For a Free Democratic Palestine

Position paper of Abna elBalad
There are no limits to the war crimes that the racist Zionist regime is carrying out in its more-than-a-century-long campaign to uproot the Palestinian People. In a world controlled by global US imperialism, which gives full support to all the Zionist crimes, there is no place for the Palestinians to hide.

All they can do is resist the mighty Israeli war machine with their bare hands. The popular Intifada, for which the Palestinian masses are paying the highest price in lives, suffering and destruction of their country, produced a crisis of the racist regime and its plans to stabilize and perpetuate occupation. It is high time to show a positive alternative to the endless wars and destruction dictated by Zionism, to show the way to a free democratic Palestine.

The multiple aspects of Zionist racism

Ethnic Cleansing

Since the beginning of Zionist colonialism in Palestine, its main goal was to expel the original inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinian people, in order to establish a Jewish state. In 1948, supported by world imperialism, the Zionists took the major step to achieve their goal – they expelled the majority of the Palestinians, totally destroyed more than 500 cities and villages, in what became known as the Palestinian Naqba. A racist anti-Arab regime was established over 80% of the Palestinian land. In 1967 Israel completed its aggressive plan, established its rule over all of Palestine, destroyed many more villages and expelled additional hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. In 1967 Israel also occupied the Syrian Golan Heights and expelled almost 200,000 of their inhabitants.

But ethnic cleansing was not only carried out through wars of occupation. From the days of its establishment in 1948, Israel has been engaged in a systematic effort to expropriate those Arabs that survived the Naqba. It never stops confiscating their lands and destroying their homes in order to build more Jewish settlements, or making life unbearable for them in order to force them out of the country. In the 1967-occupied areas, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the aggressive campaign of expropriation and building of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land didn´t stop even when Israel was speaking about peace and negotiating with the Palestinians. This continuous ethnic cleansing now reaches a new climax with the building of the Separation Wall through hundreds of kilometers of West Bank land, closing the Palestinians in isolated enclaves and separating hundreds of thousands from their lands, work, hospitals, schools, families and whatever is needed for their daily lives.

Apartheid Occupation

Under Israel´s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the worst forms of racist Apartheid take place. Under the pretence that the area is not occupied but "disputed" the Israeli occupiers, including all Zionist courts, refuse to recognize even the minimal rights of inhabitants of occupied territories as granted by international law. While Palestinians are subject to harsh military rule, Jewish settlers in the same areas are Israeli citizens with full rights, and stand above every law in their constant effort to grab more Arab land.

Racism at the Core of the Regime

The racist character of the Zionist entity is enshrined in the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, belonging to the worldwide "Jewish People". Thus the original Arab population, even those inside the 1948-occupied territories that received formal Israeli citizenship, is treated by the regime as a "demographic threat" and as an internal enemy. The Israeli law clearly puts this "Jewish Character" above its democratic pretence, as it prevents parties that question this racist definition from taking part in elections to the Zionist Knesset.
Racism is not confined to the constant attempts to confiscate Arab land. It is the intrinsic character of all the state agencies, from the interior ministry, the police, and the economic development policy makers to the health and education ministries. Since Israel´s establishment in 1948, it didn´t build a single hospital in Arab-populated areas, and it prevents the establishment of an Arab University.
Local and foreign businesses that operate in Israel typically take an active part in the implementation of racist policies. Most of the companies don´t hire Arabs at all or confine them to manual jobs. Most of the companies are eager to get cheap access to confiscated Arab land and enjoy the government subsidies granted to those taking part in the "Judeification" effort.

Israel as the Spearhead of Anti-Arab Imperialism

From the beginning of the Zionist movement it relied on alliances with western imperialist powers against the liberation aspirations of the Palestinian people and the Arabs in the neighboring countries. Since 1948 Israel established itself as a tool of US imperialism. They are connected by "strategic cooperation" agreements that grant Israel strategic superiority over any Arab coalition. This requires the full militarization of Israel, including weapons of mass destruction, free of any inspection, as a constant threat to any anti-imperialist movement in the Arab world and beyond. It also requires constant American-Israeli involvement to divide and destroy any attempt to build Arab independence and development, thus insuring Israel´s superiority and America´s continuous robbery of the regional resources, first and foremost its oil.

This anti-Arab alliance reached new heights lately, with the commitment of the Bush administration, as well as the US Congress, not only to justify the 1948 ethnic cleansing and Israel´s right to keep out Palestinian refugees in order to maintain its Jewish character, but also to support the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a fait accompli. It is this US-Zionist alliance that spread the lies about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and paved the way for the US invasion and occupation of the country as part of a strategy to crush any aspiration to Arab independence.

