The following is the translation of an article which appeared in Le Monde on 11th November, l969, written by Eli Lobel, member of the Israeli Revolutionary Action Committee Abroad, in Paris.
The entire Middle-East is moving, except, it seems, Israel, although it is the origin of the general disturbance. “Rock-like solidity of the Israeli electorate”, a French daily could write after the elections of 28th October. The threatened break-up of the bi-communal structure of the Lebanon (actually religious communities) is used as an argument by those who oppose solving the Israeli-Palestine conflict in a way which would take account of the national interests of the two peoples. Palestine will be the country of Israel or Ismael, but not both together, they say on both sides, “Israel” and “Ismael” understood this time in the ethical sense.
Let us state now that we prefer a “Lebanese” solution to the compulsive ideology of Israeli society, despite the freedom of expression enjoyed by its Jewish citizens. I say this as an Israeli, not hesitating to affirm that contrary to Goethe, between disorder and injustice I choose disorder. Injustice is a significant political notion, in this case signifying the domination of one people by another.
The “rock-like stability” of the Israeli electorate results from two things. The first is the identity of opinion among all the political parties, except one, on the principle of political annexation. The second is, that their different ways of working for it were partially hidden by the composition of the parties on the list. However, a very clear and entirely significant evolution of Israeli public opinion has come to light and become authorized by the last elections. The two blocks which won the votes of the Jewish electorate, Gahal-Herut of Menachem Begin, and the state list of David Ben-Gurion, are on the same side of the Israeli political chess-board as is the current represented by General Dayan, who himself stayed in the founder-block of Mrs. Golda Meir.
It is no longer correct to say that the differences within the government of national unity are over the extent of annexation. Of course, supporters of “Greater-Israel” demand everything, and the “moderates” of Mapam are content with demanding Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. But the differences are really over the way in which annexation, or at least the control of the whole of Palestine should be achieved.
In an excellent article recently published in the Israeli daily Haaretz, and reproduced in ISRACA Information Bulletin no 2, it was revealed that the divergences within the Israeli cabinet are above all over the form which the Israeli presence should take in the “new territories”.
The deputy prime minister, General Yigal Alon, supported by Mr. Abba Eban and the old-guard Labour Party, and even by the Liberals and by Mapam, merely asked for the installation of paramilitary colonies to populate the whole of the West Bank area; the Palestinians, or the majority of them, would find themselves in an encircled enclave, entirely controlled by Israel. This control would be all the more efficient – it matters little if the enclave is autonomous or attached to Jordan – if its economy could be completely artificial, even more so than lsrael’s. “The enclave, which would contain half the area of the West Bank, would have one of the densest populations in the world”, wrote the Jewish Chronicle, despite its pro-Israel bias: “Even with all the financial and technical help in the world, it would not be possible to assure the subsistence of a population of 800 people per square mile in a relatively poor area. One can hardly call this a solution” (The Jewish Chronicle, 28th June, 1969).
The Minister of Defence, General Dayan, sustained by the most extreme currents of Israel’s nationalism within a cabinet of national unity, notably by the Gahal-Herut, demanded that Jewish agglomerations, as well as agricultural colonies, be established near or even inside the principle urban Arab areas: Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem, Hebron. This objective corresponds to a social-political vision according to which the territories should be annexed and not just indirectly controlled.
The Palestinians, thus integrated into the Israeli economy as proletarians and sub-proletarians, would carry on working at subsistence farming. Seen in the right proportion, General Dayan is proposing the South African model. If this happened the Jewish population would become more of an urban population, holding all the big cities in the country, exercising a direct, repressive control, the Israelis becoming more “gentlemen farmers” than kibbutzniks, overseers rather than workers.
The two tendencies point to certain positions. General Alon and his supporters are the majority in the bureaucratic hierarchy of the Labour block, and are also more widely supported by the world Zionist movement. Apparently more moderate on the future of the occupied territories, they seem able to bend more to the will of the four Big Powers. General Dayan, Mr. Begin and Mr. Ben-Gurion have the majority vote in the country, as the recent elections, and the facts, confirm: an inauguration ceremony for a new, Jewish, urban centre, under construction on Mount Hebron, took place on 12th October. The new Zionist establishment’s logic is moving along the lines desired by General Dayan.
Sometimes these two tendencies are led to hide their aims. Mr. Ben-Gurion has afforded us a striking example of this when he declared, on his recent arrival in France: “In my opinion, if we could have peace now, we would seize the opportunity. Israel would have to give back most of the territories which it conquered during the war, with the exception of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights” (Le Monde 26-27th October, 1969).
However, Ben-Gurion’s sentence begins with an “if”, an enigmatic “if”. Insistently invited to explain the conditional, he did so during an interview: “Let me tell you something. If I could do it, if I had the choice, I would have given up the territories in exchange for peace”. A journalist asked him if he was, then, in agreement with Mr. Eban. Ben-Gurion snapped back: “I don’t agree with Mr. Eban. You didn’t understand me. Perhaps he thinks that there is a choice between keeping the territories and obtaining peace (…). I said ‘if we had’ the choice I would have chosen peace” (The Jerusalem Post, Weekly Selection of 13th October 1968). As he does not think that a choice exists, and on a Zionist basis peace is effectively excluded, he is on the side of General Dayan, the man who had understood that “one must learn to live with a million Arabs”.
“Katman” or “Taqiyya” are notions borrowed from Islam, meaning “the systematic dissimulation of their ideas, practised by heterodox mystics” (According to Professor Maxime Rodinson’s definition). These notions are more than a diplomatic necessity in Israeli society today: they are a reality.
This reality is dominated by a position which is developing slowly as a consequence of the resistance of the Palestinian people.
Parallel to this the Israelis are expressing a refusal – still, it is true, a vague refusal – to assume the role of a “people-class” which would directly exploit the Palestinian people and would, in its turn, be obliged to submit increasingly to the most retrograde forces in the international arena. This refusal is exposed directly by the slogans “Neither Jerusalem nor the Golan Heights”, “Down with the occupation, every occupation!” The co-existence of the two peoples in a revolutionary, united Middle East, demands first of all the abandonment of all politics of conquest.