Monday, January 14, 2013

Recapitulating: The Israeli–Palestinian Conflict and the Zionist Solution

Source: http://ainfos.ca/13/jan/ainfos00059.html

By Yisrael Puterman

(Via Tony Greenstein)

It is becoming increasingly evident that governance of the Occupied Territories is assuming permanent form. Israel’s regime is becoming established as apartheid: one legal system for Israeli citizens, based on the ‘Jewish and democratic’ version of Knesset legislation (incorporating discriminatory one, not even Abu-Mazen.

The US supports in general terms this solution (whielays in approvi above, implies integration of the Palestinian state in the regional imperialist order), but dare not impose it on Israel, so as not to antagonize and destabilize its main protof democratic ruher hand, the Netanyahu government not only rejetion of 1967 it solution but kethought that theante by demanding fresh conditions that make it e settlements weto start negotiations. It must b groups of the old a left-Zionist led government be formed – which is in any case an unrealistic prospect in the foreseeable future – it wou intensive constd most probably Ts, building of plement such a sinfrastructure, of the reality that has been cre population into these territoriecause of the mass enormous multi-billion government expenditure – all this indicates clearly that Israel aims at permanent colonization of the OTs and creating there an irreversible state of affairs that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and will preclude any solution other than continued Israeli rule.

The establishment of Ma‘ale Adumim, the disengagement from the Gaza Strip instigated by Sharon, as well as the construction of the Separation Barrier – all these are clues to the solution that Sharon and others have intended for the Palestinian population: concentration in autonomous Bantustan-style pockets. This setup has actually been implemented in Gaza, with well-known results.

Israel is not the only player in the arena. Resistance of the Palestinians to any solution that would not satisfy their minimal demands cannot be ignored. However, the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas regarding conditions for ending the conflict. Fatah, a movement representing the Palestinian bourgeoisie, seeks to resolve the conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian national state supported by the US and integrated in its regional order. A pre-condition for this is recognition of Israel, which Fatah (the leading movement of the PLO) has therefore accepted. By contrast, Hamas, whose supporters are among the Palestinian proletariat and mainly the refugees, opposes a solution that would not resolve their problem. For them the problem is Zionist dispossession. Hence their demand is the restoration of their rights in the whole of Palestine, to be achieved by struggle.

But even the minimal moderate demands of Fatah – a state based on the pre-1967 borders including east Jerusalem and some kind of solution the problem of refugees (sufficient to mitigate their resistance) – are inacceptable to Israel, which shows its real intention by persisting with its policy of dispossession and construction in the OTs. The rhetoric of the ‘peace process’ can deceive no one, not even Abu-Mazen.

The US supports in general terms this solution (which, as mentioned above, implies integration of the Palestinian state in the regional imperialist order), but dare not impose it on Israel, so as not to antagonize and destabilize its main protégé. On the other hand, the Netanyahu government not only rejects this minimum solution but keeps raising the ante by demanding fresh conditions that make it impossible even to start negotiations. It must be said that should a left-Zionist led government be formed – which is in any case an unrealistic prospect in the foreseeable future – it would be unable, and most probably unwilling, to implement such a solution because of the reality that has been created on the ground, and mainly because of the massive opposition of the settlers, whose political muscle is greater than their electoral weight.

The resulting political deadlock, and the adherence to it of the Netanyahu government, appears to be leading to a bi-national state or an apartheid state. According to warnings issued by persons belonging to various shades within the left-Zionist camp, that would be the end of the Zionist dream. On the face of it, they seemon in the OTs have created a void into which may be drawn the classical ultimate Zionist solution – ethnic cleansing. Groups of settlers, motivated by an open ideology of transfer, are already creating provocations in the OTs, designed to ignite a major flare-up that would allow transfer to take place. The fact that the ‘security forces’ refrain from stopping them is a pointer to where this is leading.

The Netanyahu government is aware that a confrontation, however great, confined to the OTs might attract international and internal opposition capable of preventing the implementation of the scheme. For this purpose what is needed is a regional large-scale conflagration lasting sufficiently long. The scenario of the nakba may be repeated: a rocket attack may panic the Israeli public into supporting, or at least accepting, any action justified by ‘security needs’.

It must be noted that the Zionist left and right do not differ regardienzion Netanyahu, the prime minister’s father, who quotes him approvingly in his Hebrew book The Road to Independence. This is how Zangwill put it: “There is, however, a difficulty from which the Zionist dares not avert his eyes, though he rarely likes to face it. Palestine proper has already its inhabitants.... So we must be prepared either to drive out by the sword the tribes in possession as our forefathers did, or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, muntry formed a new, Israeli-Jewish, nation. But unlike what happened in those countries, where the indigenous people were exterminated or overpowered and marginalized, the indigenous population here, part of the Arab nation, became a people possessing Palestinian national consciousness, whose specific identity was formed in the struggle against the Israeli-Jewish settler nation. This is why the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has the appearance of a national conflict over a piece of territory, to be resolved by territorial compromise.

