T.O. Weekly 26: Palestine Uprising (Part 1)
The Organizer Weekly Newsletter No. 26 (Part 1 of 2 Parts)
May 21, 2021
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DOSSIER ON PALESTINE
End All U.S. Aid to Apartheid Israel!
In keeping with U.S. policy carried out over the past seven decades by all U.S. presidents — whether Republican or Democrat — President Joe Biden invoked “Israel’s absolute right to defend itself” when on May 18 he approved a $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel. Biden made this statement as hordes of fanatical armed settlers roamed the streets across the Israeli State chanting “Death to the Arabs!” and attacking anyone deemed to be “Arab,” destroying their shops, and burning their homes.
In fact, Biden reiterated his unconditional support for the Zionist State and its “right to protect itself” in every one of the six conversations he had recently with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu — as all Zionist leaders, Labor and Likud alike — always has been blunt, and his message to U.S. imperialism, in particular, was unmistakable when he addressed over 70 foreign representatives — including those of the United States, European Union, Russian Federation, and China — gathered together at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, May 19, a day after the massive unified Palestinian general strike swept across all of historic Palestine.
In engaging with the foe, by which Netanyahu means not only Hamas in Gaza specifically but the Palestinian people in their entirety, and which we know as well has been Israeli policy towards peoples throughout the Middle East, “You can either conquer them — and that’s always an open possibility — or you can deter them.”
“I’m not shy about saying it openly,” Netanyahu stated pointedly, “I think you should support Israel strongly because this is not merely a question of Israel’s security, it’s a question of our common security and our common interests in the Middle East.” (Haaretz, May 19)
This is a message that has never been lost on U.S. imperialism as it seeks to control resources and thwart revolutionary upsurge throughout the Middle East. It was the fundamental reason for its support for the creation of the Zionist State. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Biden stressed this in his Thursday evening announcement of the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas: “I assured him (Netanyahu) of my full support to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system and to ensure its defenses and security in the future.” (Jerusalem Post, May 21)
Biden is following in the footsteps of his predecessors when it comes to arming the State of Israel to the rafters and turning a blind eye to its abrogation of fundamental human rights. The May 14, 2021, statement by the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI) titled, “Stop the Massacre of the Palestinian People!” explained Israel’s role in the region:
“The State of Israel has become at each stage little more than the subsidiary instrument of imperialism, particularly U.S. imperialism. The whole world knows that the State of Israel could not pursue its policies without U.S. funding and without U.S. armaments — US$3.8 billion yearly in U.S. military aid, and US$8 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. The State of Israel acts more and more as a military outpost for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East.” [The full statement is published in this issue.]
Destabilizing the Imperialist Order in the Region
At the same time, Biden and the U.S. ruling class have expressed concerns that the actions taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right governmental allies are fueling an uprising of the Palestinian people that may be “getting out of control.” That is why Biden sent his top emissaries to meet with Netanyahu, various Arab heads of State, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Their goal: to put out the fires, if only temporarily, as they attempt to constrain, since they cannot squash, the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, which remains still a beacon for struggles throughout the Arab east.
Biden must now seek to preserve all the components of the imperialist order in the region: the State of Israel, the discredited Palestinian Authority, and the Arab regimes, which themselves are confronting mass mobilizations in support of the Palestinian people.
The task may prove very difficult. On the one hand, the far-right hordes of fanatical settlers feel emboldened now that Netanyahu has formed a government alliance with them. They carried out their brazen killings of Palestinians with total impunity; the Israeli police looked the other way.
On the other hand, there is the heightened resolve of the Palestinian people, who are standing up and fighting back as one united people.
Palestinians Forge Historic Unity
Despite being driven from their homes and villages in 1948, despite their division into those who live in the “1948 territories” (i.e., the current borders of the State of Israel); those who live in the prison camp of the Gaza Strip; those in the West Bank cities, towns, villages and refugee camps that have been reduced in size and separated by the Jewish-only settlements; those in the refugee camps in the neighboring countries; and those in the Diaspora— despite all the efforts to divide and demobilize the Palestinian people, they have never given up their unity and their aspiration for the recovery of their land and nationhood.
The May 18 historic general strike “From the Mediterranean to the Jordan River” — that is, over the entire territory of historic Palestine — is the expression of this will by the Palestinians to exist as one people.
Workers and peoples the world over are mobilizing in the streets in support of the Palestinian people, including Israeli Jews within pre-’67 occupied Palestine who refuse to accept the massacres being committed in their name. [See the articles on this topic in this issue.]
People around the world demanded and continue to demand:
– Immediate end to the repression against Palestinian demonstrators!
– Immediate end to the bombing of Gaza! No to the ground offensive!
– Immediate halt to the expulsions in Sheikh Jarrah!
