What Would It Take to Stop the US-Backed Genocide?

In the last eight days, Palestine solidarity encampments and occupations have spread from Columbia University to colleges across to country and beyond. Explosive events on campuses are catalyzing the next phase of the Palestine solidarity movement. To effectively confront imperialism, students must link up with the broader working class, the only force in society with the power to end American imperialism once and for all. 

For months, millions have hit the streets to demand an immediate end to Israel’s US-backed war on Gaza. But the massacre continues, day after day, with over 30,000 dead and counting. If marches and protests haven’t worked, what will?

“Naked self-interest”

The Middle East is a vital source of resources and profits for American imperialism. The US is the region’s biggest foreign investor, with $126 billion going to the Middle East and North Africa in 2022. Twelve percent of US petroleum imports come from Persian Gulf countries and 3.5% of US exports go to the Middle East.

In other words, the war on Gaza is ultimately not a moral question—it’s a question of dollars and cents. To maintain their economic control over the region, American capitalists require an unwavering ally with boots on the ground. Recently, rival imperialists have cozied up to regional powers like Saudi Arabia, leaving Israel as the US’s closest and most reliable partner in the region.

As “Genocide Joe” put it bluntly in 2013:

It’s in our naked self-interest, beyond the moral imperative … It’s a strategic commitment. An independent Israel, secure in its own borders, recognized by the world, is in the practical strategic interest of the United States of America … If there were no Israel, we’d have to invent one.

Over the last seven months, legions of protestors have learned that the American ruling class will never stop supporting Israel voluntarily. Demanding a ceasefire, divestment, or sanctions from the same capitalist class that has a “naked self-interest” in supporting Israel has resulted only in empty platitudes and toothless half-measures. If the imperialists won’t stop arming Israel, who will?

As “Genocide Joe” said in 2013, arming Israel is in the American ruling class’s “naked self-interest.” / Image: US Embassy Jerusalem, Flickr

Only the class war can end imperialist war

The US provides $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel every year, which goes mostly to purchase American-made weapons. It is by far Israel’s largest arms provider, supplying 68% of Israeli arms imports. Since October 7, the US has made over 100 military sales to Israel.

Protesters have attempted to prevent ships carrying weapons bound for Israel from leaving American ports. However, these admirable acts of solidarity have been isolated, uncoordinated, and not involved the unions or broader working class. Despite the inconvenient delays, this has allowed the capitalists to continue arms transfers.

Isolated protests cannot stop the flow of weapons. The real power to shut down arms deliveries to Israel lies with the workers who produce and transport arms. A coordinated, nationwide strike of these workers could immediately halt the supply.

As individuals, each worker is involved in only one or another step of the process of production, and can be replaced. But through collective action, we can flex our collective muscles and bring things to a screeching halt. We physically produce and distribute everything. When properly organized, we can shut down the ports, entire industries, and even the whole economy.

Isolated protests cannot stop the flow of weapons. The real power to shut down arms deliveries to Israel lies with the workers who produce and transport arms. / Image: Revolutionary Communists of America

A complex and vulnerable supply chain

The American arms industry involves millions of workers across the country. A $147 million sale to Israel made in December 2023 included tens of thousands of rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition. The shells are produced at a privately owned factory near Joe Biden’s hometown, at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant. They are then shipped from Pennsylvania to the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, where they are filled with explosives. There are a total of 1,100 workers between the Scranton and Iowa plants, representing a tiny fraction of those involved in arms production.

The Biden administration recently approved the transfer of 25 F-35 fighter jets to Israel. Final assembly of the planes takes place at a Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, employing over 18,000 workers. Beyond these 18,000 lies a vast network of workers producing and transporting materials and parts. In total,producing the planes requires the efforts of 240,000 workers across 47 states.

Any disruption at any of these or other nodes of production or distribution would gum up the whole works. And an all-out, coordinated strike across the entire sprawling network could shut down huge swathes of the imperialist war machine altogether.

Producers of raw materials, manufacturing workers along the entire supply chain, transportation workers, and those on the final assembly line could simultaneously down their tools. Workers in the armaments industry not currently producing for Israel could join the strike to prevent the capitalists from sourcing alternate suppliers. Striking dockworkers could ensure that any arms still pending shipment remain grounded.

Needless to say, pulling all of this off wouldn’t be easy, but it is an objective possibility. Such an action would require not only practical coordination but, above all, political vision and leadership.

To stop the flow of American weapons to Israel, we need a party of trained revolutionary fighters connected and coordinating across the country. / Image: Revolutionary Communists of America

We need a communist party

A nationwide plan for such a wide-ranging action would require centralized coordination as well as communist cells in every industry union and workplace. These class fighters would help their coworkers understand the real interests at play in the war on Gaza and convince them to strike material blows against imperialism. Not only would the weapons stop flowing, so would the profits. Communist cells could saturate their workplaces with leaflets, speak at union meetings, and agitate on the shopfloor against capitalist exploitation and war.

Communists in Scranton, Iowa, Fort Worth, and beyond could say to their coworkers:

The bosses who exploit us every day are also profiting off the murder of Palestinians—we have the same class enemy as the Palestinian people!

We’re here to work, to feed our families. What do we gain from the slaughter of Palestinians? Nothing!

We have the power to shut down production. We can starve the Israeli war machine of weapons and simultaneously deliver a powerful blow to our exploiters.

We must refuse to produce or transport any weapons being used against our class brothers and sisters in Palestine—and anywhere else around the world. Only we can ensure that these weapons are not being used in a genocidal terror campaign. We should take control of production and distribution—or retool our factories to produce something other than murderous scrap metal.

To successfully stop the flow of American weapons to Israel, we need a party of trained revolutionary fighters connected and coordinating across the country. This is what the RCA is building: a communist party with cells in every workplace, industry, and union. If you are a revolutionary who wants to end the slaughter in Palestine and overthrow the parasites who profit from it, build this party wherever you are.

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