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News & Analysis > All
News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Oppose the United Snakes, truly unite for Palestine
October 19, 2016
Two highly-read pieces have been published in the last few days discussing division among pro-Palestinian activists in the context of Americans. The www.uniteforpalestine.com letter also published on Mondoweiss deals with division over alleged antisemitic statements, omissions, associations, or links, or “Israel’s right to exist.”(1) The letter is in English, a language of diplomacy and global media, but every single one of the examples appended to the letter is related to “efforts to stop Americans from learning the truth about Israel-Palestine.” The letter already has hundreds of signatures.
The other piece, an article published on Al Jazeera, claims “the fissures over Syria have taken on a global dimension, and created unparalleled hostility among supporters of the Palestinian cause.”(2) The article criticizes Amerikans who oppose Bashar al-Assad, and express sympathy for Syrians, for hypocritically going to lengths to support Israel. To support Israel, it is suggested, is to support “Israeli occupation and colonialism” and requires justifying Palestinian suffering – true enough. The article seems to support some unnamed force in Syria that is opposed to the Syrian government but not aligned with any foreign force. Not being “hypocritical” seemingly would involve solidarity with Palestinians coupled with trendy, actually-amerikan-friendly petty-bourgeois criticism of Iran and the Arabs or non-amerikans working with either the amerikans or the Syrian government.
First of all, the present writer takes responsibility for condemning antisemitism from the viewpoint of there needing to be greater focus on amerikans than there has been. Activists should not allow false, minor or irrelevant accusations to be divisive and should know how provocations work and how to guard against them, but there are reasons from an anti-amerikan and pro-Palestinian point of view to strongly oppose antisemitism and not just because of the current intensified climate of populism and proto-fascism. Some seemingly pro-amerikan people have defended some of those named at uniteforpalestine.com, under “some examples of actions that have undermined [peace and justice in Palestine],” who were accused of antisemitism or errors.(3) In that context, this writer would not be surprised if somebody erroneously thought there was a connection to the accusers’ milieu organizationally or ideologically. More importantly and whether the allegations are true or false (some seem false or very weak), the fact remains there wouldn’t be nearly as much discussion of an antisemitism problem if there were more anti-amerikanism. That is based on scientific investigation and analysis, not some preference for Jewish people especially. There was a time when such an anti-amerikan emphasis wouldn’t have made as much sense for Palestine, but times have changed.
As an aside: it is unclear what the point is of continuing to allow anyone to sign the letter over the web. What is the meaning if somebody declines, for whatever reason, to sign it? Frankly, because of the examples of division chosen, involving objections to alleged antisemitism or critiquing Israel’s supposed right to exist – there are other kinds of examples of division that could have been included but weren’t – the campaign itself may have an appearance that plays into the enemy’s hands. All for the sake of gaining signatures for a highly flawed, supposedly pro-unity statement about “some amongst us” – and, of course, justice and peace, which are hardly controversial among activists.
This writer also takes responsibility for suggesting there need to be standards against ultra-right-wing denials of Palestinian nationhood.(4) If that excludes anyone, so be it: they are worse than even the Zionists supporting separate states for a Jewish majority and the Palestinian nation. Whether one supports the two-state solution stage, skipping to the single, Palestinian state in Palestine, or even a binational one-state so-called solution, nobody should be denying that Palestinians are a nation today. Such denial is extremely disorienting and leads to concrete conflict with Palestinians’ national aspirations. For that matter, there is no need to change what one is saying just for race-focused amerikans’ ears, to get their attention, or to have “intersectionality.”
Palestinians are a nation no less than Chican@s and New Afrikans are nations; “intersectionality” or solidarity as a reason to focus on race, not nationality, is weak. The difference is that Chican@s and New Afrikans are mostly bought-off or exploited, like others in the United $tates, and are almost entirely inside a settler imperialist formation that still oppresses them nationally. Whether they are proletarian nations like Palestine or not, a variety of nations can have contradictions with Euro-Amerika or the united $tates. The people who piss on the national question, inside or outside North America, but talk about “racism” between people there are being opportunist at least, regardless of their view of revolutionary prospects in the belly of the beast. They include, or are little different from, Democrats who also think the particular petty-bourgeois people they are pandering to are more supportive of incremental progress than the white or amerikan working class. Denying nationhood and national conflicts has real consequences for the development of national struggles. Those who are content with the results, not necessarily the authors of the Unite for Palestine letter, may emphasize vague unity rather than developing real unities for national liberation of Palestine.
