Saturday, September 21, 2002

Our Defeat is not Pre-ordained - Victory is a Distinct Possibility

Groups and individuals on the left are, at this juncture, cautious, and maybe even a bit suspicious regarding any expressions of orthodox optimism based, as it were, on the ‘inevitability’ of our success. The reversals suffered by those laboring for peace and progress over recent years suggest to most of us that, if we are to continue to do our moral duty, we may well get used to the idea of anticipating failures. This is the reason that we prefer a healthy cynicism in our immediate environment and dislike traditional methods for rallying the troops. In current language, one might say that we have to understand that we are losers and get used to the idea of living with that fact. Plodding, stubborn determination to register our opposition seems to be the premium quality for struggle. Hopes for successes and the belief that we make a difference are considered irritating and even counter productive – in the face of unfavorable odds and the ‘given relation of forces.’

Indeed, caution and low expectations are helpful in the sense that in the absence of illusions. one is rarely disappointed. But, here again, too much of a good thing [i.e., caution and low expectations] can be harmful. Realistic analysis does demand sober assessments of the strengths and virtues of contending forces nor de we tend to underestimate the strength of our current enemies, Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush. However, there are serious indications that the sharpest attacks by our enemies of peace and progress are a result of weaknesses and not strengths.

It is almost commonly accepted that the hope that the United States was overcoming the current recession was a delusion. Lower than expected profit reports, continuous financial scandals, and the disintegration of that last hope for recovery, consumer confidence, have convinced observers that the U.S. will undergo a ‘double dip’ depression. No one knows how much Iraq will cost Bush in money and in lives. However, it is certain that the whole economic system is very fragile and that any big mistakes will cost the system and its leadership dearly. The unmistakable conclusion is that the leadership of the United States is under enormous pressures to demonstrate its willingness and its ability to impose its will anywhere and anytime. This will includes universal natural resource and regime regulation. More than anything else this need reminds one of an over extended empire rushing in all directions at once to gird up its crumbling positions. Asides from the commonly held belief that the Bushites are suffering from one or more different forms of clinical loss of contact with reality, there seems to be no better explanation for the Busharon pincer movement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine than this metaphor of the over extended empire. Empires tend to over-extend before their demise.

The logic that inspired the imposition of Israeli control over all of Palestine has run into similar difficulties. The official explanation being offered that suicide resistance re-emerged because the IDF has relaxed the siege and curfew over all the Palestinians, leads on to the inevitable conclusion that Israeli security under Sharon requires constant IDF presence everywhere in the territories. With 8,000 Palestinians already in Israeli jails, the IDF and the Shin Bet must continue to go all out to kill or capture another 20-30 Palestinians that remain on their wanted list.
It is also getting more and more far fetched to hold Arafat responsible for activities by the Islamic and the breakaway Fatah militants, after proving to all that he is irrelevant. After totally isolating him, it will be even harder to blame him for the ‘violence.’ People are indeed asking how we are going to explain the next round of violent resistance, after Arafat has been isolated or even murdered, by one of the stray bullets flying around the compound.

Now this, from the point of view of our local imperialists is the preferred way to run things. It is the exact opposite of their dream of imposing a ‘democratic’ pro-Israel Palestinian regime, which could govern the underlying population in circumstances approximating a sort of normalcy. Israel is on its way to creating the ultimate occupation, where not only the area is occupied and general population administered, but where every single home, school, and neighborhood will have its own personal tanks and occupying forces. Leaving the occupied with no alternative to blind, random responses should engender enough ghastly violence against Israeli citizens to keep fear and loathing at the appropriate political level.

Thus, we too in Israel will have our own government of homeland security that will continuously wage a totally successful, perpetual and unending war against ‘terror’ ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Here in Israel, the policy of force, is also bleeding the economy. Sharon may be popular in the Wall Street Journal, but on the same street, the credit managers in New York decided on a serious downgrade of all the major Israel banks. Citigroup, the biggest of the banking bunch, decided to cancel plans for expansion here in the country. Sharon, it appears, hopes to get a bail out for the Israeli economy listed as an incidental U.S. expense in the war against Sadaam Hussein. And that is the limit of his willingness to relate to the increasing difficulties of the local economy.

Bush and Sharon are incurring the wrath of too many people and operating with a very narrow margin of popular support. Though most of their victims are organizationally disarmed and militarily frail, the dire necessity to fight back in order to live and survive was, is, will continue to be a powerful historical force. The weak spots of the aggressors and the needs of the repressed will, at some point, converge and reshape the relations of forces and prove the we are still very far away from the ‘end of history’ here in the Middle East.

Monday, June 3, 2002

A Glimpse into the Dark Recesses of the Mind of Ehud Barak

The clash over the analysis of the Camp David talks and their aftermath remains intense for the simple reason that it bears directly on the analysis of the current situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the possibility of a negotiated settlement in the foreseeable future. The official Israeli version of the events of the last six months of the year 2000 is the cornerstone of the current policies of the Israeli government whose center piece is clear and simple: Arafat, and the Palestinians under his leadership, are not a partner for negotiations.

This is the reason that we all have to take the time and the trouble to examine both the Barak – Israeli version of the events and the growing body of “revisionist analysis” on the subject. In this respect, we are quite fortunate to have been presented with an additional exchange on the subject through the good offices of the New York Review of Books (June 13, 2002). The clashing viewpoints are presented by Ehud Barak, with the help of historian Benny Morris and by Robert Malley, who was a member of the Clinton staff together with Hussein Agha. This present exchange is to be followed, by additional replies from Barak/Morris and then Malley/Agha will reply in return.A Peculiar Kind of Interview Before turning to the content of the interview by Benny Morris with Barak it is necessary to say something about its rather extraordinary format. For some reason the interview is not a simple question and answer affair. As a matter of fact it is not an interview at all. Barak spoke, it appears, to Morris who wrote up the conversation. Then he put many of Barak’s words in quotation marks, but usually Morris just used the technique of saying ‘Barak says, Barak claims, Barak implies, Barak believes’. Sometimes instead of quotes we get a colon before Barak’s own statement. Those of us who are trying to follow this affair closely deserve better and it is impossible to escape the feeling that the slipshod form of the interview – which should have been considered rather important by Ehud Barak - is a result of an arrogant attitude.

