This paper was prepared as a contribution to the debate within the anti-imperialist camp on the prospects for action in the imperialist countries. But the situation in Palestine is very different from that of Europe or the United States of America. Since the beginning of the Zionist settlement in Palestine 130 years ago, the Jews had a small enclave of settlers in the heart of the Arab world. This settlement is not an external expansion of the strike of a fictitious “Western-capitalist Israel,” but rather the essence of Israel’s existence. Palestine is a colonial occupied country, where the real center of political life is the struggle against occupation. Any progressive struggle within the Jewish community must be part of the perspective of Palestinian liberation.
The democratic struggle in Palestine differs from the general perspective of the revolutionary struggle in the capitalist centers. In any case, I have tried to devote my analysis specifically to the facts on the Palestinian ground, and let the attendants address them critically to decide which lessons can be drawn on other fronts.
Part One: How the Zionist System Works
(1) Zionism and imperialism
Much has been written about the evils of Zionism as a settlement movement, and about Israel as an apartheid regime, but the role of Zionism in the imperialist domination of the Arab East is well known and far less understood. The main role of Zionism, however, is not to exploit the Palestinian people, who prefer to get rid of it through constant ethnic cleansing, and not to build a Jewish community in Palestine (and therefore to exploit the Jewish working class). The main role of Israel is that it is a sophisticated military base in the heart of the Arab East in order to prevent the independence and unity of the Arabs and to build a national economy and a democratic society.
The military nature of the Israeli project is anchored in numerous strategic agreements between Israel and the imperialist powers that guarantee Israel’s “strategic superiority” in the region. The current imperialist hysteria against Iran’s nuclear project has one meaning – the imperialist design of Israel’s monopoly of nuclear weapons in the region, enabling it to be used when needed. In recent writings, Israeli leaders have openly spoken of how close they are to the use of nuclear weapons in some of their previous conflicts …
For its part in protecting imperialist hegemony over this important strategic region, the military elite – Zionist capitalism – enjoys a wide range of economic and political privileges, which is a small part of the capitalists’ return to subjugate the Arab nation and deprive its natural and human resources.
(2) Colonialism and class
To be able to displace and oppress the Palestinian people, and to terrorize the entire region militarily, the Zionists need the best of imperialism, but they also need soldiers fighting their wars. The State of Israel uses these Jewish masses, which succeeded in seducing them to come to Palestine, as their supporting base and as infantry soldiers in their wars of aggressive and unjust settlement. It needs this immigrant community to remain satisfied, to avoid its opposite migration to secure areas and to ensure its loyalty as a fighting force.
Fear is one of the main backgrounds of the super-Zionist domination of the Jews in Palestine. In this sense, Zionism is the main beneficiary of anti-Semitism, shared by the conviction that the Jews are unable to integrate into the societies under their backs. To some extent, it is benefiting the Jews from Palestine from the possible consequences of Israel losing its military control. In order to provide an alternative to displaced Palestinians, the Zionist movement is bringing Jews from all over the world. In an internal process of colonization, Jews are stripped of their cultures and social structures, which the state classifies as “inferior”, and crushing their society to provide “raw human material” for the Zionist falsification and exploitation.
However, the main tool used by Israel to perpetuate the allegiance of the Jewish masses is to make their daily lives dependent on a complex system of privileges vis-à-vis the indigenous Palestinians. This system of privileges includes all the details of everyday life in Israel: health and education, housing, well-being, acceptance and promotion at work … in short, everything. A great effort is being made to involve as many Jews as possible (from all classes) effectively in dispossessing Arab lands, occupied in 1948, and in the West Bank and the Syrian Golan.
This system does not allow the masses of the masses eager to improve their daily lives except one way: the struggle to strengthen their privileges and to distance themselves from the most oppressed Arab masses under oppression and exploitation. It is not by chance that the most successful Mizrahi Jewish struggle in recent years has been a campaign for a more equal distribution of stolen Arab lands under the slogan “This is my land too.”
