PINotes  Global news. Global view.


News & Analysis > All

News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective

Western propaganda against Saudi Arabia is potentially disruptive to various peace initiatives, not just the Saudi government’s

June 9, 2016

In the last two weeks, there have been indications in media of renewed interest in a two-state solution for Palestine. Whether the impetus is Saudi Arabia or “the Saudi Initiative” is just being used as a reference point independently, leaders in multiple countries (Britain, Egypt, France, I$rael, Saudi Arabia, the united $tates) have said some positive words in public about the Saudi Initiative, also referred to as the Arab Peace Initiative. As usual, the seriousness of the united $tates and I$rael – the tail wagged by the Amerikan dog – is the most questionable. As illustrated by likely next u.$. president Hillary Clinton’s remarks prioritizing I$rael’s “security” and opposing “imposed” solutions,(1) Amerikans consider actions like building international support for the Arab Peace Initiative to be “imposition.” The initiative text itself “invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative” and calls for pursuing “the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.”

Iranian PressTV said a few days ago, “Indications appeared in the media this week that Saudi Arabia is trying to act as a mediator between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is seen in line with the agenda of Riyadh to emerge as a regional powerhouse.”(2) PressTV seemed to also say in the same article that Palestinians wouldn’t be as successful as I$raelis in lobbying the European Union. The suggestion seems to be that an agreement with I$rael would be unfavorable to Palestine. According to a Times of Israel article discussing an Asharq Al-Awsat interview, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby expressed skepticism about Netanyahu’s interest in the Arab Peace Initiative (API), saying Netanyahu just wanted trade with Gulf countries and wanted to get around the French effort.(3) As others reported, the united $tates succeeded in blunting the joint communiqué(4) from last week’s conference in Paris despite claiming to take a back seat. A Fatah Revolutionary Council member(5) and Hamas(6) reportedly opposed talk of normalization with I$rael at this time.

There has been a significant amount of coverage of Saudi Arabia on this site in the past couple months. This writer wouldn’t be surprised if some thought it was in anticipation of, or related to, the current discussion of the Saudi Initiative, a French initiative based on the API, or Saudi Arabia’s disagreement with the Netanyahu regime over “updating” the API. A two-state solution in general is associated more with Saudi Arabia than with Iran. It is not that there’s no viable alternative to the API that could address what a vast majority of Palestinians want in regard to their right of return and the Nakba. However, anti-Saudi propaganda could be hampering different initiatives.

Efforts that have been described as distinct initiatives refer to the API. The Paris conference joint statement refers to the API twice: “the importance of the implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative” and “the potential for regional peace and security as envisioned by the Arab Peace Initiative.” The API text contains an offer of establishment of “normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.” In fact, any sustainable two-state solution could involve normalization between I$rael and Saudi Arabia at some point. There is no real two-state solution without some non-Palestinian Arab recognition of I$rael, but to many in the West, Saudi Arabia is just a particularly corrupt, powerful or large (for how wealthy it is) example of countries inclined to corruption because they are Arab, making the prospect of another Arab state unattractive. While liberals in the West deplore corruption and strictness in Saudi Arabia, I$rael often projects a liberal, Westerner-friendly image to the West.

In other words, even if people have complaints about Saudi Arabia, tolerating excessive propaganda against Saudi Arabia could really be about derailing any peace effort, not just Saudi Arabia’s and other countries’ efforts incorporating an original or revised API possibly without Saudi prompting. It’s really such a simple point, but some act as though criticism of I$rael and Saudi Arabia as if they were comparable has nothing to do with Palestine. It would be one thing if they were against all two-state solutions and for one (Palestinian) state, but the fact is many of them are for a two-state solution or even oppose a Palestinian nation-state on a “socialist” basis of unity with some multinational working class including the I$raeli working class.

To be generous, the reason for some criticism of Saudi Arabia could be that people’s opinion of the API under Saudi leadership has changed over the last several years, become more negative. So maybe these articles are wrong about Saudi Arabia in that regard. It has been more than fourteen years since the 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut. Obviously, the API hasn’t been implemented, and some countries have suggested the original initiative is no longer viable or have expressed a willingness to accept a revised proposal.