The following two excerpts, taken from a Matzpen editorial of 10 December 1966, describe the essence of Israel’s regime; they are as topical today as they were then: “The policy of Israel’s regime is a consistent extension of that of the Zionist movement since its beginnings: it consists in creating new facts and entrenching them by all available means, while planning and swish immigrants.

Most of the leading circles of Palestine’s Arabs had no illusions about what the Zionist project meant for them. As far as they were concerned the danger became especially real following the Balfour Declaration, which meant that the British empire – the country’s new ruling power – supported the Zionist plan. As was to be expected, the Arabs’ reaction was implacable opposition. As in the aforementioned colonies, the settlers in this country formed a new, Israeli-Jewish, nation. But unlike what happened in those countries, where the indigenous people were exterminated or overpowered and marginalized, the indigenous population here, part of the Arab nation, became a people possessing Palestinian national consciousness, whose specific identity was formed in the struggle against the Israeli-Jewish settler nation. This is why the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has the appearance of a national conflict over a piece of territory, to be resolved by territorial compromise.

The following two excerpts, taken from a Matzpen editorial of 10 December 1966, describe the essence of Israel’s regime; they are as topical today as they were then: “The policy of Israel’s regime is a consistent extension of that of the Zionist movement since its beginnings: it consists in creating new facts and entrenching them by all available means, while planning and seeking to create new facts.” “Since the existing Zionist regime of Israel cannot impose itself on the Arab World by persuasion, it needs to resort to violence. But as its own force falls short of subjugating the Arab World, it must seek the support of the power or powers that it regards as dominating this region.” The ultimate solution: ethnic cleansing The dispossession of Arab tenant fellaheen started right from the early days of Zionist activity in Palestine: land was bought from absentee landowners residing in Beirut or Damascus, and the tenants, whose families had worked the land for generations, were evicted by the British police.

This is what happened in the Valley of Jezreel (Marj Ibn ‘Amer), in Hefer Valley (Wadi Hawarith), and wherever land inhabited by tenant fellaheen was purchased. The accumulated Arab indignation, caused by British-supported Zionist activity, resulted in the 1936–39 Arab uprising against the British authorities and the Jewish immigrants. The uprising was suppressed by the British forces, using tanks and aircraft. As a result, the Palestinians’ military, organizational and political backbone was broken and demoralization spread in their ranks. The leader of the Palestinian uprising, Hajj Amin al-Huseini, fled the country. (As is well known, he later collaborated with the Nazis against the British and the Jews.) The momentous ethnic cleansing, the Palestinian nakba, took place during the 1948 war. Sporadic terrorist actions by both sides turned into a war following the November 1947 UN partition resolution, and subsequently escalated. It must be emphasised that for the most part the Palestinian population had little interest or involvement in the clash, and wished only to be left alone.

Nevertheless, although the Zionist leadership was aware of the Palestinians’ powerlessness, it spread fear in the Jewish yishuv, as though it was in danger of extermination. This made it possible to expel the Palestinians from villages and mixed-population towns, which were conquered more or less rapidly, without the slightest protest even on the part of those Zionists who had supported a bi-national solution and were supposedly against ethnic cleansing. The Zionist leadership was indeed surprised by the feebleness of Palestinian resistance and the hasty escape of the population, but it knew how to exploit the situation in two ways. On the one hand it claimed that the the flight was ordered by the Palestinian leadership, wishing to prepare a clear operational arena for the Arab armies; on the other hand it intensified expulsions, especially from the areas conquered in the south following the Egyptian invasion. About 400,000 Arabs were expelled before the invasion of the Arab states’ armies, and about another 350,000 after it. It is important to understand that process of flight and expulsion in order to infer what may happen in future. Spokespersons of the Israeli authorities and establishment historians claim, first, that the Arabs fled and were not expelled; and, second (in support of the first claim), that there had not existed a plan for expulsion, so that the flight of the Arabs must have been spontaneous or a response to an instruction/recommendation of the Arab leadership.

As for the first point: indeed the Arabs generally fled, because they realized right from the start of the hostilities that Palestinian resistance was weak and unable to withstand the Zionist military organizations and their attacks on centres of defenceless civilian population. In those few places where there was resistance, or where the Zionist forces wished to accelerate the flight, massacres were perpetrated.

