US President Barack Obama has imposed on the Palestinian Authority to enter what he calls, in his cynicism, “peace talks” with Israel. The truth is that Zionist politicians, whether right-wing like Netanyahu or left-wing like Barak, only agree to negotiations with the Palestinians to maintain the veneer of a peace-loving Israel, allowing the state to continue its oppression of the Palestinians while receiving support from its liberal friends in Europe and the USA.
The real extent of the Netanyahu government’s interest in peace with the Palestinians and in returning the lands stolen by Israel in 1967 has been demonstrated by two recent events:
Ovadia Yosef’s Speech: Call for Murderous Attack on PA and Palestinians
In his weekly address this past Shabbat, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said, “May our enemies and those who hate us all die, Abu Mazen and all these evil people, they should be gone from this world. May the Holy One, Blessed be He, strike them down with plague, them and those Palestinians, evil ones and enemies of Israel”.
Yosef is the spiritual leader of the Jewish orthodox Shas party, which is part of the ruling coalition. In the early 1990s the party was supportive of the Oslo agreements, and thus considered to be a moderate party by many in Israel. However, in recent years, Shas moved significantly to the right. This fact can only be explained by considered the rightward shift of Israeli society as a whole, following Israeli military failures in Lebanon and Gaza. This shift made itself felt chiefly among the working poor, who form a large part of the party’s social base.
The Israeli government has refused to denounce Yosef. While distancing itself from his remarks, it has not spoken out against him, nor does it intend to take action against a man who has clearly called for the murder of Palestinian political leaders and the genocide of the Palestinian people as a whole.
Palestinians are obviously outraged at Yosef’s comments. Balad MK Jamal Zahalka has correctly pointed out that if Yosef were a Muslim leader calling for the murder of Jews, it would not take long for him to be put behind bars. But if Palestinian Israeli politicians like Zahalka, involved in the Arab Higher Follow-up Committee, wanted to fight against anti-Palestinian racism, they would organize actions against Shas and Yosef. We call on these leaders to make good on their rhetoric organize mass struggles demanding Ovadia Yosef’s prosecution.
Persecution of Left-Wing Artists
53 prominent artists including actors, playwrights and directors have signed a pledge not to perform in a new cultural center in Ariel. Ariel is a West Bank settlement that, like all West Bank settlements, was built on land stolen after 1967 war. It is especially ironic that the new cultural center will be inaugurated with performances of plays written by Bertolt Brecht, who must be turning in his grave as his plays are being used as tools of racist oppression.
Most of the signatories are left Zionists, who justify their refusal to perform in the cultural center on the basis that the existence of the settlements is in violation of international law. We, of course, oppose the settlements for very different reasons. However, we defend the artists against persecution by the government and by the Yesha council, the reactionary cesspool of racist settlement politicians, which has promised a harsh response to the boycott and called for the artists to be fired and stripped of government funds.
Having said that, as anti-Zionist revolutionaries, we must also turn attention to the fact that the boycott targets only West Bank settlements. This is consistent with the outlook of the Zionist left, which supports Israel’s pre-1967 land theft. While defending left-wing artists from persecution, we are by no means endorsing their Zionist outlook, which is as incompatible with the fulfillment of the Palestinians’ right of self-determination and the right of return as that of the right-wing Zionists.
Down With the Negotiations!
Looking at the government’s attitude to both incidents, we see that while racist incitement to genocide against Palestinians in Israel is a crime without punishment, the official response to an artists’ boycott of an illegal settlement is a punishment without a crime. Thus the Zionist state is exposed once more as an instrument of the colonization of Palestine and the oppression of its original inhabitants.
The experience of former negotiations has proven that a peace with such a state is almost certainly impossible. But an examination of the true nature of the state shows that such a peace would not even be desirable. This fact was already understood by the Palestinians themselves, who prevented Arafat from selling out in the negotiations of the late 1990s with an uprising brutally suppressed by Israel (see the LRP’s article, “Palestinians Explode Peace Process”, Proletarian Revolution 53).
The Palestinians have not forgotten the lessons of those negotiations, and are trying again to hold back the PLO from selling out. But this is much harder to do today, when the Palestinians do not view the PLO as a legitimate leadership, a fact which makes the PLO that much more dependent on imperialism’s support to survive.
One must also keep in mind that the man with whom the imperialists are engaged in negotiations is Mahmoud Abbas, who dares not run for elections, because he knows that the masses hate him and think of him as a collaborator and a sellout. On this background, the possibility of Abbas agreeing to renounce the Palestinian people’s rights, most importantly its right of return, is greater than ever.
This is the background to Hamas’ attack in Hebron, which killed 4 settlers. We in the Internationalist Socialist League do not support terrorist attacks, even ones against legitimate targets.
We Marxists consider the tactic of individual terrorism inexpedient in the tasks of the liberating struggle of the proletariat as well as oppressed nationalities. A single isolated hero cannot replace the masses. But we understand only too clearly the inevitability of such convulsive acts of despair and vengeance.
In the case of killing the settlers who act as murdering militia for the Zionist state that has oppressed the Palestinians for so many years, we do not have one tear for the dead settlers. All our emotions, all our sympathies are with the self-sacrificing avengers even though they have been unable to discover the correct road. The road for the national and social emancipation of the Palestinian people is a working class revolution. If we oppose terrorist acts, it is only because individual revenge does not satisfy us.
The super-exploited workers of the region and the Palestinian masses need to direct all energies into a collective struggle against this rotten imperialist system—that is the direction in which the burning desire for revenge can find its highest moral. The popular uprising that began in 1987, although a failed uprising because it was isolated only to the Palestinians, and did not have enough time to develop a working class revolutionary leadership, before it was betrayed by the PLO in Oslo, was the most successful one in terms of damaging the imperialists. Because it was a popular uprising, it was closely tied with the near-decimation of the PLO – the movement that became the epitome of hero-worshiping individual terrorism and later on, like many movements that replace mass struggle with hero- terrorist worship, became collaborationist with the imperialist rulers.
Hamas leadership, seeking an accommodation with imperialism, has no other method: Hamas’ political strategy is to pressure imperialism into taking a more pro-Palestinian stance, and this strategy dictates their tactics.
The working class strategy for Palestine is different. Basing ourselves on the ability of the regional working class, including a minority of the Israeli working class, to rise up against imperialism and Zionism, we call for mass actions by the workers of the region and by the Palestinians themselves, protesting against the sham negotiations and the PLO’s new planned capitulations to imperialism.
The task of proletarian revolutionaries in Palestine would be to lead such a movement, which would have to break not only with the collaborationist PLO, but with the reactionary Hamas as well, exposing the bankruptcy of their political outlook, expressed in their inability to lead the Palestinian struggle out of the dead end in which it arrived after the failure of the second Intifada.
Such a struggle will assist in the formation of revolutionary proletarian parties in Palestine and the rest of the Middle East, which are the only parties that could lead a regional revolution against imperialism, freeing the masses from oppression by the imperialists and by the collaborationist bourgeoisie.
No to the PLO sellout! Down with the negotiations!
No peace with Zionism!
For the right of return and Palestinian self-determination!
For a Palestinian workers’ state from the river to the sea
For a socialist federation of the Middle East!