However, this writer believes most Westerners with something negative to say about Saudi Arabia in regard to wimmin there, sexuality or terrorism would not even know what “Arab Peace Initiative” referred to if you asked them. Even some Amerikans professing support for maximum demands regarding I$rael or “revolution” don’t know what the initiative is – unacceptably. So of course they can’t know there is a struggle over whether to push for acceptance of an unrevised or minimally reworded peace proposal. It is because of things like this that one can speak of a zombie or clone army problem with certain Amerikans. People with all kinds of rhetoric make themselves useful to reactionaries by their willful, cultish or opportunist ignorance of what’s going on. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran (despite rhetoric toward each other and toward I$rael) are showing signs of trying to reach a breakthrough with I$rael and Palestine, but all some people can talk about is how people are still executed for adultery and outspoken conversion to atheism in Saudi Arabia.

You have U.$. Democrats and Greens, for example, yapping about humyn rights and alleged backing of terrorists in Saudi Arabia, who don’t seem to know what’s happening in international affairs. They repeat things about Saudi Arabia in front of Amerikans who predictably respond in chauvinist and militarist ways, not knowing what they are doing could be adding to difficulty in a peace process involving Saudi Arabia if not led by Saudi Arabia.

In 2016, renewed discussion of the API came soon after the U.$. Senate in mid-May passed the JASTA terrorism lawsuit bill aimed at Saudi Arabia for 9/11. It also came after the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, at which Clinton ostensibly criticizing Trump said the words “outsource Middle East security to dictators” in the same breath as “cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to anyone else.” In the same speech warmongering against Iran and pitting Iran and Saudi Arabia against each other, Clinton said “converging interests between Israel and key Arab states could make it possible to promote progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue” and emphasized “direct negotiations” – something the united $tates and I$rael emphasize in the context of non-Amerikan leadership in the peace process. Blaming Saudi Arabia for 9/11 has particular relevance to peace proposals including Arab recognition of I$rael. For one, the API arose in 2002 half a year after 9/11, when Arab countries were in the cross hairs for alleged responsibility for 9/11. Some of these countries were invaded by the united $tates anyway. Saudi Arabia saw this and also saw the so-called Arab Spring that threatened some Arab monarchies in addition to the full-blown war in Libya and Syria in which the united $tates had and has a dominant role. It may be harder for Saudi Arabia to support its own Middle East peace proposal when even “revolutionary socialists” in the united $tates are talking about freezing Saudi government bank accounts. Other Amerikans point to Syria and ISIS as more important priorities than Palestine. If avoiding more conflict is a reason for the API, there is less incentive to support the API now with a gigantic increase in Western imperialist military operations in the Middle East since 2002. Although, the u.$. troop level in Iraq started trending down several months after the 2007 Arab League summit.

When it seemed Amerikans were preferring John Kasich and Bernie Sanders over prospective Green Party nominee Jill Stein when they all had a minuscule chance of winning the u.$. presidency, it was important to point out Stein’s relative merits as somebody clearly supporting a military spending cut. Sanders has supported JASTA and accused Saudi Arabia of complicity with ISIS, without supporting a military budget reduction. Why is it that Amerikans claiming to oppose war are so ignorant or much less enthusiastic about Stein when Stein’s chance of winning the presidency isn’t much less at least in absolute terms – that was important to ask. Unfortunately, Jill Stein is in fact among those pushing for extreme punishment of Saudi Arabia over alleged responsibility for 9/11 and ISIS. Stein’s supporters repeat what Stein says and talk about I$raeli and Saudi rulers both being “war criminals,” and suggest Amerikan leadership is preferable to Saudi leadership in the Middle East, oblivious to the possibility that what they are doing is prolonging colonialism for Palestinians. True there are outspoken “socialists” and “communists” who have said similar ignorant things, but Stein is of particular importance because at the moment Stein is among those significantly defining what is “left” in Amerikan politics, or what is to the left of Sanders. This influences even non-Amerikans who have been influenced by the CIA and the U.$. State Department to think the more popular “leftist” positions in Amerika represent the interests of a highly productive and therefore advanced proletariat or an enlightened middle class. So you have “revolutionary” Stein (supposedly to the left of “revolutionary” Bernie Sanders) with a lot of rhetoric against militarism, war, and $srael, who in effect supports the colonial oppression of Palestine by contributing to propaganda against Arab Muslim countries. The fact that Stein openly supports so-called self-determination for both Palestine and Israel doesn’t matter much to people joining Stein in attacking Saudi Arabia while claiming to support Palestinian liberation. In fact, Stein illustrates how angry rhetoric against Israel on Palestine has been appropriated by those who want to resolve the I$raeli-Palestinian issue in a way that involves both socialism or social-democracy for some imaginary revolutionary combined I$raeli-Palestinian working class, and disdain for Palestinian liberation as “irredentism.” Some of those claiming to oppose any two-state solution still regurgitate Stein’s rhetoric about Saudi Arabia.

