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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Bias caused by American influence is undermining Palestinian national liberation
September 13, 2016
Last week, individual Swedes varyingly appeared in Israeli media as disagreeing with the BDS movement after supporting it. Or they opposed settlement-building in the part of Palestine called “Occupied Palestinian Territory” and disappointed Israelis after not saying something more positive about the I$raeli imperialist/settler entity than “I want Sweden’s relations with Israel to improve,” which already contains a desire for enhanced normal relations.(1) That was in articles mentioning Sweden’s recognition of the State of Palestine – after and while recognizing Israel – as one way countries favor the Palestinian nation and supposedly don’t favor Israel right now. The Swedish opposition leader reportedly met prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in addition to other Knesset members in al-Quds, which is occupied by I$rael. At the time of this writing, there appears to have been less global outrage or pro-Palestinian skepticism regarding the Swedish politician’s visit than over recent Arab international interactions with Israelis.
An article on Mondoweiss at the end of August discussed Swedish activists supporting both BDS and recognition of the State of Palestine simultaneously.(2) A priest recalled Sweden’s leadership on Apartheid, in Azania. “In South Africa, [Anna Karin Hammar] noted, India and Sweden spearheaded the BDS movement. Now, it is South Africa which is spearheading an ecumenical Christian BDS movement in Palestine, with an office and paid staff. It is time, Dr. Hammar concluded, for Swedish Christians and their congregations to get on board.”
Also last week in the news, days after Anna Kinberg Batra’s visit, Netanyahu appeared in a video saying opposition to settlements in the West Bank was “ethnic cleansing” and suggested any state on Palestinian land should be bi-ethnic.(3) Mahmoud Abbas, a now-unelected figure who continues to mediate Palestinian struggle internationally due to delayed elections and imperialist-caused difficulties, later said Israelis “go deeper with their settlements, infringement of holy places, ethnic cleansing and deliberate killing,” according to Gulf Times. Days later, Arabs and Muslims were, as normal, sending Eid al-Adha greetings to Abbas in contexts suggesting Abbas and the State of Palestine were equal to other Arab/Muslim leaders and countries.(4) According to PressTV, the Iranian president “hoped that Muslims would reinforce their unity and cordial bonds and foil all efforts aimed at sowing discord among them.”
These things are related. Sweden’s relatively early (as a western European country) recognition of the State of Palestine is cited as evidence of Swedish leadership and Swedish favorable attitudes toward Palestine, but some of those lauding Sweden as a model in various political contexts elsewhere treat the State of Palestine as just a puppet or a figment of corrupt Arab imagination while displaying contempt for Arab and non-Western diplomacy involving Abbas. Whether Abbas is anti- or pro- American, or has crippling illusions about the AmeriKKKan people, is seen as less important than – or not very relevant to – how Abbas relates to Israelis and Palestinians. And, other recent coverage of western European activism on Mondoweiss(5) suggests that, in different countries, people may view supporting BDS and supporting the two-state solution as complementary or contradictory. BDS is variously presented or perceived as an alternative to diplomacy with/without Israel, furthering or complementing the two-state solution, inclusive of the two-state solution, or not particularly relevant to the two-state solution. In some cases, there is tension between acknowledging the severity of the settlement issue and supporting the two-state solution, and some of those acknowledging and opposing apartheid in the region explicitly reject that solution. Among some, there is also unnecessary tension between supporting Palestinians’ right of return and supporting the two-state solution, tension that some appear to resolve falsely by favoring a final one-state outcome.
