The Liberation of Palestine and the Arab Revolution


The only way forward is a strategy which integrates the struggles of the oppressed masses into a joint Intifada in the whole Middle East

by Michael Pröbsting

Israel’s barbaric war against the Palestinian people in Gaza reflects not only the genocidal nature of the Zionist state. The past weeks have also demonstrated the steadfastness and heroism of thousands of resistance fighters who are prepared to scarify their lives for the defence of their homeland. This is a struggle where the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and all authentic anti-imperialists unconditionally support the Palestinian resistance forces in order to defeat the Zionist occupier.

All over the world – and in particular in Arab and Muslim countries – masses are demonstrating in solidarity with the Palestinian people. A global movement for the boycott is spreading and trade unions in the U.S., Western Europe and India are trying to stop any arms transfer to Israel.

The Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – consisting of 57 member states – have unanimously condemned Israels aggression and call for an immediate ceasefire. Likewise did most states in the UN General Assembly vote for a resolution demanding an end of the war.

Still, the brutal killer machine of the Zionist state continues to slaughter the people in Gaza in order to provoke a new Nakba. And still, U.S. and European imperialism are continuing to support the Israeli Apartheid state.

How is this possible and what can be done?

Liberation of Palestine: An international issue

Let us begin by emphasising that the Palestinian liberation is by its very nature an international issue and has always been so. The tragic fate of the Palestinian people could only take place because the British imperialists decided in 1917 to support the Zionist project (the “Balfour Declaration”). They occupied Palestine and aided Jewish settlers in expelling the native population.

Likewise, the creation of the Israeli state was only possible because the Western imperialist powers fully supported it and because the Stalinist USSR not only agreed to this colonial project but also sent weapons (via Czechoslovakia) to the Zionist armed gangs.

Since then, Israel could only survive within a hostile environment – hated by the Palestinian and all Arab peoples – because it was permanently supported by the U.S. and European imperialists with weapons and money. The combined amount of US Foreign Aid to Israel in the years 1946 to 2023 totals an estimated $260 billion (inflation-adjusted). Already before the current war started, the U.S. promised to send Israel more than $3.8bn of military aid in 2023. [3] No doubt, this sum will now increase massively.

We can also see this today in the current fifth war of Israel against Gaza. Israel could hardly win the war without the military support of the U.S. via arms deliveries, sending of two carrier groups and a nuclear submarine to the region, sharing of intelligence, etc. Likewise, Israel has been forced to dramatically increase its debt by borrowing $7.8 billion since 7 October. Slightly more than half of that – $4.1 billion – was dollar-denominated debt raised in issuances in international markets.

In short, international support by Western imperialists (as well as by Stalinism in the first period) has always been essential for the Zionist state. Without such aid, the Israeli Apartheid state would not exist anymore.

The conclusions from this are that the Palestinian liberation struggle does not have only Israel as its enemy but also a number of powerful imperialist states. From this follows that the Palestinian people can not defeat their oppressors if they remain isolated. They need the support of workers and oppressed in other countries – from the Arab and Muslim countries to North America and Europe. Hence, it is decisive to build a strong pro-Palestine movement all over the world and to win workers and popular organizations to support this cause.

The same is true the other way round. The Palestinian question is a decisive issue for the international workers and popular movement. One can not be a socialist or even a democrat in Northern America, Western Europe, Russia and other countries without unconditionally supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle, without opposing the existence of the Zionist settler state, without fighting for a single democratic Palestinian state from the river to the sea. Hence, the RCIT considers this issue is a litmus test for each and every progressive organisation.

In our view, the only way to overcome the Nakba is the struggle for the destruction of the Zionist Apartheid state and the creation of a single Palestinian state from the River to the Sea. Such a state would have a Palestinians majority as it would allow the right of return of all refugees. At the same time, it would guarantee full cultural and religious rights for the Jewish minority. Such a state would have a secular and democratic character and should be a workers and poor peasant republic as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East (“Palestine red and free, from the River to the Sea”).

The shameful results of the Summits of the Arab League and the OIC

Obviously, the Israeli state and its close allies among the Western powers are the open and immediate enemies of the Palestinian people. However, there are also those who oppose the Israeli aggression in words but refuse to turn rhetoric into action. This was particularly evident at the recent summits of the Arab League and the OIC in Riyad (Saudi Arabia).

Surely, the state leaders did “condemned the military aggression against the Gaza Strip and the war crimes and barbaric, brutal, and inhuman massacres committed by the colonial occupation government and the military operations against Palestinian cities and camps, the settlers’ terrorism, and Israeli attacks on Islamic and Christian holy places in Al-Quds and the illegal Israeli measures that violate freedom of worship.”