(3) The alternative can not come from within the Jewish community
Capital exploitation in Israel, as elsewhere, generates its contradictions and strife. However, the sharp polarization of a settlement society prevents the natural evolution of the class struggle into a political conflict over power. Palestinian workers are marginalized by systematic bias, many of them working in non-formal economic sectors where class organization is almost impossible. The best organized and confrontational workers are those who work in the most cultured, and almost entirely selective, sectors. The more the conflict and local organization grew, the more the Histadrut, the powerful tool of the Zionist movement, was responsible for ensuring that the struggle of the trade unions was directed towards the settlement system.
The so-called “Israeli left” is never left at all, and is sometimes considered to include the Israeli Labor Party, which was the central tool for Zionist settlement, directly responsible for ethnic cleansing for forty-eight years. Today’s “work” remains a full partner in all of Israel’s aggressive and racist policies and is a partner in most of its government’s alliances. On the economic front, the Israeli Labor Party is closely linked to the large private sector, like its twin brothers from the right-wing public, and supports neoliberal policies such as privatization.
The shadow of the Zionist “left”, Meretz, which is currently part of the opposition, is only a more moderate one. It does not hesitate to participate in the governments of the occupation and the Zionist war when it has the opportunity. He is demanding more moderation in the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, but his main political activity is to try to engage Palestinians in virtual negotiations in order to blackmail them to relinquish the right of return of the refugees to become more acceptable to Israeli public opinion. Meriz is also well known for his reliance on the wealthy elite , Which may be slightly less aggressive than the other wings of Zionism, in that they find their interests well protected in any possible settlement.
There are anti-war movements, the most famous of which are Peace Now. While expressing some popular inclination to suspect military-political leadership and pressuring the government to reduce its aggression, it has often remained under the political wings of Labor and Meretz. The logic was that Israel could allow some concession from the status of power, thus denying the Palestinians the right of return and clinging to Jewish sovereignty.
For a long time, the Israeli Communist Party has tried to build a leftist Israeli non-Zionist. They thought that the left was able to cooperate with the mainstream Zionist “left” and influence it toward peace with “external” Palestinians and reduce discrimination against “internal” Palestinians. To this end, they tried to limit the Palestinian struggle within the occupied territories in 1948 to an agenda of civil rights, equality and peace. While they tried to heal some of the symptoms of Zionism, they accepted its main cause in establishing a Jewish state.
This experience reached its climax when the voices of the Communists (and other Arabs) in the Knesset were crucial to the establishment of the Labor government under Rabin’s leadership during the Oslo Accords. Until then, the participation of the Israeli Communist Party, or any other party representing Arab voters in the ruling coalition, was rejected by the Labor Party, thus confirming the overall Jewish character of the Zionist state and delegitimizing those Palestinian Arabs who are official citizens of Israel.
One of the most radical echoes of the global radicalism of the 1960s was that a few radical movements were formed among young Jews, better known as the “Matsubin” – the Hebrew compass. Despite some important principled positions against Israeli settlement, and the determination to fight and sacrifice among some militants, these groups failed to integrate as a significant component of the Palestinian liberation movement, even when it was at the root of its left. In the end, these groups dried up and ended up within the walls of the reactionary Jewish ghetto.
Part II: Zionism no longer works
(1) The limitation and decline of Zionist military superiority
As the foundation of Zionism is military control, and as part of the imperialist domination, the crisis of Zionism has been solved with Israel’s limited military capability proven, and exacerbated when the balance of power has not been established. It was a 1967 war, the occupation of all of Palestine and vast Arab lands at the peak of Israeli military superiority. Within a few years, the Palestinian resistance uprising, the “war of attrition” and the October 1973 war, erupted in which Israel needed a direct US air bridge to avoid defeat. But the ruling bourgeoisie of Egypt, the main Arab front, decided to bet on changing the balance of power for its selfish interests by jumping into the American vehicle and concluding the Camp David peace treaty with Israel.
For Israel, “peace” with Egypt was an occasion to try to crush the Palestinian resistance by launching a war on Lebanon, which lasted from 1982 to 2000. Israel occupied Beirut, slaughtered thousands of Palestinians, and imposed a government of accomplices for a short time. But the resistance continued and prevailed – and proved that the naked military force was capable of destroying and occupying a country, but it was unable to impose its own political system.
