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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Waiting and impatience: Palestine, WikiLeaks release timing, and persistent belief in change in AmeriKKKa
October 6, 2016
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) released a new poll (face-to-face interviews with 1200 adults in different locations, 3% margin of error) conducted on September 22-24.(1) Among other interesting results, a large majority of Palestinians in the West Bank thought Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the same. “In your view, which of the two candidates is best for Palestinians?” 76.0% of respondents in the West Bank chose or answered “both are the same.”
While some disbelieve what Julian Assange said about preferring Clinton or Trump in July – that it was like choosing between cholera and gonorrhea – or think WikiLeaks should publish election-relevant secrets immediately, many in the world see no reason to hold out for change in the United States at least at the presidential level. Interest in campaign- or candidate- related leaks could reflect illusions about U.S. leadership, the Amerikan people, and potential to change: that knowing the secrets specifically before November 8 could make a difference. Some absolutely impatient with non-amerikans’ diplomacy for Palestine, who may not have ever supported that diplomacy, seem more patient with the amerikans. It is a patience that could be expressed as impatience regarding release of information about U.$. candidates; although, of course, the recent anger about Assange and leaks involves many different people, some of whom don’t care about what’s going on in and with Palestine at all. The early-September non-WikiLeaks revelation of an alleged secret about Mahmoud Abbas and the KGB, though, was more about attacking Palestinian diplomacy and helping the united $tates than about hoping for or helping Palestinians choose a better representative/international figure. Those suggesting otherwise have various motives.
It is difficult to see what Clinton has to offer to Gaza in particular. Oddly to this writer initially, a smaller majority – 56.7% – in the Gaza Strip chose “both are the same.” It appears the Gaza Strip survey sample was smaller, but it wouldn’t explain the size of the difference with the West Bank. Despite Gazans’ responses to other questions, it could be that some Palestinians in the West Bank are more disillusioned or unillusioned with u.$. presidents after having had more exposure to amerikans – including the atheist secular liberal amerikans present among “Israeli” settlers – and after having for so long tolerated leaders more willing to work with u.$. officials yet struggling to accomplish a solution that the amerikans actually hamper. In some question-answer combinations, people in the Gaza Strip appear less anti-Abbas than Palestinians in the West Bank. For example, 37.7% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would “certainly” want Abbas to resign if it were up to them; 24.1% of Palestinians in the West Bank would want that, but 10.3% in the Gaza Strip answered “certainly not resign” while only 5.5% in the West Bank did. Another example: Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh would beat Abbas in the Gaza Strip in a presidential contest (question Q13), but the percentage who said they would vote for Abbas was higher in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank because fewer Palestinians in the West Bank favored either Abbas or Hamas. The Don’t Know/No Answer percentage for the West Bank is higher than the DK/NA percentage for the Gaza Strip. In terms of political party support (Q85), more supported Hamas in the Gaza Strip (about 30%) than in the West Bank (18%), and more supported Islamic Jihad (4.2%) in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank (1.4%), but more also supported Fatah in the Gaza Strip (32%) than in the West Bank (28%). Greater disenchantment or dissatisfaction with major parties may be related to more direct interaction with administrators aligned with Abbas, who has a complex relationship with the amerikans.
Whatever the case may be, about 23% of Gaza Strip survey respondents chose Clinton, and 10% chose Trump. In the West Bank, the percentages were about 12% and 3% for Clinton and Trump respectively. In other words, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip appear to care more about the outcome of the u.$. election, or seem to think there is more of a difference between the two big parties’ nominees, and favor Clinton, the Democrat. There is also more preference for Trump in the Gaza Strip, though, than in the West Bank. The Clinton/Trump “best for Palestinians” percentages ratio in the Gaza Strip is only about 2:1, again with a majority expressing no preference; the ratio in the West Bank is 4:1. There may be some error in this survey’s results or how it was conducted, but in the absence of any other recent systematic study of public opinion in the Gaza Strip that asked the same question, this is what we have to work with. It is not for people who aren’t claiming to be leaders in Palestine to be sorting anecdotal stories that may conflict.
