We, members of the Internationalist Socialist League (ISL) in Israel/Occupied Palestine, as well as our comrades in the world-wide revolutionary communist organization with which we are affiliated, the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), wish to transmit to you today – residents of Bil’in and its neighboring villages, activists in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Anarchists against the Wall, and all the other activists, organized and independent, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals – a message of solidarity and support for your just struggle until victory! We salute you!
We also wish to transmit our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims, especially members of the Abu Rahma family – Baasem, Jawaher and Ashraf, who sacrificed that which was most precious to them to stop the theft of land and oppression of Palestinian villagers by the Zionist apartheid regime. We bow our heads in respect to the dead and their families and express the hope that their sacrifice will not have been in vain.
Achievements of the Past Ten Years of Struggle
After ten years of struggle against the theft of village lands via the building of the Apartheid Wall, there is no better time to review the achievements and formulate a plan and vision to continue the struggle until victory – the return of all the lands stolen from the village and of all stolen Palestinian lands from the River to the Sea.
(1) For ten years, every Friday, week after week, unrelentingly and in all weather, the residents of Bil’in and nearby villages, together with the activists mentioned above as well as many others, have come to protest using non-violent means against the Apartheid Wall. This, despite the opposition of the brutal Zionist military regime and its barbaric repression of the demonstrations.
This, in itself, is a considerable achievement, taking into account that, in the rest of the Palestinian arena, the Palestinian people has found it so difficult to organize itself towards a mass popular struggle, e., a third intifada, and that other struggles, such as that of Sheikh Jarrah, have almost entirely petered out. There is no doubt that the persistent struggle of Bil’in will serve as an inspiration of courage and determination for a future mass struggle – one which is absolutely necessary to end the Zionist apartheid regime in all of Palestine.
(2) In the legal arena, the villagers succeeded in changing the route of the wall and in regaining some 700 stolen dunams of land. However, about 1,000 additional dunams remain in the hands of the Apartheid regime.
(3) Your struggle contributed greatly in the efforts to isolate Israel internationally. Video, pictures, and testimonies from these demonstrations in the village and films inspired by your struggle have been presented on every possible stage and have exposed the true face of the State of Israel as a cruel and thieving apartheid regime. In particular, the contention that the suppression of the Palestinian people and the theft of their lands are necessary measure to preserve the security of Israeli Jews has been exposed as a barefaced lie.
(4) Your struggle has effectively demonstrated the strength, but also the limitations of the tactic of nonviolent struggle. For years, the methods adopted by the Palestinian national liberation movement were criticized internationally. It was argued that the use of the tactics of armed struggle resulted in many casualties and yielded achievements which were far too meager to justify the number of dead, wounded, and disabled.
Non-violent confrontation, critics argued, draws its inspiration from the struggles that took place under the leaderships of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela, and will bring about achievements which are more far-reaching and enduring. Some have also argued that this was the key to the collapse of the apartheid regime in South Africa and its replacement by a democratic regime which adheres to the UN Charter of Human Rights.
For ten years the struggle in Bil’in has been non-violent, except for the primarily symbolic throwing of stones by village youth, but also by undercover provocateurs intentionally implanted by the Israeli army to provide the military with an excuse to violently and quickly disperse the protests. Ten long years have taught us that encouraging expectations and making promises about the potential of non-violent struggle were largely unfounded – exaggerated at best and possibly even reckless. Just like the armed struggle, the non-violent struggle extracted its price in victims and its achievements against the apartheid regime have proved to be only very partial.
The main reason for this is that this non-violent struggle is being waged against an enemy who does not speak the language of non-violence, and who sees all resistance to its oppression, including that done on the basis of “freedom of expression,” as an act of terrorism no different than the firing of rockets or the stabbing of civilians in a bus. We need look no farther than how the activities at the UN by the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, are dubbed by the Israeli government “diplomatic terrorism,” and how Arab members of Israel’s Knesset, defending the rights of the Palestinian people mostly in words, are referred to by the same government as “supporters of terrorism” and “terrorists.”
Between Non-violent and Armed Struggle – The Nakba Continues
While it is not possible to make light of the world-class achievements of your nonviolent tactics, here in Palestine it is even less possible to ignore a number of simple facts which actually strengthen the arguments of supporters of armed struggle: it was not a non-violent struggle that led to the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai; it was not a non-violent struggle that led to Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon; it was not a non-violent struggle that brought Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip; and it certainly was not a non-violent struggle which resulted in Israel’s recognition of the existence of the Palestinian people, and their right to self-determination.
On the other hand, every Arab achievement of armed struggle was soon countered by increased repression and an accelerated land grab at the expense of the Palestinian people: the peace treaty with Egypt (1979) and subsequent withdrawal from Sinai bequeathed to Israel both diplomatic and military room to continue to hold onto the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to further populate these areas with armed settlers and to invade Lebanon (1982) in an attempt to purge the remaining nests of the Palestinian resistance within its borders. The peak of this violence, but by no means its end, was the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in September, 1982.