The second point is of special importance for our present consideration: a detailed and comprehensive plan for expelling the Arabs and destroying their villages did not exist, nor was it needed. Transfer was an integral part inherent in Zionist ideology and practice. Every commander understood what was required of him; and if he was not sure, a small gesture of the hand was sufficient to make matters clear to him. The same pattern was repeated in the 1967 war: immediately following the conquest of the West Bank and the Golan Heights, a ‘spontaneous’ process of transfer and destruction of villages was put in motion.

By the time this move was stopped under American pressure, about 250,000 inhabitants had been expelled (‘fled’) from the West Bank and about 100,000 from the Golan Heights. The facts that have been establwould perhap ground and the regretful ‘understanding’, llow continued sle tears.

Of course, this scenario depends on the occurrence of e classical ultinational conjuncture, and on the acquiescence of the ‘international community’ (the states obedient to the US). In such circumstances the Palestinians would not stand a chance. Israel’s role in the service of imperialism, and the international situation The idea of establishing a state for Jews in Palestine was mooted in the British governmeis is why the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has the appearance of a national conflict over e Herzl and the Zionist movement. At that time Bial compromise. othold in the Ar The following a was that a Jewish state, alien to the Arab peoplesecember 1966, describe the essence of Israelponsor and servey are as topical

This idea, proposed to Moses Montefiore, found little support among Jews at that time. When favourable conditions materializt consists in crstarted to be implemented in Palestine, it didn’t quite work out as planned: supng the Zionist aim: a ‘Jewish and democratic’ state over the largest possible territory with as few Palestinians as possible. The Zionist left supports territorial compromise when conditions do not allow this aim to be implemented in the entire area; but if that would become possible, some of them would give it their blessing, and others would perhaps accept it with regretful ‘understanding’, shedding crocodile tears.

Of course, this scenario depends on the occurrence of a suitable international conjuncture, and on the acquiescence of the ‘international community’ (the states obedient to the US). In such circumstances the Palestinians would not stand a chance. Israel’s role in the service of imperialism, and the international situation The idea of establishing a state for Jews in Palestine was mooted in the British government as early as the mid-19th century,(iv) in the heyday of British colonialism, decades before Herzl and the Zionist movement. At that time Britain had no foothold in the Arab east. The idea was that a Jewish state, alien to the Arab peoples, would be totally dependent on it British sponsor and serve its interests.

This idea, proposed to Moses Montefiore, found little support among Jews at that time. When favourable conditions materialized and the idea started to be implemented in Palestine, it didn’t quite work out as planned: support for Zionism created difficulties for relations between the British empire (and later the US) and the Palestinians, as well as the Arab states that tions, which depend on its sshed to annex it. (Tof the regiothemselves were created through the bing of internal American support for the strong-arm policy initiated by G W Bush in Afghanistan and Iran, as well as the capitalist crisis and the Arab spring, have created a new situation, inviting reassessment of US policy in the region. Unlike his predecessor, Obama is reluctant to apply American military force directly (although he has not hesitated to do so by proxy: using NATO in Libya, Saudi Arabia in Yemen and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria). He is attempting to apply softer force and more conciliatory policy wherever possible, so long as this does not threaten basic US interests, particularly in relation to the biggest and most important countries of the region, Egypt and Iran. In Egypt the change in the style of US policy was illustrated by its acquiescence in the overthrow of Mubarak and acceptance of the Muslim Brethren opposition. Regarding Iran, it is illustrated by readiness to negotiate with the regime and accept some accommodation with the latter’s interests.

These changes in the policy of the Obama administration’s policy may reduce to some extent Israel’s strategic importance, and increase the importance of P the Israeli regime virtually absolute military, economic and political support.

For its part, dependence on the US has become for Israel an existential necessity, so that continued US domination of the region is a vital Israeli interest. At the same time it must be noted that, notwithstanding all the fine talk of shared values, democracy etc., and the influence of the Jewish lobby, US support for Israel is conditionnviting reassessment of US policy in the region. Unlike his predecessor, Obama is reluctant to apply American military force directly (although he has not hesitated to do so by proxy: using NATO in Libya, Saudi Arabia in Yemen and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria). He is attempting to apply softer force and more conciliatory policy wherever possible, so long as this does not threaten basic US interests, particularly in relation to the biggest and most important countries of the region, Egypt and Iran. In Egypt the change in the style of US policy was illustrated by its acquiescence in the overthrow of Mubarak and acceptance of the Muslim Brethren opposition. Regarding Iran, it is illustrated by readiness to negotiate with the regime and accept some accommodation with the latter’s interests.

