We, the Palestinian Democratic Front and the Israeli Socialist Organization, published our first joint statement on the recent crisis in the Middle East on June 3rd, prior to the Israeli attack. We stated there our principled, internationalist position with regard to the history, the pre-war situation and the imminent war. We now reaffirm our first statement and follow up with a second one, stating our position with regard to the situation created by this war.
The predominant political phenomenon of our times is the struggle of the people in the unindustrialised continents ‒ Asia, Africa and Latin America ‒ to free themselves from the political and economic domination of the industrialised imperialist powers. Every other political phenomenon is judged, first of all, according to its relation to this world-wide conflict. In this context there is little doubt that the recent war in the Middle East, and its outcome, have served the interests of imperialism in this area and throughout the world. Can the consequences of the Israeli attack be isolated from the crushing of the anti-imperialist struggle in Indonesia or the U.S. intervention in Vietnam? It is evident, for example, from a recent statement of [Frence’s president] de Gaulle that even the imperialists think that it cannot .
In the last months before the war the anti-imperialist policies of the Syrian government came increasingly into conflict with the oil monopolies in the Middle East. This political background enabled Israel to launch an air attack on Syria on April 7th, and threaten Syria with a military invasion. Nasser, who opportunistically steers the anti-imperialist interests and sentiments of the Arab masses in nationalist channels, found himself, under the pressure of circumstances forced to support the Syrian regime against this threat. Moreover, American oil monopolies in Saudi-Arabia, worried lest the anti-imperialists in Yemen and Aden win their struggle and endanger their interests, did their best to play Egypt and Israel against each other so as to weaken Nasser’s support to the anti-imperialists in South Arabia. Nasser, being a nationalist and an opportunist, did not hesitate in the circumstances to sign a pact with Hussein, the well-known puppet of imperialism, ignoring the contradictions between the regimes and their objectives. Even worse, he resorted to racialist propaganda against the Israeli population. We, as internationalists, fully support the struggle of the Arab masses for political, economic and social liberation against the recent and all other aggressions; this does not mean that we support the nationalist leaders who purport to carry out this struggle. We would like to remind those who lend uncritical support to such nationalist leaders of the exmples of Chiang-Kai-Chek, Attaturk, Sukarno. The struggle for genuine political and social liberation can be won only under a principled, internationalist leadership.
After W.W.I Sharif Hussein and his sons Faisal and Abdallah (Hussein’s grandfather and predecessor on the throne) promised the Arab masses that they would achieve independence by serving British imperialism. Between the two world wars Haj Amin al-Husseini, Fawzi al-Kaukji and others (and during W.W.II Rashid Ali al- Kailani, General Aziz al-Masri and others) sought to do so by serving the interests of Nazism and Italian Fascism (some nationalist leaders even named Mussolini “Saif el Islam”). Now we are asked to believe that the nationalists ‒ the Nasserites, the Baathists and the nationalist Left which trails behind them ‒ will carry this struggle to its end and even bring about a Socialist revolution. The recent “all Arab” alliance of the “progressive” al-Attassi, the anti-imperialist Nasser, the pro-imperialist Hussein and the racialist Shukairy, fits into this pattern of failure all too clearly.
As for the Zionist leadership of Israel we have already pointed out in our first statement that the alliance between political Zionism and first Ottoman, then British and nowadays U.S. imperialism, was not an accident. Political Zionism, because of its colonisatory history and because of its principled segregationist policies towards the Arabs of Palestine, has a vital interest in preserving imperialist influence in the Middle East and has acted as an integral part of the imperialist power system. Political Zionism was always lined up against the struggle of the indigenous population of Palestine to liberate itself from foreign domination. Weizmann’s pact with Faisal (1921), Ben-Gurion’s secret pact with Abdallah (1949), his participation in the Suez aggression and the recent attack, are merely highlights of one and the same policy, which ‒ in the recent case ‒ because of the racialist propaganda of radio Cairo, Damascus, Amman, was disguised as a defensive policy. While this propaganda led the Israeli population to believe it was fighting for its survival, the Zionist leaders of Israel took their chance to realize a lifelong dream of territorial aggrandisement. The policies of annexing new territory, especially Old Jerusalem, are not new. They were always latent in the Zionist aims, and could be expected to show themselves when the opportunity arose. This opportunity was presented to them by Arab nationalism.