The democratic solution

The basis for any solution to the long-suffering and destruction that Zionism created is the restitution of the rights of its victims.

The most important aspect of Zionist racism is ethnic cleansing. The majority of Palestinians had their whole lives destroyed and are kept as refugees out of their land. The most basic right of the refugees is the Right of Return – the personal and national right to get back their homes, their lands and their possessions.

Then we should reject Zionist racism and all the means of oppression that are used to force it. The occupation should be stopped and the racist army and police should be disbanded. Democratic freedoms of expression, organization and political activity should be restored to all the anti-racist political tendencies. Racist discrimination should be outlawed and all its institutions should be disbanded.

The Arab Palestinian people, after more than a hundred years of being driven away from its land and persecuted, should be liberated, and enabled to enjoy independence and freedom.

All this can be done only in the framework of a Free Democratic Palestine, in the whole of historic Palestine. A Free Democratic Palestine would put an end to the discrimination, occupation and wars and concentrate all its efforts on the absorption of the refugees, helping them to rebuild their lives, and on the opening of a new era of security and prosperity for all.

This is also the only positive solution for the Jews in Palestine. Zionism uses the Jewish masses as a tool for its expansionist and aggressive plots. The Jews in Palestine receive privileges for supporting the system, but for a high price. Zionism places them in a situation of constant conflict and war not only with the Palestinians, but also with the Arab people as a whole. While US imperialism is pocketing immense profits from its rule of the Arab east, the Jewish masses pay in blood and economic security for the adventures of their racist leadership and the military services that it gives to imperialism. Participation in the Palestinian struggle for national liberation, against Zionist racism, is the way for the Jews who want to live peacefully in Palestine, to break away from the Zionist death trap and ensure their integration in a future democratic Arab world.

Critical examination of suggested solutions

The Israeli regime is making every murderous effort to perpetuate the rule of racism and occupation. It relies on its military superiority and on imperialist support to continue its bloody oppression of the Palestinian People. By so doing it leaves no choice to the Palestinians but to resist. By rejecting the right of return and continuing its policy of aggression the Israeli regime can only promise endless suffering and war.

US imperialism attempts to gain from Israeli aggression through what it calls "the peace process." Israel beats the Arabs, who in turn come to the American "mediators" ready to pay them a heavy price for "restraining" the Israelis. Actually the Arab regimes pay the price for the continuing Israeli aggression, as the US is able to step up the exploitation of the Arab world and gain additional dominance by supporting Israel. This perpetual "conflict management" is so profitable to the US that it`s no wonder the American imperialism is encouraging the ever more blatant Israeli aggression.

In this framework of continuing aggression, all that the Israeli and American regimes want in the field of political progress is to find Palestinian and Arab collaborators that will help them secure and perpetuate their occupations. Till now they failed to give any semblance of independence or dignity to the proposed Arab partners, so that they failed to find any serious element ready to play the role they designated for it.

The falsely named "Israeli Left", with its capitalist "Labor Party" and elitist "Meretz" (recently re-branded "Yahad"), has always joined and even led successive occupation governments, whenever it was strong enough to grab such position. It supports the same policies of racist discrimination, settlement building and murderous oppression as Israel´s openly "right-wing" racists. It is not by chance that this "left" was the first to raise the slogan of "Hafrada" (separation) – the Hebrew word for Apartheid. Above all, it opposes the Palestinians´ right of return, and defends the Israelis` "right" to carry out ethnic cleansing in order to live in racially segregated society.

The danger of a Palestinian Bantustan, with nominal independence but actually having Palestinian forces oppressing the Palestinian masses under continuing Israeli dominance, is inherent in the Oslo accords, and in all the subsequent agreements, including Bush`s Road Map. It requires from the Palestinian side to unconditionally give up resistance to the occupation. In practice Israel utilizes this unilateral Palestinian cease-fire to step up its settlements, driving Palestinians out of their lands.

Since the Palestinian struggle concentrated through the last decades in the 1967-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, there is a Palestinian national consensus on a minimum program for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Al-Quds. Unconditional Israeli withdrawal from these areas would be a great achievement for the Palestinian Intifada, and may enable the people of these areas, which suffered immensely from the occupation, to rebuild their lives. But it will not solve the problem of millions of refugees, many of them still in refugee camps around the Arab world, as well inside the West Bank and Gaza. It will not solve the problem of a million Palestinians subjected to racist discrimination inside the 1948-occupied territories. Furthermore, as long as Israel retains its racist and aggressive nature, serving imperialism as an anti-Arab spearhead, any solution is temporary and a prelude for further conflict.