The first Intifada (1987-1993) transformed parts of occupied Palestine into places of power. Israel was forced to conclude the Oslo agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization and to bring its exiled leadership from Tunisia to be a partner in the establishment of some self-rule under occupation. The PLO leadership was deceived to believe that Israel was interested in giving up its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, formally renouncing armed resistance, while Israel continued its settlement encroachment and ethnic cleansing.
Disappointment in Oslo led to the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. After a bloody heroic struggle, the Palestinians for the first time managed to force Israel to give up a small part of the Palestinians, the Gaza Strip, where Israel evacuated settlers and direct military occupation in 2005. Yet Israel was subject to imperialist collusion And Egypt, the Gaza Strip to a harsh siege, and turned it into an open prison, and a scene of daily massacres. Meanwhile, Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections. In 2007, Hamas succeeded in imposing effective sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and in 2008 succeeded in forcing Israel to accept a mutual truce.
In July 2006, Israel tried to restore the balance of power by re-attacking Lebanon. For thirty-three days, its air force continued to bomb civilian infrastructure in the country, causing ethnic cleansing of the population of the south and the destruction of parts of Beirut. For thirty-three days, the elite of its ground forces and its best tanks lost their battle in the face of a battle against the Hezbollah militia. For thirty-three days, Hezbollah’s artillery and missiles hit northern Israel paralyzed. Lebanon’s victorious victory in that war led to the installation of Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as the most popular Arab leader, and Hezbollah as the main contributor to Lebanon’s future.
Meanwhile, as the only gains of the Zionists were more suffering and bloodshed, they called for direct US intervention in Iraq to prevent any real or imagined threat to use Arab oil money to build an independent Arab national entity. The invasion of Iraq, however, reveals that it is a massive additional war, even for the superpower. The Iraqi resistance has dealt a devastating blow to the ability of the United States to force its way on oppressed and exploited peoples around the world.
As they have never done, the Zionists have been limited to trying to “correct” the damage of the recent war by creating the next war. They are now trying to push the United States into a disastrous war against a broader and stronger Iran, which may reveal their most bloody and far-reaching adventures. The United States, after its bloody experience in Iraq, appears to be finally resisting the temptation to be tempted to incite Israel to strike Iran.
(2) The internal crisis of the Israeli regime
That the main reason for the internal crisis that is applied to the Israeli regime, is to flounder in its permanent wars externally and internally. For many years, an Israeli government has not been able to spend its entire term, while the various organs of the government are in a permanent conflict. Corruption is everywhere: Israel’s honorary president has been forced to resign under the charge of rape; his former finance minister is now convicted of theft; the police chief has been forced to resign to allow local criminals to influence police; his war minister and chief of staff have been forced to resign because of their careless handling of the war in Lebanon; Now to step down after endless charges of corruption.
Israel has adopted neo-liberalism and privatization more vigorously than most Western countries, and has eroded the state of well-being and social solidarity that has traditionally shaped the flesh of the Jewish community. A small group of foreign and domestic oligarchs dominate the economy, the gap between the poor, many of them ordinary working people, and the wealthiest in steady expansion.
Israel, as an immigrant community, is more sensitive to the evils of capitalism. From the Zionist point of view, unemployment and poverty among Jews are a threat to their constant effort to bring more Jews to live in Palestine. On the other hand, the high-tech industry produces an elite armed with a culture of globalization that finds it easier to leave Israel and be placed in the centers of imperial power. A major indicator of the crisis now is that migration from Israel is more than immigration.
(3) echoes of the second intifada in the Jewish community
The first intifada (1987-1993) was led by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and was mainly directed at its vision of establishing a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. It did not cause any realignment in the Jewish street. To be a moderate force on the part of the Israeli government. Everything was oriented towards the Oslo agreement and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority under occupation and not an alternative.
The second intifada (2000 -?) Came as a result of the Palestinian rejection of the Oslo peace process. The Israeli side, including many of the so-called “Israeli left”, realized that the Labor government headed by Barak approached as much as it could toward the Palestinians. The second intifada has challenged Israeli perceptions of the conflict for several reasons:
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have played a key role in leading the uprising, and have not been part of the “peace process” directed by imperialism.
Israel suffered more casualties than soldiers and civilians.
