[Marxism] Palestine and the Anti-War movement

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Thu Aug 4 10:36:46 MDT 2005

Anthony Boynton wrote:

"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."

I don't want to get into an abstract discussion of when a colonial
settler population, or to take another variant, the division of a
nation, becomes so entrenched that is it considered a "historic fact."
I'm not sure there are "rules" to this, or timelines. The English have
been trying to dominate Ireland for nearly a millennia, and they haven't
succeeded yet, and it is obvious that the six counties that are
currently under British rule will inevitably be reunited with the rest
of Ireland.

On Palestine, perhaps I didn't frame my argument clearly enough, but it
is essentially this. IF you oppose the 1967 and later conquests as
usurpations and illegitimate, there's no reason to stop there. Logically
you have to go back to the late 1940's and the establishment of an
exclusively Jewish state on Arab lands. UN decisions in no way make that
usurpation legitimate.

But I don't question of challenge the right of the Palestinians and
their various political groups to create a Palestinian state within such
territories as Israel may feel forced to disgorge now. I think it is a
tactical question, but one that goes to the very core of Palestinian
self-determination, and therefore I think that those of us who are not
Palestinian should respect it, and support the Palestinian cause
whatever tactical or intermediate steps they opt for, while remaining
firm in our support to the aspiration of the Palestinians to establish a
state that won't treat them as unpersons or in the best of cases as
second class citizens in all of their historic homeland.

In the world of diplomacy and relation between states, the idea that a
Palestinian state could be established alongside Israel that would
proclaim the illegitimacy of the Israeli state is extremely difficult to
imagine. I do not view any statements made by the PLO or the Palestinian
authority that seem to give up a claim to all of Palestine as anything
more than simple diplomatic niceties and in no sense binding on the
Palestinian people or cause or even expressing the true sentiments of
those who felt obligated to make them under these sorts of

I think it is a mistake for those of us outside the Palestinian movement
to criticize such statements or try to read into them that "the PLO" or
the Palestinian authority have accepted Israel as more than a fact of
life they can't change right at this moment, no matter what sort of
wording was used.

We must understand that those are statements that have been extracted
under the torture that the Palestinian nation has been under for more
than half a century. We mustn't condemn the victim for trying to do
whatever they can think of to try to mitigate their situation, but at
the same time regard statements about "legitimacy" of the Zionist entity
or anything else like that Palestinians may feel forced to make in some
negotiation as the equivalent of a person with a gun to their head
telling the person attacking them to go ahead and take their wallet. 

And we should respect and not meddle in the discussion among
Palestinians about whether and to what degree it is necessary for them
to make such verbal or other concessions, and be unstinting and
unconditional in our support for the Palestinian people and national
movement, all of it, without picking and choosing one grouping over


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