The Amerikan so-called Left’s contribution to anti-Saudi propaganda is related to a false view of class struggle. If there were some proletariat in the united $tates about to overthrow capitalism, not just some Amerikan or international bankers and billionaires, or the proletariat in Saudi Arabia was about to overthrow the Saudi government and spark a global revolution, then global media criticism of Saudi rulers as bourgeois and patriarchal elites would be more justifiable. There would be less chance of the criticism leading to leadership in the Middle East more closely aligned with u.$. imperialist interests. As it is, there is no proletariat in the united $tates, and u.$. hegemony is getting in the way of advancing the proletarian struggle to revolution in any imperialist or neo-colonial country. Thus there is a need for international united fronts against the united $nakes. And there is a need occasionally to unite with some Amerikans – regardless of party – against other Amerikans. It is not that Amerikan and I$raeli diplomats and military leaders are proletarian leaders of some kind, but for a limited purpose it is possible to view some officials more favorably than whole groups of Amerikan non-proletarians bashing both Jews and Muslims. That is also a matter of understanding class structure correctly. Expecting the AmeriKKKan working class to help Palestine is delusional. It is too busy worrying about outsourcing, international trade (as if it didn’t benefit from it) and energy jobs to be more progressive than the IMF on Palestine – which sounds like a joke but is true.

The situation of the Palestinian nation is actually still one of colonialism without citizenship rights, not neo-colonialism. This is most obviously the case with Palestinians living in those parts of I$raeli-occupied Palestinian territory without either Palestinian, I$raeli or Arab citizenship rights. Even those Palestinians living under Palestinian control are in a pre-neo-colonial situation because of partial I$raeli control, the disagreement between Palestinian administrators in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank exacerbated by u.$. influence, and/or the ongoing lack of diplomatic recognition by many countries. The specific colonial oppression of the Palestinian nation needs to be understood here because it is evident there are many in the West who embrace the “racial progress” or current semi-colonialism for Chican@s and New Afrikans in the united $tates as advancement or an advance worth defending, but for some reason Palestinians have to just take it. They have to just take it – tolerate their particularly outrageous colonial situation – or somehow liberate all of their territory all at once. Settler and parasite state united $nakes has normal relations with almost everyone while Chican@s and New Afrikans are mostly bought-off like Euro-Amerikan workers are. For some reason, countries with actual proletariats can’t have normal relations with I$rael so Palestine can get some foothold.

This writer finds it unlikely that most of those in the West opposing the two-state solution supposedly from a Palestinian perspective would support Arab countries’ ending normal relations with the united $tates. This is related to the false tail-wags-the-dog notion of u.$.-I$raeli relations. There is also the issue of people with “revolutionary” rhetoric who have been influenced by the CIA to think the Third World needs to be in tumult continuously, internally. They oppose “focoism” in the First World – which, true, has no proletariat or peasantry in the first place for a vanguard to create conditions with – but condemn the slightest perceived deviation from armed struggle in the Third World. These people never accepted the theoretical main points of Mao’s Theory of the Three Worlds. (In fact, some openly oppose them or spread confusion about the theory and who supported it.) It is why they have difficulty grasping the importance of specifically anti-Amerikan struggle, international united fronts with non-socialist countries, and diplomatic struggles. It is why they think all bourgeois governments need to be overthrown now regardless of circumstances – which in practice means helping the CIA, MI6 etc. overthrow Third World “elites” while constantly siding with racist, nationalist and chauvinist working- or middle- class Amerikans for peaceful so-called progress inside the First World. The idea that the Third World is where the revolution is has been made into something that is CIA- and Democratic-Party- friendly, and hostile to genuine proletarian maneuvering via bourgeois proxies and diplomacy.

