Palestine, Israel, Iran and capitalism

By William Briggs  

It is now more than six months since the Israeli military machine began its genocidal assault against the population of Gaza. People have been horrified at the brutality. Tens of thousands have been on the streets every week since the bombs began to fall and the tanks began to rumble. Our media have reported the news, but it has been increasingly muted and censored. There has been little analysis in the bourgeois press. The grinding, relentless assault has deadened many people’s senses.

Recent days and weeks have seen tensions rise to the point where regional and global peace is seriously threatened. World leaders began calling for restraint and caution when Israel attacked Iran’s Syrian embassy and when Iran responded. Significantly, the G7 group of capitalist powers were in the vanguard in calling for calm. A full-scale war in the region would be devastating, not merely for geopolitical relations, but for the capitalist powers, for oil prices and the very continuation of global capitalist relations.

The West does not care a jot for the people of the region – its complicity in the genocide proves that – but it does care deeply for the future of capitalism. Capitalism is not threatened by destroying Gaza. Profits are being made by the arms companies that supply Israel.

Rules and impunity

Israel has acted and continues to act with impunity. Noises are made from countries that loudly proclaim their adherence to a “rules-based-order” to the effect that there should be limitations to the crushing of Gaza. The fact is that in the face of such blatant violations of all international law, the laws of basic decency, and a shared humanity, the United States has, with its right to veto in the UN Security Council, guaranteed that the nightmare for the Palestinian people will continue, and that Palestinian statehood will remain a dream.

The US vote allows other states to do nothing. Fine words are uttered, but go nowhere. Devotees of the “rules-based-order” do not demand sanctions against the rogue state of Israel. They continue to trade with Israel and ship weapons that kill thousands.

Hospitals are razed to the ground. IVF clinics are destroyed. Schools are bombed. Churches and mosques are all turned to rubble. Starvation haunts the people. There are verified reports that innocent civilians are arbitrarily being detained and tortured in Gaza. Civilians are being executed. No sanctions are called for.

Netanyahu remains committed to “complete victory” in Gaza. There have been calls by his allies, even his most stalwart ally the US, to show “restraint” and not to launch a ground assault in Rafah. His response has been to continue bombing the million Gazans in Rafah, and he has indicated that the invasion will go ahead. Troops have been massing. Agricultural land nearby has been destroyed. Weapons continue to be shipped to Israel.

Those ‘allies’ who urge caution, could guarantee an immediate end to the genocide. Instead, they wring their hands.

The genocide is a precursor to an ethnic cleansing of Gaza. The “settler” communities are already queuing up to seize Palestinian land, just as they have done in the West Bank. These right-wing extremists, with the support of the regime, have been making life a hell for the population of the West Bank.

Pogroms and land

Since October 7 the ongoing pogrom against the citizens of the West Bank has become far worse. More than 500, including 100 children have been killed. These murders have been committed both by settlers and by Israeli military forces who “protect” the right-wing mobs from the Palestinian population they attack.

The most recent assault was launched by Israeli troops against residents of the Nur Shams refugee camp. Israel sought to justify their terrorism and the killing by claiming they were seeking Palestinian resistance fighters operating in the area. An Al Jazeera reporter described how “Israeli soldiers have been carrying out raids in homes, carrying out on-site interrogations.”

“Locals have described the mayhem being carried out by the Israeli military as the worst destruction … they’ve seen in the West Bank since the destruction of the Jenin refugee camp … in the early 2000s.”

The camp, in Tulkarem, is part of the Palestinian-administered area of the West Bank. An Israeli army presence there can only be regarded as a military occupation.

Territorial integrity hardly bothers the Israeli regime. It has repeatedly shown this to be the case. The most recent abuse of territorial space and sovereignty has been the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Damascus. Iran, citing Article 51 of the UN Charter which clearly states the right of a state to defend itself from attack, responded with drone and missile launches against Israel. The escalation of tension, via Israel’s raid on Iran, has brought the region and the world to the very abyss.


Whether the region spirals into a major conflict is certainly on the minds of the US and its major capitalist allies. They have been quick to urge restraint. It is not for any desire for peace in the region. It is not to preserve life. This has been shown with hideous clarity by aiding and abetting the Israeli slaughter in Gaza. The reason why the centres of imperialism and capitalism are concerned is that immediately after Israel’s attack, Iran’s response and the Israeli strike on Isfahan, the price of oil rose.

When Israel’s assault on Gaza began, market experts began making predictions about oil. At the time the price was a little over $80 a barrel. The thought was that a “minor” problem, callously likened to the US-instigated coup in Libya, would see a rise to over US$100 a barrel. A “medium” disruption to supply, like the invasion of Iraq would mean a price of $120. A larger disruption like a war would mean a serious escalation and war in the Middle East would mean a price of $150 a barrel. This 75 percent rise would have a devastating impact on the capacity for global capitalism to function. Not surprisingly there are united calls from capitalist boardrooms and governments to ease tensions.

Lives count for nothing. Tens of thousands of lives in Gaza can be snuffed out. That does not impede the progress of capital. The slaughter makes a profit, but appeals to reason and morality only surface when the whole system that makes the profits possible is threatened.

Guardian (Australia)

[Photo of destruction in Gaza: Wafa]

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