Some proponents of the "independent Palestine alongside Israel" plan admit that the "independent Palestine" will include only about 20% percent of the Palestinian land and that it will not constitute a just peace. They suggest that this solution is more "realistic" as it is more acceptable to the dominant Israelis and the US. This logic diverts attention from the real problem: in order to reach any settlement of the conflict, the dominance of imperialism and its local servants should be confronted. Till now the readiness to accommodate with Israeli superiority only encouraged Israel´s rulers to pursue their expansionist program further.

Other "peace forces" try to find justice in the division of Palestine, using the slogan of "two states for two people". They accept the Jewish character of Israel as some form of "self-determination" for an "Israeli Jewish nation". As the Jewish majority in the 1948-occupied territories was achieved through ethnic cleansing, accepting it as a fait accompli and as constituting a right is trampling upon the basic human rights of the Palestinian refugees. It is also a very dangerous precedent, for it encourages Israel (and others) to continue its policy of ethnic cleansing. We can see how the latest US-Israeli accord makes the recognition of settlements in the West Bank a starting point for any further agreement. The recognition of the racist character of Israel as a "right" is also very dangerous for the Palestinians inside this Jewish state. Protecting this "Jewish character" constitutes the justification for racist policies against them and opens the door for an imminent Israeli threat of "transfer" – getting rid of the remaining Arab population.

There is a variation that tries to come between the two-state solution and the fully democratic Free Palestine. It calls for a bi-national state. Behind this formula there can be many different interpretations. If the state is going to be built on sectarian lines, like the constitution imposed on Lebanon by the French imperialist or the current US ploy for Iraq, it can only result in constant inter-communal struggle. If it is designed to reassure the Jews of their cultural and community rights, then it is part of the content of any democratic state. If it is designed to let the Jews cling to some of the ill-gotten privileges, it is not in the interest of any citizen of a democratic Palestine, not even in the interest of the Jews themselves, as those privileges would hamper their integration in the new free Arab world. Anyway, proponents of a bi-national state in Palestine, by going a step beyond the fortress Jewish state, may be engaged in discussion and cooperation on common grounds, toward a clarification of the democratic nature of the future Palestine.

Political Program for Change

The Palestinian people proved throughout their history of destitution and persecution that as long as there is oppression and injustice there would be resistance. This resistance is souring the fruits of extortion, and will eventually force a political change.

The Palestinian people face the mighty Israeli war machine, which is designed not only for their destruction, but mainly to insure the imperialist dominance of the whole region. This is the main reason why till now the Palestinians, despite their heroic struggle and endless sacrifices, could not achieve even their most basic rights.

The best conditions for a political solution can be created by the collapse of this whole scheme of aggression dominance and exploitation. A democratic Palestine is at the heart of a new free Arab World. Some democratic solution could also come about as a result of a compromise. US imperialism might reach the conclusion that its support for the Israeli racist regime is destabilizing the region and puts its interests in danger.

In order to bring about and take advantage of these conditions we should unite the popular and democratic forces in the region and beyond, to challenge the rule of racism and to pose an alternative.

An essential component of the political resistance is total rejection of Israeli racism, ethnic cleansing and the oppressive Zionist regime. This includes, for Arabs inside the Green Line, the boycott of the Israeli political machine, as represented by elections to the Knesset. For the Arab region as a whole it means the struggle against normalization of relations with the racist regime. For progressive and peace loving forces all over the world it requires a full boycott of Israel, knowing that any cooperation with it fuels more aggression and ethnic cleansing.

For the Arab Palestinian masses in Palestine, on both sides of the "Green Line," life is constant struggle to defend their very existence: their homes and lands, their daily rights. For this struggle the widest unity in the mass struggle is required, regardless of the different political positions and proposed solutions. Upholding the goal of a free democratic Palestine, in the context of this daily struggle for existence, is to provide a vision of hope and dignity, a refusal to accept humiliation and degradation.

The common goal of a free democratic Palestine provides a solid ground for the cooperation between Jewish and Arab militants in the struggle against the daily evils of Zionism. It rejects any form of racist superiority and privilege, and poses a common political frame for the future.

While Zionism is drowning us all in a cruel and endless battle, a Free Democratic Palestine is a clear and human prospect for this torn-apart country and its suffering people. We must give people hope – to get the strength to achieve a better world.

Abna elBalad, July 2004
Submitted as a contribution to the Anti-imperialist Camp in Assisi, August 2004