For the first ten days, the occupied territories also rose in 1948. Even after suppressing their direct public struggle through the systematic killing of demonstrators, it was clear where the “inside” Palestinians stood.
Israel has stepped up its subversive persecution of the Palestinians.
The initial response was a noisy meeting about the Zionist consensus, along with many of the stars of the Israeli “peace camp”, accusing the Palestinians of the absurdity of rekindling such violence for a moment when peace was at hand. A response of another kind, however, has broken the deadlock of the traditional perspective of the peace process.
Shortly after the outbreak of the second intifada, some elements of the Communist Party, as well as leftist thinkers, established the Taayush movement, which emphasized the joint struggle of Jews and Arabs against occupation and against racial discrimination, and avoided a political program. The choice of the name of the movement itself, the Arab element of “living together,” was an active break with the former tyranny of Hebrew and the Israeli narrative, even in the leftist circles. In the first year of the Intifada, Taayush succeeded in mobilizing thousands of Jewish fighters to participate in the struggle of Palestinians in the West Bank and inside the Green Line. To avoid what was until then a “natural” view of the two-state solution was an opportunity for effective participation of more radical elements. Coexistence was forced under the pressure of the partners in the refugee camps in the West Bank, as well as the Palestinian Internally Displaced Persons Committee, to take a clear stand on one issue – the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.
The main organizers of the Jewish participation in the daily mass struggle against the occupation are now “anarchists against the wall”. They participate alongside the Palestinians and international volunteers in daily demonstrations against Israel’s construction of the so-called “Separation Wall” in the West Bank. In order to strengthen Jewish settlements. This partnership in the struggle turned the anarchists into the brigade’s campaign against all the anti-occupation, where many people with different opinions participate in the demonstrations. However, with regard to the political perspective, it seems that standing against all countries in Tel Aviv is sometimes easier than diagnosing Israeli racial discrimination as an evil regime that must be confronted for very simple democratic reasons.
Since military service is compulsory and compulsory for all Jews (and Druze, an Islamic sect) in Palestine, resistance to service in the army is a permanent element in the democratic struggle. Here too the activity center changes. In the past, the general trend of political dissidents was to be good soldiers in the Israeli army as defenders of “legitimate Israel” and to selectively reject both serving in Lebanon or serving as a police force in the West Bank and Gaza occupied in 1967. Now, the center of the movement is to reject any role in the Israeli army, in recognition of the absence of any way to distinguish between the legitimate “defensive” role and occupation. The movement of refusers of political service, which is now open, is closely related to the widening of delusion and to the alienation of state institutions that are forcing thousands of young people to evade military service without publicly rejecting it.
One aspect of the ideological (Zionist) control of the Jewish community is the denial of the existence and history of the Arab people in Palestine, and in particular the denial of the Nakba – ethnic cleansing against the entire population of Palestine in 1948. But the insistence of the Palestinians on their rights, especially the annual commemoration of the Nakba in the mass demonstrations for the right of return, succeeded in breaking this ignorance of interest, to the extent that the word Nakba is now widely used even in Hebrew. There is also systematic action by democratic activists within the Jewish community to raise awareness of the Nakba, the most important of which is the significance of the work of the Zochrot Federation.
Another challenge to the level of cooperation of Jewish militants with the Palestinian uprising was by Tali Fahima, who presented herself as a human shield to thwart the Israeli army’s ongoing attempts to kill Palestinian militants. She was arrested in 2004 and accused of “collaborating with the enemy.” An active campaign to defend it had succeeded in stripping the political nature of the accusation, until the Court had to settle for a lighter charge and two and a half years’ imprisonment. Its name has become a symbol of revenge against anti-occupation democratic activists and their transformation into victims.
The other example of the shift of balance from the false Zionist left to a radical pro-Palestinian opposition was the anti-war movement against the second invasion of Lebanon (Summer 2006). As part of the government, and the leader of his “left wing” Peres as defense minister who launched the war, the Zionist “left” organized in full coordination with the propaganda of the war until the last day. On the other hand, the Arab and Jewish left in Haifa led the opposition to the war with daily demonstrations since the first day of its outbreak, even when the city was partially evacuated due to rocket strikes. In many public anti-war demonstrations in Tel Aviv, the Palestinian flags were raised and the mixed Arab and Jewish crowd was led by a mixture of Communists, Arab nationalists, anarchists, homosexual homosexuals, men and women, etc.