Of course, opposing Amerikan mediation of talks with Israel could actually facilitate the two-state solution – because the amerikans don’t really support it and play a negative role in Middle East peace – and so could discussing how settlement expansion hinders the two-state solution. But those are different from opposing, even working against the two-state solution, considering it impossible, or abandoning it because the amerikans prefer the status quo to advancement at odds with their interests. Some Western and amerikan-influenced activists have been suggesting the settlement expansion can’t be reversed. They are following the lead of amerikans, who attributed peace effort failure to Israelis and Palestinians (Middle East Quartet report) to obscure their own, supreme and obstructive role and contributed to the situation in the first place by subsidizing settlements indirectly through aid and obstructing international action against them. Or they have been inspired by the multi- “ethnic” and “racial” amerikan model of integration in land settled and colonized by Europeans. These activists have been saying the two-state solution is nearly or already impossible. Some consider it utterly impracticable, but an internationally accepted one-state outcome is supposed to be easier. Jump to Netanyahu talking about “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from the West Bank and Obama suggesting on September 11 that amerika was attacked because of its “diversity,” “one of our greatest strengths.”(6) “This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to.” Netanyahu had said in the video published less two days earlier, “Would you accept ethnic cleansing in your state? A territory without Jews, without Hispanics, without blacks?” Among other things, Netanyahu was taking advantage of Democratic U.S. election rhetoric, of international lack of acknowledgment of even Chican@ and New Afrikan (Black) nationhood within U.$. borders, and of what some supposed pro-Palestinian activists were saying about the two-state solution being dead and the desirability or supposed present reality of a single biethnic or binational state.
It is important to be both comparative and historical in one’s understanding. Despite referring to Chican@, First Nations, Mexican and New Afrikan struggles, some activists – who see some better diverse amerika in the future of both amerika and Palestine – seem to not fully comprehend that what is called “diversity” in amerika is based on both massive stolen wealth and mass incarceration partially hiding segregation tendencies. And they seem not to understand that a lack of self-determination of oppressed nations in their own land in North America coincides with a lack of widespread acknowledgment of “American apartheid” or “apartheid United States” to the extent there is acknowledgment of “apartheid Israel” and “Israel apartheid.” It might seem to some that Palestinians’ gaining Israeli citizenship and equal civil and political rights would mean an end to apartheid without dismantling settlements and fully implementing the Right of Return. Amerikan-influenced activists talking about Israeli apartheid and favoring or leaning toward the one-state so-called solution must tread carefully.
Some apartheid-like conditions exist inside “Israel” itself so there is some justification for “apartheid Israel” in that context. And Israelis have their own reasons for opposing the Apartheid analogy for Gaza, the West Bank, and the larger area, which have conditions resembling apartheid. Together with the United States, Israel has responsibility for conditions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the restricted movement of Palestinians, and it is tempting to subvert Zionist discourse by speaking of Israel as already covering more area than some Israelis claim and likening the State of Palestine to a Bantustan. But to compare the whole situation in Palestine (land inside and outside “Israel”) to South African apartheid, to the exclusion of other comparisons, could be both simplistic and dangerous in legitimizing a future supposedly post-apartheid Israel, or leading away from the two-state solution at a time when various countries are working on it in opposition to amerikan interests. Even if one views Iran or Saudi Arabia with amerikan ties as standing in the way of the two-state solution (which they do not, not more than the United $tates does) or opposing Israel’s existence in the short or long term, certain aspects of the pro-one-state-solution discussion of “apartheid Israel” are disagreeable to both Iranians and Saudis, for example, because it is not the goal of either to have some likely still-amerikan-backed secular Israel in the region without a Palestinian state.
Many of those considering the two-state solution dead and impossible to resuscitate are silent about prospects for a New Afrikan state in North America. They are trying to have things both ways and appeal to everyone, and they make what they say about New Afrikans congruent with what they say about Israeli apartheid and vice versa. The result is the New Afrikan struggle being undermined along with the Palestinian struggle. New Afrikan nationalist movements have much room to grow in size and strength, and spatial, social and physical arrangements pose difficulties, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a New Afrikan nation and a basis for an independent New Afrikan state.
