[Marxism] 7 Oaks/Ted Glick Exchange

Louis Proyect 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.

Charles Demers
Co-Editor SevenOaksMag.com


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 
many centuries.

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 
and control.

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 
higher vision.

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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