In a previous blog post I said that the two sides in the conflict raging now in Palestine, Israel and Lebanon are:
#1. Ordinary people of all religions and ethnic groups in Palestine/ Israel/ Lebanon who want to live in peace with one another as equals (the opposite of Zionism's Jewish privilege and apartheid.) This is the vast majority of people of all ethnic and religious persuasions.
#2. Those who are, or want to be, ruling upper classes, who want inequality, and who want to control ordinary people by setting them against each other along religious/ racial/ ethnic lines as mutual mortal enemies.
These are the actual two sides. Obviously powerful governments and various leaders want to disguise this conflict as a religious or ethnic or national conflict, and they have unfortunately succeeded in that effort to a great extent.
But to stop the blood bath hell that side #2 is raining down on side #1 today, we need to start by at least imagining what a war waged by side #1 against side #2 would even look like.
Violence or non-violence?
Side #1 cannot win by trying to persuade side #2 to stop its attacks. The leaders of side #2 believe their cause is right, they lose no sleep feeling guilty about the atrocities they carry out to control people, and while some individuals may defect from this class, this class itself will never be persuaded that they are wrong. Relying on persuasion of one's opponent is what the philosophy of non-violence is all about, and that is why it won't work. Violence, per se, cannot be ruled out as a necessary factor for side #1 to prevail.
But persuasion of one's potential friends is, along with violence against side #2, also a necessary factor for success, and pursuing this vital objective is not at all the same thing as adopting the philosophy of non-violence.
What would it look like if Hamas and Hezbollah were fighting 100% for side #1 against side #2, in other words if they were fighting the class war?
Their strategy would be first, to persuade all potential friends in the world to support them, by clearly explaining that they were fighting for side #1 aims and against side #2 aims. The violence used by Hamas and Hezbollah would always be subordinate to its political strategy, of uniting ordinary Arabs and Jews and others around a common program of equality, security and mutual support for all. In keeping with this strategy they would direct violence exclusively against combatants (as opposed to non-combatants) on side #2, in order to focus all their military power on the real target, and to avoid helping side #2 gain political strength by disguising the true nature of the conflict as a religious war.
What would class war violence look like for Hezbollah?
Hezbollah has acquired serious weapons including rockets that they can fire, albeit with very little precision, into Israeli towns. These weapons are good for killing random non-combatants. But the weapons they would be trying to get if they were waging the class war would be, on the contrary, weapons designed to attack combatants. They would be using artillery that could be aimed with precision at combatants. An anti-tank gun is the kind of weapon they would be trying to get their hands on, not a long range missile. [It appears Hezbollah already has anti-tank weapons and is using them.]
Instead of trying to make side #2 back down by attacking civilians in side #1 who live in Israel (as if side #2 cared about "their own" people, which they clearly do not) , Hezbollah's strategy would be to take control of Israeli land adjacent to the Lebanon border, by fighting Israeli military forces for that land with weapons designed for that purpose. If Hezbollah succeeded in capturing some Israeli land, they would make it a point to treat the Israeli civilians in that land respectfully, as potential friends who potentially shared their side #1 aim for people of different religions to live together peacefully and as equals. They would of course disarm captured Israeli soldiers but also make it clear to them that they viewed the conflict as one between sides #1 and #2, not Jews versus Arabs.
American Indians won over a lot of European-descended prisoners by treating them exactly this way in the 1700s and 1800s. If Hezbollah adopted this strategy, word would spread about how Hezbollah was treating side #1 civilians and captured soldiers. And Israeli civilians would grasp soon enough that they were not considered the enemy but actually potential friends by Hezbollah. The Israeli government's ability to rally the Israeli population to support a war against Hezbollah would be undermined enormously, in sharp contrast to the way it presently enjoys maximum support for a war it has convinced its population is in self-defense.
If Hezbollah followed this strategy it would also gain greater support from non-Palestinians in Lebanon, who would be inspired by the side #1 objectives, and who would see that Hezbollah was not waging a religious war.
What would class war violence look like for Hamas?
Hamas apparently has less powerful weapons than Hezbollah. But the strategy would be the same. Hamas would stop trying to kill random non-combatants in Israeli towns near Gaza with its missiles, and instead it would direct all the violence it could muster against Israeli combatants who directly oppress people in Gaza: the Israeli military forces that control Gaza's borders and sea coast.
The military objective would be to make it as hard as possible for the Israeli military to control the Gaza borders. Hamas, instead of telling Gazans that "we'll do the fighting for you," would help ordinary Gazans contribute to this violence against Israeli border guards, even if only by throwing rocks, as they were obviously able to do in past intifadahs. If territory in Israel adjacent to Gaza could be captured and Israeli civilians residing in it treated respectfully, all the better.
The aims of the violence would be to defeat the military forces that deny Palestinians their right to return and their right to live as the equals of Jews in their own country. Hamas and Hezbollah would subordinate their use of violence to the strategy of uniting ordinary Arabs and Jews and others for their mutual security and support and against Zionism and all other forms of racial, religious or ethnic inequality. These aims would become evident to Israeli civilians, and the Israeli government would not be nearly as able to convince Israelis that their lives were threatened by Hamas as they are able to do today.
The opposition inside Israel to the government would be able to take the offense, instead of being on the defensive ideologically as they are today. Doubts within the ranks of the Israeli army itself would spread, just as they did within the U.S. army in Vietnam. The U.S. had to retreat from Vietnam because American rulers realized that they could not count on the army to fight any more. This could happen to the Israli army if they understood that the only thing they were fighting for was side #2 against side #1.
How would class war affect the American public's support for Israel?
If Hamas and Hezbollah fought the class war along these lines, certainly the media and politicians would try to disguise the fact, but some of the truth would get through. To the extent that it did, it would transform the mindset of the American public about the Middle East. Instead of falling for the propaganda about Israel defending its people against terrorists, the American working class would recognize that Hamas and Hezbollah were fighting for working class values against the same kind of upper class people that American workers have to fight at home on the job and in their communities. The American government would have a hard time convincing Americans that it was right to support Israel.
Why don't Hamas and Hezbollah fight the class war?
Good question. I hope Palestinians start asking it, because the Palestinians, as part of side #1, can actually win this fight. It is simply a tragedy to lose it.
John Spritzler is the author of
The People As Enemy: The
Leaders' Hidden Agenda In World War II, and a Research Scientist at the
Harvard School of Public Health.
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