It is hard to say Palestinians as a whole prefer either candidate, but there is some preference for Clinton, and more so in the Gaza Strip in one sense but not in another. It is the case both that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip expressed a preference more than Palestinians in the West Bank did, and that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip preferred Clinton just in terms of a higher percentage choosing Clinton among the two candidates. But, when able to answer or prompted with the choice “both are the same,” Palestinians in Gaza still preferred Trump more than Palestinians in the West Bank do. Some respondents’ answers were recorded under Don’t Know/No Answer: 9.4% and 9.7% in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively.
By contrast, a large majority Swedes expressed a preference for Clinton in world affairs, 83%.(2) 0% had a lot of confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs. It was pointed out, this is not because Swedes – supposedly more progressive than many other Europeans on Palestine – are more progressive than people like Palestinians themselves. Palestine is like other oppressed nations that don’t view U.$. leadership changes as making very much of an impact.
Swedes have mostly favorable views of the united $tates. Does Sweden’s 0% – or “some confidence” 6% – for Trump, and Trump’s likely less-than-6% world affairs confidence rating among Swedish supporters of the one-state solution and among pro-amerikan Swedish supporters of an extensive boycott of Israel but not the united $tates, mean they are more progressive than Palestinians supporting a separate independent Palestinian state? Whether they officially fully support BDS against Israel only or not? No, and no. Everyone should have less faith in the ability of new u.$. leadership to make a positive difference in world affairs.
All of that is to say that, from a Palestinian standpoint, we – the world – should not refrain from opposing the united $tates because of idolatrous faith in a Democrat to change things. It could be there is nothing to prefer in either of the two candidates in terms of foreign policy, or that Trump is actually preferable because of the damage ey may do to u.$. image. That damage would help in diplomatic and public opinion struggle against the united $tates. People who are worried about the AmeriKKKans looking bad: fuck them.
As Secretary of State, Clinton did nothing for Palestine. Indeed, a copy of the “Isratin” idea literally died with Muammar Gaddafi (Qadhafi); although, the binational one-state solution wasn’t viable in the first place, and hopefully nobody considers Clinton’s murderous actions against Libya as supporting the two-state solution. One thing Qadhafi’s death represents is an attack on the idea of Arab-Israeli relations with less amerikan influence. War criminal and State Department thuggery director Clinton used war partly to derail what was happening in diplomacy. It is hard, though, to imagine many taking Trump seriously as a mediator in the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of the Palestinians supporting Trump may be thinking about Trump’s alleged courtship of Russia, a country that many in the world view more positively than the united $tates in the context of Palestine even if they oppose Russia-mediated direct talks at this time. In any case, there is no reason to promote illusions about Democrats or the united $tates itself. It is a good thing that the world disdains Trump, who has a significant chance of winning the election, about 26% according to electionbettingodds.com at the time of this writing,(3) but the average country in the world can’t and shouldn’t be expected to strongly prefer either candidate, and the favorability of the united $tates itself needs to decrease in all countries.
In this context, it was with an accustomed disappointment that this writer read yet another article, this time from MEMO, opposing the two-state solution while talking about settler-colonialism and yet saying not a single word about amerikans, the united $tates, the u.$. government, or Obama.(4) The author deals with the amerikan role more in other articles, but only criticizes Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, “international demands,” “the international community” and “the international institution” in this one. It is as if, to some, discussing settler-colonialism required treating Israelis’ independent interests as so much more rogue and so much worse than amerikans’ interests as to justify barely mentioning the latter. The MEMO writer aside, it is remarkable that some who consider Euro-Amerikan settlerism vis-à-vis Britain to be progressive only pay lip service to opposing the u.$. role in colonial oppression of Palestine and imply I$rael is a thorn in amerika’s side and a bigger problem than the united $tates itself.
