OP-ED: The Genocide Must Stop

Joshua Cirotto, President of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at ACC, gives his and the group’s views on the Palestinian struggle during its developing conflict with Israel.

By Joshua Cirotto

This article was featured in the Fall 2023 issue of ACCENT Magazine.

 For three-quarters of a century, the Palestinians have been driven off their land, constantly bombarded with missile attacks, murdered en masse, relegated to the status of second-class citizens, and had what little remains of their territory converted into open-air prisons. Under these conditions, the Palestinians have engaged in a desperate yet brave uprising against the apartheid state of Israel. Predictably, the response has been the most savage repression by Israeli forces and is supported by all the major imperialist countries, combined with a propaganda campaign being led by popular media corporations to demonize the Palestinians. An invasion of Gaza has been launched, with 1.1 million Gazans being forced to flee the north of the territory. “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed… We are fighting human animals,” declared Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The IYSSE condemns those who condemn the violence of the Palestinians and those who purport to take a neutral stance as being complicit in the genocide. History should not judge the violence of the oppressed rising up against their oppressors the same as the violence used by the oppressors to keep them in their state of oppression. Nor was the most recent experience of the neo-colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deaths of hundreds of thousands at the hands of U.S. imperialism lived through in vain. A “terrorist,” according to the definition of the United States, is anyone that opposes its geopolitical interests.

Disgust at the violence is legitimate but it is vain and hypocritical when it is used to justify complacency. Those who prate about the ‘complexity’ of the situation are but the flip side of the coin to the criminals in the political establishment such as Joe Biden who condemn the uprising as “unutterable evil.” The violence is not inexplicable. Blame must be placed where it belongs.

Full responsibility for the horrors now unfolding lies with the Zionist State of Israel, its imperialist backers in the US and other NATO countries, and ultimately the geopolitical and economic structure of world capitalism. The state of Israel was founded on the theft of Palestinian land in 1948, involving the murder and displacement of hundreds of thousands. The Gaza strip, which if it were a country would have the third greatest population density in the world, has been under blockade since 2007, relying on international aid to survive. In the peaceful Gaza border wall protests in 2018 through 2019, 189 Palestinian demonstrators, including 31 children, were killed by Israeli security forces. Under apartheid rule in Israel, Palestinians do not have the right to vote.

Those who have courageously spoken out in favor of Palestine have been repressed and slandered as anti-Semitic. In reality, many Jews have been the first to speak out in opposition to the genocide, denouncing attempts to exploit the legacy of the horrors inflicted on Jews last century to justify new ones. At the same time, it is the myth of Zionism, which equates Judaism with a national identity and the Jewish people with the reactionary endeavor to create an ethnically-exclusivist apartheid state based on the forcible removal of the Palestinians, which is responsible for the growth of antisemitism.

All attempts to divide people along racial, ethnic, and religious lines are done in the interests of the oppressors. It is not insoluble religious hatred which is primarily responsible for the long-standing tensions in the region which are now exploding. Rather, it is the imperialist intrigues of the United States and other NATO powers, for whom Israel has always been a proxy, which have purposefully and cynically perpetuated religious antagonisms. The real dividing lines in society are beginning to shine through. The connection between the repression of democratic rights and the waging of war is widely understood. Just earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to oppose Netanyahu’s attempt to usurp powers from the judiciary, one of the main purposes of which was to facilitate the incursions of settlers and far-right paramilitary organizations into Palestinian land. In many Western countries, the mass protests which are erupting are met with savage repression and seized upon by the ruling elites as a pretext to strip their populations of democratic rights.

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality, or IYSSE, recently formed a branch at Austin Community College. It is affiliated with the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Website, which have endorsed the call by Palestinian trade unions for workers around the world to refuse to handle weapons designated to be sent to Israel. It has furthermore called for a political general strike capable of fusing together the ongoing struggle of workers across many industries to win back decades of concessions given to the companies by the unions, together with the fight against war. The IYSSE is fighting to arm the emerging mass movement against the Israeli genocide with the perspective of world socialist revolution. Students who want to get involved in this fight should read the World Socialist Website and contact the IYSSE club through the Student Life webpage.

*DISCLAIMER: The opinions, ideas, and beliefs that are expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, ideas, and beliefs of ACCENT Student Media or Austin Community College as a whole.