[Marxism] Palestine and the Anti-War movement

Anthony Boynton northbogota at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 4 08:48:50 MDT 2005

This is a comment on the recent post by  Joaquin
Bustelo ( Subject: RE: [Marxism] Unity on what basis?
uh effectiveness maybe? From: Joaquín Bustelo
<jbustelo at bellsouth.net> 
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2005 03:19:06 -0400 )

Joauquin’s post is a discussion of  "The demand for an
end to ALL occupations”.  There are two points he
makes that I would like to comment on. About the first
Joaquin wrote,

“First, insofar as it relates to Palestine, this isn't
really a demand
aimed directly at OUR OWN imperialism, our own
government. But all
experience shows this is what really motivates people
to mobilize,
trying to get their own government to do something or
stop doing
something. “

It is true, the demand to “end all occupations”  is so
general it is probably not going to mobilize people –
but neither will any demand directly related to
Palestine be a key factor in mobilizing large numbers
of people in the United States.  The issue of
Palestine only touches deeply the personal reivances
and fears of the Arab, Moslem, and Jewish minorities
in the United States – and those to the left of the
Democratic Party for ideological reasons. 

The demand to bring all the troops home now is the key
demand aimed at the government of the United States,
and touching on the real grievance and fears of broad
layers of US citizens and residents.

BUT the demand to “End All Occupations” is a good one
for a different reason – it begins the education of
those who oppose the war against Iraq because they
fear they will be drafted – it makes them think about
the other occupations. Brining a hundred thousand of
those people to a demonstration against the war in
Iraq, but with a slogan “End All Occupations” starts
them on the road to a deeper anti-imperialist

AND it will make including a more specific demand,
such as “End all US Aid for Israel” easier in the
future. (Although that one will be a big struggle.)

This brings up the second point in Joaquin’s post that
I would like to address. He wrote,

“Then there's folks like me, who would include not
just that part of
Jerusalem, but all of Jerusalem, as well as Tel Aviv
and all the rest of
the state of Israel too. Why should an usurpation be
legitimate just because it took place 19 years
earlier? Because if the
1948 usurpation was legitimate by 1967, why aren't the
1967 usurpations
legitimate now, almost 40 years later? That's the
position of the
pro-Zionist liberals, that the territories Israel has
actually settled
colonists on should go to Israel but that the
occupation of those zones
where Palestinians still live should come to an end. “

The establishment of a settler state in Israel is not
yet a historical fact – and until it is, we should not
accept it as one. However, we also have to recognize
that important forces among the Palestinians
themselves – in the first place the PLO – do accept
the Israeli settler state as a historic fact.
(Probably this is one reason for the rise of
Islamicist forces among the Palestinians – since THEY
do not accept israel as an accomplished historic

I think the guiding principles for Marxists in the
antiwar movement relating to Palestine should be  the
original program of the PLO calling for a “democratic,
secular, state of Palestine” combined with support the
right of all oppressed people to immigrate with full
rights of citizens to any country. This means among
other things, that we should support the rights of
Jewish people to immigrate to, and live in, Palestine.

But this discussion raises an issue that goes beyond
the guiding principles and official slogans for one

What about the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
South Africa, and going farther back in time – Spain,
Portugal – and everywhere for that matter?

How do we draw a historic line between those
invasions, colonizations, and genocides that we accept
as historic facts – and those we do not?

While I do not think there is a sure-proof litmus
test, Lenin’s program of supporting the “right of
nations to self-determination” is the best
programmatic answer I know of.  Wherever there are
still surviving cultures and societies that do not
accpet their defeat and domination, we have to support
their struggle.

We can not accept any imperialist conquest in the past
as legitimate – although we can not reverse most of
them. But what ‘practical program” can we have?
Practically speaking what is a revolutionary, or at
least ‘Marxist” platform for the indegenous people
living in New York? “End the Anglo-Dutch Occupation”? 

No, but it should be support for ANY political
struggle for the independence and democratic rights of
those people – including among other things land and


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