Q: I noticed that recent CPUSA statements on the Middle East put a heavy weight on Israel’s responsibility and much lighter weight on Hezbollah or Hamas. Why doesn’t the CPUSA take a more even-handed approach?

A: The peoples of the Middle East are caught between right-wing ruling circles in Israel, who advocate state terrorism, and right-wing forces in other countries of the region, who promote individual terrorism. Neither is a solution, just a recipe for continuing the destructive cycle of violence in which all Middle Eastern peoples are the losers, including the Israeli people, Jewish and Arab.

However, Israel is the aggressor nation in the region — it has occupied many territories in violation of innumerable UN resolutions, it has invaded and occupied Lebanon, it uses the full weight of its armed forces for state terrorism, engaging in violence to maintain its illegal and immoral occupation of Palestinian land, and in doing all this, it has the full support of the U.S. government. Its actions serve a right-wing U.S. agenda of dominating the region.

The U.S. is the main supplier of arms, missiles and other weapons to Israel, to the tune of billions of dollars each year. The U.S. is responsible for Israel being able to use the most advanced weaponry to maintain its occupation and its aggressive stance.

As peace activists in the U.S., it is our responsibility to restrain our own imperialism first and foremost, and this means working to end U.S. support for Israeli state terrorism. This is our lever.

None of this excuses individual terrorism engaged in by others in the Middle East, including those who use terrorism to attack Israel’s right to exist. We oppose ultra-right nationalism and religious fanaticism. So we condemn terrorism on all sides, but feel that an “even-handed” approach lets Israel off the hook as the main aggressor, invader and occupier of the region.

As for Israel’s claim that it is just acting in self-defense, we agree that Israel, like other nations, has a right to self-defense, but Israel’s policy of annexation and massive, deadly military attacks are the opposite of self-defense measures.

We note that if military solutions to terrorism worked, Israel would have been the most peaceful place on earth for many decades already. The problems in the region cannot be solved by military means — they are political, and require diplomacy and a political solution.

We think that a two-state solution which guarantees the right to exist of both Israel and Palestine as viable, sovereign nations free from the threat and reality of invasion is the only realistic solution, and steps toward this goal are the path to peace. Peace, negotiations, honoring all UN resolutions, economic development, mutual respect, release of prisoners on all sides (Israel has way more Palestinians in prison, often held without trial or legal justification), UN-supervised borders, and a renunciation of violence from all sides are parts of that path. If Israel wants others to respect its borders, sovereignty and right to exist, it must respond in kind to the Palestinians (and the Lebanese).

We invite readers to submit questions about the Communist Party USA, its basic policies, and a Marxist viewpoint on current social issues. The answers are provided by Marc Brodine, chair of the Washington State Communist Party. Questions can be sent to cpusa@cpusa.org.