Israel, Gaza and ‘Manifest Destiny’

Aug. 25 — Yet another round of Israeli missiles and bombs have killed scores more people in Gaza since the last ceasefire ended. The death toll since early July is now 2,092 Palestinians — about three-quarters of them civilians, with more than 450 of them children. On the Tel Aviv side, the count is 68 Israelis, all but four of them soldiers who invaded Gaza.

These dry figures underscore the brutal­ity of the U.S.-supported and -armed regime in Tel Aviv. It has now destroyed 42,000 acres of croplands, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organiza­tion, and 10 percent of Gaza’s factories as it relentlessly pounds the densely populated territory. —Israel claims this is all self-defense — it calls its latest attack Opera­tion Pro­tective Edge — but in reality it is demand­ing nothing less than the surrender of the Palestinian people to its total authority.

Hitler took the same approach when he rolled into the countries on Germany’s borders. Only outright occupation by German imperialism and/or Quisling regimes — set up and run by the Nazis — were allowed to exist.

Particularly rankling to the Israeli rulers was the election of Hamas in Gaza in 2006. Since then Israel and the U.S. have done everything they could to weaken the Palestinian movement by inflaming a struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, represented by Fatah.

The U.S. tried to make it appear that Israel would carry out meaningful negotiations with the PA. But the so-called “peace process,” brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry, finally collapsed in April when it became clear that there would be no recognition for a Palestinian state of any kind, even one with the support of the overwhelming majority of countries in the world.

It was after the collapse of these talks that the PA and Hamas announced they were forming a unity government in the West Bank and Gaza. Ever since, the Israeli regime has tightened the screws on Gaza to the point where normal life for the people has been impossible. Rather than be strangled slowly inside a totally blockaded piece of land, they have chosen to fight back.

‘Morality’ to destroy sovereignty

What makes the relatively small state of Israel so aggressive? And where does the ideology that professes to justify its land theft come from? It is helpful here to look at some of the history of Western capitalism’s expansion, especially the U.S. claim of Manifest Destiny.

The rise of capitalism in the West, and later in Japan, was marked by the need to constantly expand production in order to make bigger profits and stay on top of the competition. Before long, this meant finding new markets and new sources of raw materials, which inevitably led to seeking out new lands to conquer.

After the 13 former colonies of Britain in the “New World” became the United States, the hunger of the rising capitalist class for land and resources soon began an expansion into the West. But how did they justify driving the Native nations off their land, massacring them and killing off the buffalo that were the mainstay of the peoples living on the Great Plains?

The expansionists created a new morality to fit their class needs: Manifest Destiny. They declared that taking over new lands — by exiling or killing masses of people — was a right bestowed by Providence upon those who would bring enlightenment, progress and prosperity to the region.

Every oppressed person can recognize in this hypocritical attitude the real motivation. The colonialists and imperialists had no particular claim to enlightenment, unless that term is equated to how many guns and bombs they could produce. The colonizers were ready to employ the most brutal methods to eradicate the sovereignty of people who stood in the way of their profits.

The Zionist state of Israel is in many ways utilizing an extension of these claims to Manifest Destiny. Like the earlier colonizers, Israel’s ruling class covers its predatory behavior in religious garb — claiming their “right” to Palestine goes back to Moses — when in fact Zionism is a political movement that got the support of Western imperialism to create a settler state in Palestine by forcibly ousting many of the Palestinians living there.

Hitler’s massive extermination of Jewish people in Europe gave the leaders of Zionism a potent argument about the need for a haven. But suppressing and ousting the Palestinian people from their homes and imposing genocidal rule over them are not ways to create a haven for anyone. If anything, they arouse anti-Semitism, which was rife among the ruling classes of Europe for centuries.

The Palestinian people, by their incredible courage and unity in the face of atrocious war crimes, have earned the respect of ordinary people all over the world. Their struggle is waking up millions who now see Israel as the oppressor — whose draconian rule is made possible by Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon.