Sunday, July 30, 2006

Notes from the Propaganda War

Nothing Less than Clear and Decisive Victory

Some important critics of the Israeli attack on Lebanon are lowering their voices and joining the government’s insistence on victory at all costs.Ha’aretz is the arch-type for this kind of twisting and turning. At the outset of the hostilities, when it seemed that a quick and overwhelming Israeli victory was in the cards, Ha’aretz and other similar trends did permit themselves to ask some serious questions about the whole idea. However, with the spectre of a possible Israeli defeat (and a cease-fire at this stage might well be considered as defeat), the ruling circles in this country are lining up with the most hysterical hawks and crazed militarists. Ha’aretz, and those who think along the same lines, fear that anything less than a full and unqualified victory, will seriously undermine Israel’s status as a regional super power. They may be right. Their logic is that if Bush and the U.S. are so happy about all this, it could not be so terrible. Many moderates, not having the faintest idea of how to get off the train, have started stoking the Olmert engine.

We Suspected As Much

Amir Oren, Ha’aretz, is one of the journalists who remained clear headed from the beginning of this wretched foray. Last week, Oren broke the Eyland scoop. The head of the Israeli National Security Council, Gen. Giora Eyland, revealed that he had submitted a comprehensive political plan to deal with the tensions between Israel and Lebanon, and had received a green light from UN sources and a wide variety of other countries, as well as important parties and persons in Lebanon. All of these informed Eyland that they are willing to consider action on the document, on the condition that Eyland had a green light from Sharon (back then) or Olmert. No Israeli response was forthcoming. See Ha’aretz, July 21, 2006 – Hebrew edition (English edition incomplete).

Oren has got his own take on the Bush-Olmert venture: “”Because this is the true surprise – a surprise of statesmen and not of intelligence – of the campaign in the north: no American red light, no flashing orange light, and not even a mere green light, but the blaring siren of the sheriff’s car sitting behind the hesitant driver at the intersection urging him to get moving. The global cop is recruiting Israel as a regional cop to impose UN Security Council Resolution 1559 on the government of Lebanon and dismantle the Hezbollah army.” Ha’aretz, 28.7.2006

Hezbollah Is Hiding Among Civilians

“The kibbutz where the Golani Brigade has set up its command center, very close to the Lebanese border appeared, almost empty of civilians this week. The small pool was closed….” “Since Golani took over the kibbutz, it has taken on the appearance of an improvised army base. Soldiers run around, military vehicles rush off with a squeal.” Harel and Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 28.7.06Ha’aretz

The Katrina Effect

Natural and man-made catastrophes tear up the social fabric. One stark effect of the subsequent revelations is that social inequality and class status has everything to do with chances for survival. Rich people tend to get out and survive. Poor people have to stay behind and pay with suffering and even, in many instances, their very lives.

Among the residents of the north, who is in the shelter in the north, and who is on the beach in Eilat? Who is in Nahariya, near the Lebanese border, and who is in Crete? The government and the media are portraying the “home front” in the North as a source of steadfastedness. Well, the people in the shelters in the North, the people huddled in the “security rooms” or in the safer “interior windowless spaces” are the people who do not have the money to move southwards. They are steadfast because they are poor. Since the “home front” is so important, why not rotate the privilege - pleasure of living in a shelter for weeks, among the various sections of the population. Those, now in the shelters from Haifa (and to the north) will relocate to the hotels in Tel Aviv (and southwards). Those, especially the myriads of Israeli bureaucrats, who wish to strengthen the “home front,” will then find room in the shelters.

The Peace Movement and Radical Islam

In any normal set of circumstances, Radical Islam, in general, and Hezbollah, in particular, would encounter in the millions who make up the ranks of the peace movement, implacable political and ideological foes. Despite this, the peace movement will not lower its flags or desert its duty because of the unattractive or even repelling nature of the present victim of U.S. aggression, or even because of the sad fact that Hezbollah shares many core values with those who are attacking it.

The lessons of Iraq are still fresh in our minds. The dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, as unsavory a character as you can find, was not the cause of the United States aggression. It appears, that despite its failure in Iraq, or because of it, the United States, is preparing a new campaign for regime change in Iran. It is not the nature of Iran’s internal regime that disturbs Washington, but the reasonable Iranian desire to use its oil to its own best advantage.

Radical Islam, in the broadest terms, is the product of poverty and social repression, and the almost inevitable result of huge unsolved social problems. When U.S. backed repressive regimes attacked and destroyed authentic forces for change represented by the left, the mosque became the only possible site for independent organization and protest.

The global interests of the United States are the determining factor in the latest crisis in the Middle East. While it is important and even necessary to research the reasons for the rise of forces such as radical Islam, the main issue was and remains the United States drive for exclusive political, economic and strategic domination. As we have seen in Iraq, The United States cannot solve any real local or regional problem, nor is it particularly interested in doing so. It can unleash the dogs of war against anyone who dares to refuse to surrender to its demands. We express solidarity with that natural and understandable refusal, and go to the streets against United States policy. This is the only way to give peace any chance. This subject – the contradictions between the peace movement and Hezbollah requires, of course, deeper and more extensive analysis. But that will have to wait.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Extortion is the Name of the Game

Ms. Rice is in the Neighborhood - Extortion is the Name of the Game

Let us try and figure out how this is “playing out.” Mrs. Rice wants some changes made in the area, especially in Lebanon and on its border with Israel. According to her, a cease fire is senseless without these changes. In the absence of the cease fire an entire nation is being destroyed. Mrs. Rice will talk abut the desired changes with an array of governments and political forces. There is a strange, weird aspect to these meetings. Mrs. Rice is actually saying the following to her interlocutors: We think that such and such should be done. Everyone, who meets with Mrs. Rice, must understand that her wishes and request are backed up with a determination to condone, and actually encourage Israel to continue and even broaden its offensive. Are we getting this? Suppose you represent a country and Mrs. Rice says to you: “Let’s take these steps. This and that must be done.” If you do not agree, you are given to understand that you are preventing the cease-fire, and the responsibility for the continued slaughter of innocents in Lebanon has, as it were, been transferred to you. Even if this is done in the diplomatic sphere, it is extortion, plain and simple.

Supposing, Just Supposing

Cassius Clay’s backers were looking for a warm-up fight for the champ.The fight was to impress everyone with that CC’s clout had not diminished over time. They found some duffer for this very purpose. CC was to put away the unfortunate volunteer in a round or two, at the most.

When the fight dragged on and the duffer was still on his feet going in to the tenth, eleven round, the smart money had already decided that however this ends it won’t go down as a victory for CC. A victory on points, in these circumstances, is no victory. Even worse, the fight was to demonstrate CC’s deterrent capacity and it demonstrated just the opposite.

Rejecting the Call for an Immediate Cease Fires is Condoning Rape

Bush and Olmert are raping Lebanon. I have been told that there are some liberal and progressives in the U.S. who have joined the chorus chanting: stick it to her, boys.

It Will All Come Out in the Dirty Wash

Ben Gurion University Professor, Yagil Levy (Ha’aretz, July 24, 2006) launches a scathing attack on the government for going to war on the IDF general’s recommendation, without ever seriously considering the alternatives. The situation has been defined here more than once: Israel is not a country with an army, but an army with a country.

Yagil offers the readers a very intriguing bit of information:“The lack of time [to consider alternatives] also prevented the possibility of looking into the diplomatic option of the “package deal” for implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1559: this option was proposed by the UN a few months earlier, and included a deployment of the Lebanese Army in the south in exchange for Israeli concessions.”

The Israeli government, it appears, did not want to be bothered. But the reason for not looking into this option is worth looking into….

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lebanon Burns - But Bush and Rice Have All the Time in the World

On the Road to Defeat or Escalation?

According to the most conservative estimates a half million people have been driven from their homes in Lebanon; many hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded. Tens of thousands are stranded on the roads. The sufferings of an entire people are to continue. Israel must be allowed to complete its mission in Lebanon and a ‘new set of rules’ have to be in place, before Ms. Rice will tell her ally that this is enough, for now.

It takes a lot of nerve to claim that you are working to minimize civilian suffering when you are actually involved in the Israeli strategy of war to the end, war until victory. It appears that the United States is willing to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens to help Olmert and Co. to “change the rules of the game.”

Graphic evidence of the Israeli role in continually expanding the humanitarian crisis comes from no less a source than Ha’aretz senior military analyst, Ze’ev Schiff. Schiff, the doyen of military analysts in the country can usually be relied on to back official IDF thinking. But this time he has openly expressed serious reservations regarding Israel’s battle operations.

Schiff writes under a front page heading - Expelling Lebanese, A Strategic Mistake: “In summing up the seventh day of the war against Hezbollah, there is no avoiding the conclusion that things are getting complicated. The best evidence of this is the decision to drive hundreds of Shi’ites from villages in Southern Lebanon merely because Hezbollah hid missiles in them. This would be a strategic mistake and would mark the first time that Israel could justifiably be accused of disproportionate military response.” (Ha’aretz, July 20, 2006).

The IDF has blatantly rejected Schiff’s advice and is forcing the evacuation of hundreds of villages in South Lebanon in order to incite a mass exodus, which the IDF hopes might create political and logistic difficulties for the Hezbollah. Leaflets have been dropped with the simple message - leave your homes or die.

It is clear that the United States can stop the slaughter in Lebanon immediately by informing Israel that it can no longer provide political cover for these actions. But, let us honor Mrs. Rice by examining the reasons that she gives against an immediate cease fire. Not surprisingly, they are identical to the Israeli objectives.

Israel promises to keep on bombing Lebanon until it achieves its objectives. These are 1) the return of its captured soldiers; 2) absolute control of the Lebanese side of the Israeli-Lebanese border by the Lebanese army and the creation of a new international military force to be stationed on the border; 3) the dissolution of Hezbollah, or at the least its disarmament. Since Israel holds that these goals can be achieved by continually bombing Lebanon, it has requested and received from the United States permission to continue bombing, without any clear limitation.

And if the Bombs Are Not Enough?

Israel has permission to bomb indefinitely. But what if nothing significant happens – except the mounting toll of civilian deaths? Israel has demonstrated superior strength, but the prisoners are tucked away somewhere, the Lebanese army cannot get to its southern border for political reasons (no mandate) and for logistic reasons (local resistance). Just a very few Hezbollah fighters can make this move impossible. Hezbollah can, if it chooses, lower its profile and even go underground. It will continue to exist and constitute a constant threat. No one will be able to promise Israel the peace and calm it demands.

What will happen in the event that the fighting nears its end and Israel has no prisoners, no safe border, has not eliminated Hezbollah. What happens then? This question is especially pertinent since despite its might and military prowess it is still hard to see how Israel will achieve its stated objectives. We are in the tenth day of war and there is increasing evidence of “complications.” In this case, Israel, with no tangible achievements to its credit, will either have to admit defeat or ‘discover’ a major obstacle on the path to victory. This obstacle can only be the intervention of Syria or Iran, which will reach, according to official Israeli intelligence sources, new and unprecedented proportions. If Israel has to choose between the admission of failure or escalation, it will, in all likelihood, opt for escalation – if it has the choice.

The bleak chances for the success of the latest stage in U.S. diplomacy, presaged by Rice yesterday evening, is due cause to fear that the United States is reaching new levels of recklessness. The latest reports on a new express shipment of “bunker-bombs” to Israeli is a further indication that the United States could conceivably back Israel on an additional adventure – an attack on Syria. This, of course, would take the region one step closer to war with Iran. The United States may be tempted to use the present juncture to eliminate the Iranian nuclear option. Even so, at this stage, it is still more likely that the United States will conclude that they have squeezed all the possible advantages that they can get out of the Israeli offensive. The U.S. administration enjoyed itself as Israel pulverized a close Iranian ally, but it is still wary of being drawn into direct intervention, that might well result from an Israeli-Syrian-Iranian showdown. Hopefully, Washington may begin to take notice of the growing international rage over the events in Lebanon and its sponsorship of the Israeli attack.

It is, therefore, still more than likely, Israel will have to cut its losses in Lebanon and comfort its citizens with the information that Israeli cooperation with the United States has reached an unprecedented level. After all, U.S. commitments, it will explain to its citizens, to help in the prisoner exchange, to get the Lebanese army to redeploy, and to declare the Hezbollah an international outlaw are almost as good as the real thing, or are they?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sharon is to Blame for this War

The War as a Result of Sharon’s Irresponsible Negligence

Despite the government’s almost totalitarian manipulation of the media and local news sources, more and more questions and doubts appear in Israeli discourse. Increasingly, questions are being asked about the attainability of Israel’s war goals and more reminders are appearing regarding the inherently limited efficacy of military means in changing political reality, especially in Lebanon. And of course, the lunatic fringe chimes in demanding that everybody admit that they were right all the time.

Professor Moshe Arens is about the closest you can get to the Israeli version of Dr. Strangelove. Thrice Minister of Defense, and one of the most hawkish ideologues in the right-wing Likud party, Arens who is always ready with some advice as why it is necessary to go to war, without delay, writes an occasional column for the Ha’aretz. These days, his current high sounding title is Chairman of the Board of the College of Judea and Samaria, the manifestly illegal B.A. factory operating on Palestinian occupied territory in the town of Ariel on the West Bank.

Israel, at war, is now the land of hype and every conceivable argument in support of the present operation in Lebanon is dragged out of the cupboard and presented to the faithful as wisdom incarnate.

The first official version was that Israel went to war after the July 12, 2006, attack by Hezbollah on one of its patrols, and the resulting capture of two soldiers and the death of three others. There are a number of problems with this flimsy version. Minimal routine vigilance by the vaunted IDF forces would have been enough to frustrate or even completely cancel the attack. Can anyone believe that Israel went to war because of an incident that almost never happened? Would Israel have desisted from the present attack without the Hezbollah provocation? Who can believe that the entire Israeli operation is so chancy and casual an affair? One would have to have a mind warped by all the chauvinist poison in the air to accept uncritically the “they attacked – so we responded.” explanation for the current violence.

And of course, there is the question of proportion. This basic rule of civilized behavior, that the response, even to a clearly illegal action must bear some relation to the character and the dimension of the provocation, is the cornerstone of every system of law and morality. This is no small matter. Eliminating any sense of proportion opens the floodgates to even more violence and brutality.

So, the government changed its original version, and the latest hype is that this is a preventive action against the existence of thousands of rockets in the hands of the Hezbollah. Now we are getting somewhere. Israel claims that it refuses to live under this kind of threat for one minute. And it is its right and duty to eliminate this threat. And Israel claims that very nature of the threat constitutes a clear and indisputable causus belli. This is the most up to date justification for the Israeli attack.

Enter Prof. Arens. Arens accuses Arik Sharon (Ha’aretz, July 18, 2006) of ‘falling asleep on the job,” by failing to stop the massive missile build up by Hezbollah. This severe accusation is totally convincing for those who accept Olmert’s claim that Israel has the right and the duty to attack and to remove the missiles. Sharon, unlike Olmert, saw the missile build up and refused to start a war.

We are not great fans of Sharon and Barak (also accused of negligence), but something is wrong somewhere. Olmert and Peretz saw dangers that Barak and Sharon did not even notice? Olmert and Peretz are more militant and have a deeper strategic understanding than that of Barak and Sharon, who shunned the idea of a preventive attack on Hezbollah?

Indeed, something is wrong here. Either the citizens of the this country must praise the vigilance of Olmert-Peretz, thus proving that Arens attack on Sharon and Barak is absolutely on the mark or there is something totally wrong in the government justification for the attack.

These are the only possibilities, even though they might sound a bit speculative. There must be a clear difference of opinion between Sharon-Barak and Olmert-Peretz in the evaluation of the threat posed by the Hezbollah arsenal. Sharon-Barak saw Hezbollah as serious enemies. They must have been concerned at having all these rockets pointed in Israel’s direction. But it is a fact that Sharon and Barak did not get hysterical over the fact that Hezbollah has all these rockets because of the simple reason that they did not, in any way, constitute a serious threat to Israel’s existence or basic interests. Additionally, Israel has at its disposal enough retaliatory clout to negate the effects of any surprise attack. And this is most important: any attempt to solve the Hezbollah problem by force of arms seals off existing opportunities for peace with Syria, blocks all negotiations in the immediate future and sets the region, with Israel in the middle, on the path to a spiral of violence that can indeed threaten Israel’s existence. Olmert can drag Israel into this war, only by suggesting that Sharon and Barak, had been derelict in their duty, but it is more likely that they knew how to read Middle East maps a lot better than Olmert-Peretz, and were simply more careful and cautious.
(This is not to say, that Sharon would have rejected any U.S. sponsored military initiative, but he most probably would have demanded to understand the scope of the ‘game’ and asked about how all this is to end.)

Olmert, wishing to prove his clout, was egged on by the IDF generals. So far, he is getting away with the Lebanese operation, because George Bush and his crew believe are enthusiastic over the chance of bloodying their enemies’ noses, on the cheap. It is just fine with George W. that Israel has volunteered for the job and he is, therefore, giving Olmert all the rope he needs to play cowboy. In fact, whether he understands this or not, Olmert has volunteered Israel to serve as the Western battering ram against Iran. He thinks that the U.S. is doing him a favor…
The Hezbollah presence and its armed strength is a problem that demands political and diplomatic resourcefulness and initiative. But once again there are more signs than ever that there is no military solution.

The New Crusade

It will turn out very sad indeed if it is the Jews in Israel who are to lead the Christian (”civilized”) world on a the next crusade against radical Islam. Of course, the battle in Lebanon is more and more a proxy struggle between the United States (and its dwindling number of allies) and Iran which rejects U.S. hegemony. The United States had been considering going it alone on a military attack on Iran. It hesitates because of its dismal record in Iraq and fears of growing political isolation. Though momentarily stymied in its plans of aggression against Iran, the United States has decided to enjoy the Israeli pulverization of Iran’s ally in Lebanon, and to utilize it as a warning to Teheran. It is U.S. arms and military technology that are smashing Lebanon, just as it is Iranian and Syrian military supplies which endow Hezbollah with its strength. The Olmert government is crowing with delight that it has found a “window of opportunity” in Washington, allowing it to demonstrate its technological wizardry. Hezbollah’s supply base is more limited and fragile while Israel sits in the sky and bombs at will. However, it is always the political results of the military clash that really matter, and the political results are – especially in this area – often at great variance to the military results. When the Israeli government comes down to earth, it is going to be surprised at how little has changed on the ground.

There are already ripples of doubt in the military and the media that Israel can succeed without a “major ground offensive.” Back in 1982, Israel believed it could determine the future of internal Lebanese politics.

It actually did this – but not the way it wanted to do it. It created the conditions of occupation that created a new political force in Lebanon, called Hezbollah.

Thomas Friedman - Hustling Democracy

Thomas Friedman warns us in a recent column (IHT – July 15-16, 2007) that “what we are seeing in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq is an effort by Islamist parties to use elections to pursue their long-term aim of Islamizing the Arab-Muslim world.” Democracy, you must understand, is being highjacked. Friedman admits that in these cases, the Islamacists have had impressive electoral victories. Any honest observer would ask himself, at this point, as to the nature of the outstanding social and political problems that imparted so much prestige and popularity to these parties.

Instead, Friedman proceeds to delegitimize these authentic mass movements because they do not play by rules that Friedman has imported from the United States.

The biggest complaint is about the private Islamic parties. Yes, this is a problem. Hamas’ fighting force is a product of the split between Palestinian factions during the battle against the Israeli occupation. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, implemented with U.S. complicity, meant unlimited military repression sponsored by two ostensibly democratic governments. According to classic democratic values, a people has the right to rebel when subject to arbitrary and brutal dictatorship. The military wings of the Palestinian movement were born in this struggle. They will not disappear until the basic demand of the Palestinian national movement for an independent viable state is met by Israel and the international community. Friedman doesn’t like to hear authentic voices that accuse the United States of its crimes; but at the least he should try and understand why people vote to empower those voices.

His attack on the Shi’ites in Iraq is mind-boggling, some sort of record in cynical distortion: “…and so too are the Iranian backed- Shi’ite parties and militias in Iraq [pulling all the strings].” (Incidentally the text here is convoluted and a literal reading would be that the Iraqi Shi’ites are pulling all the strings of Palestinian politics.) Shi’ite terrorists, then, are according to Friedman, pulling all the strings in Iraq.

Its rather clear to all that the Shi’ite parties, double as ethnic terrorist organizations and that it is impossible to know where their political functions end and where the political groups operate as cover for Shi’ite death squads. Yet once again, the private armies developed directly from U.S. attempts to colonize and divide the Iraqi people into friends and foes.

Once more, this time in Lebanon, the private army phenomenon has clear parentage in the Israeli occupation. Not so incidentally, private ethnic armies have been the rule and not the exception in Lebanon’s history. Over the years, almost every ethnic group had their private armies, except the Shi’ites who were the poor and degraded underclass of Lebanese society. How did they get a private army? When the continued Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon made a mockery of Lebanese sovereignty and democracy, the Shi’ites under occupation created a fighting force – Hezbollah.

How very strange! The Arabs had to fight tooth and nail for their freedom and independence against so-called democratic forces. In so doing they created fighting forces that enjoyed the confidence and the admiration of the popular masses – who are the basis for any democratic society. If there is any pretext of democracy, the fighters will get votes.
Instead of this, Friedman would like to limit voting rights to people who agree with him – and he wants us to thinks he is speaking in the name of democracy.

Private armies do not drop from the skies. They are either indirect tools of former colonial control or instruments of mass struggle against foreign domination. Is it undemocratic for the Islamic voter, in the voting booth, to remember and to distinguish between those who betrayed their interests and those who were willing to die for their freedom?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Thomas Friedman “Is There” for Ehud Olmert

The Israeli right continues to exploit the increasingly bitter sense of frustration in Israel over the sad results of the July fiasco, cooked up by Olmert and Bush. Israel wants to know what happened, how and why. Unfortunately, it has still not yet dawned on broad sections of the public that the cardinal question was and remains that of policy and not performance.

Meanwhile, Olmert is trying to weather the latest storms. A vicious “battle of generals” has erupted, and instead of serious analysis of the strategic and tactical flaws that marred the IDF efforts, the big boys are playing a very rough version of the old blame game. General “A”, head of the Northern command, broke rank with a public letter of resignation arguing that his boss, the chief of staff, Halutz and the Minister of Defense, Peretz, and not him, were responsible for the failure of the ground operations. Then, Halutz’s immediate predecessor, “Boogey” Ya’alon, came out, guns blazing, blasting the war and everything connected with it.

Ya’alon on Olmert: “Going to war was scandalous, and he is directly responsible for that. The war’s management was a failure and he is responsible for that.”
Ya’alon on Halutz: “The chief of staff failed in the management of the war. He gave the political echelon the feeling that he had the capability, which in practice he did not have, to bring about a political achievement by means of an extremely aggressive military operation.”

Ya’alon on the ground operation at the end of the war: “That was a spin move. It had no substantive security-political goal, only a spin goal. It was meant to supply the missing victory picture. You don’t do that. You don’t send soldiers to carry out a futile mission after the political outcome has already been set. I consider that corrupt.” (Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz, September 14, 2006)

Enter Thomas Friedman with his Head in the Dyke

One important observer has some advice for Israel. Friedman tells the Israelis to “get a grip.” Friedman is tough: Stop whining, you won the war. “Nevertheless, Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, did a better job under the circumstances, than he is being credited with, and more important, the situation evolving in South Lebanon now has the potential to offer a whole new model for peacemaking.” (International Herald Tribune, September 14, 2006

Friedman is so enthralled by the new model for peacemaking that he suggested it for the Israeli-Palestinian (non-existent and non-recognized) borders. Friedman wants us to believe that peace is absent because the Palestinians are unable to control territory which Israel has left. He ignores the need for anything so elementary as negotiations and an agreement on the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state.

Unfortunately, Friedman’s pals in Israel shot the whole idea – the new model for peacemaking - down before it could get off the ground. Tom is there for Ehud, but Ehud is not there for Tom.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 – Fact and Fantasy

This resolution which is supposed, according to its main sponsors to establish a new reality in the Middle East, does nothing of the sort. Characteristically, Thomas Friedman’s sales pitch for the resolution is just another example of the wish being the father of the thought. Phrases, noble or base, rarely shape reality. Basically, the resolution contains two operative elements: the imposition of a cease-fire on Hezbollah and Israel and the provision for the introduction of strong U.N military presence in South Lebanon.

The new edition of the fresh UNIFIL mandate is an extraordinary document whose origins have little to do with Lebanon proper. The idea for an international force is in one respect a product of internal struggle in the U.S. ruling circles. Condoleezza Rice exploited the recent crisis to promote a revision of the Rumsfield-Cheney demand for exclusive U.S. hegemony as a condition for any international cooperation. The miserable results of the basically unilateral invasion of Iraq inspired Rice’s attempt to sponsor a counter model of diplomatic and military action.

Rice had hoped that successful Israeli military action would make the picture easier to manipulate. But the Israeli attack failed to come close to breaking Hezbollah and actually strengthened it politically. The new edifice that was supposed to be put in place to “prevent the return to the status quo anti” did nothing of the sort.

What it did do was to create a UN military force in South Lebanon which is nothing more than a base for diplomatic jockeying by the countries represented. In truth, France entered the fray to reestablish its traditional links with Lebanon, the Europeans wanted to give Condi a leg up in her battle against Rumsfield-Chyney and a number of Asian countries are interested in religious and economic links in the region. None of these countries is the least bit serious about their troops fighting anyone, least of all Hezbollah.

Everyone is agreeing to 1701 because everyone understands that nothing has been decided and hopes that nothing will have to be decided. Bush’s brainstorm to let Israel lead the battle to realign Lebanese politics did not quite work out. Washington and Jerusalem did impress everyone that they are trigger happy and ready to use their technological arsenals to unleash death and destruction, but they also need to recuperate from the recent fiasco. Teheran is busy with the nuclear negotiations. Damascus and Hezbollah are tip-toeing in order to consolidate their gains. And Israel is having more and more trouble convincing itself that 1701, that reads well but has very little or no impact on reality, proves that it has won the war.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Peace Now Silent as Canons Roar

Abject Opportunism and a Total Loss of Political Self-Respect

Instead of a normal response by any self-respecting peace organization, instead of issuing a position paper or clarifying its position in a clear and acceptable manner, Peace Now has opted for something absolutely original. In an email to its membership, Peace Now wrote:

“In the wake of the events, a delegation from PN will be hosted in atzimmer in the north (this week-end), in order to support the residents and to monitor events and to warn against unnecessary escalation.” (July 13, 2006).

A young activist, G.R., took the idea one step further, and suggested that the PN delegation bring greetings (and candy) to the soldiers and delay any politics to a “later stage”. The veteran activist, Yair Inov, burst into the email discussion: “What has happened to us? Are we in competition with the Committee for the Soldiers Wellbeing? Don’t we have a political message?” Some activists supported Inov’s complaint and mocked the idea of a trip to the north. But the PN General Director, Yariv

Oppenheimer summed up the matter: “To all the cynics: The trip to the north is linked to a political message that calls on the government to act with logic, to use its head and not its guts. Only in this way can we say something a bit different in this very complicated reality.”

No statement! No Secretariat! No collective discussion!

Peace Now’s leadership has effectively taken the movement out of the peace camp in the not so distant past by totally swallowing the Sharon-Ulmert-Ramon bait for a unilateralist approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Poor Mr. Goliath

The infrastructure for the recent, new escapades by Israel and the IDF is to be found, of course, in the ’special relationship’ between the United States and Israel. This relationship provides the military wherewithal and the political “cover” for any Israeli action and is the geo-political instrument through which the United States imposes its hegemony in the region. Both sides are obligated to a coordinated response when and if their interests are endangered. Though it is a firm and long standing alliance, each partner does have its own way of looking at things and can develop separate modes of operation.

Israel for its part is more and more intoxicated with power. This state of perpetual inebriation seems to have impaired Israel’s sense of proportion and understanding of reality. One might have to admit that there is something intoxicating in the control over arsenals of doom’s day weaponry and the enjoyment of unlimited superiority against any of its opponents. This sense of superiority nurtures a specific Israeli neurosis, one that engenders illusions, which may in the long run turn out to be self-defeating.

Neither the Palestinian irregulars nor the armies of the neighboring Arab countries are capable of launching any military action that could endanger Israel’s existence or even cause it serious harm. In these circumstances, the Israeli ruling circles have a wide range of strategic alternatives at their disposal. Instead of utilizing these advantages, Israel threatens disproportionate massive military responses to each and every incident. By insisting that it will not distinguish between different levels and types of military actions against it, Israel paints itself into a corner. This fact is not lost on those interested in defying the present status quo.

A Soldier is Kidnapped

Everyone understands that any soldier, even if he is a member of the strongest army in the world, can be easily taken prisoner by the enemy. And what is the strategic significance of such an occurrence? Of course, having one of your soldiers kidnapped is not a very pleasant affair. Even so, a kidnapping is almost always an expression of local and chance circumstances, and in and of itself has no strategic or political importance. It isn’t a pleasure, but it is not the end of the world. This also holds true in principle regarding the dispatch of primitive, home-made rockets from the conquered territories into Israeli towns on the periphery.

Of course, the injured side will look for ways to prevent the recurrence of the rather degrading low-casualty incidents which cause more harm to Israeli prestige than anything else. A responsible government in these circumstances, faced with provocative and embarrassing incidents, would know how to articulate its demands without tying its hands and promising the public that it will respond to every future incident as it were an existential challenge. Responsible statesmen do not usually post a “price list” of retribution and revenge in order to impress everybody that they may throw restraint to the wind. It is precisely this kind of arrogance that ups the ante and promises rewards to those forces determined to prevent the consolidation of a new status quo. The disproportionate threats to launch a full scale offensive over what are really local incidents does go down well with most of the citizenry, but it also creates a dynamic that can spin out of control.

In order to prevent actions which are of course inherently loathsome to any occupying power, Israel is wont to classify each as a causa belli. However, it is quite clear to almost everyone that Israel is simply trying to stamp out embarrassing incidents and events that are inevitable expressions of resistance, even within the given relationship of forces, so overwhelmingly favorable to Israel. In its frustration, Israel issues threats which tend to force its own hand. It seems that the Israeli leaders have begun to believe their own manipulations to the effect that anything less than full scale aggression would damage their credibility and deterrent capacity. However, Israel’s ultimatum demand for a quiet and undisturbed occupation is as unrealistic as it is immoral. Thus, Israel beats the drums and builds tension that sets the stage for wide scale military action.

Wiser politicians would be honest enough to explain to their electorate that the law regarding the limitations of power is also operative regarding Israel, and there are certain types of occurrences that it cannot prevent, as long as the conflict goes on. Instead of acting with restraint, Israel begins declaiming the mantra that “no sovereign country can allow itself to tolerate such things.” Any time that the “empire” suffers indignity, even though the actual damage is minimal, it proceeds to feed media hysteria. Thus, Israel actually promotes initiatives such as kidnappings, and this is, of course, especially true regarding planning by any group whose political goal is served by undermining the present status quo.

Bush – Jerusalem – Beirut

It is indeed probable that Israel, carried away by an attack of self righteousness, has forgotten its main task in the region: to maintain a modicum of calm and normality in order to block developments that could harm the basic interests of the United States or Israel. Israel’s pretensions to maintain a “quiet occupation” without any challenges has hurled the region into a new round of war and destruction. Israel, quite clearly guilty of serious crimes against humanity by creating a major humanitarian crisis in Gaza in the south has gone on a campaign of aggression against Lebanon in the north.

In accordance with the norms of the “special relationship”, Washington has issued the obligatory condemnation of the Hezballa and cited the responsibility of the Syrians and the Iranians. At the same time, Washington has made every effort to ignore the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It is still not clear how the U.S. and Bush are involved in Israel’s recent escapades. Bush is, of course, up to his neck in Iraq. Though, we must countenance the possibility that there are some forces in Washington which might be playing with a monstrous scheme for a wider conflagration in the entire Middle East, it is too early to see the recent Israeli adventures as a prelude to a wider aggression and hard to believe that Washington is ready for all out confrontation with Iran and Syria.

Meanwhile, with Israel choking Lebanon and starving Gaza, it will be more and more difficult for (even) Bush to justify all this under the cynical caption of “Israel has the right to defend itself.” After all, Lebanon, now being pulverized by IDF bombs was supposed to be the U.S. star pupil in democratic transformation.

Israel has made its move: it demands that the world recognize its right to a deluxe, resistance free occupation or it will go to war. The international community will have to take a stand on this issue, sooner than later. At the heart of this crisis: the refusal of the international community to fulfill its duty to establish a just peace based on the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian state. History will not bypass this requirement.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Palestine Question Analyzed in the Light of Marxist Politics

I presented the following paper at the Conference devoted to Marxist Thinking in the 21st Century which took place in Havana, Cuba from May 3-6, 2006

The Palestine Question Analyzed in the Light of Marxist Politics

A. Introduction

The main focus of this paper is the analysis of the Palestinian question as a problem in Marxist politics. The paper seeks to apply several major principles of Marxist politics to the debate regarding the two main approaches to this question in the Marxist left: 1) The two-state solution based on the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside of Israel; 2) The one-state solution based on universal citizenship of both Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

This debate has often surfaced at various international meetings of the social forums and other broad coalitions, creating obstacles to unity.

It is argued here that the principles of Marxist politics hold the key to evaluating the efficacy of the two contending positions. Marxist politics can be defined as the determination of political positions informed by class analysis, as well as support and identification with working people and the exploited masses. The position adopted must be based on an exact assessment of the given relations of forces and clear political realism.

No local or regional analyses can be considered adequate without close examination and integration of international processes and the broad interests of the world wide movements against war and capitalist globalization. This broad view must include a careful evaluation of the relations of forces in effect at all levels and lead to a position informed by a high level of political realism. These categories will be more closely defined as we proceed.

B. Elements of Agreement in the Current Debate

Before surveying the present disputes, it is of critical importance to designate those important positions which are not in dispute in Marxist circles.

(1) Long after the break-up of the colonial system, the Palestinians are one of the few national entities denied elementary human rights and first and foremost their right to establish an independent sovereign state in their homeland. The most salient expression of this is the thirty-eight year old occupation of the conquered Palestinian territories wherein some three million Palestinians suffer from brutal military oppression. Simultaneously, Israel the direct occupying power has made constant efforts to annex large and important sections of these territories with an eye to further territorial aggrandizement. The monstrous apartheid wall built by Israel “for security reasons” is just one of the many acts of expropriation and dispossession, humiliation and daily suffering to which the Palestinians are subject to under the occupation.

(2) The ruling circles in Israel, both on an ideological basis and to enhance their strength vis- a-vis the Palestinians and the Arab world, have forged a strategic military, political and economic alliance with the United States. This alliance is one of the kingpins of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East and the Arab world. The United States, for its part protects Israel from the wrath of international public and prevents its total isolation. Israel, on its part subjects its current politics and military strategy to the global and regional needs of the United States, serving as the potential gendarme for regional forces that might get out of line with U.S. interests.

Despite these areas of agreement, there is a sharp, ongoing debate among supporters of the Palestinian cause on questions of principle.

The debate is between two central propositions, and is also recognizable as the debate between the two-state and the one-state solution.

It is the purpose of this paper to discuss the arguments in support of each approach and to elaborate a set of strategic principles for relating to this question. No attempt is made here to relate to the wider historical canvas. For our purpose it is sufficient to survey the historical debate between Marxists on the Palestinian issue.

C. The Palestinian Question -Yesterday and Today – Marxist Perspectives

No Marxist can really question that by any historically materialist interpretation, Palestine is an Arab country and that the Palestinian Arabs are a part of the larger Arab entity. The question posed by historical transformations is how to relate to the appearance and the development of another ethnic-national entity in Palestine.

Marxists, all of whom rejected Zionist ideology in principle and practice, were in agreement as to the exclusively Arab nature of Palestine until WWII. The main outlines of the anti-colonialist struggle (1919-1939) were then the demand for independence from British rule, with assurance of democratically ensured civil rights for the Jewish minority.

The continued growth of the Jewish community in Palestine, and with it, increased class stratification, on the background of increased anti-Semitic activity in Europe, demanded a Marxist response. It might be said that at a certain point during WWII, and especially in the wake of the Nazi holocaust, there was a growing tendency in the Marxist left to recognize the existence of two national groupings, one Palestinian Arab and the second, Israeli Jewish. It should be said that Trotskyist groups rejected the idea that these changes were authentic or organic. The Trotskyist conclusion was that Palestine remained an Arab country. The Jewish minority could and should be assured of democratic civil rights, but the axis of the democratic struggle remained the call for an independent and undivided Palestine.

Under the impact of the results of the Nazi Holocaust and battle by the Jewish community in Palestine against British control and the bans on Jewish immigration, the Soviet Union (in the famous statement by Andrey Gromyko, May 14, 1948 at the United Nations) adopted the position that there being two parallel national groupings in Palestine, in circumstances of severe tensions, partition of the country was unavoidable. The existence of two national groupings in mandatory Palestine had been recognized previously in documents issued by the Communist Party of Palestine.

The issue that divides international progressive opinion still stems in large measure from the basic determination as to the nature of the people(s) of that country: whether there are two national groupings or one Arab nation and a Jewish minority. The “traditional” approach stands clearly on the basis of the proposition that the demographic and political changes in Palestine were imposed by force and violence and that the Jewish community in Palestine could not aspire to legitimate rights of a nation, especially the right of self determination.

The “modified” approach is based on the demographic transformation of the country, the existence of two separate class formations and the political divide between the two communities in reaching the important conclusion that there were two national groups in the country.

D. Israel: A Question of Policy or Legitimacy

There is no question that in the military struggle over control of the country the Jewish side was the winner. Israel’s victory was a major catastrophe for the Palestinian Arabs. Israel did not lose too much time in lining up with the major imperialist powers.