Israel’s bleeding, forced withdrawal from Lebanon after 18 years of occupation at the hands of Hizbollah (2000) in fact allowed it to suppress the second Palestinian intifada in full force and re-invade the liberated areas in the West Bank (2002) and to almost totally bring down the Palestinian Authority. This, in turn, accelerated the transformation of the PA into Israel’s partner and the PLO into its agent in suppressing Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza.
Following its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, in the wake of the Second Intifada, and the evacuation of 8,000 settlers (2005) Israel was able to add an additional 20,000 settlers to the West Bank while laying siege to Gaza by land, sea, and air. The aim of this siege was and remains to starve the people of Gaza into submission and to prevent any desire or ability on their part to effectively resist the Zionist occupation. And when, despite all this, resistance persisted, the result was three brutal campaigns against Gaza (2006, 2008/9, and 2014).
There is no escaping the recognition that the mere desire and ability of the Palestinian people to continue to resist, to continue to struggle for the right to live in equality, welfare, and security on their land and to exercise their just right to self-determination throughout all Palestine, a struggle which has continued from the 1930s until the present, this perseverance constitutes an heroic chapter in human history and has inspired billions of sons and daughters of oppressed people all over the world.
But heroism and the pride it engenders are not enough. Time does not stand still, and with each passing day the Palestinian people approach the fate of indigenous peoples who did not survive the exploits of white European colonialism – of which the Zionist movement is another example – such as the American Indians and Australian Aborigines. The comparison of the Zionist entity with the apartheid state of South Africa may be true on a moral and declarative plane, but in practice it is misleading. While the purpose of the apartheid regime was to use the black African natives as cheap labor to develop its economy to a level unknown on the African continent, the purpose of the Zionist racist regime is to cleanse the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea of Arabs. Historically, this has been done both by military means, as in 1947-48 and 1967, and by economic measures such as the purchase of property and land through front companies and various types of crooked deals.
Revolutionary Socialist Struggle – The Only Way to Bring Down the Zionist Apartheid Regime and Liberate all Palestine!
First of all, so there can be no possible doubt, we emphasize that the choice of tactics, whatever is deemed appropriate at any given stage, is exclusively the right of the oppressed who themselves are conducting the struggle, and not that of any external factor. In the present context, these are the residents of Bil’in and the neighboring villages. This basic position is absolutely clear to both the Israeli and Palestinian members of the Internationalist Socialist League (ISL) and to the revolutionary communist tendency (RCIT) with which we are affiliated.
We will stand alongside the Palestinian people in the struggle to liberate their land and achieve their national independence in any way they shall choose. However, we believe that it would be harmful to the struggle if we were not to share with our allies the cumulative historical experience of the world revolutionary workers’ movement which has, from its inception, championed the liberation of all humanity from all forms of oppression.
We therefore say openly that, as long as the State of Israel exists, the Zionist land grab as part of its unrelenting attempt to rid Palestine of its Arab and other non-Jewish inhabitants, will not end. Historical experience shows that a solution to the Palestinian question lies only in a revolutionary toppling of the Zionist apartheid regime and its replacement by a multinational democratic country belonging to all its citizens – Arabs, Jews, and migrant workers – throughout all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.
In our opinion, the reason that the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Movement is not currently conducting the struggle in this direction is neither based on tactical or strategic considerations, but rather on considerations of class. The leaderships’ economic ties and business relations with their financiers in the Arab world, Europe, and America, and even with Zionist capitalists, tie their hands and do not allow them to act, except for reaching for the crumbs of self-determination while consciously relinquishing claim to about 80 percent of the land of the Palestinian people as well as the right of return. Moreover, both directly and indirectly, the current leadership has been obliged to prostitute itself to the apartheid regime and to bribe or suppress their own sons and daughters, the Palestinian people, and thereby prevent them from continuing to fight.
Therefore, we say that only the working class can lead the fight to victory, because only the working class is untainted and free from all of these interests. Only the working class can form a true alliance with the peasants, the fellahin, with small business owners, with youth, students, and other oppressed groups like women and sexual minorities. Only the working class can place a revolutionary socialist party at the head of the struggling Palestinian masses; a party which will take part in the founding of a new workers’ international; a party which will understand when and how and to utilize both non-violent and armed tactics. Only the working class can form an alliance of all the oppressed of the region, from Iran to the Maghreb, led by the workers of Egypt, who have proved in practice their strength and resourcefulness in the struggle against a violent regime no less repressive than the Zionists. With such an alliance, even the military strength of Israel can be overcome.
Therefore, the state which will be established in the wake of the collapse of Zionist apartheid will be none other than a multi-national workers’ state from the river to the sea. In this state will live Arabs, Jews, migrant workers, and Palestinian refugees returning to their homeland, living a life of abundance, justice, and freedom of the kind that only a socialist society can bequeath to human beings. This state will take part in the building of a socialist federation of the entire Middle East and will assist in building a world socialist society.
If you share our vision, you are not alone! Join us!
For the liberation of all the lands of Bil’in!
For a third intifada – a popular, democratic uprising under the leadership of the working class!
For the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland!
For the release of all Palestinian political prisoners!
For a Free, Red Palestine!
For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!
For the founding of a revolutionary workers’ party for all Palestine!
For the founding of an world-wide revolutionary workers’ party – The Fifth International!