But when the discussion turned to actions, the so-called “protectors of the Muslim people” could not agree on anything. When Algeria’s proposed to impose sanctions on Israel, it was rejected after being opposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Libya’s proposal that the final statement of the conference should include a statement in support of the right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation met the same fate.

Other proposals included the call for prohibition of the use of US and other military bases in Arab countries to supply Israel with weapons and ammunition; for freezing of Arab diplomatic, economic, security, and military relations with Israel; and for threatening to leverage oil and Arab economic capabilities to apply pressure and halt the ongoing aggression. These measures were endorsed by 11 Arab countries, including Palestine, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Libya and Yemen. But they were vetoed by other, more powerful players, which support the so-called “normalization” with the Zionist state.

The open and the disguised enemies of the liberation struggle

In other words, Arab states which have established official diplomatic and economic relations with Israel – like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan and Egypt – do not only fail to aid the Palestinian resistance with weapons or with joining the war on the side of the oppressed; they even refuse to cut relations with the Zionist terror state! They denounce the aggression of Israel with their mouth but give them money with their hands.

Most of those Arab leaders who supported sanctions against Israel at the summit are not much better. Take the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. They might support sanctions against Israel at the OIC Summit. But in the West Bank, it helps the Israeli state to suppress the Palestinian resistance. It is despised by the people which is why his party lost the parliamentary elections to Hamas and why it did not allow new Presidential elections despite the fact that Abaas’ mandate has expired already in 2009! The truth is that Abbas continues to be in power only because of Israel’s support.

Or take Assad, the notorious butcher of the Syrian people. What a loud-mouth and spearhead of “Anti-Zionism” and “Anti-Imperialism”! But compare this to the real world. His father had joined the U.S.-led coalition which waged war against Iraq in 1991. And Assad the son is a coward in face of Israel who never fired a single shot against the Zionist enemy! He is only “strong” against his own people of whom he has slaughtered – with the aid of Russian imperialism – hundreds of thousands since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in 2011.

This is why the RCIT has supported the Syrian Revolution from its beginning until today. [9] We fully share the sentiment of Syrian activists who say that Israel and Assad are “two sides of the same coin”, i.e. both are butchers of the people.

Egypt’s reactionary ruler – General Sisi, who came to power via a bloody military coup in July 2013 – does not only entertain official relations with Israel. His regime has also always supported Israel’s barbaric blockade of Gaza by closely guarding the border and by destroying many tunnels which were used for smuggling goods into the enclave.

The same is true for the Mullah regime in Iran. It is full of rhetoric against “the Zionist enemy” and, to its credit, it provides material support to some Palestinian resistance organisations. But at the same time, it is suppressing its own people – including the Arab, Kurdish and Azeri national minorities -, trampling on women’s rights [12] and supports reactionary tyrants (e.g. Assad in Syria or Putin’s imperialist war against the Ukraine).

At the same time, we see the Arab street boiling and the masses demanding their leaders to intervene and to support the Palestinian brothers and sisters by any means necessary. But instead of heading the demand of its people, these rulers not only refuse to take actions against Israel but even suppress the masses who are willing to join the struggle of the Palestinian resistance. The shameful attacks of Sisi police thugs against pro-Palestine demonstrators or of Jordan’s police against people who wanted to march to the border with Israel are symbolic for the reactionary nature of the Arab regimes.

What is the material basis for the reactionary stance of the Arab (and Iranian) rulers? The answer, in short, is simple: power and money. They know that a wave of mass mobilisation throughout the region resulting in a popular war against the Zionist state would completely destabilise the region. If the masses can defeat Israel, why on earth should they not also topple the greedy and useless regimes at home?! Furthermore, a regional war would badly affect the ruler’s business since it could block transport routes for oil and gas shipments and would deter foreign investments from imperialist states (which comes mainly the U.S., Western Europe and China).

In addition, such regional instability would be a catastrophe also for the imperialist powers. They all need oil and gas from the Middle East and the Arab rulers need banks and markets in the imperialist countries. In short, if they have to choose between life and death of the Palestinian people and their own power and money, the corrupted rulers surely know what to choose!

The struggle for the liberation of Palestine requires breaking down the wall of Arab rulers

In other words, all these Arab (and Iranian) rulers are not only no help for the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people, they are rather a decisive obstacle. Hence, the struggle for a free Palestine must be combined with the struggle against the Arab (and Iranian) rulers.

