative isolation of the Israeli rulers
from imperialism was finally clear.
The war of the Arab states for the liberation of the
territories seized from them by Israel on behalf of United States imperialism
is a just war
, which will have the support of progressive people
in every country. This just character is not altered by the fact that the
US imperialists have, in a new world situation, given the green light to
the Arab states.
But a war fought by Arab states with the tacit support
of the US imperialists cannot solve the plight of the Palestine refugees.
This requires the forcible destruction of the present Israeli racist
state machine and the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state in
which Arabs and Jews can have equal civil rights. This can be brought
about not by the present war, but only by the armed struggle of a united
Palestinian national liberation movement purged of illusions of the usefulness
of acts of individual terrorism.
BUT THIS IS A QUESTION FOR THE FUTURE.
Printed and published by the Marxist- Leninist Organisation
of Britain, London SE5.