Historically, amerikan support for and eventual limited opposition to apartheid “South Africa” (Azania) existed in a context of inter-imperialist rivalry with the Soviet Union, which was no longer socialist by the 1960s, and then Soviet decline in the 1980s and dissolution two and a half years before Apartheid ended. Many rightly laud Sweden’s role in anti-Apartheid struggle, but that struggle took place within a certain historical, political and economic context. Talking about Swedish or amerikan opposition to Apartheid as if amerika itself, Britain, anti-communism and the Soviet Union weren’t major issues in the preservation and end of apartheid in Azania is totally ahistorical. The end of the Soviet Union played a more decisive role than the sheer goodness and strength of Swedish hearts or any amount of money from a rich country. That is apart from certain economic issues that are unfavorable to the emergence of a single, post-apartheid state in Palestine.(7) The reason this is relevant here is that many appear to view the main forces for Palestine’s liberation as being located among liberals and social democrats in the West (rather than Palestinians themselves as Arab Muslims, and people in Arab, Muslim, Third World and non-Western countries alleged to be particularly corrupt or narrow in outlook), and yet Western countries, Sweden in particular, have high favorable/confidence ratings for the united $tates and u.$. leadership(8) in a context of continuing u.$. dominance and no major change in the reasons for u.$. involvement and influence in the Middle East via Israeli proxy and regional conflicts. They view the united $tates and its leaders so positively while the united $tates continues to play the largest role in preventing a two-state outcome with relative peace and full Palestinian sovereignty. It prevents that outcome because it has interests in doing so independently of any Israeli or Jewish influence, and that complicates any approach of believing in amerikans and trying to unite amerikans against some Israeli or u.$. Israel policy.
The Pew Research Center found that 12% of Swedish respondents recently had a very favorable view of the united $tates, 57% had a somewhat favorable view, and only 4% had a very unfavorable view. 93% of the Swedish respondents had confidence in Obama to “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” 84% in Angela Merkel, and 83% Hillary Clinton – still the likely next u.$. president with a 63.9% chance.(9) Contrast that with the 23% of the Swedes who had “not too much confidence” in Vladimir Putin and 64% “no confidence at all.”
Britain intends to leave the European Union, which would leave Germany to dominate in the EU and replace Britain as the primary EU member hindering progress against the oppression of Palestine. With respect to Swedish world affairs confidence in German leadership, whether Merkel stands for reelection in 2017 or somebody like social democrat Sigmar Gabriel wins or not, whoever wins is likely to be more popular than Putin.
To many, the specific proposal of direct talks between Abbas and Netanyahu isn’t as attractive as other options now. But the lack of Swedish confidence in Putin explicitly in “world affairs” is concerning in light of the negative amerikan role and the efforts of various countries to struggle against amerikan influence and interests.
In terms of recent news, the idea of stirring up the sentiments of some majority of amerikan parasites against Israelis, to support an arms embargo, just took a big hit. The united $tates criticized what Netanyahu said about settlements and “ethnic cleansing,” but the united $tates under Obama just got done announcing a record-setting military aid plan for Israel.(10) That is what Obama has decided to do with only four months left in office, and the aid package will be considered an Obama administration achievement with credit going to liberal Democrats and moderate Democrats who worked with Republicans and continue to give Obama job approval ratings in the 90s and high 80s (Gallup weekly). The liberals, social democrats and so-called socialists favoring Obama over various non-amerikan leaders can disingenuously claim the aid level is less than the Israelis wanted. As with the previous ten-year deal, Israel generally won’t have to ask for military aid again during the next several years, which also means amerikans won’t face as much criticism over how they respond to Israel aid issues. Things can be blamed on predecessors, maintaining credibility in negotiations (because the united $nakes supposedly will be socialist one day and needs to keep its credibility), etc. The amerikan dog acts embarrassed and frustrated by what the I$raeli tail says, but remains in control and acts on its own interests whether an Israel lobby is influential or not, or less influential than many think. The deal incorporates “a U.S. demand for a gradual phasing-out, starting in 2020, of the 26.3 percent share of the aid money that Israel can spend on its own military industries rather than on American products.” That is the united $tates and the u.$. leader that liberals and social democrats around the world view so positively.
