Notes on decolonization, the Israeli working class and the Palestinian Revolution

A comrade posed the following question on a communist forum:

‘Socialism is obviously in the interests of the Israeli working class by their relation to production, the prerequisite for socialism in Israel-Palestine is decolonization. The decolonization of Palestine will likely take a bourgeois-nationalist form (Hamas), or at least such a revolution would be progressive. But a bourgeois nationalist Palestinian revolution is not in the interests of the Israeli working class, or is at least a hard sell. How then today does the Israeli working class have a progressive character?’

The comrade immediately added:

‘My initial reaction is that a bourgeois nationalist revolution is in their long term interest by the fact that it is a prerequisite to socialism but can we really expect Israelis to support Hamas?’

Firstly, I think it is of great importance to refer to theory developed by the progressive forces in Palestine themselves, before we start to make arguments that come from the outside, which mostly ends in hopeless idealist notions of the Palestinian liberation movement and its potential goals and future. So let us begin.

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‘the prerequisite for socialism in Israel-Palestine is decolonization.’

The first question that arises here is what ‘decolonization’ means. This question finds its most apparent expression in the struggle over a one-state or two-state solution. I would define decolonization in Palestine as the PFLP ultimate goal, namely: ‘to establish a democratic national state in Palestine in which both Arabs and Jews will live as citizens with equal rights and obligations and which will constitute an integral part of the progressive democratic Arab national presence living peacefully with all forces of progress in the world.’[i] Decolonization in Palestine means the establishment of a secular-democratic state on the whole land of Palestine, from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

The argument for a secular-democratic Palestinian state is supported by the analysis of Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh, a comrade, who notes in his book Approach to the Single Democratic State that ‘there is no possibility of separating the Arab Palestinian community of 1967 and 1948 from the Jewish community in the same geography; their interlocking prevents talking.. that our space with its economy and demography is separate from their space with its economy and demography. The facts on the ground impose themselves; they cannot be dispensed with theory, without annihilation of one side or evacuating it from place and time and perpetrating dreadful massacres and fresh waves of ethnic cleansing that spare nothing.’[ii]

The two-state solution, however, has been presented as the only viable ‘peaceful’ solution to the conflict by the leadership of the US, European Union, United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). But the acceptance of Israel as a legitimate entity means that one declares support for the oppression of Palestinian people, because Israel is a tool of the Zionist movement, that will never, as history has shown us, stop with its exploitation and oppression of the Palestinian land and people, since it was created to do one thing, and one thing only: establish and maintain control over Palestine, a strategic region in the Middle-East, and secure and exploit its natural recourses and for the benefit of the imperialist powers.

Imprisoned PFLP General-Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat says about the two-state solution: ‘The two-state solution that is based on the racist notion of ‘a national, homogeneous Jewish state’ totally disregards the fact that over 1.3 million Palestinians – 20% of the entire population – live inside ‘Israel.’ This will continue to permit the causes of conflict to remain inside Israel. Therefore, the solution based on two states is a myth.’[iii]

Decolonization in ‘Israel-Palestine’ will thus necessarily have to take the form of the establishment of a single-democratic state (most likely to be called ‘Palestine’ because the vast majority of people living in this state will be Palestinians, especially after the Right of Return will be implemented).

‘The decolonization of Palestine will likely take a bourgeois-nationalist form (Hamas), or at least such a revolution would be progressive.’

The notion of a single-democratic state on the historical land of Palestine differs radically from the current approach by Hamas. The politics of Hamas towards Palestinian liberation actually don’t differ much from current Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. While Hamas, in the beginning of its foundation, argued for the ultimate goal of ‘total liberation of the historic land of Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea…the longer Hamas functions, the les interest it shows in adopting or declaring “ultimate goals”.’ ‘In the course of taking power after the elections of 2006, Hamas has focused its pre and post-elections discourse on the concept of explicitly resisting the Israeli occupation while implicitly if reluctantly accepting the principal of a two-state solution.’[iv]

When it becomes clear that Hamas is striving towards a two-state solution, theoretically but not practically aligned with the PA, we can conclude that Hamas’ aim is not struggling for decolonization but for the establishment of Palestinian ‘Bantustans’, in which the Palestinian comprador bourgeoisie rules within the under subjugation of Israel and imperialism. This does not mean Hamas is a reactionary organization that should be opposed, they are the most powerful Palestinian military resistance organization, but it does mean that Hamas is not fighting for a bourgeois-nationalist state.