The left opposition, mainly the Communist Party of Israel, fought government policy, carefully distinguishing between the question of Israel’s legitimacy, which was not challenged, and Israel’s policies which were condemned as being inimical to the interest of the country. This distinction was accepted by the international left associated with the Soviet Union and the Communist movement. This modification was considered a major and unjustified concession by Trotskyist thinking. And, of course, the legitimacy of Israel was challenged from the Palestinian and Arab standpoint.

These two lines of approach are reflected to this very day in our discussion, though not always in their “purer” forms, and continue to shape the political discourse on related subjects.

Ideological skirmishes between the two lines continue over the years. The falling prestige of the Soviet experience encourages the view that the Soviet-Gromyko (1948) input was basically episodic and opportunistic, a bad bet on Israel as an “anti-imperialist” force that never paid off. On the other hand, the attempts by the Arab world and the Palestinian leadership to promote policies negating Israel’s existence were ultimately rejected by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and almost all the secular forces in the Arab world.

E. The Polarized Political Debate Today

There is a nearly universal consensus that the status quo based on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories acquired in the June 1967 war is unacceptable, immoral and illegal in terms of international law. In terms of real politik, the ensuring conflict is a source of tensions and instability, not to speak of the price in human suffering born chiefly by the Palestinians, but not only by them.

The Palestinian leadership (with the exception of the Islamic forces) along with the international community and public opinion overwhelmingly support the two-state solution. The contours of a settlement based on the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state in the territories acquired in the June 1967 war are well known, as a result of a series of long and detailed negotiations. Such a solution requires the retreat of Israel to the 1967 borders, though exceptions can be negotiated on the basis of a 1-1 land swap. Jerusalem will be the capital of each state and sovereignty will be divided according to the composition of each neighborhood. The basics of an arrangement for the holy places have been worked out. This solution will take into account the rights of the Palestinian refugees, including serious material compensation for all refugees, the right to settlement in the new Palestinian state, citizenship rights for those who remain in their country of exile, immigration opportunities, and some degree of agreed repatriation to Israel on a humanitarian basis. This proposal for a final status agreement and peace between the two peoples has been accepted by the leadership of the Palestinian people and the Arab world, until the recent election debacle of the Fatah movement. It is this proposal which has been rejected by the ruling circles in Israel and their U.S. backers.

The proponents of the one-state solution proceed from the moral and legal rejection of any settlement based on the recognition of Israel. They assert that the Israeli settlement project and the illegal introduction of some 200,000 Israeli citizens into the occupied Palestinian territories has made partition a physical impossibility and insurmountable economic and financial obstacle.

The supporters of the one-state solution agree that their’s is a solution based on long term processes without promise for the early amelioration of Palestinian suffering. Its virtue is that it avoids an agreement based the present detrimental balance of forces. The ratio of the one-state solution is the refusal to abandon demands which, though unrealizable in the current juncture, are central to the Palestinian cause such as the right of all refugees to return to their previous homes within Israel.

Advocates of the one-state solution argue that with the passage of time, Israel will find it harder to resist the adoption of voting rights for the entire population, which would mean a majority for the Arab voters.

At this point we have to ask ourselves how and on what basis should Marxists position themselves regarding this major issue.

F. The Impact of the Given Relation of Forces in Determining the Marxist Position on the Palestinian Issue

It is in the nature of the current era that no single characterization of the social and revolutionary processes will be accurate for the entire world. The diversity of conditions is the major theoretical argument against any attempt to guide revolutionary activity from a single center.

The regions relevant to our subject are the major capitalist countries, the West and the Arab East. In this instance, the stormy developments in Latin America are inspirational, but far, very far from our own realities.

But first, let us attempt some general comments on the world scene. Assuming the relevance of the Marxist analysis on the contradictions of world capitalism, it is always necessary to analyze and characterize the given relationship between the forces striving for socialist transformation on the global scale and the fortresses of world capitalism that have to be disarmed and conquered. Given the demise of the Soviet Union and the state system around it, it is quite clear that from the early 1990’s – if not before that – the forces of socialism had suffered a major retreat.

Unquestionably, all the ideological and theoretical calls for ‘liquidationism’ characteristic of periods of strategic retreat must be firmly rejected. The world is still very much characterized by dynamic processes and sharp international contradictions. But it would be totally incorrect and even dangerous to refuse to see that we are, in the relevant regions, in a period of regrouping, a period of the construction of new complex networks of revolutionary energies. We are in a period of a ‘war of position’ (Gramsci) and our strategic conceptions must take this into account..

The Middle East, for its part, has witnessed over the last decades a retreat in the strength of the Arab national liberation struggle. There were hopes during the height of Nasserism, during the early nineteen sixties, that the rising tide of independence and reform might curtail imperialist domination of the region and its resources. However, hopes that progressive transformations in the Arab world would come to the aid of the Palestinians is a thing of the distant past. The analysis that the ‘Palestinian revolution’ could serve as the beachhead for deep changes in the area proved illusory.

The Palestinian struggle cannot build on a perspective of imminent revolutionary upheavals. On the other hand, there are important, powerful currents of support in the international community and the Arab world that can be mobilized to overcome the insufferable status quo.

There are indications of growing internal contradictions in Israeli economic domination of the Palestinians. The class nature of early Zionist settlement decked itself out in a camouflaged version of social-egalitarianism, which was also an efficient mechanism for expropriation and exclusion of the indigenous Arab population. The class essence of this painful satire revealed itself when the new Israeli state started an enduring romance with foreign capital and launched a permanent alignment with the imperialist forces in the region against the Arab movement for national liberation.

In 1967, the occupation added a neo-colonialist dimension of social and economic subjugation of the Palestinian economy to Israeli needs. The present set-up has clear advantages for some sections of Israeli capital (especially those interested in the Palestinian market and cheap labor). Even so, there are indications that the more sophisticated capitalist elements in Israel are priming themselves to dominate the Palestinian economy via more refined neo-liberal mechanism such as regional U.S. sponsored ‘free trade’ areas – without the often embarrassing need for direct military control and subjugation.

The class significance of the Israeli-U.S. alliance is much broader and deeper than any of the particular class relationships in any Middle East country or countries. This alliance is a major strategic factor in safeguarding neo-liberal domination. U.S. unilateral support for Israeli aggression and expansionism is a lynch pin in the Middle East status quo. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its related tensions are a major resource for U.S. domination. The fight for Israeli-Palestinian peace and the weakening of Israel’s special status and privileges is an important step in isolating the Bush administration. This is the central strategic front for the forces fighting U.S. neo-liberal hegemony.