The Middle East Monitor (MEMO) is supposedly influenced more by administrators or people in the Gaza Strip. According to some surveys, Hamas has more popularity in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank though Ismail Haniyeh is more popular as a hypothetical presidential candidate than Mahmoud Abbas in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Haniyeh would beat Abbas and Marwan Barghouti, but would lose to Barghouti in a two-candidate race. Now-unelected, unpopular Abbas supposedly doesn’t intend to run again to be President. From an I$raeli prison, Barghouti reportedly supports the two-state solution though with more emphasis on national unity and less emphasis on negotiations. Symbolically, for many Barghouti represents both national liberation and peace with an openness regarding how to achieve those. Azanian Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu recommended Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize several months ago. Barghouti appeals to many in Hamas and many supporting Hamas, has worked with Hamas, and plays an important role in reconciliation, but with Abbas’ health in question again after a brief hospitalization(5) a pattern of failing to mention Barghouti in future statements opposing Abbas and the two-state solution could have a certain appearance. Even with Barghouti mentioned elsewhere on a website, readers may be influenced by articles read in isolation.
The article on the MEMO site is angry-sounding and rejects Israel. Its language is so radical, so revolutionary – to the extent that anti-colonialism isn’t uncontroversial in 2016 – with a tinge of poststructuralism for the petty-bourgeois intellectual reader. Appropriating the memory/forgetting binary, the author writes, “The existence of Palestine has reached a precarious position, where territory is fragmented and memory needs to carve out a niche of its own, away from the destructive dynamics of the PA, whose actions clearly portray the intent to forget as a priority, which would synchronise Abbas with the international community and its penchant for useless symbolism.” Memory carving out a space? As if specific concrete forces in Palestine, the world, and Israeli prisons, didn’t already exist. The article questions the usefulness of seeking full membership of Palestine in the UN and criticizes Abbas and diplomacy in such a way that i would not be surprised if some readers thought an article by the present writer published days earlier(6) were somehow influenced by Arab diplomacy supporting Abbas just with some disillusionment with the amerikans. However, if one were to read the two articles closely, it would become apparent that the MEMO author says nothing against Israel that the present writer doesn’t say. What is said or not said about the united $tates is important. Whether people want the Zionist entity to exist or not, even many non-Palestinians in occupied Palestine (inside and outside the Green Line) or the West already accept some variation of the idea that there are organizations and entities in “historic Palestine” (Palestinian national territory) supporting colonization of the land inside and outside the Green Line. Today, there are still Zionists who openly support and use the word “colonization.” Some just have problems with Palestinian nationhood, Palestinian statehood, or Palestinian national claims to its own land in “Israel” – like some allegedly pro-Palestinian one-state solution proponents do. In the struggles currently going on, it has become more crucial to confront the primary amerikan role in hindering progress against the colonial oppression of the Palestinian nation.
I$rael and the united $nakes are both settler entities in oppressed nation territory. They both have a majority-exploiter population. The two-state solution would be a temporary solution for many Palestinians. It is a solution that the united $tates actually opposes – despite expressions of frustration with Israel – or else it would have happened already, analogous to how it has little actual interest in peace on the Korean Peninsula or in improved relations between the Chinese mainland and the Chinese province of Taiwan. The united $tates wants Israel to continue being its giant military outpost and uses the Jewish children living in Israel as a humyn shield for an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction; many Arab and Jewish Israelis have more interest in peace than the amerikans do. A two-state outcome in Palestine with peace, and more Palestinian sovereignty, relative to what exists now would lead to less u.$. influence in the Middle East and contribute to a decline of u.$. dominance in the world. And it would decrease the potential for more war in the Middle East, specifically in Egypt, that the united $tates could exploit. It is in this context that non-amerikans’ diplomacy, non-amerikan mediation, multilateral talks with less amerikan influence, and the two-state solution, need to be supported – not a general abandonment of diplomacy as if almost-unrivaled u.$. dominance had already ended and states around the world were on the verge of being destroyed by socialist revolution. There are very real issues people have with Abbas, the United Nations, and “the peace process” narrowly or broadly defined – which majorities of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (50.6%) and the West Bank (58.3%) are actually “generally” “supportive of” according to the new PSR poll, with an other 17.0% in the West Bank and 19.3% in the Gaza Strip “between support and opposition” – but it is counterproductive to encourage isolation of Palestinian diplomats, oppose fuller recognition of the State of Palestine, and oppose diplomacy, the two-state solution and international efforts in general. Palestinians internally debate the tactical usefulness of pursuing full membership in the UN now, but right now the united $tates is against full UN membership for Palestine. Recognition of the State of Palestine is useful for diplomatic and legal struggle, and those opposing or undermining – including with “radical” rhetoric – recognition after the Palestinians have already decided to pursue it are collaborating with u.$. imperialism and the diplomatic gangsterism of its State Department. More skepticism would be justified only after the united $tates recognized the State of Palestine – if it were to do so.
