DSP on Palestine

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at SPAMbellsouth.net
Wed Nov 22 05:05:01 MST 2000


    You and several other have taken my first post way more literally than
it was meant. What it dealt with was the "attitude" or "stance" of leftists
in other countries vis-a-vis the Palestinian struggle, but never mind, it's

    I am AGAINST all this denunciation of the "Arafat cabal" and of Arafat's
policy. I am OPPOSED to left groups in Europe, the United States or Israel
for the matter trying to take sides and influence such internal discussions
as may be taken place among the Palestinian people and their leaders. I am
also against denouncing Arafat or Gerry Adams as "sell-outs" for accepting
some limited concessions that fall short of the ultimate demands and aims of
the struggle. What is possible and acceptable under a given set of
circumstances is a concrete, tactical question. I respect and sympathize
with the sentiments of the Irish and Palestinian comrades who believe more
is possible right now, but that is largely a question to be decided by those
who have been direct participants in the struggle, not those of us on the

    In thinking about this, I recall the righteousness of the American SWP
in criticizing the Vietnamese leaders for the Paris Peace Accords, which the
Vietnamese presented as a victory, while the SWP perceived as a setback. The
fact is, the Vietnamese knew a lot more about it than the SWP did; their
judgment was correct and completely vindicated by subsequent events. The SWP
was not just wrong in its estimate of the situation, in not realizing that
under these concrete conditions this accord did create better conditions for
the struggle to continue, it was wrong in setting itself up as judge of the
tactics of revolutionary movements in other countries.

    Like in the current Irish and Palestinian cases, the Paris Accords
involved countless concessions from the Vietnamese, and on the face of it,
they did not seem to get a very good deal. It was born of a relatively less
favorable relationship of class forces on a world scale, with Nixon and
Kissinger skillfully exploiting the differences between Peking and Moscow.
The foreseeable outcome of the way things were developing is that North
Vietnam would receive less material help from the two main powers in the
socialist camp, and that the worldwide united front against the U.S.
intervention might be broken. For those reasons, the Vietnamese opted for an
agreement that was simply a way to continue the fight without the U.S.
occupation army getting in the way of their dealing with the Saigon regime,
nothing else, and that is what they accomplished in Paris. It was enough,
more than enough.

    So I would say that in judging these and other accords, the issue isn't
simply how much you were able to get at the bargaining table, but what you
do with the concessions that you are able to extract. There is in my mind no
question but that a formally independent Palestinian state in the occupied
territories would potentially provide a better platform for continuing the
struggle than the current Israeli occupation.

    Finally, on Arafat's bona-fides. It may well be true that Arafat's
leadership position was not achieved through respect of all the proper
bourgeois-democratic formalities. What of it? My understanding is he became
the central leader of the PLO because his current was the largest one in the
resistance; having fought to have the PLO recognized as the legitimate
representative of the Palestinian people, we should do nothing to undermine
or dispute this status from the outside. We should not be a party to the
disputes within the Palestinian people, the PLO, etc., on which current
should stand at its head. In particular, history has shown that evaluating
different groups on the basis of stated positions isn't particularly useful.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Philip Ferguson" <plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2000 2:46 PM
Subject: Re: DSP on Palestine

My friend Jose replies to my friend Gary (and presumably, in part at least,
to my earlier post, which Gary supported):


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