– Freedom for the Palestinian people! Right of return for all refugees!
In the United States, we shout our demand: “End All U.S. Aid to Apartheid Israel!”
• The time is now to end all U.S. aid to Apartheid Israel!
• The time is now for a Democratic and Secular Palestine on all the historic territory of Palestine!
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From the Refugee Camp in Dheisheh
For us, the most significant event of this uprising is that it has involved Palestinians from the “1948 territories.” who refuse to be “Israeli Arabs.” For example, in the city of Lod, near Ben-Gurion airport, there are daily demonstrations.
There also have been marches by Palestinians from Jordan and Lebanon to the border crossings for the right of return, including attempts to cross the borders.
As always, the issue with the ongoing uprising is its lack of leadership. Many young people in the West Bank reject the Palestinian Authority for its security collaboration with Israel, its incalculable level of corruption, and its refusal to offer any perspectives. Mahmoud Abbas has lost all credibility since he explicitly rejected the right of return.
The population is encouraged both by the demonstrations taking place around the world and by the massive commitment of all sections of the Palestinian people to their struggle for self-determination.
– H., activist in the Dheisheh refugee camp
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Interview with M., from the Hirak Haifa movement
Question: You spent the night demanding the release of two activists, Suhair and Somayya. Under what conditions were they arrested?
Answer: Suhair and Somayya are two young activists of Hirak Haifa, which is a political movement of Palestinians from the territories occupied in 1948. Last night (May 15) a demonstration was held, which had been planned for a long time in memory of the 1948 Nakba. The demonstration was repressed, and it is in this context that our two comrades were arrested. These arrests are commonplace.
Question: How did the protest movement start in Haifa?
Answer: Following the events in Jerusalem, three demonstrations have been called in Haifa in the last two weeks. These were peaceful demonstrations, which the police suppressed. People gathered to chant slogans such as “Freedom for Palestinians!,” “Freedom for Sheikh Jarrah!,” “Equal rights! No to apartheid!,” “Stop discrimination between the Sea and the Jordan River!” Palestinians in Haifa, like those in Jaffa, Lod and other cities in the 1948 territories, demonstrated in large numbers.
After May 10, the groups of hundreds of armed settlers who had wanted to march in Jerusalem shifted to the “mixed” cities of Haifa, Jaffa and Lod, and began to march in the streets in groups, attacking Arab homes, cars and anyone suspected of being an “Arab”— all this under the complicit watch of the police. Palestinians in Haifa are not very political, but people were frightened and began to gather and organize in their neighborhoods to protect themselves from the settlers. In Jaffa, two children, aged 10 and 12, were seriously injured when their house in the Ajami neighborhood was burned down in one of these settler attacks.
Question: Are there any Jewish protesters among you?
Answer: Of course, there are. There have always been anti-Zionist Jews involved in our movement. They are few in number, a few hundred perhaps, but we want as many Jews as possible to participate in our demonstrations.
Question: In conclusion?
Answer: I am not saying that it was planned, but it was predictable. “Ethnic cleansing” is embraced openly, for example, in the program of the Religious Zionist Party, which reached the Knesset [Israeli parliament] in the last elections, and which calls for the “transfer” of the Palestinian population.
The Palestinian population has never had confidence in the Israeli police, which we see today is not there to protect us. Nor do the people trust the courts, the army or the government.
— Interview with Tribune des Travailleurs on May 16
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Report from “A” in Gaza
(May 14, 2021)
Events are developing at a very high speed, so it is certain that by the time this is published many things may have changed, but I am trying to outline the general characteristics of the escalation taking place in Palestine.
This escalation began in Jerusalem, during the month of Ramadan, in a series of provocations by the Israeli occupation authorities.
The first in this series was the decision to prevent Palestinians from gathering at Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate) in Jerusalem in late April. This triggered a series of demonstrations that eventually forced Israel to rescind the ban.
Another provocation that attracted some international attention was the eviction order against Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. Their homes were stolen by the Israeli government and its courts, which deeded their properties to the Israeli settlers.
The third Israeli provocation was the storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque during prayers on the morning of Friday, May 7. Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at worshippers, injuring more than 200.
In a fourth provocation, on May 10, settlers announced a march through Jerusalem to celebrate what they called “Jerusalem Day,” with the intention of marching to the al-Aqsa mosque.
This march escalated into a fifth provocation on the morning of May 10 when, for the second time in a week, Israeli forces stormed al-Aqsa, attacking worshippers praying inside and ransacked the place of worship. More than 300 Palestinians were injured.
These provocations persisted throughout Ramadan and provoked a wave of anger that lifted Palestinians across all parts of their homeland. Demonstrations broke out in Haifa, Jaffa, Ramallah and Gaza.
