Argentina: debate on Palestine, Israel and the role of imperialism (Part Two)

We extract here the closing statements of the panelists who participated in the September 24th talk titled as this article. The dynamic of the debate led them to explain their proposals, which evidenced the important strategic differences between the Palestinian leadership, its allies and our party. (read the first part)

Husni Abdel Wahed, Palestinian Ambassador to Argentina

Different opinions have been expressed. We agree with some, and our opinion differs in other. We are not in favor of “destroying” anyone or anything. I think we have to see the future with different eyes and not fall into the game of imperialism and Zionism of destroying to reign. We are supporters of peaceful coexistence, regardless of who it is. Peace is made between enemies. Today Israel is our enemy, and we intend to make peace with Israel.

The Palestinian president maintains that in this world there is not a people too many, but a state that is missing. This missing state is that of Palestine. It is true that Israel has done everything in its power to keep the Palestinian from beeing established. The other alternative, in the absence of a Palestinian state, is a state for all, as is now the State of Israel, but that includes 100% of historic Palestine.

Then our struggle, in case there is no independent and sovereign Palestinian state, which coexists peacefully with the state of Israel, would be a state for all its citizens on equal terms. We cannot accept living as second, third or fourth class citizens. Today, Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, even Jewish, are citizens of the third or fourth category. This is unacceptable. The objective of the struggle, in case a Palestinian State is not achieved, is a truly democratic, civil state for all.

Jorge Elbaum, Argentine Jewish Call

It is not common for me to totally agree with Husni, but the truth is that I feel absolutely identified with his conception and I disagree with comrade Bodart. There is nothing more functional to Israel than to use the word destruction. When the word destruction is used in Israel, it refers to a true fact of recent history, which is the Shoah, the Holocaust, in which six million Jews died – and of course, 28 million Soviet Russians, 500,000 gypsies, 200,000 gays, etc. But in the foundational, cultural structure of the state of Israel, the concept of destruction is immediately associated with that. That is the reason why Israel is the fifth military power in the world and has 400 nuclear bombs in the Negev. Beyond the substantive discussion, which of course is valid, I want to tell you one thing: I know Israel, I went 50 times, I speak Hebrew and I had a secular Jewish education; and what the Zionist right needs is to hear is the word destruction.

Democratic militants must avoid giving tools to those who defend policies of discrimination, warmongering, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. But there are also many associates within Israel. We are seeing the emergence of a third force conformed by the Israeli Communist Party and four Palestinian parties (two of them secular and two of them Muslim), who received 13 parliamentarians in the last elections. In a fake democracy, in which there are five million people who do not vote, though the policies decided by that parliament, the Knesset, are imposed on them through military occupation.

To understand how a solution can be reached, I agree with Husni absolutely. I believe that the international community, if it agrees, especially the great evil of the universe at the moment called the United States, if it pressed heavily for an international agreement to demand that Israel leave the occupied territories and accept a peace plan that involves paying for the damage and pain suffered by the Palestinians, everything could be fixed in five minutes.

Now, in the case that it is not possible, because the empire does not cease to be an empire, then an alternative solution is a country with first class citizenship for all, with equal sovereign rights.

The colonial logic is not new. In Argentina we did the same. What Israel did with the Palestinians is what Roca did in Patagonia, and what the United States did by stealing land from native peoples. The processes of independence in Latin America, saving some attempts by San Martin and Belgrano of raising an Inca king, are processes of destruction and ethnic cleansing very similar to that of Israel. The Mapuches are the Palestinians. They are processes of people who come from outside and build countries and borders. What border can be conceived between Bolivia and La Quiaca? What is the ethnographic difference between the people living in Jujuy and Bolivia? The Palestinian people, the gypsies, the Argentines, are all cultural constructions, like the Castilian people, which destroyed the Basques, Galicians and Catalans.

Alejandro Bodart, International Socialist League

In my opinion, if we are going to talk about what is functional to Israel, there is nothing more functional to the colonial enclave than to accept its existence, as the Palestinian leaders have unfortunately done. Not so the Palestinian people, who have fought heroically for 70 years. I think that asking the United States to intercede on behalf of the Palestinians, as we have heard here, is wishful thinking. I think that, after all the experience from 1948 onward, asking Zionism to stop being colonialist and racist and to accept the Palestinians as first class citizens is another complete folly. I think that if history is useful, it is to draw conclusions. If something is clear in the region, it is that the policy of non-confrontation with Israel and permanent search for a negotiation is what has pushed the Palestinian people back to into current situation.

There is a resounding failure of the policy of the Palestinian leadership of trying to negotiate with the monster, permanently accepting its conditions. Of course we have differences.

The first claudication was to accept the existence of the state of Israel and think that in this way an agreement could be reached with Zionism to allow the creation of a Palestinian State in a piece of what was historical Palestine. And now it is clear that Israel does not accept even that -the existence of two States- and that all the agreements signed from the ’90s onward have only allowed Israel to strengthen. Now we are facing a new and more dangerous claudication: accepting that the only state in the entire territory of historical Palestine be that of Israel and begging Zionist leaders to consider the Palestinians as first-class citizens, while all of Zionist policy advances in the opposite direction.

Reality shows that, not only is the integration of Palestinians in the state of Israel not possible, but Israel is becoming more fascist, more theocratic and more expelling of Palestinians.

Justifying the existence of the State of Israel by comparing the Palestinians to the Mapuches or the Catalans, in addition to trying to deflect the debate, omits that both Mapuches and Catalans for being oppressed nations, ones stripped of their territory and the others subjected by a reactionary State, have continued fighting for centuries to recover their lot, just as the Palestinian people fight, unfortunately without a consistent leadership at their front, to recover their territory.
This debate is not new. We have been having this debate for years. When the Oslo agreements were signed in the 1990s, we criticized the PLO leadership for accepting the existence of the state of Israel and creating the illusion that there would one day be two states. And reality is proving us right.

What is the solution then? In no way is it to go ask the United States or Zionism to become good, as we have heard here today. The solution is to join the Arab peoples that, one by one, are rebelling against the oligarchies that govern their countries, and betting on the revolution. Because without the mobilization of the workers and the poor peoples of the Middle East, what will come is barbarism, not only in Palestine but throughout the region.

To transmit fear with talk about atomic bombs… The United States has ten thousand atomic bombs and we continue fighting to end imperialism. Because when the people rise, no weapon suffices to stop them, as the Vietnamese people have already shown. What you have to do is win the people over, and to win the people over you have to have a correct policy that defends their interests. And the correct policy in the Arab world is to call on them to stand up against their own governments, most of them pro-imperialist, and together confront the state of Israel, he gendarme of the region, to destroy it and, over its ashes, build a new secular Palestinian state, in which all those who inhabit the territory, regardless of race or religion, can live peacefully again.