[Marxism] Israel, South Africa and the single-state non-solution
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 28 20:49:49 MDT 2010
James Holstun wrote:
> And if you reject the one-state solution, and see the two-state
> solution as "another chimera," what model do you favor instead, and
> what historical tendencies do you see towards its realization?
I am totally opposed to a single Jewish state that would give the
Palestinians in the West Bank the same "rights" that Palestinian
citizens in Israel supposedly "enjoy". That is exactly what Moshe Arens
is proposing. And Ali Abunimah, Virginia Tilley and Jonathan Cook are
wrong to see anything more than this in the rightwing Israeli proposals
for a single state.
I am for a secular and democratic Palestine. I know that this is not the
position of either the PLO or Hamas, but that is the only thing I can
A democratic, secular Palestine
Usually, struggles for national self-determination take the form of the
oppressed nation demanding the right to separate from the oppressor
nation and form its own independent state, as today in Puerto Rico,
Quebec or British-occupied Ireland.
Palestine presents a different variant. There, national oppression was
carried out by the establishment of a colonial-settler state through the
forcible partition of the country and the expulsion of much of its
The demand for a democratic, secular Palestine arose out of this
specific history. It flows from the reality that the Israeli state is
anti-democratic, since it denies the rights of the majority of the
country's indigenous inhabitants and prevents them from returning or
even participating in its future.
The PLO calls for a secular state in opposition to the sate of Israel
where Jews, by virtue of their religion, are granted rights that are
denied to Christians and Muslims. Jewish religious law bears down
heavily on Israeli life, regulating everything from marriage to public
transportation. The fight for separation of church and state has been a
part of the program of democratic revolutions for more than 200 years.
Finally, the demand for a unitary Palestinian state addresses the
forcible partition of "an indivisible homeland".
Much of the Israeli left and many Jewish leftists around the world are
imbued with the contradiction of supporting the existence of Israel and
an end to the national oppression of Palestinians. But the national
oppression of the Palestinians cannot be ended as long as the Israeli
state is maintained. Self-determination for the Palestinian Arab nation
means the dismantling of the Israeli state and its racist, colonialist
institutions. How can the Palestinians exercise their right to national
self-determination if they are not allowed to return to their country?
Yet if the Palestinian Arabs do return, and are accorded their full
rights, then, as the Zionists themselves point out, it would mean the
end of Israel as a separate Jewish state.
To demand self-determination for the oppressor nation robs the concept
of national self-determination of its democratic content. It gives the
oppressor nation — in this case the Israeli Jews — a veto f the
oppressed nation and thus guts the demand for self-determination of the
At the moment the majority of the Hebrew-speaking workers in Israel
support the maintenance of the Jewish state. This support helps keep
them ideologically enslaved to the Israeli capitalist ruling class,
blocking them from fighting for their own class interests. Unless and
until the Israeli Jewish working class ends its support for the Israeli
state and supports the demand of the Palestinian Arabs for a united,
democratic, secular Palestine, it will remain the "cat's paw" of Zionist
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