marxism-digest V1 #4563

Sherry & Stan Goff sherrynstan at
Wed Apr 3 07:37:19 MST 2002


> However, I think we need to be
> careful about sounding as if these attacks are supportable and sopmehow
> anti-imperialist.  Because they're generally not.

There's a whiff of left imperialism (this is a critique of a tendency, not a
personal attack) in the implication that Palestinians have to meet some
litmus test for "anti-imperialist" before they can be "supportable."

> Now, if a suicide bomber gets to an IDF checkpoint, or manages to drive
> into an IDF patrol or whatever, and blows him/herself sky high along with
> bunch of IDFers, fair enough.  War is war.  But blowing up families and
> kids in cafes and on buses is a whole other thing.

So what alternative has been left to the Palestinians, in the concrete
conditions that exist there right now?  The IDF is quite simply too hard a
target for them.  War is war, and in many wars, as they becomes more
generalized, the enemy becomes the entire society.  War does not and can not
ever be contained by rules about combatants and non-combatants.  Those lines
disappear very quickly.  For Palestinians to restrict themselves to the
"rules of war" that so heavily favor the more powerful military force would
be tantamount to surrender.

> Ordinary Israeli citizens are not legitimate targets and suicide bombers
> who do target them are not fighting for anyone's liberation, any more than
> the Sept 11 attackers were.  If these people ever got in power, the first
> to be lined up against the wall would be the left, especially the atheist
> left.

Nonsense.  Aside from the sly premise that "liberation" is the issue,
instead of land, self-determination, and an end to the Zionist occupation
and colonization, what exactly are you suggesting they ARE fighting for?
This is dangerously close to the mainstream media caricatures of evil
religious fanatics, and your "up against the wall" remark only reinforces
that impression.  It is a racist caricature when deployed by Zionist
apologists and American xenophobes, and we should be very vigilant to
identify it and root it out of our own consciounsness.  You have conflated a
number of different organizations into "these people".

> We should be doing everything possible to strengthen the secular, militant
> wing of the Palestinian movement in order to ensure the best possible
> outcome of the struggle.  A Marxist movement, or even just an effective
> radical nationalist movement, would have a two-pronged strategy in
> to the IDF - engage them military (ie shoot them and blow them up) *and*
> politically (ie leaflets calling on them to desert, refuse service, make
> common cause etc).  Like the Vietnamese fighting the Yanks.

Palestine is not Vietnam.  It's not the United States.  It's not Australia.
It's not Belfast.  It strikes me as a bit presumptuous of any of us who are
not actively engaged with the dynamic complexities on the ground there to be
offering up cookie cutter proposals on how "those people" should advance
their struggle.  As an american marxist, my own inclination is to fight
Zionist propaganda here and work toward the political and economic isolation
and cut-off of the Israeli state.  Palestinians will resolve Palestinian
questions.  But the fact is, Israel could not continue to do what it does
without massive injections of US cash.  This is their ultimate Achilles
heel.  Even more presumptuous than our "advice" to Palestinians is the
notion that some overarching "strategy" can be developed in response to a
situation that, at many levels, is now utterly unpredictible.

> A serious Palestinian liberationist strategy also means trying to engage
> the Israeli working class.  A free Palestine can't be achieved by wading
> through their blood, however frustrating their adherence to the Israeli
> state may be.

This is the kind of mechanistic marxism that puts me back on my Zoloff.

>Here a lesson might be taken from South Africa and Ireland
> in terms of realising that it is not the ordinary white or Prod who is the
> problem/enemy, but the institution of apartheid (South Africa) and
> imperialist domination (Ireland).

I reiterate.  This is Palestine we are discussing.  But as a southerner in
the US, I have to point out that white working class folks here participated
in a hell of a lot of lynchings.  Regardless of the theorizing to the
contrary, when they were doing that, they were definitely the enemy of the
black working class people they lynched.

On another note, I know I just got back on the list, and I'm kind of jumping
in here, but I'd be very interested in hearing some thoughts (and evidence)
with regard to how this escalation is impacting the political situation in
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, etc.  Surely this is creating a grand
panic for members of those ruling classes, and a panic that would be
contagious to the US political regime, were it not for their inoculation by
hubris and stupidity.


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