Dr. Rabah Mohanna of the PFLP Politburo said the following about Hamas: ‘We continue to insist for having our basic rights and self-determination and the right to return in Palestine. But, unfortunately, Hamas and Fatah are still the main players in Gaza and in the West Bank and it seems they are not enough concerned by the issue of the separation. Because of that we consider that Fatah and Hamas are the cause of the division and will never be able to resolve the problem by themselves. What is necessary is to held a national dialogue among all the political and social groups. Here, we can offer a platform or an agenda for ending the division.’[v]

So, ‘yes’ to cooperation with Hamas and Fatah but, says Dr. Rabah Mohanna: ‘When Abu Mazen (Fatah and PA) oppresses the resistance in the West Bank, and also of course Salam Fayyad, both serve their own political agenda, the Abu Mazen-Salam Fayyad agenda. They serve their political goals which are bad for the Palestinian people. On the other hand, Hamas all the time says they have a political agenda and they want to practice resistance. I do agree with the Hamas political agenda, but I cannot understand their behavior when they oppress people in Gaza. When I meet the Hamas leaders, I mention to them these facts. They agree with me, but on the ground what is happening is different.’[vi]

But a bourgeois nationalist Palestinian revolution is not in the interests of the Israeli working class, or is at least a hard sell. My initial reaction is that a bourgeois nationalist revolution is in their long term interest by the fact that it is a prerequisite to socialism but can we really expect Israelis to support Hamas?

From our above analysis it becomes clear that a victorious bourgeois nationalist Palestinian revolution will establish a single-democratic state on the whole of historic Palestine and implements the Right of Return of the millions of Palestinian refugees. It is not certain that Hamas will be a part of this, just like it isn’t certain that the PA will be part of this.

What is however certain, is that Israelis will have to make a groundbreaking shift in consciousness as guiding principles of their actions in order make the establishment of a single-democratic state a reality or even a possibility.

Leila Khaled spoke about the role of the Israeli working class in an interview conducted on April 6th 2010, by Mike Walker – PFLP Solidarity Campaign co-ordinator.[vii]

Mike Walker: ‘How does the PFLP see the role of the Israeli working class, and does the PFLP maintain links with Israeli Anti-Zionist and Socialist Jewish groups?’

Leila Khaled: ‘We have links with some personalities and we also look upon the working class as a free working class. The working class in Israel is a part of occupation – up till now. So this working class is deceived by the Zionist ideology and that’s why we are looking for the Israelis like Peace now or Stop The Wall, those who are supporting our people against the wall, who express their solidarity every week in the demonstrations in different villages like Bil’in and Nilin, but this is not a wide movement that is the mainstream in society. Because we have seen two years ago, or less than that, when the elections took place in Israel a majority of the working class in Israel voted for the extreme right, which means that up till now the working class in Israel is having illusions about the right wing in Israel to govern. This means that we need more time to reach a common vision from the working class also in Israel that occupation is un-human, it’s illegal and it’s against their society itself because I have to say that the Palestinian workers in Israel, their employers sometimes they don’t give the Palestinian workers their price. The Histadrut which is representative of the working class do not defend the Palestinian workers which means that up till now this working class is a part of occupation.’

Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh tries to synthesize out of the current contradictions between the Palestinian people and the Zionist project: ‘The present situation is the best prescription for the reproduction of conflict and turning in a vicious cycle; neither can the Palestinians – with their meager potential and horrific conditions – defeat Israel, nor can the latter – despite its immense power and strategic advantage – impose capitulation on the Palestinians. To solve the dilemma, a new option and a new form of struggle are called for that represent the interests of the popular masses against upper classes in both communities; an option that controls the tactics – “tactics don’t violate strategy, and politics doesn’t violate ideology” (George Habash).’[viii]

It must be clear by now that the problems and oppression within Israel cannot be solved unless the racist settler-colonial basis upon which the ‘society’ is build and which constitutes this society is destroyed, i.e. that is the sole purpose of the existence of Israeli society is destroyed.

From here it follows that the task of Jews in Palestine (to speak of ‘Israelis’ would include Palestinian citizens of Israel, which have a very different historical connection to the land and struggle) is to align themselves with the Palestinian resistance against Israel, Zionism, Imperialism and the Arab reactionary regimes. Only when the land of Palestine, and for that the whole Middle-East, is free of imperialist (neo)colonial rule will it be possible all of its inhabitants (Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Christians etc.) to establish one secular-democratic state.

So to answer your question, at this point in time, I would say that this requires Israelis to support Hamas, as one of the main forces of resistance against the imperialist control and capitalist exploitation of the land, from which both Palestinians and Jews suffer, although their experiences of this exploitation and oppression vary greatly.

Popular support for a one-state solution now polls at 15% on the Arab side and 10% on the Jewish side.[ix]

‘Socialism is obviously in the interests of the Israeli working class by their relation to production’

While Zionists claimed or have claimed that Israel itself is a socialist project (stressing the Kibbutz’), my guess is that you make this statement on the premise that Israel itself is NOT a socialist project – which is the only right premise and any other should be rejected within the communist movement.

So yes, obviously socialism in Palestine is in the interests of the Israeli working class.

How then today does the Israeli working class have a progressive character?