This isn’t overly difficult to understand or extremely controversial among Palestinians. The writing here reflects what some different majorities and pluralities of Palestinians already think – a nation that is mostly proletarian – not some vague, baroque or aspiring-yet-undeveloped “vision” that pretends to represent Palestinian frustration but is divorced from economic, political and social realities and arguably has more to do with public opinion and activist idealism in the West. Despite knowing many of the facts of the u.$. role, some choose to play dumb and stupid because it is lot easier to regurgitate or recycle platitudes, statements that have become trite through repetition without development, and vapid criticisms, and just talk about Israel, and Arab leaders who are corrupt as always. It is easier to bash Jews and make excuses for antisemitism – an issue that would be smaller if there were more anti-amerikanism – and bash Arab and Muslim states, than oppose hegemonic amerikans. It is easier to call diplomacy useless in global media to justify international attacks on non-amerikans’ diplomacy. It is easier for some to go along with the lie that there is no acceptable two-state outcome apart from what the united $tates wants, that the millions of Palestinians who still desire a two-state solution and believe it is possible – even if it takes armed struggle to achieve it – don’t exist or are delusional. It is easier to oppose the two-state solution supposedly for the sake of a vague resistance leading – somehow without strong international support – to either an unspecified goal, a set of stated goals with no actual path given to accomplish them, or Israel’s non-existence hopefully. It easier to say some words of rhetorical support for the destruction of Israel than work to end u.$. dominance, which is an obstacle to removing the I$raeli settler entity. It is easier to connive with right-wing Israeli one-state solution proponents while pretending to oppose settlements and colonialism. It is easier to capitulate to u.$. imperialism and, in the guise of supporting resistance and single-stage liberation, use settlements as an excuse to abandon building an independent and whole Palestinian state. It is easier to collude with various forces who have an interest in keeping Marwan Barghouti in prison and call Abbas a traitor without specifying an alternative.
For others, these things aren’t easy.
There continues to be great dissatisfaction with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, and majorities of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank now express concerns about the two-state solution and its viability. But majorities still oppose the Israeli one-state solution. Cross-checking reveals a picture more complex than simple opposition to the two-state solution. Even in the Gaza Strip, only 18.5% “certainly supported” “abandoning the Oslo agreement.” Only 30% thought the two-state solution “certainly” was no longer viable. Only 30% (different question) said there was a nonexistent chance of “the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years.” Only 19.7% “certainly opposed” the two-state solution. Fatah Second Intifada hero and two-state solution proponent Marwan Barghouti is ahead of various other hypothetical presidential candidates, and a majority supported (45.7%) or certainly supported (11.5%) the so-called French initiative, described to survey respondents as calling “for the formation of an international support group for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the holding of an international peace conference to find solution based on the two-state formula within the context of the Arab Peace Initiative and in accordance with a specified timetable.” 39.0% “supported” “joining more international organizations” (“now that negotiations between Palestinians and have Israelis have stopped”), and 42.8% “certainly supported” that; a total of 82% supported joining more international organizations. 41.6% chose “Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital” as what the first most important vital national goal should be; 31.6% chose “obtain the right of return to refuges to their 1948 towns and villages.” Also in the Gaza Strip, negotiations and armed action were separately considered “the most effective means for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel,” more than “popular nonviolent resistance” was.
According to the same PSR poll, only 1.9% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank thought ISIS “certainly represent[ed] true Islam.”
If Abbas should resign, it is because a majority of Palestinians want em to and because having an elected president with a different image might help. It is not because Palestinians don’t need to try an approach to diplomacy and the two-state solution with less amerikan involvement. All of the articles and speeches supporting the one-state solution or talking about apartheid or settler-colonialism, without mentioning the united $tates or only portraying its role as peripheral, increasingly seem to conciliate with u.$. hegemony regardless of radical rhetoric.
Julian Assange teased about future releases, but didn’t provide expected details, at a highly publicized news conference.(7) People across the political/ideological spectrum were enraged by this. With regard to Assange’s so-called trolling on October 4, there is no reason Assange should do things just to suit amerikans or people preferring Trump. Assange never claimed to be serving the amerikan public exclusively for election purposes. Nobody who supports Palestine’s national liberation should be too upset by WikiLeaks’ not releasing information about u.$. presidential candidates right away.
It’s not that Assange, an Australian victim of amerikan-Swedish collaboration, doesn’t face threats possibly delaying release of information, but if one’s goal is more to hurt the united $tates’ standing in the world than hurt a particular candidate’s standing, there is no reason to release any info before November 8 that could be interpreted restrictively/narrowly as favoring one candidate even if it’s not just about this election or these candidates. If Hillary Clinton is going to be President anyway – ey has about a 72% chance now of doing so – it might be better to release damaging information after eir inauguration.
Greens and Libertarians want to show they can get more of the vote. Sanders supporters have their own reasons. It seems that to release information about Clinton or Trump now, as opposed to after Election Day, would mostly help Assange as an individual, though. Clinton may want information to come out before November 8, and sooner rather than later, so it will be forgotten or treated as part of an election process ey will win anyway.
To wait may hurt Assange’s image, but Assange could still achieve eir current political and persynal goals if the information is good enough. What non-amerikans, who should not be relying on leaks, do with the secrets will tend to be more helpful than what amerikans do with them. Those clinging to vestiges of hope in the amerikkkans will make severe mistakes. ◊
1. “Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (61),” 2016 September 27. http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/668
Containing information on whether Palestinian youth are more “radical” and whether Palestinian adult public opinion will become more “radical” as Palestinian youth age: “Tracking Palestinian public support over 20 years of the Oslo agreements,” 2013 November. http://www.jmcc.org/documents/Oslo_polls_booklet_112013_FINAL.pdf (p. 19) “Rather, there is no indication here that young Palestinians hold different views on the peace process than preceding generations. Later, in Section VI [p. 26], responses to a different question shows that in fact today’s youth [March 2013] may be slightly more supportive of the Oslo agreements than their elders.”
Also see: “Public Opinion Poll in the West Bank and Gaza Strip : Local Election and Evaluation of Leaders,” 2016 September 27. http://www.awrad.org/files/server/english%20Press%20Release%2027%20sept%202016.pdf
See: “Poll No. 87 - July 2016 - Local Elections & Stalled Negotiations,” 2016 July 26. http://jmcc.org/documentsandmaps.aspx?id=872
See: “Youth Poll - April 2016 - Politics, Social Media and Conservatism,” 2016 April 24. http://jmcc.org/documentsandmaps.aspx?id=871 “A greater percentage (42.8%) of youths polled said they support the two-state solution while 19.1% said they preferred a bi-national state.” “The majority of the youths polled (67.7%) said the PNA should be maintained and perpetuated, while a minority of respondents, or 24.6%, said it needed to be dissolved. As for the PNA in general, 60.3% said its performance was good or very good as opposed to 39.5% who said it was bad or very bad.”
2. “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
3. https://archive.fo/OtX8A (https://www.electionbettingodds.com/)
4. “Abbas’s betrayal of Palestine,” 2016 October 4. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161004-abbass-betrayal-of-palestine/
“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
5. “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hospitalized for heart tests after feeling fatigued,” 2016 October 6. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.746140
6. “Sending the right signal: Abbas, BDS, and diplomacy,” 2016 September. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-09-29-news-Abbas-BDS-diplomacy.md
7. “What October Surprise? WikiLeaks to release data on three organisations and wants an army to defend itself,” 2016 October 4. https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/what-october-surprise-wikileaks-release-data-three-organisations-wants-army-defend-itself-1584743
“Julian Assange warns WikiLeaks’ ‘October Surprise’ exposes Google and the US presidential election,” 2016 October 4. http://www.wired.co.uk/article/wikileaks-plans-target-us-election
“Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange,” 2016 September 16. https://www.cnet.com/news/julian-assange-extradition-sweden-court-ruling-16september2016/