Part III: Making the Alternative
1) The official Palestinian position
The struggle against Zionism leads its main victims – the Palestinians, but victory requires Arab unity against imperialism and global solidarity in addition to breaking the Zionist monopoly of the Jewish community in Palestine.
The traditional program of the Palestinian liberation movement in the democratic secular state of Palestine has presented a positive and progressive alternative. Some Jews were active in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and held important positions. However, the perspective of the Fatah leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization soon turned to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories in 1967 (about 20% of Palestine) through an agreement with Israel during its hegemony. And therefore turned its attention in the Jewish community to establish relations with the “peace movement” within the Zionist camp as a bridge towards the establishment of the state.
Now, as the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) competes with Fatah over the leadership of the Palestinian struggle, it cooperates with all kinds of peace activists on the ground, but it has yet to reach a coherent approach to the Jewish community.
(2) the movement of the sons of the country
The Movement of the Sons of the Country, as a progressive Palestinian movement active in the occupied territories in 1948, declares in its basic principles that it represents the historic interests of all the people of Palestine, including the historical interests of the Jews in Palestine, to avoid their role as heroes of the wars of imperialist and Zionist wars.
For more than 20 years, the country’s citizens have been members of Jewish origin, but focus on its main task of organizing the Palestinian Arab masses to defend their daily rights against Zionist racism. Their involvement in the democratic struggle in Jewish society or organization within the Jewish community is limited to isolated cases.
Haifa Conference – June 2008
In 2007, the Central Committee of the Nation adopted the initiative to raise the slogan of a secular democratic state in Palestine as a framework for achieving the return of Palestinian refugees and as a solution to the ongoing bloody conflict. The timing of the initiative was determined in the light of the clear collapse of the “political process” under the auspices of imperialism, and the crisis of Zionist and imperial domination, which prompted both Palestinians and Jews to look for more distant solutions.
In order to make room for people from all denominations and various organizations, movements and parties, the framework adopted was an open conference organized by an independent preparatory committee.
The conference succeeded in pushing forward the discussion of the secular demographic alternative. Many activists from different Palestinian movements, parties and non-governmental organizations, most of them territories of forty-eight, but from the West Bank and the Palestinian Diaspora as well. The list of speakers in excess of 50 was a demonstration in support of the cause of the Conference. There was a very influential presence of Jewish activists as well, perhaps the largest participation in a Palestinian political event at all (except for mass demonstrations of course where everyone comes but without much interaction). There was also a prominent presence of global solidarity movements. In total, between three hundred and four hundred people participated in various seminars (workshops) in a lively debate on different aspects of the problem, struggle and solution.
The Haifa conference is part of a wider movement to reassess the Palestinian strategy. Other conferences have already been held in Europe, and different groups are working for the same objectives in the West Bank, Gaza and refugee camps in different Arab countries.
(4) Visualization of the future
As the Zionist racism, in turn as an advanced military base for imperialism, in more bloody conflicts and where the Arab resistance begins to break imperialist control, the Jews in Palestine have no choice but to aspire to a future for them not based on ongoing wars but on integration into a future democratic Palestine As part of the Arab democratic East.
In order to divide the Jews in Palestine from Zionism, we need an active approach to the Palestinian liberation movement from the Jewish masses, and to the active role of the revolutionaries within the Jewish community in the struggle against Zionism and imperialism. This approach can defuse the time-honored Zionist bomb and prevent the conflict from descending into a quagmire of sectarian slaughter or the explosion of a final nuclear war.
A socialist alternative is the natural continuation and the best way to achieve the democratic alternative in Palestine, as is the case in all liberation movements. Only a socialist regime can mobilize all economic and human resources in Palestine for the enormous task of rebuilding the lives of the millions of destitute Palestinian refugees and of preventing Apartheid from replacing military apartheid that Zionism now applies. A socialist system is the only one capable of systematically stripping the Jews of Palestine of immoral privileges and at the same time creating a climate for their integration into a future democratic Palestine for the welfare of the entire liberated society.