My starting point is this.
All democrats – whether liberals or socialists – should support any democratic movement for national self-determination: including both Palestinian arab and Israeli jews.
I’ve got no real objection to people who believe that it would be best if one day, all states were to melt away. That is a matter of theology. But there are good reasons that nation states exist at the moment: in particular, that they are an effective device for securing the wellbeing of regional minorities.
Just as any supporter of Israel should be asked to make it clear whether they support a viable self governing Palestinian state, and oppose its destruction; any supporter of Palestinian self-determination should be asked to make it clear whether they support a viable self governing Israeli state, and oppose its destruction.
The coalitions which are behind much of British pro-Palestinian politics are led by political parties, campaigns and individuals, many of which seek the destruction of the State of Israel.
They do so explicitly, by calling for a single state. They do so implicitly by calling for the right, not of compensation, but of “return” of the descendants all all those who left Israel in 1948, with no thought to the position of the descendents in Israel of the refugees from tyrannical and hostile Arab states. Increasingly, many also openly ally themselves with Hamas which unapologetically promotes genocide of jews.
The coalitions and advocacy organisations which are active in Left politics at the moment at times seem to shy away from making it clear what, exactly, they would like to see happen in the Middle East. I would like them to spell it out.
Will supporters of boycotts, speaking tours, and trade union motions tell me: are you an advocate of a single state, and of the imposition by force of a Hamas or Arab nationalist government on the regional minority of jews? Or are you opposed to such a solution?
As far as I can tell, the Socialist Workers’ Party and many of the other leading campaigners on the issue of Palestine are in favour of precisely that. I might have misunderstood them. If that is not where they stand, and they have some other plausible vision of what the triumph of their politics would mean, I would like to hear it.
What, exactly, are you campaigning for?
Wouldn’t it be better if, instead of motions about the “occupation” (Of the West Bank? Or from the “Jordan to the Sea”?) and “the right of return of the 1948 refugees (and their descendents)”, they just said:
“Yes, we are in favour of the replacement of Israel and Palestine with a single state, ruled by a Palestinian regional majority. If that means the Hamas or the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is left with a free hand to deal with the jews, then that is what must happen. You can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs. Remember: the jews are colonisers of Arab lands, and we must offer unconditional support the liberation struggle of Palestinian people, by whatever means they find necessary, to secure such ends.”
If it was clear that this is what the campaigners around the issue of Palestine were aiming for, wouldn’t that be much better? We would all know where we stood.
It may be that the many of those organising as under the banner of Palestinian solidarity politics merely oppose Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and would reject such a position.
But clearly, not all of the campaigners around the issue of Palestine do.
I think that there is considerable support for the “solidarity with Hamas” position: certainly at the level of the leadership of these campaigns, and more generally.
It is commonplace on the Left that Israel, by defining itself as a Jewish state, is a racist project, which must therefore be destroyed. Hamas’s goal of genocide, to many progressives, would be a terrible pity, no doubt. But they may have persuaded themselves that Hamas are simply not advocates of genocide. Well, perhaps the “extremists” in Hamas, some say: but not the Hamas “moderates”. As for the Covenant: and the genocidal and racist dreams which it contains: well, it is just rhetoric, isn’t it? Those who think otherwise are displaying a typically jewish neurosis, or are sneaky Zionists, trying to trick us all.
There’s also a commonly expressed view that even if it is true that some in Hamas support genocide, they have only been driven to pursue such goals by Israel. In any case, so the argument goes, what else can you expect when people seek to free themselves from racism, oppression and apartheid? Speak it softly, some will say, but the jews are the authors of their own misfortune. There might, perhaps, have been a moment of reconciliation and accomodation, but Israel has scotched it good and proper, and so the jews in Israel kind of deserve what is coming to them.
That is, I think, pretty much the conclusion that many of our former comrades have reached.
Some have done so with a heavy heart and much wringing of hands. Others have embraced this conclusion more gleefully.
As things stand, I would much prefer this degree of openness in the position of the boycotters and de-legitimisers. I would like to argue against a concrete position, instead of wrestling with the jelly that presents itself as Palestinian solidarity politics.
At least then, anybody who chose to do so would be able to decide whether that was a politics they supported or opposed.
As things stand, there are people out there who are strong supporters of both Israeli and Palestinian self-determination: but who are happy to make a common cause with those who support the eradication of Israel.
I’d be interested to hear whether there is a theoretical perspective which I am missing which allows Two Statists to link arms with One Statists.
Do Two Statists who support campaigns run by One Statists do so, not expecting the One Statists to win? Or do they forsee a potential short term One Statist solution which does not involve genocide?