This round in the anti-imperialist struggle can be summed up by saying that while the Israeli people were lined up behind the wrong leadership on the wrong side of the barricade, the Arab people were lined up behind the wrong leadership on the right side of the barricade.
Internationalists inside Israel must tirelessly explain that as long as the state is lined up with the imperialist system there can be no peace or normalization of relations with the Arab world. The Arab masses will, eventually, sweep away every ruler and policy ‒ Arab or otherwise ‒ supporting imperialism. Moreover, as long as Israel maintains its Zionist segregationist policies against the Arabs, any talk of “peace” is hypocrisy or, at best, self-illusion. There can be no normalization of relations with segregationist and pro-imperialist policies. A dictated “peace” or a “Pax-Americana” with Hussein is no remedy to this conflict. The temporary set-back to the anti-imperialist struggle brought about by this war will soon pass and the struggle will be resumed with new vigour and under a better leadership. There can be no co-existence between imperialism and the anti-imperialist movement; it is doubtful whether there can even be a respite. The Zionist and pro-imperialist policies of the Israeli leadership antagonize not just this or that Arab leader, but the entire population of the Arab world. This fundamental antagonism cannot be overcome by military victories.
Internationalists inside the Arab world must tirelessly explain that the nationalist leadership cannot be relied upon to fight resolutely against imperialism, that it is always tempted to seek compromise or resort to opportunist policies, as the Nasser-Hussein pact has shown; that by resorting to racialist propaganda this leadership commits a crime against the anti-imperialist struggle, that by borrowing imperialist ideology and morals to further its own aims it defeats these aims and defiles them. Shukairy’s calls to kill all Jews, women and children included, from radio Cairo are not some “minor defect” which may now be forgotten. Even Syria, considered by some to be the “most progressive” Arab state, spoke of destroying Israel, “neglecting” to mention what would happen to the Jewish population. Under no circumstances do we forgive such crimes or, for tactical reasons, abstain from denouncing them. Those who do so cause grave damage to the anti-imperialist struggle. As for Israel, every attempt of Arab nationalists to destroy the state by force only consolidates the entire Israeli population behind the Zionist leadership. Israel will be changed from the inside by its own anti-Zionist internationalists who will, in due time, join ranks with the internationalists in the Arab world in a joint struggle against imperialism and for establishing a genuine Socialist republic throughout the Middle East.
Faced with the state of affairs created by the Israeli attack we say:
We oppose all territorial annexations brought about by this war, but we find it necessary to point out that the root of the trouble in the Middle East is not a territorial issue; the roots of the problem lie in the existence of a segregationist and pro-imperialist power structure in Israel which dispossessed an entire people of their human and political rights; and in the inability of Arab nationalist policies to deal with it.
A dictated Israeli peace, a “Pax Americana” between Israel and Hussein, whether public or secret, and similar Western arrangements, will not solve the conflict between Israel and the Arab states; they will only defer it.
The creation of a Zionist Bantustan for the Palestinian Arabs while maintaining the segregationist policies towards them will not solve the “Palestine problem” any more than a South African Bantustan can solve the problems resulting from the existence of a racialist state in South Africa.
The only viable solution is:
- To abolish completely all segregationist measures of the Zionists against the Palestinians (this includes the implementation of their right to repatriation) and turning Israel into a normal state of its own population.
- Active participation of the non-Zionist Israel in the anti-imperialist struggle of the Arab people.
- Enabling the Palestinians to decide themselves about their political fate.
Knowing that the present rulers, on both sides, have no intention of implementing these solutions, we have little doubt that the conflict will continue as long as these regimes remain in power. To all those indulging in self-illusions we say: There is no salvation to the political problems of people through policies which, tacitly or overtly, implement measures of economic, social, racial or national supremacy of one group of people over another.
[Published in the London Bulletin of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (August 1967)]