What the Israelis did not destroy,
the Palestinians will

Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:08

Originally written: 14 September 2005

As they evicted the Israeli settlers from Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces’ bulldozers demolished the settlers’ houses. In an about-face, the government decided not to demolish the buildings which, prior to the evacuation, held synagogues.

The Gazans will need houses in which to live, and larger buildings for a multitude of purposes. Socialists and other sensible people therefore condemn the destruction of completely satisfactory buildings. But, unfortunately the Gazans, returning to the Gaza Strip on 12 September 2005, and the Palestinian Authority, are not being sensible. The Palestinian Authority is angry. To show their dismay, the Gazans and Palestinian Authority are going to demolish all the remaining buildings, except for the greenhouses.

Jibril Rajoub, the security advisor to the Palestinian Authority’s Chairman, told Israel Radio that the Israelis should destroy the buildings. “I think the synagogues are symbols of the occupation.” That is true, but the actual physical wellbeing of people should take precedence over emotionally charged destruction. If the returning Gazans do not manage to burn all the buildings to the ground, the Palestinian Authority will complete the demolition.

Symbols are what you make them. If the Palestinians are so keen on symbols, they could have considered the buildings, which had housed synagogues, a symbol of their “victory” over the supposed “Israeli oppressors.”

Scorched earth policies are not new in war, but this one is upside down. Instead of destroying so the “enemy” cannot benefit, the Israelis decided not to destroy everything as they left. The Palestinians, as they regain land they have long claimed as theirs, are destroying things which would benefit themselves. The Palestinians are using the scorched earth policy against themselves.

The Palestinian Authority says that it needs the space for their development plans. Apparently, it was impossible for Palestinian developers to include any of the synagogues or now-destroyed houses in their plans. This seems like poor planning ability. But if the Palestinian Authority immediately begins construction of new housing and infrastructure, some justification will be seen. However, if the area languishes, or the buildings are replaced with ramshackle housing, the promises of the Palestinian Authority will be proven empty.

Governments around the world have a very good record of empty promises. By the end of 2005 we will know if new buildings arise from the ashes of the old, or if the Palestinians will live in ashes. The end of the year is not an unreasonable date given the rush to wanton destruction, and the allegation of an existing plan to rebuild.

Among the first actions of the organized groups of murderous freedom fighters was to put up their banners and pennants on the few things which the Israelis had left standing. Another of the notable actions was to enflame the synagogues. These organizations had two primary priorities they felt needed immediate action. One was marking their territory, apparently in competition with each other. The other was burning down buildings which could have been put to good use, and will be urgently needed, by those for whom they have supposedly won the Gaza Strip. Attempting to provide for the real needs of the returning Gazans, is further down their list of priorities.

It is likely that the Israelis would have acted similarly, had the tables been turned. The government of Israel did not intend to leave the former synagogue buildings standing to help the Gazans. The government had, until the day before the Gazans returned, intended to demolish the buildings. The government changed its plan because of religious concerns: the government was under pressure not to destroy the buildings because they had been synagogues.

In today’s world, reason does not decide. The politics of oppression decides more often than not. Whether it is in Israel, or Palestine, or Canada, those who do not own the means of production are easily tricked into mindless slaughter and destruction. Most workers do not want to hear that. But the vast majority of workers have fallen — hook, line, and sinker — for the ideas of the capitalist class. Those ideas set us against each other. The triggers of religion, patriotism, and race, are used to trick workers into hating each other and believing that they are in the same boat as the capitalists. Maybe we are in the same boat, but the rich have the nice cabins and life-rafts. The rest of us sleep on the decks, and drown when the ship goes down.

Most people believe that is the way it has always been, and the way it must always be, and the way decreed by their gods. All three of those ideas are wrong. But, most people vigourously defend the status quo, and a great many workers have chosen to die to maintain the workers’ position at the bottom, supporting those above.

Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, Islamic Jihad, and all of the other organizations which have, according to themselves, forced Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, now have one fewer excuse to continue to kill. On the off chance that they actually intend to end their attacks on Israelis, it is still unlikely that they will they disband or give up their weapons. If they do stop killing Israelis, they will probably start killing Palestinians with whom they disagree. They may give up terror — unlikely, but remotely possible. Socialists expect that the continuing poverty of the average Palestinian, under continuing capitalism, will continue to breed young men and women willing to kill for whatever “just cause” the terrorist leaders can come up with.

The alleged wrongs are usually real, to some extent. These wrongs rarely get righted. Poverty in one’s “homeland” is still poverty. Maybe a bit less poor, but poverty just the same. The martyrs and workers everywhere are fighting the wrong enemy, using the wrong tools. The real enemy is capitalism, and the right tool is the ballot. People will continue to be slaughtered by state terrorists and non-state terrorists until our class uses the ballot to vanquish capitalism. When we solve the problems which cause the “wrongs,” the “wrongs” will disappear.

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