G.The Role of Political Realism in Determining the Marxist Position Regarding the Palestinian Issue - Realism in Marxist Politics

The revolutionary essence of Marxist theory and the militant organization in pursuit of revolutionary goals gave rise to misconceptions within as well as outside the revolutionary movement. The essence of this misconception is that Marxist dialectics and its emphasis on the potential of changes and shifts tend to ignore the real situation and real relationship of forces at any given moment.

Marxist practice is, or at the least should be, based on the “concrete analysis of the concrete situation.” This dictum is especially relevant in stormy periods of revolutionary transformation when there is a natural tendency to depend on factors that have not yet come into being. The two paradigm cases are of course, first, the Brest-Litovsk negotiations when Lenin rejected the slogan of revolutionary war against the Hohenzollerns because of his analysis of weaknesses in the revolutionary camp.In addition, the retreat to the New Economic Policy, a form of ‘market socialism’ was, in addition to policies required to solve urgent economic disruptions (and hunger in the cities) a result of the clear stabilization in the European social and class arena. Goals and vision nurture the revolutionary spirit but hard and cold analyses guide revolutionary strategy, and deviation from this rule is always costly.

Speaking to the subject at hand, there is no basis to envisage a sharp change in the military relationship of forces between Israel and the Palestinians, even with the Arab world at their side. Military struggle against the existence of Israel is in the realm of fantasy, not to speak of its highly questionable desirability. There is also the concrete danger that elements linked with Arab or Islamic reaction will attempt to raise the ‘anti-colonialist’ banner for the destruction of Israel for purposes totally unrelated to the cause of the Palestinian people.

Fortunately, progressive forces can and should point out that no level of Israeli military superiority can achieve for Israeli chauvinism a military victory over the Palestinian cause.

H. Against the Occupation – A Victorious Strategy

In such circumstances, the contradictions between capitalist countries and all other forms of political differentiation in the camp of capital are of critical importance. The Middle East is both an arena of intense exploitation by all the major capitalist powers and a constant source of tension between them as they jockey for advantages and in order to exploit the weaknesses of their rivals.

These contradictions are vital in constructing a broad front against the Bush-Cheney command center of international reaction and cannot be ignored. With all the importance of local contradictions, we cannot afford, for even a minute, to refuse to seek out the political strategy and tactics which can isolate our main enemy.

Progressive public opinion has justly and understandably rallied around the cause of the Palestinian people. In the broadest of terms this solidarity is an expression of opposition to the suffering of the Palestinians under occupation and for a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The argument that justice requires the reconstitution of all of Palestine as an Arab state or the dismantling of Israel as a Zionist state, whatever its merits, can only emasculate the international movement for solidarity with the Palestinian people and alienate huge sectors of the movement who are not ready to question the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. This is the reason that the overwhelming majority of Palestinian public opinion and the secular political parties in the occupied Palestinian territories and the great majority of the left in Israel have adopted a strategy for a historical compromise with Israel within the framework of two independent states.

[It is still too early to reach conclusions regarding the victory of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections. Many observers stress Hamas’ pragmatic turn, namely its strict observation of the cease fire with Israel negotiated by the Palestinian Authority and its willingness to participate in the elections, actually sponsored by the international community, under conditions of occupation. There is a general opinion that Hamas’s main gains stemmed from disappointment with the lack of achievement by the PA and the wide spread corruption of the Fatah party. Hamas’ policies after its unexpected rise to power depend very much on the understanding and sensitivities of the international community and its own decisions about the responsible use of its newfound prestige and strength. At any rate, it becomes harder and harder to keep the Palestinian question in deep freeze.]

Reactionary Zionist politicians, especially those allied to the Bush administration monitor every criticism of Israel to seek out a phrase or a concept on which they can pin the label of anti-Semitism. Policies challenging the existence of Israel, unreal in the terms of the relations of forces and morally problematic in and of themselves are grist to the mill of these circles. Bush, for his own selfish reasons, would prefer to appear as the defender of Israel’s “endangered” right to exist rather than being forced to admit his collusion in the continued brutal violence of the occupation. The mobilization of the broadest front against the occupation and the Israeli-U.S. axis requires clear disassociation from those who see the eventual dissolution of Israel as their immediate political program.

The one-state solution is the utopian-liberal perspective designed to challenging the legitimacy of the existence of Israel. Palestinian “rejectionism” – the political line that opposes any recognition of Israel - once drew inspiration from revolutionary perspectives, and the hope that a victorious (armed) Palestinian revolution would establish a unitarian, secular, democratic state. In the clear and decisive absence of such a perspective, it is currently suggested that eventually Israel will have to agree to grant equal rights to all residents in Palestine and on this basis Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state and Palestine will reappear as an Arab country with a Jewish minority. Hence, the main support for the one-state solution comes from circles which reject the idea of any kind of compromise with Israel.

One can understand the deep sense of dispossession and frustration that shape this position. One must not forget for a second that the refusal to recognize Israel, even as a fait accompli, has been nurtured by long years of Palestinian degradation and suffering at the hands of Israeli neo-colonialism. Therefore, the ‘rejectionist” position can be understood, but not justified. By refusing to build their struggle within the parameters of the given relation of forces and political realism, the proponents of the one state solution desert the arena of realistic politics and political activity, based on a perspective of practical goals in the given juncture.

No Marxist sees a victory in any concrete political struggle as the end of history and a ‘final’ resolution of historical processes. Just as it would be a serious political mistake to ignore the urgency and importance of a concrete achievement by the Palestinian people in the consolidation of a two state final status, it would be equally mistaken to see such a settlement as the end of all historical contradictions. Israel must still settle accounts with its colonialist heritage, and find its way to moral citizenship in the Arab East. It is hoped that this may be done without further violence and bloodshed. We can and should remind ourselves that the region, as a whole, does have a date with its socialist destiny.

Thus, in the present circumstances, the battle for an end to the occupation and the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state along side of Israel is the best way to expose the workings of the U.S. –Israel ’special relation.’ This progressive battle plan leans on the widest international support and assists in the further isolation of the Bush-Cheney drive for absolute hegemony. This battle must be at the center of a Marxist political position at this stage of the struggle to mobilize the broadest coalition for peace and justice for the Palestinian people.