Just to give an example of how disturbing this form of interview can be, examine with us a critical passage at the very outset of the interview.
Morris starts by telling about a call from Bill Clinton to a vacationing Barak. We are treated to a bit of graphic detail to the effect that Barak was swimming in a cove in Sardinia…But here is the important part. Clinton said according to Barak: “…Arafat refused to accept it as a basis for negotiations, walked out of the room, and deliberately turned to terrorism…” The quote is from Benny Morris quoting Barak, quoting Clinton. According to the text Clinton said to Barak on July 26, 2000 that Arafat “deliberately turned to terrorism.” How could Clinton come to that conclusion, and on what basis? On July 26, 2000 Arafat had barely returned to the Middle East. We do know that Clinton blamed Arafat for the failure of the talks. Moreover, Clinton did not hesitate to violate the ethics of his role as a neutral and independent mediator in order to come out publicly and say so at the end of the talks. However, Clinton resumed contacts with Arafat and the Palestinians and maintained those contacts up to the eve of his departure from the White House. Certainly, Clinton, who had every reason to be disappointed with Arafat, would have given some public expression to his belief that “Arafat deliberately turned to terrorism’ immediately after Camp David, if he felt that way. Is it possible that part of the reported conversation between Clinton and Barak, told to Benny Morris, by Ehud Barak, was misheard or misunderstood by Barak emerging from the sea? At any rate, we do not have any indication from Clinton or anyone close to him that he believed that Arafat had turned to terrorism. Perhaps Barak improved upon the Clinton conversation and updated it a bit (or predated it a bit) so as to fit with the official Israeli line that Arafat’s refusal to accept the Clinton offer was a result of his own previous decision to opt for a terror campaign against Israel.

Vile and Racist Language

For the meanwhile we must delay the discussion of the substantive issues and the real positions of each of the sides, before, during and after Camp David. We are forced to do so in order to digest some of Barak’s remarks (generalizations or stereotypes would be better phrases) regarding the Palestinians. As a matter of fact, though it is a bit embarrassing, the “interview” by Benny Morris demands of us that we look into the deep recesses of the soul of Ehud Barak. And it is a rather unpleasant task. Ehud Barak general views on the Arabs and the Palestinians are a vital factor in understanding his political and diplomatic approach.

Barak links the failure at Camp David to “Palestinian and especially Arafat’s mendacity”: [Here we have Morris talking for Barak].
They are products of a culture in which to tell a lie… creates no dissonance. They don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn’t. They see themselves as emissaries of a national movement for whom everything is permissible. There is no such thing as “the truth.”

Barak gives us non-Moslems a sense pride, telling us that we are privileged to be products of the Judeo-Christian culture. If we were not part of that culture, we could not even begin to share Barak’s insight about the nature of “truth.” According to Barak, there is some comfort in sharing a bond to truth common to Jews and Christians. This permits the Jews a sense of spiritual kinship with the Cardinals of the Inquisition, who had our forefathers burned at the stake. This gives us a warm feeling of having something very deep in common with the pogromists, who burned and raped their way through Jewish villages in Eastern Europe. And above all we are comforted by the common cultural ties that existed between the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis operating in the name of Christianity. How comforting that truth is meaningful in the Judeo-Christian culture. In addition to his own experience as a military man who has spent most of his life fighting the Arabs, Barak picked up some convincing collateral evidence regarding Arab ‘mendacity.’ Barak tells Benny Morris: “The deputy director of the FBI once told me there are societies in which lie detector tests don’t work, societies in which lies do not create cognitive dissonance [on which the tests are based].” The FBI must be very lucky to have, in this difficult period for it, a medal pinned on its breast in the form of a commendation by Israel’s former Chief of Staff. Now we can empathize a bit more with the FBI and better understand their difficulty in preventing 9/11. On the other hand, if they knew about the difficulties in analyzing what goes on in the Islamic mind, why didn’t they do something practical about finding other alternative sources of reliable information?

The important thing is that we are au courant and on the basis of Barak’s inspiration, we are ready to do battle with Islam, which has, according to conventional sources of opinion, turned out to be a rather general problem for civilized people. Benny Morris informs us that Ehud Barak is far from dismissive of Arafat. Barak considers him “a great actor, very sharp, very elusive, slippery,” and cautions that Arafat “uses his broken English” to excellent effect. Morris might consider this kind of talk complimentary, but the fact is that Barak finds it appropriate to insult and vilify Arafat, personally. It is simply not sufficient to denounce his disregard for the truth which stems from his national, religious and ethnic identity. I must have heard that description of Arafat by Barak before in a different context: “great actor, very sharp, very elusive, slippery.” Am I imagining things or does this sound like an anti-Semitic stereotype?

Perhaps the most sensational discovery by Barak is the revelation of the existence of a “salmon syndrome” among the Palestinians. After the third generation, salmon, according to Barak stop swimming against the current. Barak explains, in his own way, his theory that holds that after approximately 80 years or three generations, the offspring of revolutionary generations lose their zealotry and dogmatism. The principle of the Palestinian “salmon syndrome” allows Barak to determine, on what he presents as scientific basis, that the Palestinians will be ready to compromise and make peace with Israel, somewhere around the year 2028, three generations after the Nakba or the catastrophe of 1948.

If, God Forbid, the Shoe was on the Other Foot

The Middle East is a very complicated and tense place. If in this rarified atmosphere, Yasser Arafat, would have delivered an interview and made similar comments about the Jewish people, the media in general and the pro-Israeli media in particular would have gone berserk. If Arafat had said that the Jews have a problem with the truth stemming from the Christian-Judaic tradition, if he had said that they have a special psychological and physiological capacity to hide their real intentions, the peace process would be stone dead and every one would ‘know’ that Arafat is responsible.

Our conclusion? It is to be rather suspicious of the credibility of Mr. Barak, himself, and to see in him a rather shaky source for reliable information on any matter linked with the conflict. Barak is, on the basis of his own testimony, a rather limited and narrow-minded individual, whose judgment regarding the other side appears to be tinged by a dash of racism. This conclusion will be strengthened many times over when we get to Barak’s own description of the failure of the peace process. But this will have to wait…

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Speech by Reuven Kaminer at the PDS and Peace Movement demonstrations in Berlin

As a veteran activist in the Israeli peace movement and the Israeli leftallow me to greet you in the name of a vibrant, growingly militant and dedicated community of protest composed of hundreds of thousands women and men in Israel who have come to this conclusion:

The 35 year old occupation of the Palestinian territories, an occupation that manages to combine almost every ugly form of repression: the denial of human and national rights, the closures which jail the populace in their own neighborhood, village or town; the curfews which choke off any kind of normal existence and make the tasks of daily life into a vale of suffering. Military incursions aimed at the entire civil population under the guise of the fight against terror. Checkpoints that turn the freedom of movement into a ghastly joke, into a long unending battle against daily frustration. Targeted killings designed to humiliate the Palestinian community and to demonstrate its helplessness against the operations of the NATO-scaled army which calls itself for some inexplicable reason, the Israeli Defense Forces.

