[Marxism] 7 Oaks/Ted Glick Exchange
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 31 09:38:30 MST 2005
I must admit that I was more than a little disturbed to see that you would
use the opportunity presented by the media circus around Ahmadinejad's
cruel and dangerous rhetorical outburst against Israel (an sick outburst
which has, nevertheless, received a thousand times more attention than the
far more tangible existential threat presented to Iran by Israeli and
American nuclear sabre rattling and military grand-standing this past year)
to take a swipe against the Right of Return. You're buying in, wholesale,
to the attempts to conflate Palestinian rights with Iranian political
rhetoric, operating in the long and ignoble tradition of making Palestinian
rights contingent on the good behaviour of foreign regimes.
I understand that the American anti-war movement has experienced very deep
and vicious divisions on this issue, and that this has probably informed
your writing, and for that I'm sorry. But we, Seven Oaks, will not be
publishing this or, now, any other piece that you write and so I'd ask you
respectfully to please remove us from your mailing list.
The fundamental and inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees are theirs
and theirs alone, and their fates will be decided by them. It is not for
North American progressives to set the limits and purviews of their demands.
Future Hope column, October 30, 2005
Wiping Israel Off the Map
By Ted Glick
I believe that it is important for progressive organizers to have a
long-term vision of what kind of society, what kind of world, they are
working towards. Having such a vision doesn't mean you will see it fully
realized during your lifetime; it is possible that it may seem further away
when one's death comes. But without a vision, to paraphrase the popular
saying, one might as well be dead.
Jesus of Nazareth had a vision, that people should love their neighbor as
they love themselves, that we should be as concerned for the well-being of
others as we are about our own life.
Karl Marx also had a vision of a society that he called communism, where
the guiding principle is "from each according to their ability, to each
according to their need," a society freed from the strait jacket of
economic scarcity because of the development of industry and technology and
culturally advanced so as to administer itself justly, thus giving everyone
the opportunity to develop themselves in ways not possible under
capitalism, feudalism, slavery and their predecessors.
Some who live in the land of historic Palestine have violently competing
visions. Some Israelis have a vision of a "greater Israel" which would
effectively destroy the Palestinian vision of a just and secure future in a
land of their own. In reaction, some Palestinians, and some
non-Palestinians who support them, have a vision of effectively destroying
the majority-Jewish state of Israel, replacing it with a predominantly
Palestinian, secular state that would, in theory, treat its minority of
Jewish citizens fairly. This is the practical position of those who believe
that the top priority when it comes to the Israel/Palestine issue is that
of the right to return. The full implementation of the right to return
would mean the physical return to Israel of up to four million Palestinians
displaced by the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 or the descendents
of those displaced.
And the newly-elected, fundamentalist president of Iran, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, has a vision of, in his words, "wip(ing) Israel off the map,"
as he said at a rally in Tehran three days ago. Given his Islamic
fundamentalist politics, however, his vision is certainly not that of a
secular state to replace it.
For over three-quarters of a century, there has been a struggle, often
violent, between Palestinian Arabs and Jews. This struggle began in the
1920's and accelerated during the 1930's and 1940's as the rise of Nazism
and the work of the World Zionist Organization nearly quadrupled the number
of Jews in Palestine between 1931 and 1946 to approximately 600,000, about
1/3 of the total population at the time.
There is no question but that a great injustice was done when the United
States, Western Europe, the Soviet Union and other countries, operating
through the United Nations, partitioned Palestine into what was to have
been a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. ¾ of a million or more
Palestinians were forced to leave land their descendants had lived in for
Yet there is also no question but that the great sufferings of the Jewish
people under Nazism leading to the Holocaust, combined with the overall
refusal of the Christian West to receive large numbers of desperate Jewish
refugees, created a determination to create a Jewish homeland. And it is
clear that, almost 60 years later, Israel is as much a reality as the
United States of America, a country similarly founded upon racism and
violence toward non-European, non-white peoples.
Given this situation, I can conceive of no way that up to four million
Palestinians will ever return to the land they or their parents or
grandparents used to live in, with one exception. That would be if Islamic
fundamentalism swept the Middle East, overturning governments in the region
and leading to a cataclysmic war to implement Ahmedinejad's vision of
wiping Israel off the map through the use of weapons of mass destruction.
The use of such weapons, of course, would also probably kill millions of
Palestinians and Arabs and could plunge the world into a world war, but at
the end of that war, whenever that might be, whatever Palestinians are left
could do their best to make a living from the likely radioactive soil of
their former land.
Am I missing something? How else could this demand be practically
implemented in full?
On the other hand, I can see a campaign for a right to return which
involved a more limited resettlement and substantial reparations, in the
context of an overall negotiated agreement. Such an agreement would force
Israel to stop building and to dismantle-or turn over to a Palestinian
government-- Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and/or
give up land of commensurate value to a newly-created Palestinian state.
But this is not my personal vision of the best-case solution for
Palestinians and Israelis, just as the end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq,
the cutting of the U.S. military budget, a clean energy revolution,
practical steps toward racial and gender equality, etc. are not the
ultimate vision of what I am working for in the U.S. Those are some of the
major issues of the day, but I am doing all I can to build a movement that
is about a very different society than the one we live in today.
Some people call that vision socialism, or communism. Others might call it
a fully democratic society. Religious people could say that they are
working for heaven on earth. Whatever it is called, it is the complete
opposite of today's competitive, aggressive, selfish culture of domination
I can see a time in the future, as our pro-justice movements grow stronger
all around the world, as progressive Palestinians and progressive Israelis
build their connections and cooperation, as we in the United States do our
essential work here in the belly of the beast, when conditions are much
more favorable for moving to a higher form of government in the land of
Palestine. It is a tremendous vision. But it won't come about militarily.
It will come about only through a struggle for justice for all people,
through human connections and the transcending of today's widespread
bitterness and hatred.
Those of us in the U.S. must continue to demand and work for an end to U.S.
support of Israel's occupation, the root of the problem, understanding that
without justice, there can be no peace, no possibility of implementing a
Ted Glick is the coordinator of Climate Crisis, USA Join the World!
(<http://www.climatecrisis.us/>http://www.climatecrisis.us) and acting
coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network
(<http://www.ippn.org/>http://www.ippn.org). He can be reached at
indpol at igc.org or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.
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