The Unite for Palestine letter does talk about the u.$. role, it is true. It does so more than many articles and speeches do, which sometimes and too often don’t even mention the amerikans at all. However, the words “nation” and “liberation” don’t appear in the letter anywhere. Instead, there are “dedicated anti-racist activists” and references to “apartheid in South Africa” (Azania) and “segregation in the United States.” There is no mention of any independence movement. Perhaps more tellingly, the webpage speaks of “incredibly powerful actors that are perpetrating and enabling war crimes” but the letter itself refers to the united $tates only as an enabler. Indeed, it is only “American money” that “enables,” or only certain “U.S. policies” that “enable.” What is enabled are “Israeli crimes.” Israel is the perpetrator, it is suggested, while the united $tates is just an enabler. Now recall all those talking about Arab and Israeli war crimes and humyn rights violations, but not amerikan war criminal and humyn rights violator Obama, and making excuses for favoring Democrats and amerikans a month before the u.$. election.
In reality, the united $tates is a perpetrator, even an oppressor and colonizer in Palestine, and that is not even to mention the atheist secular liberal amerikans in West Bank settlements who still have u.$. citizenship. The Unite for Palestine letter is a good example of the tail-wags-the-dog myth of amerikan-I$raeli relations that is so insidious, pernicious, and unnecessary, in global contexts and harmful to the Palestinians’ struggle. It is not being “sidetracked” to oppose this if it plays a role in why some mistakes are possible in the first place among Westerners or transnational activists who are grown-ass adults, not some teenagers in Nablus who may already have strongly anti-amerikan views. The letter itself represents a problem that too many overlook in their eagerness to speak to a common denominator in Palestine and the united $tates – “race” or a problem with Israel. The notion that Israel is some kind of superpower or usurping upstart bullying the amerikans – rather than like a sometimes -annoying or -embarrassing pet or attack dog whose owner is still in control and sustains and trains to harass or subdue other people – is disarming when there needs to be struggle against the united $tates and decisive diplomatic and political action that cannot wait for better public opinion, leadership or policies in the united $tates. It is not that there aren’t some amerikans who can help, but ass-backward views of amerikan-I$raeli relations are – in both global and u.$. contexts – harmful, and unnecessary and misleading in terms of what people can be persuaded to do to help that doesn’t involve trying to get a large number of amerikans to act on the basis of a big lie that has its own logic.
In thinking about the Unite for Palestine letter, the article on Al Jazeera criticizing pro-Palestinian activists for not supporting “the revolution” in Syria, and also an article in The Nation(5) supporting the one-state solution, maybe an issue is that there is in fact a selective (non-)support for liberation struggle when it comes to Palestine. Some seem to have no problem supporting wars against established Arab states, and independence and separatist movements of minorities in Third World countries. But when it comes to Palestine and settlements, Palestinians are seemingly supposed to give up and allow a one-state solution in which settlement and refugee issues would supposedly be resolved by disappearing somehow or hopefully or magically being resolved in Palestinians’ favor while “Israel” still exists. Palestinians’ national liberation movement is supposed to evaporate while alleged liberation movements of relatively smaller groups in other countries always seem viable or remain worthy of dogged support over the decades.
It is a victory for the united $tates that the two-state solution became associated so much with the amerikans while their attitude toward it has always been duplicitous despite the occasional intense appearance. Most of those, amerikan and non-amerikan, now calling the two-state solution “dead” and beyond any hope never really supported it apart from what the united $tates was trying to do superficially. Now, some (perhaps not most of those who signed or initiated the Unite for Peace letter) literally think the Martin Luther King Jr. road is the one for Palestine. They flatter the “successful” amerikans and ignore that even the so-called success in the united $tates had a lot to do with struggles outside the united $tates that had nothing to do with trying to have a conversation with amerikans. And some end up opposing non-amerikans’ diplomacy – the Palestinians’ or diplomacy on Palestinians’ behalf – and participating in influence operations against that diplomacy. Some of those saying it is so crucial to speak to amerikans, especially, are among those working to impose the undesirable and impracticable I$raeli one-state solution on Palestinians and actively opposing non-amerikans’ diplomacy and other work on approaches that the former are against but pretend to be neutral about.
While supporting imperialist-backed war against Third World states, some manage to simultaneously oppose Palestinians’ armed resistance to settlement of territory the whole world knows is occupied. As part of their capitulation to the “Greater Israel” idea disguised as one-state “justice” for Palestinians, they oppose the armed struggle while publicly disdaining diplomacy in global media and suggesting that MLK Jr. type nonviolence is the only way forward. If one supports the integrationist nonviolent approach for Palestine – but inconsistently not for other Third World nations the amerikans are trying to control through divide-and-conquer in other ways – it is easier to use “facts on the ground,” and a so-called reality that supposedly can’t be changed by resolute and militant resistance, to arrive at the “death” of the two-state solution and postmortem analyses that prop up the one-state solution using the fraudulent gravestone of the former. You can call it dancing on the grave of one who is buried alive.