This 35 year old occupation which affects primarily the 3.5 million Palestinians living under occupation is also directed against the best interests of the people of Israel. This occupation is wrecking our economy, spreading unemployment and poverty, this occupation is poisoning public discourse with more and more chauvinist, racist and McCarthyite tendencies. This occupation is debasing the humanist traditions of Judaism and the democratic heritage of the Jewish people and polluting our culture with militarism and fanatic fundamentalism. And worst of all, this horrible anachronism, this ugly attempt to go back and remain in the era of colonialism, this occupation is also costing the lives of more and more of our sons and daughters and of more and more of our citizens.

As a veteran activist I call on you to pay your respects to different contingents of the peace community:
Let us honor WIB, who have been maintaining a weekly vigil in Jerusalem at Hagar Square and all over Israel against the occupation since the first days of the first Intifada back in December 1987. WIB stand at their posts rain or shine, winter or summer, but even more important, WIB stand at their post even after a terrorist attack has resulted in the death of tens of civilians less than a few hundred meters from their vigil. Women in Black stand at their post even when demonstrating settlers confront them when they exploit a funeral to launch their complaint against the government.

It is not an accident that many women’s peace groups have built on their stubborn devotion and unlimited dedication to build a broad coalition of womens’ peace groups in Israel, it is not an accident that almost 150 WIB groups are meeting and demonstrating against war and violence in countries all over the world.

Let us honor Tayush, (which means partnership in Arabic) a product of the current Intifada, a group built organically from its very inception of the active participation of Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinian Arabs. Every weeks hundreds activists load up truckloads of food and medical equipment and travel to the heart of the occupation, to areas under closure and siege and demand their human right to extend humanitarian assistance to isolated villages. Going through the IDF barriers or around them, with or without permission of the IDF, the trucks get thru, Israelis and Palestinians meet and talk about a better life and a better future, one based on equality and human dignity for all.

Let us honor the many hundreds of Israelis who have announced to their country and to the whole world that they have the courage to say no and that they refuse to be soldiers in a never ending dirty war, that is pushing the country to the brink of more and more serious war crimes. Let us honor the veteran refusenick group Yesh Gvul, which has been educating reservists that they do not have to and should not fulfill illegal and immoral orders. Let us honor the establishment of a refusenick organization of almost one hundred twelfth graders who have announced to the mobilization authorities that they just won’t go or that they will enter the army when and if the army promises not to send them to the territories. And let us note an even more remarkable development, the officers’ letter, signed by now by more than four hundred reservists with backgrounds of distinguished combat experience. There are more than forty refusenicks languishing in Israeli military prisons from all three groups and the military prison is the school which is teaching them how to unite and how to fight the occupation together in more and more effective ways.

I would like to mention the hundreds of devoted activists of Peace Now whose movement has joined the call to get out of the territories for the sake of Israel and return to the negotiating table. Just ten days ago 100,000 Israelis returned to Rabin Square to declare that they have overcome the myths and lies of the Barak era and they have come to the realization that the key to peace is in Israeli hands and the path is blocked by the Sharon-Peres government which prefers settlements and annexation till the bitter end!!

There are tens of other important groupings such as Gush Shalom whose clear messages inspire all sections of the movement, there are important human rights groups such as B’tselem working to get out the truth about what is going on…but I cannot mention them all.

But I want to tell you a secret about the occupation. You know that Sharon runs the occupation. You know that Peres runs around doing apologetics for its continuation. You know the Labor Party is co-responsible for the continuation of the occupation because they insist on remaining in the national unity government. But the secret is that the occupation belongs to George W. Bush. It is Bush’s occupation because he pays for it, he writes the checks and he supplies the military arms and the strategic cover for it, he supplies the falsehhoods and prevarications that the occupation is about the fight against terror. He is one of the chief ideologues of the occupation. George W, after all is said and done, it is your occupation and you will either get rid of it or choke on it.

We, the progressive section of the world community are the most consistent opponents of terror. But, it there is one thing that is worse than terror, it is state terror, The violence by the state against innocent civilians which exploit their monopoly of power and control to dominate the world is the worst form of terror. George W. you cannot confuse us - we know that terrorists can and do circulate in dark suits and at distinguished venues.

Together, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs we will carry on the struggle for a just peace, a peace based on complete Israeli withdrawal to the June 1967 borders, the establishment of two capitals in the city of Jerusalem, dismantling of the settlements which have become a cancer eating away at all hopes for stability and reconstruction in the area, and a fair and just settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem. This is the path to peace and there is no other one.

Together we will renew our efforts to reject, overcome and destroy all forms of racism, especially anti-Semitism and anti-Arab and Anti-Moslem prejudice and discrimination. We have a treasure and a deposit from history to maintain, this treasure and deposit is the unity of a broad anti-fascist front, the very same front that fought Nazism and anti-Semitism here and everywhere it spread. The struggle against racism was and is the struggle for democracy and peace.

Monday, May 6, 2002

How the El Aqsa Intifada Began

In a previous communication we referred to the main points in the Israeli version as to the causes for the present crisis. This version, which has turned into a sort of catechism, is supposed to provide the ultimate justification for recent large scale Israeli military operations. Now according to the ‘catechism’, you must believe that the El Aqsa Intifada started as a result of an order by Arafat. In case the reader has forgotten, I repeat the catechism one more time:

The very simple catechism goes as follows: Arafat rejected Barak’s MGO because he refused to renounce far-reaching Palestinian demands inconsistent with a reasonable formula for the two-state solution. Not content with his diplomatic blow to peace, Arafat returned to the territories where he initiated, organized and put into effect the El-Akseh Intifada aimed at extracting concessions from Israel that he failed to receive at Camp David. This proves that Arafat, adopted a ‘strategy of terror’ built around suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

In fact, almost every knowledgeable Palestinian would react to this assumption with a great deal of mirth. First of all, an Intifada is a rather spontaneous affair. Has anyone ever seen an analysis to the effect that the first Intifada in 1987 was a result of someone’s order? Secondly, an Intifada is by its very nature highly volatile. Now, Arafat and his Fatah organization are a rather authoritarian outfit and as such, they are not very prone to set off chains of events which are unpredictable by their very nature. Arafat knows well that you cannot ‘push a button’ and have an Intifada and then lower and heighten its intensity, at will. The belief that Arafat gave an order to start the Intifada, or that he was able to do so, or that he even wanted to do so is a political fable and not a very convincing one. But if you accepted as true, up to now, the accusation that ‘Arafat started the El Aqsa Intifada’, you are not going to be satisfied with my analysis of Palestinian reality. You are going to ask for more proof that the fable is a fable.