These changes in the policy of the Obama administration’s policy may reduce to some extent Israel’s strategic importance, and increase the importance of Py, and stability has not been restored.

It is also clear that the US has no intention of endangering the huge profits of the oil corporations, which depend on its strategic domination of the region. Obama’s re-election, the ebbing of internal American support for the strong-arm policy initiated by G W Bush in Afghanistan and Iran, as well as the capitalist crisis and the Arab spring, have created a new situation, inviting reassessment of US policy in the region. Unlike his predecessor, Obama is reluctant to apply American military force directly (although he has not hesitated to do so by proxy: using NATO in Libya, Saudi Arabia in Yemen and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria). He is attempting to apply softer force and more conciliatory policy wherever possible, so long as this does not threaten basic US interests, particularly in relation to the biggest and most important countries of the region, Egypt and Iran. In Egypt the change in the style of US policy was illustrated by its acquiescence in the overthrow of Mubarak and acceptance of the Muslim Brethren opposition. Regarding Iran, it is illustrated by readiness to negotiate with the regime and accept some accommodation with the latter’s interests.

These changes in the policy of the Obama administration’s policy may reduce to some extent Israel’s strategic importance, and increase the importance of Palestinian demands, as part of the new stability that Obama is attempting to promote in the region. The Netanyahu government, alarmed by these prospy one of these, Zionism is bps in an attempt to reshuffle the cards and lead back to the old stral current icy: it announced its intention to atree elements will perennially determine the reality created by Zionism and its consequences.

This is the essence of the problem; but Israeli politics, the Zionist parties and the media, do not address it but are engaged in debates about sorting out its symptoms. This forecast of the outcome of the process just described is not a prophecy; it is inferred from the whole history of Zionist practice in Palestine. The fact that Israel prefers political deadlock and continued colonization to any solution, albeit partial, that would dampen the flames of the conflict; the extremely asymmetric balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians as well as between imperialism and the ‘international community’ and the peoples of the Arab east – all these suggest a process that may lead to an apocalypse.

True, this is not the only possible outcome, and unforeseen circumstances may well arise, forcing all forecasts to be altered. But it would be wrong to bury one’s head in the sand and ignore the dangers. In any case, it is clear that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict will not be ssed in the present article: first, colonialism; second, ethnic cleansing; third, association with a foreign power that dominates the region. Without any one of these, Zionism is but an insubstantial idea. Therefore, irrespective of which ideological current is leading a Zionist Israel, these three elements will perennially determine the reality created by Zionism and its consequences.

This is the essence of the problem; but Israeli politics, the Zionist parties and the media, do not address it but are engaged in debates about sorting out its symptoms. This forecast of the outcome of the process just described is not a prophecy; it is inferred from the whole history of Zionist practice in Palestine. The fact that Israel prefers political deadlock and continued colonization to any solution, albeit partial, that would dampen the flames of the conflict; the extremely asymmetric balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians as well as between imperialism and the ‘international community’ and the peoples of the Arab east – all these suggest a process that may lead to an apocalypse.

True, this is not the only possible outcome, and unforeseen circumstances may well arise, forcing all forecasts to be altered. But it would be wrong to bury one’s head in the sand and ignore the dangers. In any case, it is clear that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict will not be resolved within the narrow framework of Israel-Palestine: it is inseparably bound up with the geopolitical situation in the entire region. Neither the existing imperialist order, nor nationalist or theocratic regimes, can genuinely solve the problems of the peoples of the region, which are basically social. The Arab Spring – a popular uprising that will re-emerge so long as the problems that engendered it have not been resolved – is a struggle against all the ills of imperialism and its partners, the reactionary Arab regimes and Zionism; it renews the relevance of internationalist socialism as the solution to the region’s social problems and conflicts. Far off as it may seem to be, it has no real substitute. Socialism (not modelled on the discredited Soviet regime) can also attract the impoverished Israeli working class, as well as the white-collar workers who are forced down into the ranks of the proletariat together with other disadvantaged strata, all those who came out in the social protest of 2011, to renounce Zionism, capitalism and dependence on imperialism, which shackle the Israeli people to endless wars, isolate it from the peoples of the region, and endanger its existence in confrontation with the Arab world.

I. Hebrew text posted 27 December 2012 on Hagada Hasmalit This translation by Moshé Machover

II. “Zionism and England’s Offer”, The Maccabaean (American Jewish journal), December 1904. Quoted in http://chaimsimons.net/transfer07.html

III. See, for example, Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of ‘Transfer’ in Zionist Political Thought, 1882–1948 (Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992); Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (London: Oneworld, 2006). IV. See British Support for Jewish Restoration, http://www.mideastweb.org/britzion.htm

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