On Tuesday, September 24, a debate was held on Palestine, Israel and the role of imperialism, with the Palestinian ambassador to Argentina Husni Abdel Wahed, Jorge Elbaum (of the Argentine Jewish Appeal) and Alejandro Bodart (coordinator of the International Socialist League). We extract here Bodart´s first intervention, which sparked a strong debate.
Few issues are as misrepresented as the history of the State of Israel is. The lies and myths that have been created, continue to be repeated to support a State that was created artificially in another people´s territory, expelling them and carrying out ethnic cleansing.
Israel was created in 1948 by a political pact between the Zionist movement and the British government that dominated Palestine as a protectorate. Many of the Arab bourgeoisies, far from fighting consistently against the establishment of Israel, ended up being part of that pact. As well as the Soviet Union, which played an ominous role, because it supported the establishment of Israel as well. On top of the confusions generated by imperialist lies, the USSR, with the enormous prestige it had for defeating the Nazis, came to say that Zionism had “elements of national liberation.” This generated great confusion, especially in the world left and sectors of the vanguard.
In the framework of the Yalta and Potsdam pacts, that enclave that acts in favor of interests of imperialism was allowed to be installed, in a fundamental area due to its geopolitical location and oil wealth.
The colonization of Palestine was planned long before by the Zionist movement. Even different places, like Uganda or the Patagonia, were considered to establish a Jewish state. Once they decided on Palestine and obtained the support of English imperialism, people began to move there to give the final assault in 1948.
Zionism is a political and ideological current that arises in the 19th century as a conscious response to the strength of the left in the Jewish community. Because the Jewish people, who have suffered the worst consequences of social, economic and political crises, were very prone to the left and to stand in solidarity with the struggles of workers and peoples. They played a fundamental role in the Russian Revolution, for example. That is why Zionism sought to drag the Jewish masses into a colonialist, racist and right-wing project with the illusion of the promised land.
The most famous myth about the founding of Israel is that there was a “land without a people for a people without a land.” So they were not going to hurt anyone, because the Arabs were supposed to be people who, for some reason, had left the richest areas of the region to live in the desert.
The Palestinian population, according to an Ottoman census of 1878, was of 500,000 inhabitants: 87% were Arab, 10% Christian and 3% Jewish. So it was a lie that there was no one there. To make that happen, for there to be no one there, they developed a policy of ethnic cleansing. There were a thousand villages in historic Palestine. The Zionists, protected by British imperialism, came to the villages armed to the teeth, gathered the population and forced them to leave. If they did not want to leave, they would gather the old, the children and the women in a public square and liquidate them, to generate terror for the rest of the population to flee. That is how they expelled about 800,000 Palestinians in 1948. Many ended up in refugee camps in neighboring countries, as second-class citizens. The rest were confined in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
And it didn’t end there, because this policy has continued to be systematically applied since the creation of Israel to the date. Each government has guaranteed the Jewish settlers to keep the few remaining territories of the Palestinians in a situation of apartheid, ghettos and semi-concentration camps, to the point that they have recently declared that Israel is a Jewish state and therefore no one else has any rights.
However, the Palestinian people have never stopped fighting, and that is one of the problems that imperialism and the Israeli right have had in consolidating their power. Because we have seen generation after generation continue fighting, without weapons, without economic power, without anything, against the occupation in the intifadas.
The State of Israel is an invented state. It is a colonial enclave, a fascist enclave, because it applies methods of civil war against the population. It is theocratic and completely allied to Yankee imperialism.
What is the current debate? What do we do with that State? For a long time the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine (PLO), the main leadership of the Palestinian people, ignored the State of Israel and called to fight for the destruction of the colonial enclave. Not to create a theocratic and racist Palestinian state, but to go back to the times when Arabs, Christians and Jews lived in peace as, in fact, they do in other states, where there is a Jewish quarter, a Muslim quarter and people are not killing each other all the time.
In 1993 the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, accepting the existence of the State of Israel and a plan to create a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The UN recognized Palestine in 2012, but as an observer state, because the various institutions linked to imperialism have acted permanently in defense of the Israeli enclave, which is fundamental to their interests in the region. There are permanently conflicts that threaten the interests of large oil corporations. Imperialism needs that enclave and supports it tooth and nail.
Are two states possible? We have been very critical of the abandonment of the slogan of the destruction of the State of Israel. We always believed that the Oslo Accords were illusory, because we are convinced that Israel cannot coexist with another State because the essence of the enclave is to continue expanding and so there is an increasingly smaller area of apartheid. Unfortunately, reality is proving us right, because the successive Israeli governments have permanently been responsible for breaking every agreement, facilitating new colonial settlements and now decreeing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, blowing up the peaceful coexistence agreements there were about the city.
Is it possible to destroy the State of Israel? Because it is an economic, political and military power, they have armed themselves to the teeth. It has defeated all the Arab armies, although they did not do much either. Because the Arab bourgeoisies are terrified of a revolutionary defeat of the state of Israel, which would possibly motorize the people who want to get rid of the Arab sheiks and oligarchies who live in opulence while their people are poor. That is why they never carried out a fight until the end against the State of Israel and have abandoned Palestine.
We believe that the solution today comes from mobilization. Today the Arab world is shocked by revolution after revolution. The Arab Spring, which has tried to be liquidated with a series of coups, has not died. In Egypt the mobilizations return, in Sudan, Yemen and Algeria there are impressive processes; the whole region is in motion.
We believe that the solution is to bet on the unity of the revolutionary processes that are taking place. It is not easy, but you have to ask yourself if there is another way, because the policy of negotiating with the monster has only allowed it to strengthen more and more. You cannot negotiate with people who have built on the basis of extermination and ethnic cleansing. It is like believing that one could negotiate with the Nazi State: the only possibility was to destroy it and create a completely different situation from there.
We defend a socialist perspective, but on the road to socialism, a fundamental step is to destroy that monster for a free, democratic and secular Palestine to arise. Our current will be there, as it has been all these years, fighting these false ideologies, supporting the Palestinian people against each of the barbarities that are committed. From there, we believe it is time to kick the board and raise the only flag that can achieve peace: to destroy the beast. Because a peace based on a growing beast is but the peace of cemeteries.
In a following article, we will publish the second part, with the debate between the defense of a single Palestinian State versus the adaptation to Israel which has even receded from the position of “two States”.
Follow the debate in the second part