Israel pushed the ‘fable’ as if it was disseminating some unchallenged, internationally recognized finding. However, there is in existence an internationally recognized report that deals explicitly with the Israeli allegation. This is the report issued at the beginning of May 2001 by the Mitchell Commission, established with Israeli consent, precisely to determine the cause for the outbreak of the El-Aqsa Intifada. Here are a number of findings: “…neither were we provided with persuasive evidence that the PA planned the uprising. Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate campaign by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity. …The Sharon visit did not cause the Al-Aqsa Intifada. But it was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen…More significant were the events that followed; the decision of the Israeli police on September 29 to use lethal means against the Palestinian demonstrators.” The same report notes that 4 Palestinians were killed and 200 wounded on that day. A central finding determines: “For the first three months of the current uprising, most incidents did not involve Palestinian use of firearms and explosives…Altogether, nearly 500 people were killed and over 10,000 injured over the past seven months; the overwhelming majority in both categories were Palestinian…Israel’s characterization of the conflict as ‘an armed conflict, short of war’ does not adequately describe the variety of the incidents reported since late September 2000.” The Report appeared in Ha’aretz, May 7, 2001

The report is eminently fair to Israel. It takes pains to reject several Palestinian allegations, such as the claim that the Sharon provocation was inspired by the government of Israel. The report refuses to blame Israel for the chain of events that lead to the outbreak of the Intifada. Moreover, describing the situation well into the Intifada, the report criticizes both the PA and Israel, saying that it has no evidence that the PA made a consistent effort to control and contain the violence once it began nor did the Israelis attempt to use non-lethal methods against unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. We can fault the PA for not making any effort to ‘control and contain’ the violence, and reject its claims that this is no easy matter at a time when Israel is using lethal means against unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. However, paradoxically, even this criticism of the Palestinian leadership contradicts the Israeli version of Arafat’s planned initiative.

Thus, we note a total lack of any proof in the Mitchell report for the key allegation that Arafat started the Intifada as part of a plan to use force so as to achieve concessions that were denied the Palestinians at Camp David. Moreover, the Mitchell report presents findings that support the conclusion that there is a distinct possibility that Israel bears the overwhelming responsibility for the outbreak of the Intifada.

The Mitchell report notes the deep sense of frustration and despair among the Palestinians as a result of the failure of the Camp David talks. May we add that it is only a matter of common sense to appreciate that 3,000,000 Palestinians suffering for almost 35 years under the yoke of a brutal military occupation can decide to rebel against inhuman conditions. Our own analysis would suggest that the collective suffering of the Palestinian masses, insulted by Sharon’s provocative visit to Haram al-Sharif and outraged by the I.D.F. method of using massive and unrestrained lethal force against unarmed demonstrators, were the real and genuine reasons for the uprising.

Just in case the thrust of Mitchell report is still unclear: Ha’aretz headed its report on the response to the report as follows: “PA Accepts Mitchell suggestions. PM regrets report didn’t blame Palestinians for start of violence.”

One might assume, considering the arrogant tone of Israeli propaganda, that there was some degree of unanimity on this question in the Israeli establishment. However, three prominent Israelis – Ami Ayalon, former Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shakhak and Dr. Oded Aran –all of whom had some intimate connection with the Israeli intelligence apparatus monitoring Arafat and his policies, rejected the thesis that Arafat initiated the Intifada. Ayalon, who was still head of the Israeli shin bet (Security Services) just six months before the Intifada, summed it up: “The Intifada is a result of a Palestinian loss of confidence regarding Israel’s readiness to pay the price needed for peace, and also [an] eroded public belief in the PA’s ability to establish a regime marred by less corruption and brutality. The Initifada was directed against a process which included Arafat; in no way was it conceived by Arafat himself as a measure taken against the process.” (Ha’aretz political commentator, Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz, September 17, 2001).

This is getting a bit tedious but we must return, for the moment, to the ‘catechism’: Arafat rejected Baraks MGO and initiated the Intifada. In a previous communication, basing ourselves on an explicit statement by Dennis Ross, we learned that Barak never made any offer and that the Barak offer was actually made by Clinton. A week after granting us this startling revelation, Dennis Ross, who has become a member of the Fox News permanent staff (!?), shocked us again with this new revelation about his previous revelation: “…at Camp David we did not put a comprehensive set of ideas on the table. We put ideas on the table that would have affected the borders and would have affected Jerusalem.”Here is the electronic source:

There was no Barak offer. There was not even a Clinton offer. There were ‘ideas’ and not even a comprehensive set of ideas. These did not deal at all with the refugee issue, they did not (at that stage of the negotiations) include Palestinian sovereignty on the Harem Al Sharif or any neighborhood in or around the Old City – elements which do appear, for the first time in Clinton’s December 2000 offer, six months after Camp David.

So there was nothing sinister or unreasonable in Arafat’s decision to reject the Camp David formulae. The negotiations indeed continued after Camp David, with important gains for the Palestinians, over and above the incomprehensive set of ideas presented back at Camp David. These later negotiations, serious by any account, suggest that Arafat had actually fulfilled his duty to his constituency by saying no to Clinton at Camp David. These later negotiations went up in smoke, but not because of anything that the Palestinians did. Time ran out. Barak had resigned and Israeli elections were on the agenda. Clinton was already a ‘lame duck’ president. Their partners had indeed disappeared, but the so-called Palestinian non-partner had never left the table. Arafat never said no.

All the allegations that made Arafat’s ‘strategy of terror’ a logical step in a pre-conceived plan to wreck the peace process prove groundless. We must find the causes for the escalation of the conflict and the violence, including the increase of atrocious and reprehensible tactics on the Palestinian side in the dynamic that developed as Israel moved to use force, and more and more force, against the El-Aqsa Intifada. But this will have to wait.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

The Unbelievable Account of the Offer that was Never Offered

A friend of mine who wished to take issue with my criticism of the widely promoted version of ‘Barak’s most generous offer’ (BMGO) sent along an interview recently granted (April 12, 2002) by Dennis Ross to a gentleman at Fox Television by the name of Hume. The document was sent along to me as another bit of evidence that Arafat bears responsibility for the present crisis because of his refusal to accept Barak’s MGO.

I do not have the time or patience to explain why anything coming out of Fox, which bears, of course, the ‘sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcript’, is suspect. Dennis Ross, who seems to be trying to make up for the not too lucrative years spent in public service by hiring himself out to a pro-Israeli think tank in D.C., has himself seriously damaged his own credibility. However, there are a few sentences in the interview that I do want to share with you. Hume, the interviewer starts out by pushing the thesis that there is no sense in future negotiations with Arafat. For this purpose, Hume opens by giving Ross an opportunity to go over the Camp David scenario. Ross’ first answer is amazing. “ Lets look at the terms (of the offer R.K). Let me spell out exactly what it was. It was something that we offered, by the way. There is a kind of imagery out there that Barak made an offer. It was a U.S. offer.”

How interesting! Here we are, a multitude of truth seekers, trying to evaluate the dimensions of the catastrophe that resulted directly from Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s MGO. And it turns out that there was never any such offer. ‘By the way,’ informs us DR, ‘it’s a kind of imagery.’
Now, the difference between a Barak offer or a Clinton offer is no slight matter. This is not a technicality. Why, and on what basis, was the public presented with the powerful image of a generous Israeli offer by a noble and innovative Israeli PM, when no such offer ever existed! Why has Dennis Ross remained quiet for so long and refused to share this ‘tidbit’ of information with the public which wants to figure out what really happened at Camp David?

Somebody out there is going to start taking me to task that this could not be the ‘whole’ story’ in the interview. I never said it was. I repeat: It turns out, according to the same interview, that it was a U.S. offer (and the plot thickens). The interview reads: “Hume asks: Barak accepted it? Ross answers: Barak was willing to accept it. Hume: Willing to accept it.” At this point, Ross starts to present yet another original and novel version of the U.S. offer (maybe we should call it Clinton’s most generous offer, ‘CMGO’)? Anyone acquainted with the vast material will recognize the gross inadequacies and the inconsistencies in the Ross version. But that is not the subject of this communication.

But there is an interesting episode here dealing with this Barak was ‘willing’ business. A careful reading informs us that Barak did not accept C’s MGO, but that he was willing to accept it. How and when and under what conditions was Barak willing to accept it? We can only guess (and I do not want to spend too much time on Fox and DR, who appears, interestingly enough in my text, with the title of a ‘Fox News contributor’). Working from the text we of the interview we do have, we could guess that maybe Barak said I am ‘willing’ if Arafat is willing.The interviewer missed up on asking as to whether Barak’s acceptance was unconditional. I have a penchant for believing that the Chair of the PA is no dumbbell. And if the circumstances were indeed those described here, Arafat might well have had every reason to believe that Barak was continuing to refuse to negotiate with him and the whole scene was designed to confront Arafat with an offer that did not allow for further negotiation.

Admittedly, it is hard to reconstruct the kind of closed, tricky diplomatic maneuvering of the kind that occurred at Camp David, especially as one senses that everything said in that framework was formulated so as to insure future deniability. At any rate, the Clinton (!) offer, as detailed by DR in the Fox interview, is presented tendentiously and simply distorts or evades many of the issues that were on the negotiating table – if there were any real negotiations. But Barak, my friends, according to this source, according to the passionately pro-Sharon network and according to Dennis Ross, never ever made any offer.

The ‘Catechism’

If you know and believe in the ‘catechism’ then you can justify Sharon’s war, even if you claim to have always been his fierce political enemy. The very simple catechism goes as follows: Arafat rejected Barak’s MGO because he refused to renounce far-reaching Palestinian demands inconsistent with a reasonable formula for the two state solution. Not content with his diplomatic blow to peace, Arafat returned to the territories where he initiated, organized and put into effect the El-Akseh Intifada aimed at extracting concessions from Israel that he failed to receive at Camp David. This proves that Arafat, adopted a ‘strategy of terror’ built around suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

The Function of the ‘Catechism’

The ‘catechism’ is the cornerstone for the justification of Israeli military activity, including wide scale incursions into Palestinian civilian population centers with all the death and destruction that such operations entail. The difficulty with the Israeli case is simply that even if the ‘catechism’ is accepted as the latest version of divine truth, it does not and cannot justify Israeli policy and actions.

Even though the ‘catechism’ is an excellent public relations exercise and it has certainly helped Israel and its partisan supporters in the propaganda war, it is irrelevant for any serious political analysis. (This does not mean that the Israeli version regarding the failure at Camp David or regarding the causes for the El-Aksa Intifada should not be challenged. There is every reason to re-examine this and other issues at some later date). The function of the ‘catechism’ is to demonize Arafat and the Palestinians so as to prevent any rational evaluation of the clear and open political objectives of the two sides to the conflict. I tried to explain to my friend that whatever the merits of the Israeli version of recent history, the Israeli argument does not answer the main accusation against Sharon.

The Palestinian side has repeatedly reiterated its position that it is ready to resume negotiations from the point where they ended. Israel is not ready to resume negotiations from the point that they broke off. The simple truth is that it is Israel and Sharon’s policy that prevents the resumption of negotiations. This simple truth exposes the real motives of Israeli policy. Israeli ‘explains’ that it refuses to reveal its position before actual negotiations or to negotiate under the pressure of violence. But given public knowledge of Sharon’s politics, the subterfuge is rather flimsy. It is common knowledge that Sharon has rejected any chance for the resumption of negotiations at the point where they ended. Is there anyone who can deny that Sharon has always rejected the idea of peace without annexation. The ploy that Israel refuses to negotiate under the pressure of Palestinian violence is rather strange. By entering negotiations, Israel does not forfeit its right to legitimate self-defense nor is its military superiority impaired. At any rate, it is generally the weaker side that refuses negotiations until it has somewhat improved its position regarding the balance of forces. It is the weaker side that has cause to fear that it will be negotiating ‘out of weakness.’

Israel’s current refusal to negotiate a settlement of the conflict stems from its rejection of the basic principles of the two-state solution, accepted by the Palestinian Authority, the U.N. and the entire world community and almost accepted by Israel in the Taba talks (but not at Camp David). It is this refusal that blocks the road to peace. It is in the analysis of the basic policies of each side that we find the key to ascribing responsibility for the conflict and Israel bears that responsibility.
So there is cause to doubt the veracity of the account regarding ‘Barak’s MGO. There may not have been such an offer. But above and beyond the immediate history of the conflict and the conflicting accounts of that history, we face the basic political fact: Sharon’s policies block the path to peace and are destroying any hope for resolving the conflict.

Tuesday, February 5, 2002

A Flicker of Light

Some of us think that we may have discerned a very slight flicker of light coming through the dense forest. There appears to be a serious increase in public reservations regarding Sharon’s policies. I will attempt a short run down on these, but, before doing so, it must be said that on the macro level we are in the midst of one of the most critical phases in the relations between the two peoples. Sharon will decide in the very near future as to whether he can pull off his dream of destroying the Palestinian Authority and removing Arafat from the scene. Bush has certainly helped to create the climate for such a move and there are no real obstacles to such a move ‘on the ground.” Sharon must also fear that delay on his part will enable Arafat to break out of the diplomatic and strategic blockade in which he finds himself.

Sharon’s main difficulty with the public and the media comes from a growing sense that despite his promises and the faith of large sections of the public in him, he cannot fulfill his election promise to bring peace and security. The public, it may be surmised, figured from the beginning that Sharon might not deliver on the peace promise, but it did hope that he would be better at eliminating or reducing the day to day effect of Palestinian resistance. The public at large still supports Sharon’s hard line, but it is dawning on it that he cannot provide a semblence of security. At the same time, the state of the economy is increasingly grim. The economic impact of the Intifada has multiplied trends linked to the dismal state of the international economic scene.

The peace movement, especially its more radical wing, has been reinvigorated. One of the first signs of the new mood was the relative success of the annual march sponsored by the Women’s Coalition for Peace at the end of last year. In addition, a new protest organization, built around joint activity by Israel Jews and Israeli Arabs grows by the week. Tay’ush ( Partnership in Arabic) leads large convoys into the occupied territories bearing messages of political solidarity along with welcome truckloads of food and clothing. A plethora of NGO’s are a bit more successful in mobilizing activists against house demolitions, against torture and administrative arrests, against cruel and arbitrary actions by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers involved in the imposition of collective punishment such as closures, curfews and the like.

All of the above show that though distinctly a minority, there is a vibrant, growing and dedicated peace community in Israel. A certain amount of progress has even been made on the level of establishment politics. Ben Eliezer, if only because of the requirements of his new post as the leader of the Labor Party, has had to stake out a bit of independent political territory. This is the ratio behind his meeting last week with Mubarak. It is of course highly premature to hope for any good news from the Labor Party. Peres, who is supposed to keep the peace process alive by virtue of his prominence in Sharon’s national unity government, is obviously obssessed with diplomatic perquisites and frequent opportunities to hobnob with world leaders. No one seems to believe that he would pay the smallest price in the defense of principle. A full report should include an analysis of a the Zionist dove coalition headed by Beilin of the Labor party and MERETZ leader Sarid, who is the titular head of the opposition in the Knesset. I hope to return to the subject, but meanwhile, the interesting story from the dove wing of the establishment is the declared intention of Knesset Speaker, Avrum Burg to address the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority. Sharon, with the entire right, as well as Ben Eliezer, have come out hysterically against the visit, thereby imparting it with quite a bit more importance than it had originally. It all adds up to a sense that Sharon is still strong but there are real cracks in his image of invincibility.

The biggest story and the most fabulous development in Israel today is the very recent declaration by more than a hundred and seventy IDF reservists from combat units. They insist that they are ready and willing to serve their country, but not the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Stressing their patriotic and Zionist motivation, the reservists have stirred up a virtual storm in the media and the public. A surprisingly large section of the public seems to, at the least, understand the legitimacy of the reservists complaints, though, each and every branch of the establishment naturally enough rejects the very idea of linking military service to any political issue.

It is important to understand that the new group (still expanding), is proceeding along a path trail blazed by more radical sections of the peace movement, such as Yesh Gvul and more than a hundred high school students who have announced that they will refuse induction. Two of them are already serving time.

So there is a bit less doom and despair and a bit more of a sense that protest pays off. But I better date this communication and get it out. This is the place where yesterday’s commentaries sound as if they appeared a year ago.

Friday, February 1, 2002

Analytical difficulty

Anti-Communism – Anti-Terrorism

The dominant element in present U.S. policy is ‘anti-terrorism’. This policy has, at the most, a rather remote connection to any serious confrontation with the problem of terror. Neither does it pretend to make the feeblest of attempts to analyze the sources of terror, aside from the suggested theological link between terror and ‘evil.’ Since evil has been around quite a while, we are left to guess as to the reasons for the ‘fact’ that at some quite recent date, evil-linked terrorism has reached tidal wave dimensions. One hypothesis would suggest that evil, after lying dormant for so long, has a new lease on life.

Incidentally, “terrorism” is an orphaned ‘ism’. The very definition of an ‘ism’ implies an ideology enjoying a modicum of open public support. But we do not have any people around who claim that they are expounding the teachings of terrorism, or putting them into practice. So though we have plenty of people who are currently being designated as terrorists, the candidates for this kind of appellation invariably deny that they are terrorists. More often than not, designated terrorists tend to claim, and often with very good reason that their accusers are themselves the real terrorists.

Despite much room for confusion, people of good will can identify what they mean by terrorism and why they find it objectionable. Terrorism involves an indiscriminate use of force and violence against innocent civilians, so whatever the matter at hand, the wrong people are suffering. It is no secret that usually terrorism is attributed to the behavior of people out of power, people who do not control state apparatuses. Governments out of favor are usually not described as terrorist but qualify for an additional criminal category. These governments are, it seems, not terrorists themselves but they are guilty of harboring terrorists or encouraging them, or they are not legitimate governments at all – they are rogue states. However, if the indiscriminate use of violence against civilians is the chief criteria, there is absolutely no reason why any state cannot be just as guilty of terrorism as any band of desperados. All you need to show is that the state involved is pursuing acts of violence and force against innocent civilians, an activity justly condemned by men and women of good will.

Many who recognize the injustice perpetrated against the Palestinian people and rightly demand the recognition of their just national rights might tend to hesitate before condemning suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. The argument against condemnation stresses that the Palestinians suffer from conditions that engender despair and frustration and have no other option, since terrorist activity by suicide bombers seems to be custom made for the weak. The difficulty is that the suicide tactic is not one of individual desperation, but an organizational and institutional effort led by those who find it, out of their own political considerations and credo, perfectly acceptable to kill civilians. No good can come out of hesitating to condemn terror sponsored by political and military forces with a very shady political agenda.

The real problem is the tendency of many to blind themselves as to the nature and the scope of Israeli repression in the occupied territories. The terrorist nature of a policy that turns the life of three million people into a living hell more than qualifies as terrorism perpetrated by a state formation or in short, state terrorism. Power usually enables the powerful to define the nature of social problems. Thus, it is ‘common knowledge’ that the Palestinians, instead of doing something more worthwhile, are perpetrating horrible acts of terrorism. The same discourse that tends to link terror to action by partisan irregulars enables Israel to be a leader in the fight against terror, when at the very same time, Israeli forces are pulverizing Palestinian civilian society and inflicting pain, suffering and humiliation on millions of civilians who are innocent, even in official Israeli parlance. However, even as Bush provides the ammunition for the fight against Arab terrorism, and as Sharon turns the screws against the Palestinian authority, more Israelis are beginning to understand that the occupation can and will qualify as a breeding ground for crimes of war.
Though there is no real difficulty in defining terror, terrorism is not simply the clear definition of any doctrine or practice, terrorism is a label with which power stigmatizes its current candidate for military and political annihilation.

But I have wandered from the main issue. Anti-Communism may have been connected in one way or another with the battle by the ‘free world’ against the Soviet Union, its friends and allies. The conflict between the United States and the USSR was real enough. But ‘anti-communism’ was something else; it was a more far reaching and more embracing concept and program. Anti-communism was the political and ideological crusade, which was designed to multiply the strategic and tactical options at the disposal of reaction. Of course, the common denominator is the manufacture of a political climate that disadvantages free public debate and public criticism.Analytical Difficulty

The physical existence of massive social entities referred to as the Arab countries and the Muslim world is a matter of fact. Observers devoted no little effort to calibrate the influence of these formations on the decision makers in the United States. The traditional wisdom is that in order to pursue and maintain its manifold interests in the Middle East, the United States must, in formulating policies, take into account the wishes and feelings of the Arab leadership and Arab public opinion.

Any logical and coherent U.S. response to the events of September 11 would seem to demand a greater sensitivity and increased efforts to keep friends and influence public opinion in the Arab world. Nothing would have been easier, for this purpose, than reenergizing U.S. policy on behalf of a just peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It isn’t necessary to prove that the United States had at its disposal all the required elements to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem or, at the least, to create a new modus vivendi that would go far to alleviate tensions and suffering.
Instead, at this point in time, the United States is giving full and open backing to Ariel Sharon and the most chauvinist and annexationist government ever to exist in Israel. The United States has actually taken the lead in attempts to isolate the Palestinian Authority and Arafat. Israel continues its massive and cruel repression against the Palestinians. The ostensible reasons are obvious. The United States is convinced that Arafat is soft on terror. It, therefore, sponsors his physical and political degradation by Sharon. The really big question is how the United States is able to disregard the responses of friends and foes alike, how the United States is totally unconcerned that its active alliance with Sharon may cause it serious difficulties in the defense of its regional interests.The big question is how the United States has zeroed out the Arab and Muslim world from the political equation in the Middle East.

The only answer is that the establishment in these countries has been rendered politically impotent and is totally unable to mount any effective criticism against the United States. Moreover, the opposition forces, and that first and foremost the Islamic fundamentalist opposition, are in a state of political paralysis. Arab nationalism has disappeared or been co-opted by the existing regimes. The left is still smarting from the loss of the Soviet alternative. Although it is clear that the United States is more and more disliked (hated, would be the better word) all over the Arab and Muslim worlds, there is at the present no focal point for serious opposition to present U.S. policies. So the United States can and is getting away with the establishment of the Sharon-Bush evil axis.The role of anti-terrorism, the new official ideology imposed on the world by the only super power, has been deadly effective in silencing those who hesitate to challenge its basic assumptions.

One could bring any number of examples, but Palestine-Israel is always an excellent source. The suicide attacks by Khamas militants are certainly not considered terrorist attacks by that outfit and its supporters. But a pretty good case can be made for defining them as such since the victims are, by any standard, innocent. Certainly, massive, continuous and unrelenting collective punishment by Israel, applied indiscriminately against millions of innocent civilians is terror, pure and simple. However, in the comparison of these two sorts of terror, Israel comes off as by far the worst case. Khamas is a splinter group, operating under military occupation. They can claim mitigating circumstances. Israel is an official state formation, with no shortage of available military potential, and a respectable (if not always respected) member of the family of sovereign states.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

The Occasion for Re-examining the Question

Barbara Epstein deserves our appreciation for her timely article ‘Anarchism & Anti-Globalization’ which appeared as the Review of the Month in the September 2001 issue of MR. Epstein’s article, based on a serious analysis of the real, existing movement, raises issues of concrete political importance. These require some hard thinking from Marxists who appreciate the importance of the anti-Globalization movement. Moreover, Epstein makes a sincere attempt to find ways to overcome inevitable tensions arising from the presence of anarchist sensibility and Marxist strategies, in one and the same movement. However, in her effort to reveal understanding for the prominence of anarchist style and technique in the anti-globalization movement, Epstein ignores or downplays a number of pressing theoretical and political issues whose solution is critical for the movement. For this purpose she invents an ‘actually existing’ Marxism which is supposed to have modified its opposition to anarchism and an ‘actually existing anarchism’ that supports the need for state power. One fears that with Epstein the wish is the parent of the thought since no such ‘actually existing’ Marxism or any such ‘actually existing’ anarchism really exist.

Epstein’s restraint in criticizing anarchist practice and theory reflects, in my opinion, a lack of assertiveness characteristic of many Marxists who fear that the Marxist theory on the state, revolutionary politics and the centralization has been invalidated by the Stalinist experience. However, even self-criticism must be critical. Serious and even agonized reflection on ‘what went wrong’ with the Bolshevik revolution and other revolutions inspired by the Marxist theory is vital. However, this kind of reflection demands analytical rigor, or at the least a concern about the danger of throwing out the baby with bathwater. The discussion on hopes for the radical transformation of modern society demands that we come up with the most reliable perspective. Marxist theses on the nature of state power and the preconditions for building socialism are essential for that perspective. Marxist theory and practice, despite inevitable limitations, tells us qualitatively more about future possibilities than anarchism, which offers us, as it were, history without pain and progress without sacrifice.

The wholesale dismissal of the principles of historical materialism actually leaves the field wide open for anarchist theory. For those who see no major problems with a synthesis between Marxism and anarchism, this forfeit of principle is quite acceptable. The difficulty is that this synthesis is not a question of good manners or reaching out to the other side, or even appreciating the contributions made by anarchists to revolutionary struggle. The synthesis is simply unsustainable. True, in this stage of the development of the movement against globalization, Marxism and anarchism must be defined as only tendencies. But both these tendencies have powerful historical associations and traditions, which cannot but influence the development of the movement.

Mass movements are guided by political theory and principle, evenat the stage in which theoretical issues seem remote or even irrelevant. In other words, the solution of practical day-to-day problems is influenced by the understanding of goals. Many anarchists are quite explicit on this point, demanding that all technical, organizational and strategic problems be addressed according to their very own principles and long-range goals.

An examination of a number of key issues in the movement against globalization should help avoid circumstances in which ‘anarchist clarity’ confronts and even seems a bit more convincing that a fuzzy kind of timid Marxism.

The Main Battle is Political

At the moment, the pivot of the debate with our anarchist colleagues relates to urgent, immediate concerns of the movement. The Marxist left understands that the movement against corporate capitalism, not to mention the campaign for revolutionary change, requires a broad based coalition and patient efforts to build unity. This alliance will be based on dialog and mutual respect among all sections of the movement. In this context, Marxists emphasize the qualitative importance of labor and the trade union movement as vital building blocks for movement politics and are openly willing ‘to wait and to compromise’ in order to achieve unity. Anarchists on the other hand are proud of their preference for the ‘Great Abstention’: from electoral politics, from trade union politics, from the fight for serious reforms, from building coalitions. They oppose any and all strategies that involve serious compromises and attempts to bring in new, less radical forces and to broaden their participation in the movement. The fight for deepening political struggle within the existing state formation is condemned as the ultimate sell-out.

The Socialist Alternative

The movement against globalization is not merely a movement for reform. In addition to the exposure of specific evils, it does promote serious criticism of what it calls ‘the system.’ Naturally enough, a movement in which many activists openly criticize ‘the system’ provides the setting for serious discussion of an alternative to the dominant capitalist social-economic system. In fact, anarchism and anarchists are quite keen about discussing this matter of an alternative regime since they propose the simplest of all solutions. The future is the absolute negation of the past – liberation will be achieved via the elimination of all organs of power and control. Small, federated communities (such as the hippie commune or the neo-tribal squatters’ colonies) will replace the giant multinational corporations. The elimination of the state is equated with the victory of freedom. Marxists do not need to place the replacement of capitalism on the intellectual agenda of the anti-globalization movement for the simple reason that it is already there.

Marxists recognize the existence of a series of absolutely vital and critical requirements for transforming capitalist society. Organs of genuine democratic rule must be established, the economy must be reorganized along with the introduction of socialist planning. There is an urgent need for the rational administration and global allocation of resources. The need for these and other indispensable measures is met with derision by anarchists and presented as the slippery slope down the Stalinist path. The anarchists deny the need to recognize the imperatives of revolutionary change and claim that once the capitalist state is dislodged, all of society (i.e., all the classes, without exception) will be guided by innate impulses towards cooperation and equality. In short, the anarchists propose a highly enticing theory of transformation without too many stresses and conflicts. Can serious socialists let this ‘alternative’ stand by default?

Social Transformations

The most cursory examination of three important revolutions in the last century, the Russian, the Chinese and the Cuban revolutions, shows how strikingly different the forms of revolution can be. But, in terms of content, there are inevitable regularities in any revolutionary process: a) the revolution cannot occur everywhere simultaneously; revolutionary struggle is protracted and involves outward expansion from a revolutionary center; b) organized force is mobilized to defend the revolution and to neutralize its enemies; c) the revolution develops and is lead by a strong core leadership. These universal elements are essential to any serious analysis of revolution.

The anarchist revolution, by bypassing or ignoring these characteristics, reduces itself to the status of an ideology of rebellion.Of course, Marxists do readily admit a need for caution when speaking about revolutionary transformations. Avoiding the pitfalls of centralization and the dangers stemming from the concentration of political and military power are genuine challenges. But these are difficulties that stem from the very nature of highly developed class formations and as such must be met head on. Success in overcoming these problems is possible only if the battle against them is based on a realistic and practical appreciation of the fact that processes such as centralization and the exercise of centralized political power will emerge. These contradictory advances hence, must be controlled democratically, because they cannot be bypassed or averted. There is and will be something ‘out there’ in social reality that has to be ‘checked and balanced’. It is necessary to find ways to ensure democratic controls and sensitivities precisely because there are dangers inherent in revolutionary action, because there has to be a strong, core leadership operating with force at its disposal. It is quite understandable that the experience of the revolutionary left with Stalinism has generated a serious, thoughtful (and often guilt ridden) desire to do everything and anything to avoid a repetition of that disaster. However, the left cannot realize this desire for deep and abiding self-criticism by ignoring and bypassing historical experience and lessons that were never refuted.

One could go on and examine further differences between Marxism and anarchism regarding other genuine, pressing issues. Epstein is right in suggesting that despite their differences, Marxists and anarchists, along with many others, can and will have to work together. However, it would be quite naïve to believe that our anarchist friends are preoccupied only with style and sensibilities which can indeed add color and dynamism to the movement. The anarchists will not forfeit their right to attempt to shape the theoretical character of the movement. The very existence of ideological differences in the anti globalization movement need not be divisive and can even be fruitful. There is certainly no place for theoretical domination or ideological uniformity in the movement. This is especially true in the face of the movement’s talent for unifying different forces - most of whom have as yet to formulate any long range policy goals beyond capitalism. Flexibility and honest efforts to built unity with all elements of the movement are the order of the day. However, hiding the valuable insights of Marxist experience, method and tradition under a bushel will rob the movement against globalization of an essential component.