Failure to satisfy what a majority of Palestinians want, in regard to all of the homes and land Palestinians were forced to leave, isn’t right. Yet, there is much talk and posturing about 1948 and Palestinians’ right of return and not much international action. Meanwhile, Palestinians suffer – while various countries see excuses to not push for peace. It is easy to say some uncompromising indignant words against I$rael, a lot harder to sacrifice to support any progress. If two-state solution talks keep proving to just be photo ops, of course armed struggle with countries guilty of inaction or interference is predictable, as is confrontation with any neo-colonial lackey supporting militant opponents of the two-state solution but only enough to perpetuate the conflict.

As has been discussed in the media, the idea of I$rael submitting to a two-state solution has some plausibility because of the ISIS issue being inflamed by ongoing colonial oppression of Palestine, a predominantly Muslim nation. To blame ISIS on Saudi Arabia as many are doing, as if Saudi Arabia just needed a late “Arab Spring” revolution against the current Saudi government to eliminate the problem, is myopic in the extreme. If various states appear to allow the opportunity for a two-state solution to disappear, it won’t just be ISIS that grows. The leftward redefinition (radicalization) of “moderate” in the context of the I$rael-Palestine issue will be used as a pretext for imperialist militarist operations in different territories and countries.

Unlike the united $nakes and lapdog I$rael – which are both parasite settler states – Saudi Arabia like Iran is a country with a proletariat and substantial pressure to not appear too pro-Amerikan, pro-I$rael, or non-Islamic. Despite economic ties, Saudi Arabia internally is in fact one of the more anti-Amerikan countries in the world. It doesn’t mean that Saudi rulers aren’t rich monarchs, but opposing a government now just because it is royal or theocratic has no basis globally except in imperialist strategy. It is also inconsistent as demonstrated by literally royalist support for the traitor Reza Pahlavi and Western support for other monarchs or aspiring monarchs. Even if the Saudi people overthrow the rulers there in the near future, the result would not be socialism, because of the situation of u.$. hegemony constantly generating bourgeois forces in the governments of countries seeing the amount of power and wealth of the united $tates and struggling to recognize and overcome neo-colonialism in lesser forms. It is one thing for movements like Al Qaeda and ISIS to harass Middle East countries until they stop being pro-Amerikan, un-Islamic, and narrow in outlook, but global propaganda against Saudi Arabia contributes to thwarting even peace initiatives not led by Saudi Arabia – not much else besides war against Arab or Muslim countries. ◊

• “Reparations from United $tates and Germany due to Palestine,” 2007 October.
• “Again for a two-state solution,” 2007 October.
• “Colonial oppression of Palestine,” 2007 November.
• “Three Worlds Theory,” 2008 September.

1. “Hillary Clinton: Israel not to blame for peace process failures,” 2016 April 12.
“Read Hillary Clinton’s speech to AIPAC,” 2016 March 21.
2. “Agenda behind Saudi role in Israel-Palestinian issue,” 2016 June 5.</a>
3. “Arab League chief: Netanyahu using Saudi plan to dodge French push,” 2016 June 6.
4. “Paris conference on the Middle East Peace Process,” 2016 June 3.
5. “Normalization with Israel would be a ‘stab in the back’ for Palestine: Fattah official,” 2016 May 29.
6. “Hamas censures Mideast talks in Paris,” 2016 June 4.

home | latest | campaigns | movie reviews | newsletter

Proletarian Internationalist Notes