Such a combination is not only necessary from a Palestinian point of view but also from an Arab and Iranian point of view. These rulers have helped a small elite to enrich itself beyond imagination while the masses are forced to battle for their existence every day. At the same time, these rulers strangle democratic freedoms since years and decades so that the workers and oppressed can not fight for their dignity.

This has been the objective background for the Arab Revolution which began in early 2011 and which saw some important victories – like the fall of Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi – but also several severe defeats. However, it is a process of revolution and counterrevolution which is still ongoing as the new wave of popular uprisings in 2018-2020 in Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, etc. or the mass mobilisation in Syria in August and September this year demonstrated.

Hence, there exists an objective basis to combine these two processes – the Palestinian liberation struggle and the Arab Revolution. The Palestinian people need the support of their Arab (and Iranian) brothers and sisters. They can not count on the selfish and greedy rulers but only on the popular masses. And the Arab masses have an existential interest in destroying the Zionist state since this entity will always be a key force of imperialist counterrevolution if the Arab masses achieve a victory in this or that country.

Therefore, the RCIT strongly rejects national-isolationist tendencies which want to seperate the Palestinian struggle from the liberation struggles in other Arab countries. Likewise, we insist that the liberation struggles in Syria, Egypt, etc. have to be combined with an explicit stance of solidarity with Palestine.

Hence, we consider it as a grave mistake of the Hamas leadership that – after it supported the Syrian Revolution for some years – it has reconciled with the Assad regime.

The program of permanent revolution and the need for revolutionary leadership

The struggles for the liberation of Jerusalem and for the Arab Revolution are inextricably linked with each other. Furthermore, they have both a national as well as an international character; and, finally, they have both a national, democratic as well as a socialist character. Let us explain in more detail what this means.

As we already said, it is crucial that revolutionary activists combine the Palestinian struggle with the issue of solidarity with the Syrian Revolution, the necessity to bring down the Sisi regime in Egypt, etc. And likewise, the Palestine issue has to be introduced into the liberation struggle in Arab countries.

If the workers and oppressed in one country succeed in bringing down a regime, they must no stop such a revolutionary process at the border of their country. The goal must be to expand the revolution to other countries so that the counterrevolution can not regroup and isolate the revolution. Should the masses take power in Egypt, Israel in concert with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates (and maybe with the aid of the reactionary warlords in Sudan) will try to intervene and to overthrow the new government. Hence, the revolution must look for allies from the very beginning and these allies are among the masses – and not among the rulers. Such an internationalisation of the revolution is also essential because the economy of each country depends on the regional and world market.

Furthermore, the revolution must be a comprehensive one. It must aim at smashing the authoritarian state apparatus (army, police, bureaucracy) as this monster will always be an instrument of the ruling class – as we saw in Egypt and Tunisia. Such a capitalist state apparatus must be replaced with a new one which has to be built from below to the top, under the control of the masses.

The revolution must also immediately expropriate the ruling class, i.e. the key sectors of industry, transport, telecommunication and finances must be nationalised and put under workers control. As long as the elite keeps its wealth, it will have the financial means to bribe and to organise a counterrevolution.

Such a program – presented here in a very condensed form – is based on the theory of permanent revolution which was elaborated by Leon Trotsky – the co-leader, together with Lenin, of the October Revolution in 1917 – on the basis of the experience of the Russian as well as other revolutions. „The permanent revolution, in the sense which Marx attached to this concept, means a revolution which makes no compromise with any single form of class rule, which does not stop at the democratic stage, which goes over to socialist measures and to war against reaction from without: that is, a revolution whose every successive stage is rooted in the preceding one and which can end only in the complete liquidation of class society.“

Revolutionary activists need to intervene in all struggles of the workers and oppressed and advocate such a program of permanent revolution. They should help the masses to build their own organs of struggle. Such should be mass assemblies in workplaces and neighbourhoods which take democratic decision about the struggle resp. its goals and which elect delegates so that regional and national bodies can be formed. Likewise, such assemblies need to create armed units of self-defence in order to defend the masses against the repression apparatus. Such organs can, when the masses rise up via an armed insurrection against the ruling class, become the basis for an authentic workers and poor peasant government.

Such a strategy can only be realised if activists join forces and build a revolutionary party on the basis of such a program of permanent revolution. Hence, the task of building a Revolutionary World Party, with sections in each country, is the key task of the current period. The RCIT is dedicated to this task and calls all likeminded activists to join forces.

The Author is Internationaler Sekretär der RCIT and can be reached at: