Israel is losing

Seven months into Israel’s genocide, the US has been forced to shift its position on unconditional support to Israel

May 10, 2024 by Layan Fuleihan, L. Mohammed
Protest against the attacks on Rafah in New York City. Photo: Wyatt Souers / ANSWER Coalition

Israel is intensifying its assault on Rafah, assassinating civilians, initiating gun violence on the ground, and raining bombs down on the city from the sky. Despite the fact that Hamas agreed to the latest version of the ceasefire proposal—approved by all other parties in the negotiating discussions—Israel has insisted on moving forward with its genocide, setting its sights on the last place of refuge in Gaza and sending out evacuation notices. Israel has refused to accept the ceasefire agreement and is instead continuing its genocidal assault on the Palestinian people.

This turn of events is very clarifying for anyone who may have still had any doubts about the negotiation process thus far. Over the past months, Tel Aviv and Washington DC have insisted on the same narrative–the Palestinians are blocking the negotiations. This is an entirely false narrative, both now and historically. Now the world can see that there’s an actual ceasefire deal that all parties, including the mediation, has approved, and it is Israel who has refused—not the other way around. What this elucidates is that Israel and the United States have never approached the negotiating table in good faith. Many of those who have been part of the student encampments in the past couple of weeks have now had a firsthand experience with negotiations, what it really looks like to “negotiate” with an enemy that has no intention of making any real concessions, and the kind of treacherous proposals that the enemy puts forward. These insulting proposals hardly represent any flexibility towards the demands of the other parties.

This is what has been happening in the negotiations between the Palestinian resistance and Israel. Israel, until now fully backed by the United States, has categorically refused any proposal that would respond to the bare minimum of Hamas’ demands.

This moment has also clarified the role the United States have been playing over the past couple of months, and has demonstrated the instability and contradictory character of the current moment.

The United States has recently taken the position that they oppose the invasion of Rafah and are pushing for a ceasefire agreement. Although this ostensibly is a new position, in practice, it is not necessarily that different from before. In simple terms, if the US actually opposed the invasion of Rafah, Biden could easily and quickly make a phone call– first to the Pentagon, then to Tel Aviv–to end it, employing political, economic, and military force to cut all aid to Israel, stop the invasion, and end the current phase of the war. This would mean a complete reversal of US foreign policy towards Israel until now, and of course, remains an unlikely reality. For example, though the White House has recently paused a shipment of some 3,500 munitions, causing some dismay among the would-be recipients, they continue to provide security assistance. This announcement does not affect the 26 billion dollar aid package signed last month, and the pause is couched with the reassurances that their overall support remains firm. But Biden is signaling, insisting that the US government does not support the operation in Rafah, and that they want a ceasefire to go through. Many of the European Union countries and the international community, both at the geopolitical and the mass movement level, are all against the occupation and invasion of Rafah. And yet, Israel proceeds with its genocide.

Israel is not without its own contradictions–so many, in fact, that it would take many more pages to detail. Some of its own political leaders and members of the ruling class have called for a ceasefire, while others insist on the invasion. Netanyahu clings to extending the war as his only hope to avoid imprisonment. Earlier this week, the families of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza released a statement demanding that Netanyahu accept the ceasefire agreement in order for their family members to be released, and threatened to burn the country down if it didn’t happen. Despite internal political division, Israel has still backtracked on the negotiations and proceeded with attacking Rafah, risking the stability it enjoyed in its relationship with the United States and claiming they are ready to fight alone.

Israel’s defeat

To fully understand what is happening right now, it is important to contextualize these recent developments and examine how events have unfolded until this moment. The negotiations and the escalation of attacks on Rafah are occuring in a context where Israel is facing very concrete conditions of defeat. This has been true for some time now, but it has never been clearer than this week. And by defeat, we mean very concrete things.

Primarily, they have not achieved their main objective of destroying the military capacity of the Palestinian resistance. The Palestinian resistance continues to both defend and respond to the occupation’s genocidal violence.

The US and Israel have also not managed to contain or dominate the regional resistance against their aggression. In fact, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the many different actors across the region have only intensified their attacks against the occupation. Some weeks ago, Iran successfully launched a historic attack against Israel in response to Israel’s strike on the Iranian embassy in Syria. This targeted attack on Israeli military infrastructure turned the table, making it so that Israeli and US military bases in the region are no longer effective as a force of deterrence, but rather now represent vulnerabilities for imperialism, US empire, and Zionism.

Another very important sign of Israel’s defeat and one that is not often discussed, is that the Israeli genocide and occupation has failed to destroy Palestinian social organizing and the social fabric of Palestinian society in Gaza. Emergency committees are still functioning and are being formed throughout Gaza to make sure that the very little aid that is able to enter can be distributed in an efficient and adequate manner. This is very important—an organized people are much harder to defeat. The Palestinian people, facing the most extreme conditions of famine, genocide, massacre, and complete destruction of their homes, are not only organizing these emergency committees to distribute aid, but are also preparing the evacuated cities, such as Khan Younis and other parts of the North, for the return of their people. This achievement is so incredible that the occupation has started assassinating the organizers of the emergency committees. The Palestinian people’s ability to organize to survive is a threat to the occupation, and proves to be another indicator of Israel’s defeat.

Finally, the social base for Zionism, internally and externally, is almost completely destroyed. Their internal crisis has grown to a magnitude of historic proportions. But the social base for Zionism is not just located in Israel: a lot of the social support for the Zionist project also relies on communities and institutions across the United States, as US imperialism has its own interests in the region. However, the US ruling class is losing control of its own institutions, as seen through the encampments at Columbia University and the uprising of the student movement across the country. Facing a grave crisis of legitimacy, the social base for Zionism, including the bodies that normally fund, promote, and politically support a Zionist narrative, are no longer able to maintain control over that narrative or their own people. As this genocide is not only funded by the United States, but also in many ways engineered and politically backed by the United States, the trajectory of this latest war on the Palestinian people has concrete implications for the US. When Israel faces defeat, so does the United States.

The movement for Palestine has backed Biden into a corner

The United States is wrestling with its own losses in the arena of public opinion, domestically and geopolitically, which should be credited to the mass movement for Palestine that has been not only mobilizing and rejecting the genocide, but building power in the streets every day. Over the past few months, the movement has made it impossible for Biden to get away with giving lip service by simply saying he wants a ceasefire, and waiting for everyone to applaud him. The actions sweeping the US by storm have consistently called for much more concrete demands, demanding all that is possible. It is possible to end the genocide. It is possible to stop the invasion of Rafah. It just takes a decision from the White House to do that.

No one expects the ruling class to be moved by a sense of morality, but they can be moved by political pressure. The continuous mobilizations across the US that have not decreased for over seven months demonstrate to the world how the ruling class has been defeated on the home front. And because they know their public is watching, ready, and mobilized, they are forced to seriously consider the consequences for their foreign policy maneuvers and decisions.

Once again faced with conditions of defeat, the United States wants this phase of the war to end. It is clear that Biden is drawing the line at the invasion of Rafah, not because of a sudden change of heart towards Palestinian lives, but because the White House has lost confidence in Israel’s ability to defeat Hamas by military means. In order to preserve some possibility of achieving their military and economic objectives in the region, they are desperately attempting to stay afloat on the sinking ship that is the Israeli war machine, without abandoning the ship altogether.

The US is also losing favor with its own public at an unprecedented level, and their own interests are faltering as Israel exposes the hypocrisy of US-backed institutions, from corporate media to universities. Biden is hoping to find an exit strategy that can allow him to salvage any semblance of a reputation. The public pressure that the mass movement for Palestine has imposed upon the warmongers in the White House is still growing seven months in. Just last week, tens of thousands of people, students and workers took to the streets on a Wednesday afternoon for May Day, at a time when Biden hoped that people would simply give up and lose steam. The May Day mobilization in New York City, repeated in cities and locales across the world, was indicative of the fact that the struggle for Palestine has sparked a new wave of international solidarity, a global movement that has been raising the class consciousness of people.

A victory for Palestine is a victory for the people of the world

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country, millions across the world, have continued to take to the streets week in and week out. The Palestine movement will continue to do so as it makes demands that stretch far beyond a ceasefire, calling for an end to the occupation and the total liberation of Palestine. In the streets, the working class carries the banner of Palestine, and Palestine carries the banner of the working class. We know that it’s our duty to imagine a better future, and that is something that we must do together.

Just like an Israeli defeat is a US defeat, we know that a Palestinian victory is our victory, it’s the people’s victory. And we also know that this movement did not just appear out of thin air. Over the past seven months, thousands of people have been building their organizations and honing their skills. More and more people are undertaking organizational tasks for the first time, demonstrating the power of an organized movement: they are leading chants with a megaphone, flyering in the subways, organizing protests in their neighborhoods, learning from one another and bringing it back to their communities. People have realized the power they hold and have affirmed day after day that the government does not have their consent to carry on supporting the genocide. The people refuse to be complicit in genocide—the genocide of any oppressed peoples around the world.

This past week, heavy rains poured over Rafah, breaking a persistent heat wave. From our comrades in Rafah, we heard reflections that this fierce oscillation between winter and summer weather conditions was reminiscent of the same whiplash we might all feel from the constant back and forth between the threats of invasion (and increased airstrikes) on Rafah, and the hopes of an adequate ceasefire deal being reached–one that is actually representative of the will of the people.

But in the midst of all of this volatility, there is an unbreakable hope that the end of this war is near, and that the end of this war will bring about a way for the Palestinian people to realize their goals for liberation, for dignity and for true independence. There is immense hope that the end of this war will only further carve a path to total liberation from here on out.

The movement for Palestinian liberation has already accomplished so much. It has made its demands unavoidable. It has made Palestine unavoidable. It has made the situation in the US untenable for the ruling class. And it will continue to do that because the movement has not abandoned its demands for the past seven months, and it has not abandoned them for the past 76 years either.

This week, we commemorate 76 years since the start of the ongoing Nakba, “the catastrophe,” which was the mass dispossession and theft of Palestinian land in 1948. We will commemorate it together with the unwavering commitment that has only been further fortified over the past seven months, we will commemorate it in our speeches, in our protests, in our fundraisers, in our workplaces and institutions. We have not forgotten the Nakba, we will never forget the 40,000 martyrs we have gained over the past seven months, and it is our duty to ensure that the culprits of this genocide cannot forget either.