In Swedes’ defense, more Swedes might be useful if Trump became u.$. president, because they view Trump so negatively. However, there is also the issue of China. Chinese media recently reported a Chinese diplomat as saying that “[b]oth Palestinian and Israeli officials hope that China will play a stronger role in resolving the Middle East issues” (paraphrase).(11) Middle East special envoy Gong Xiaosheng related “peace” to “development” and to “the interest of the rest of the world.” Reportedly, Gong was going to France to support a French Middle East peace initiative with more emphasis on multilateral mediation. Unfortunately, 59% of the Swedish Pew respondents chose “somewhat unfavorable” (47%) or “very unfavorable” (12%) as their opinion of China. 2% did choose “very favorable,” and 35% chose “somewhat favorable.” The united $tates actually has a higher “very favorable” percentage for China in spring 2016: 6%. Germany’s “very favorable” and “somewhat favorable” China opinion percentages were 2% and 26%.
In regard to some Swedes withdrawing support from BDS and then other Swedes refraining from saying something more positive about Israel and appearing more left-wing than some of their own supporters, at some point BDS support can become a bargaining chip. Individual countries may end up extending or withdrawing BDS support to pressure or entice Israel to accept a certain course. That isn’t something the BDS Movement can really control, particularly when there is no comparable BDS movement against the united $tates – which has a prime role in reproducing the colonial oppression of Palestinians and conflicts in the region – and so not much basis for deep and sustained global unity against Israel on the BDS front. Any country’s withdrawing support from the BDS movement is arguably premature, but it would be hard for those who don’t have an intimate knowledge of Swedish diplomacy to rule out the possibility of a deal involving progress on the two-state solution. The two-state solution necessarily involves a degree of peace and Israeli accommodation of a two-state outcome and emerging constellations of countries moving away from amerika’s orbit. It is also possible what the Swedes did was a stunt to generate opposition to Israeli policies based on Sweden’s own international favorability.
Chinese, Russians and Arabs who are less pro-amerikan than many others but don’t yet support a broad boycott of Israel may actually play a more positive role than some pro-amerikan Westerners who support a broad economic or general boycott. Instead of thinking Chinese are just seeing the dollar signs in rising economic ties with Israel, observers should understand that from the perspective of most in the world, amerika is the greatest obstacle to peace and there must not be confusion about who plays the leading role in the amerikan-I$raeli relationship. There should be a boycott against the united $tates as well. The u.$. settler parasite state should go away, too, but in the long road to that goal, diplomacy and proposals with less amerikan influence should be supported in various settings.
Practically speaking, whether one wants to support diplomacy including Israel or another path that involves more emphasis on heightened international support for an already-existing Palestinian state, people should be wary of any negative influence from Western liberals and social democrats who have a too high an opinion of u.$. society, u.$. leadership, or u.$. people. There ought to be more consideration for non-Amerikan and non-Western efforts and less fantasizing explicit or implicit about some penultimate moment between an Israeli de Klerk and a Palestinian Mandela on the White House lawn. ◊
• “U.S. favorability needs to go lower: Kaepernick, nationhood, and rethinking the intersection of New Afrikan and Palestinian struggles,” 2016 September. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-09-08-news-Kaepernick-New-Afrikan-nationhood.md
“Boycott the United Snakes: Amerika standing in the way of the two-state solution,” 2016 July. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-15-news-Boycott-United-States.md
“Quartet report: one-state reality versus one-state fantasy,” 2016 July. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-30-news-one-state-solution.md
“Two states on Palestinian turf: soccer games and economic-political realities,” 2016 July. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-27-news-two-state-solution-Iran.md
1. “In Israel, Swedish opposition head slams settlements as ‘unacceptable’,” 2016 September 5. http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-israel-swedish-opposition-head-slams-settlements-as-unacceptable/
“Swedish opposition head blasted for failure to praise Israel,” 2016 September 6. http://www.timesofisrael.com/jerusalem-seethes-as-swedish-opposition-head-fails-to-praise-israel/
“Israeli officials disappointed Swedish opposition leader did not ‘deliver the goods’ on visit,” 2016 September 6. http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/124710-160906-noted-israel-critic-swedish-fm-declares-opposition-to-bds-movement
“The journey of atonement that wasn’t,” 2016 September 9. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/19465
“Swedish FM in message to the Knesset: I oppose the BDS movement and boycotts of Israel,” 2016 September 6. http://www.knesset.gov.il/spokesman/eng/PR_eng.asp?PRID=12227
Non-Israeli: “Missed opportunity: Sweden’s opposition sets Swedish-Israeli relations back,” 2016 September 13. http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/285622/2016/09/13/
2. “Church of Sweden explores BDS as ‘only chance to liberate Palestinians and Israeli Jews’,” 2016 August 30. http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/explores-liberate-palestinians/
3. “Netanyahu slammed over ‘ethnic cleansing’ remark,” 2016 September 10. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/netanyahu-faces-backlash-ethnic-cleansing-remark-160910130443136.html
“How Israel aims to redefine ‘ethnic cleansing’,” 2016 September 12. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/israel-aims-redefine-ethnic-cleansing-160912083447943.html
“Abbas counters Netanyahu, accuses Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’,” 2016 September 12. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.741581
“Abbas accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing,” 2016 September 12. http://www.gulf-times.com/story/512620/Abbas-accuses-Israel-of-ethnic-cleansing
“US critical of Israeli remarks on West Bank settlements,” 2016 September 10. http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=hFQxtWa42909784005ahFQxtW
“Netanyahu: There will be no ethnic cleansing in Judea, Samaria,” 2016 September 9. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/217578
4. “Emir exchanges Eid greetings with Arab leaders,” 2016 September 11. http://www.gulf-times.com/story/512532/Emir-exchanges-Eid-greetings-with-Arab-leaders
“King, Palestinian President exchange Eid greetings,” 2016 September 12. http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/744764
“President receives Eid greetings from Arab world leaders,” 2016 September 9. http://statehouse.gov.gm/correspondences/president-receives-more-eid-greetings-from-world-leaders/
“Iran’s Rouhani felicitates Muslim leaders on Eid al-Adha,” 2016 September 11. http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/09/11/484249/Iran-President-Hassan-Rouhani-Eid-alAdha
“Gazans celebrate Eid al-Adha under siege,” 2016 September 12. http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/09/12/484410/Gazans-Eid-alAdha
5. “The Palestine-Israel language trap,” 2016 August 19. http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/palestine-israel-language
“Beyond language: more anti-Americanism needed on Palestine,” 2016 August. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-08-26-news-Palestine-settler-colonialism.md
6. “Obama calls on Americans to embrace diversity on 9/11,” 2016 September 11. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/pentagon-watch-live-911-obama/
7. “Palestine: economic ignorance underpinning preference for the one-state solution,” 2016 July. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-23-news-Palestine-one-state-solution.md
8. “U.S. image and leader favorability in surveys: some underlying economic realities,” 2016 September. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-09-05-news-American-favorability-differences.md
“1. America’s international image,” 2016 June 28. http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/28/americas-international-image/
“2. Obama’s international image remains strong in Europe and Asia,” 2016 June 29. http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/29/2-obamas-international-image-remains-strong-in-europe-and-asia/
9. “Election Betting Odds.” https://archive.is/Hmv7p (https://www.electionbettingodds.com/)
10. “The US and Israel will sign a record $38 billion military aid deal,” 2016 September 13. http://www.businessinsider.com/us-israel-38-billion-dollar-military-aid-deal-2016-9
11. “Palestinian, Israeli officials hope for stronger Chinese role in Middle East: envoy,” 2016 September 2. http://english.sina.com/news/2016-09-02/detail-ifxvqefm5409095.shtml