First of all it is important not to see the Israeli working class as homogenous and united class. As Mohammed Khatib, coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Political Prisoners Solidarity Network and comrade, argues about Israeli society: ‘This system has to be defeated from within itself. Like Israel… Israel is a nuclear state today. So if we will say we will just liberate Israel by arms, this will not be realistic. The armed struggle is very important – it’s the main tool against the colonial power and against the Zionist entity, but it’s not alone. The Israeli society today is a sick society, it’s not a normal society. Forget about Palestine. Within the society, no one is speaking about it, but it’s not a united society. It’s not a society at all. It’s communities, separate communities. And there is huge racism between them. Between white Jews and black Jews, the Ethiopians, the African, the refugees, the Filipinos, the workers.’[x]

It is not impossible that contradictions and tension within Israeli Jewish communities grow and lead to more vigorously forms of resistance over the next years and decades, which make it possible to establish connections with the Palestinian resistance on an equal basis.

That Israeli-Jews enjoy the privilege of living on stolen land is true. But there are other factors which play a role. As Dr. Ahmad Qatamesh notes: ‘Establishing Israel over the ruins of Palestine did not provide peace (for Jews); a series of wars were fought – 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, let alone 1982 and the first intifada, which former Israeli Prime Minister Shamir described as an uprising war. Yet, Israel’s human losses in the last years of confrontation were more than in any other war fought by the state. The same applies to the economic losses and the loss of the individual security. Israel’s military defeat in Lebanon in July 2006 only encouraged Israel to start preparing for a yet more destructive, more technological, more devastating war.’[xi]

I can continue about this endlessly, but it is clear that the interest of the Israeli-Jewish working class is to do away with Israel, Zionism and imperialism. They have an interest in revolution and the question that they must answer is very clearly ‘barbarism or socialism’?

To work against the most powerful hegemonic systems of Israel and Zionism, supported greatly by the United States, is a difficult task and the Palestinian revolution will not be victorious today. We know, however, that tomorrows conditions will not be the same as todays and that human action is the cause of this ever-changing reality – what seems impossible today may be possible tomorrow. Today we see the degeneration of Israeli-Jewish society; increasing attacks and wars launched on the Palestinian people by the Israeli military; worldwide attacks on the Palestinian solidarity movement and global export of Israeli military technology. Israel is becoming more and more an enemy of all the peoples of the world and thus faces increasing resistance throughout the whole world. What Israel therefore produces, above all, are its own gravediggers. Its fall and the victory of the Palestinian and Jewish people are equally inevitable.


Another comrade addes ‘their (Israeli working class) existence as a class depends on theft of land and resources. they have much more to lose than their chains.’

There is truth on this. Especially since 20% of the Israeli export consists of military weaponry, parts, technology and tactics. It would however be wrong to regard the Israeli working class as inherently counterrevolutionary, which means there is no other way towards Palestinian liberation than to engage in mass deportations and ethnic cleansing.

As explained above, the Israeli working class, or at least parts of it, does, however, have an interest in the Palestinian revolution. This is not only because of their own oppression by Zionism, but also because of the resistance against the Zionist project.

Sources:

[i] PFLP. (1968). Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine. Available at http://pflp.ps/english/2012/12/13/strategy-for-the-liberation-of-palestine-february-1969-historical-document-now-available-electronically/

[ii] Ahmad Qatamesh. (2007). Approach to The Single Democratic State: Two Separate and Interlocked Communities. P. 54. Available at http://www.odsg.org/ahmadonestate[1].pdf

[iii] Ahmad Sa’dat. (2003). Interview with Imprisoned PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat. Available at http://pflp.ps/english/2003/05/20/interview-with-imprisoned-pflp-general-secretary-ahmad-saadat/

[iv] Khaled Hroub. (2006). Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide. P. 21-22. London: Pluto Press.

[v] Rabah Mohanna. (2010). Interview with Dr. Rabah Mohanna of the PFLP on the Palestinian people’s struggle for national liberation. Available at https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/interview-with-rabah-mohanna-of-the-pflp-on-the-palestinian-peoples-struggle-for-national-liberation/

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Leila Khaled. (2010). Interview with Leila Khaled, conducted by Mike Walker – PFLP Solidarity Campaign co-ordinator. Interview was conducted via Skype with Leila at her home in Amman Jordon. Available at http://wpnz-pflp-solidarity.blogspot.nl/p/leila-khaled-interview.html

[viii] Ahmad Qatamesh. (2007). P. 84-85.

[ix] Ahmad Qatamesh. (2007). P. 84.

[x] Mohammed Khatib. (2016). New Video: Samidoun’s Mohammed Khatib on Black-Palestinian Solidarity and Liberation Struggles. Available at http://samidoun.net/2016/09/new-video-samidouns-mohammed-khatib-on-black-palestinian-solidarity-and-liberation-struggles/

[xi] Ahmad Qatamesh. (2007). P. 36.

Picture credits: Thomas van Beersum

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