People across Palestine desperately needed to feel supported and defended. It is therefore extremely significant that the resistance rose up throughout historic Palestine. Israel has always wanted to destroy Palestinian identity, especially in the cities, towns and villages within the 1948 borders (the areas where the State of Israel was proclaimed that year, at the Nakba). But the mass demonstrations in these areas, where demonstrators have replaced Israeli flags with Palestinian ones, seem to show a revival of the Palestinian spirit.
Israel has a powerful arsenal of missiles. Yet this power guarantees neither legitimacy nor stability. The Palestinian people may be weakened, but they will not die. They have the will to fight until a certain victory.
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General Strike from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River
Tuesday, May 18
This is the wording in Arabic of the poster [see above] calling for a general strike on Tuesday, May 18 by all Palestinians — whether they are in the Gaza Strip, the “1948 occupied territories” or the West Bank, or in the refugee camps of neighboring countries. At the time of writing, the Lebanese press is reporting a very strong mobilization in the Palestinian refugee camps.
An activist from Haifa explained to us over the phone on May 17 the origin and importance of this initiative: “This strike is very important. It is a historic moment because this strike will take place throughout Palestine. We Palestinians from the 1948 borders are used to strike separately from Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. But this time, it is all of us together. This initiative came from below, from the youth movements throughout Palestine. And the leaderships of these movements had to follow what the youth had initiated.”
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Work Stoppage at Israeli Telecom Giant
Yet another threshold was crossed when workers at the Israeli telecom giant Cellcom joined the unified Palestinian strike Tuesday, May 18.
In a post on its Facebook page, Cellcom’s Workers Committee said that it was holding the one-hour work stoppage in support of unity, coexistence and “unconditional love,” asserting that “what we do today will determine our reality for tomorrow.”
“Let’s live together and in peace,” the Committee declared.
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Palestinian Struggle Cross a Threshold
By MYA SHONE
The Palestinian struggle crossed a threshold, from which there is no going back, when the Haifa-based High Follow-up Committee’s (HFC)* call for a general strike in pre-’67 Israel on Tuesday, May 18, was taken up immediately by all sectors of the Palestinian movement. “As soon as we announced our decision,” explained Mohammad Baraka of the HFC, “we got calls from different Palestinian factions, led by Fatah, which wanted to join the strike call. Others also followed,” he noted, “and the strike encompassed all of historic Palestine.” (Arab News, May 18).
Not only was the unified general strike “a lever for joint Palestinian national action,” Bilal Shweiki, a political analyst, told Middle East Eye, (May 17), Shweiki stated unequivocally that “It is also a declaration of rejection against all agreements that divide the land.”
Radi Jirai, a Fatah activist and former prisoner of Israel, states concretely “This unity of Palestinians paves the way for a new Palestinian strategy based on the unity of the people and land in Palestine. It is the defeat,” he stressed, “of the Zionist program and stresses the need for a single democratic state to be established on the ruins of the Zionist apartheid.” (Arab News, May 18)
What statements by Jirai and Sweiki and others reveal is that the Palestinian struggle is returning to its roots as set forth in the original charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.).
As Ralph Schoenman stated in his prescient presentation “Madrid is not the Road to Peace,” (Nov. 1, 1991):
“Resistance by the Palestinian people to colonial occupation, dispossession, expulsion and the devastation of 90 percent of their towns and villages has continued uninterruptedly since 1888.
“Soon after the P.L.O. was formed it developed a program which summoned the Palestinian people and the Jews who had settled on their land to join in a struggle for a society in which rights did not depend on religious affiliation or ethnic origin. …
“The call by the P.L.O. in 1968 for a democratic and secular society in Palestine was the minimum and transitional demand of a movement for national liberation. …
“Thus, when the P.L.O. abandoned its principles and agreed to recognize and to guarantee the security of an exclusively Jewish colonial state in 80 percent of Palestine, it had embarked upon the slippery path to total capitulation. …”
As Schoenman later detailed in a Socialist Organizer forum, October 23, 1993, on the heels of the Oslo Accord and the subsequent Gaza-Jericho Accord as the the possibility of a Palestinian mini-state that guaranteed security for the Jewish state of Israel was dangled before the P.L.O. leadership:
“There is no ambiguity in the minds of the Zionist state apparatus as to what these Accords represent. There is no dissembling about the fact that it has been done at the behest of U.S. imperialism, that U.S. rulers are its architects, that the Zionist state has as its unrelenting purpose the liquidation of the Palestinian movement, the subjugation of its people, their degradation.
“That has been the inherent nature of the Zionist enterprise from its inception, as the Palestinian charter so eloquently set forth and which, by the way, is why it is so essential to Zionism and to imperialism that the Palestinian people repudiate the P.L.O. national charter, that they belie their own experience, that they enjoin the world to accept the Zionist definition of historical reality.
