- by Sajeev Kumar
- The Guardian
- Issue #1966
Mephistopheles, a demon of German legend, says: “Hell is where I am. Wherever I go I’m still in it.” These words are relevant to imperialism as well.
Recently the world’s attention converged on two issues: Ivan Duque’s oppression of the Colombian people’s strike and the Israeli bombing of Palestine. In both cases the root of the issue was the expulsion of indigenous peoples, and the reason behind the issue is imperialism.
The claim of Israel when the state was formed in 1948 was “people without land occupying a land without people.” If the first part of the claim can be accepted, the latter part is false. Palestinians have been living there for thousands of years.
Israel is the only country with ever-changing borders, and the latest attack on Palestine is to modify it further, on the pretext of the “right to self-defence.” It’s not a fight among equals: it’s a classic case of a powerful state, this one with nuclear capabilities, looking for an excuse to carry out an attack many times more brutal on a defenceless nation.
Zionism, which created the state of Israel, is a political project of colonisation based on the annihilation of the indigenous people. It is pro-imperialist and depends on military power for its survival.
As Hindutva is different from Hinduism in India, Zionism is different from Judaism, and criticism of Zionism is not anti-Semitism. The subsidising of Israel by the United States is to maintain imperialist hegemony in the oil-rich region; and the genesis of Zionism is anti-socialism.
When myriads of poor Jews joined the socialist front in Tsarist Russia before the Bolshevik revolution, the Zionist leader Theodor Herzl asked the tsar for help to set up a Jewish state, which would solve the problem of socialism in Russia. Winston Churchill supported Zionism so as to defeat the left-wing “international Jews.” When the Suez Canal was nationalised by Egypt under Nasser, the United States adopted the “Eisenhower doctrine” and began using Israel as a force for fighting communism in the Middle East.
Palestine was not the only choice as the site of a Jewish state: Argentina, Uganda, Cyprus and the American Mid-West were all considered; but the Zionist leaders thought that the choice of Palestine would be an emotional factor that would gather support for the inhuman occupation. The Palestinians had to pay the price for the Zionist and imperialist greed for land and resources.
Herzl tried for a deal with the Ottoman Empire: for the exchange of Palestine the Zionist movement would support Turkey’s genocide of Armenians. So every move to form and sustain Israel was based on injustice, which continues to this day.
There won’t be peace until there is justice, until the Israeli policy of “maximum land, minimum Arabs” ends.
In Colombia the indigenous peoples are evacuated from their lands, on which they have been living for generations, for environmental protection and to control drug-trafficking. Scientists say that the Amazon forests, which cover forty-two per cent of Colombia (six per cent of total Amazon forest lies within its borders) are anthropogenic, i.e. human-made. Those people whose ancestors created the Amazon forest are driven from their land, to be exploited by transnational mining companies, including Cosigo Resources, Auxico Resources, and Amerisur Resources, denying the constitutional guarantee provided to the tribal people of Colombia.
The president of Colombia, Ivan Duque, has the backing of imperialism for opening the national boundaries for the exploitation of natural resources. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the tax “reforms” that squeezed the poor to feed the rich.
Both these struggles involve indigenous people putting up a daring fight against a very powerful enemy, and they need the support and solidarity of the working class all over the world. There is an Israeli working class who are against the genocide of Palestinian people. That working-class unity has to be built up to defeat imperialism.
Fidel Castro once said, “The US spends five per cent of its military budget on education while Cuba spends only five per cent of its budget for education on military spending.” People in every country have to stand up against spending obscene amounts on military budgets and for investing more in public health, green energy, housing, and education. The fight against imperialism is a fight for justice.