The united $tates has little interest in the one-state solution either, to the extent that it can be realized. The status quo benefits the united $nakes the most. If the imperialists were to give the Palestinians an enormous amount of money sufficient to bribe them into accepting a one-state outcome in which they would drop all claims and abandon their aspirations for a Palestinian state, there is only so much anyone could oppose the Palestinians’ hearing such an offer and considering giving it majority approval. However, many different forces in the world are attempting a last-ditch effort to support the Palestinian struggle on the diplomatic front for the two-state solution. It could be argued there will always be a need for such effort and writing of the kind here as long socialist revolution is stalled because of a complex situation involving superpower hegemony and the reproduction of exploitation and class structure on a global scale.
There are other options based in Palestinian public opinion and international law, but people have to accept the risks, deal with the consequences, and provide the appropriate, legal support. International support, various forms of which the Palestinians have a right to seek under international law, may have to cooperate with a recognized and sovereign Palestinian state apparatus to be successful. So it could be delusional in various ways to act like there is no need for diplomacy and the State of Palestine.
One thing that is clear is that signing a statement that makes amerikans so central, while flattering them and their politics and lying about the extent of their complicity in colonialism in Palestine, won’t help. Many reactionaries claim to support peace and justice in the Middle East or Palestine. Unity is not just about maximizing the number of amerikans who will hear some people say something about Palestine. United fronts have specific targets. Lack of clarity about them could lead to situations in which there is a focus on setbacks in areas some of which were contributing relatively little in the first place to progress in the process to free Palestine. No doubt both those who support the two-state solution and those who prefer other solutions belong in some of the same organizations, but there are other areas in which there could be serious and necessary conflict with actual opponents of steps that need to be taken, and there are certain falsehoods about Jews or amerikan-Israeli relations that are themselves divisive or disruptive to effective action.
As various nations struggle for peace in different parts of the world, there must be clarity about the fact that the united $tates is the #1 enemy and has specific interests that can and must be defeated in diplomatic, economic and political arenas. The idea that everyone must be hard on Israelis while going easy and being “diplomatic” with the obstinate amerikans in global contexts is a contrivance that deceives. It is a lie that interferes with concrete struggles against the colonial oppression of the Palestinian nation. The oppression is perpetrated by the settler parasitic u.$. entity and its I$raeli appendage that will both be terminated after u.$. hegemony ends. ◊
• “Boycott the United Snakes: Amerika standing in the way of the two-state solution,” 2016 July 14. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-15-news-Boycott-United-States.md
• “Palestine: economic ignorance underpinning preference for the one-state solution,” 2016 July 19. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-23-news-Palestine-one-state-solution.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
• “Americanism and anti-Americanism in conflict: understanding public opinion on Palestine,” 2016 August. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-08-11-news-Palestine-public-opinion.md</br > • “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
• “Bias caused by American influence is undermining Palestinian national liberation,” 2016 September. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-09-15-news-Palestine-Sweden-diplomacy-public-opinion.md
• “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
• “Waiting and impatience: Palestine, WikiLeaks release timing, and persistent belief in change in AmeriKKKa,” 2016 October. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-10-09-news-Palestine-WikiLeaks-election-public-opinion.md
• “New JMCC poll shows pluralities of Palestinian youth prefer Marwan Barghouti and the two-state solution; PSR poll shows unfavorable Palestinian views of the United $tates,” 2016 October. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-10-15-news-Marwan-Barghouti-polls.md
1. http://www.uniteforpalestine.com/ (https://archive.is/niGBu)
“New statement calls on the movement to focus on Palestine, not divisive internal conflicts,” 2016 October 18. http://mondoweiss.net/2016/10/statement-palestine-conflicts/
2. “Morality and hypocrisy over Palestine and Syria,” 2016 October 15. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/10/morality-hypocrisy-palestine-syria-161010115744453.html
3. Example: “JVP and Alison Weir – a dissident View – Ned Rosenberg,” 2015 June 21. http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2015/6/21/jvp-and-alison-weir-a-dissident-view-ned-rosenberg
4. “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
5. “American weapons are blocking true peace between Israel and Palestine,” 2016 October 18. https://www.thenation.com/article/american-weapons-are-blocking-true-peace-between-israel-and-palestine/