“I do not believe myself,” Schoenman asserted, “that these machinations can last very long. The Palestinian people may be only one component of the international workers’ struggle against exploitation, injustice and the usurpation of control over our respective lives. But theirs is a distillation, an enduring embodiment of the will to overcome …”
*The High Follow-Up Committee is a coordinating body formed in 1982 within occupied 1948 Palestine (pre-‘67 Israel). Its membership includes representatives from the National Council of Heads of Arab Localities, the “Israeli Arab” electoral political parties in the Knesset, Palestinian civil society organizations, and others.
Despite the outcry around the world, the Israeli military announced Tuesday, May 18, that it would step up its aerial bombardment of Gaza. Forty thousand Palestinians displaced, 2,500 homes destroyed, 217 killed, including 63 children, and 1,400 wounded without the medical care to treat them. That was not enough for the Zionist state. Should we be surprised? NO! This has been the pattern of the Israeli state in formation since its inception – Labor and Likud alike.
In 1987 as the great uprising of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza unfolded — the first Intifada —Ralph Schoenman articulated concisely in “The Hidden History of Zionism” how the suffering and conditions of life in the post-1967 occupied territories are but the little continuation of how all of Palestine was colonized — a history of armed displacement, massacre and expulsion. The purpose of the book was to shed light on what had been concealed by outright suppression and by the perpetuation of four myths that have permeated consciousness in America.
We publish here The Four Myths’ chapter from “The Hidden History of Zionism.” The complete book is available online at http://www.takingaimnow.com/hhz/index.htm
A lecture (57 minutes) “The Hidden History of Zionism” can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08wDBXgfPU8
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The Four Myths
It is not accidental that when anyone attempts to examine the nature of Zionism – its origins, history and dynamics – they meet with people who terrorize or threaten them. Quite recently, after mentioning a meeting on the plight of the Palestinian people during an interview on KPFK, a Los Angeles radio station, the organizers of the public meeting were deluged with bomb threats from anonymous callers.
Nor is it easy in the United States or Western Europe to disseminate information about the nature of Zionism or to analyze the specific events which denote Zionism as a political movement. Even the announcement on university campuses of authorized forums or meetings on the subject invariably engenders a campaign designed to close off discussion. Posters are torn down as fast as they are put up. Meetings are packed by flying squads of Zionist youth who seek to break them up. Literature tables are vandalized and leaflets and articles appear accusing the speaker of anti-Semitism or, in the case of those of Jewish origin, of self-hatred.
Vindictiveness and slander are so universally meted out to anti-Zionists because the disparity between the official fiction about Zionism and the Israeli state, on the one hand, and the barbarous practice of this colonial ideology and coercive apparatus, on the other, is so vast. People are in shock when they have an opportunity to hear or read about the century of persecution suffered by the Palestinians, and, thus, the apologists for Zionism are relentless in seeking to prevent coherent, dispassionate examination of the virulent and chauvinist record of the Zionist movement and of the state which embodies its values.
The irony of this is that when we study what the Zionists have written and said – particularly when addressing themselves – no doubt remains about what they have done or of their place in the political spectrum, dating from the last quarter of the 19th century to the present day.
Four overriding myths have shaped the consciousness of most people in our society about Zionism.
The first is that of “A land without a people for a people without a land.” This myth was sedulously cultivated by early Zionists to promote the fiction that Palestine was a remote, desolate place ready for the taking. This claim was quickly followed by denial of Palestinian identity, nationhood or legitimate entitlement to the land in which the Palestinian people have lived throughout their recorded history.
The second is the myth of Israeli democracy. Innumerable newspaper stories or television references to the Israeli state are followed by the assertion that it is the only “real” democracy in the Middle East. In fact, Israel is as democratic as the apartheid state of South Africa. Civil liberty, due process and the most basic human rights are by law denied those who do not meet racial, religious criteria.
The third myth is that of “security” as the motor force of Israeli foreign policy. Zionists maintain that their state must be the fourth largest military power in the world because Israel has been forced to defend itself against imminent menace from primitive, hate-consumed Arab masses only recently dropped from the trees.
The fourth myth is that of Zionism as the moral legatee of the victims of the Holocaust. This is at once the most pervasive and insidious of the myths about Zionism. Ideologues for the Zionist movement have wrapped themselves in the collective shroud of the six million Jews who fell victim to Nazi mass murder. The bitter and cruel irony of this false claim is that the Zionist movement itself actively colluded with Nazism from its inception.
To most people it appears anomalous that the Zionist movement, which forever invokes the horror of the Holocaust, should have collaborated actively with the most vicious enemy ever faced by the Jews. The record, however, reveals not merely common interests but a deep ideological affinity rooted in the extreme chauvinism which they share.
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