from A World to Win News Service

The Future of the Palestinian Struggle

Revolutionary Worker #1203, June 15, 2003, posted at

We received the following from the A World to Win News Service:

26 May 2003. A World to Win News Service. The U.S. needs the submission of the Palestinian masses as never before.

It may seem that the few million people of Palestine are isolated and powerless in the face of the Israeli military machine and the U.S. military juggernaut that has wrought devastation on Iraq. They are not. For over 50 years now the Israelis have sought to subdue the Palestinians, to bludgeon them into peaceful submission, without success. While the U.S. now has a stronger military presence in the region than ever, they and their local flunkey governments are also politically isolated and exposed as never before. One of the most important reasons the U.S. was unable to mount any kind of real coalition at all against Iraq was the Arab regimes' fears of how their people would react. This was due in no small part to the upsurge of mass support in the last few years for the struggle of the Palestinian people, particularly in the wake of the Israeli devastation of Jenin last summer. By helping arouse the people and prevent the U.S. and Britain from broadening their war camp to include more Arab regimes, the Palestinian struggle made a great contribution to isolating and weakening them.

Why is the U.S. pushing ahead on the roadmap at this time? The main reason is that the U.S. is taking a high-risk gamble by so greatly increasing its direct military presence in a region seething with hatred against it. In this context, the U.S. has to deal with some of the basic contradictions creating unrest, not out of concern for the Palestinians or even Israelis but to ensure its own control in the Middle East. First, it has to protect Israel, America's main military outpost in the region. Second, the U.S. also needs to pacify the peoples of the whole region and guard American oil pumps and refineries in the U.S. more or less colony of Iraq. In Iraq the ugly hand of its domination is no longer hidden by the thin layer of Arab sheiks and generals who are its usual front men, along with its Zionist henchmen. This will have a profound impact on struggles throughout the region, including Palestine--and vice versa. The flames of inspiration of the resistance of the Palestinians are spreading to Iraq. The interconnections between the struggle of the Palestinians and other peoples of the Middle East have never been so concrete and so directly threatening to American imperialism. Thirdly, the U.S. wants to try to show its allies and rival imperialists and fool the people that it is not only destructive but can also be constructive in solving world problems.

For decades it has been apparent that the liberation of the Palestinian people would come about through some combination of the determined revolutionary struggle from within Palestine itself along with some form of major onslaught on Israel and U.S. Arab puppet regimes by Arab masses in neighboring countries. While the threat to the Palestinian people has risen, so too have the prospects for a broader struggle in the region directed at the common enemy. For the fact that the main enemy of all its peoples is the U.S. itself has now become clearer than ever.

Some kind of progress in Palestine is crucial to the U.S.'s overall effort to restructure the Middle East. Will they get it? The Palestinian camps inside Palestine and in the neighboring countries are boiling with rage at the desperate, worsening conditions and at the betrayal of the promises made when the U.S. used its stronger position after the 1991 war on Iraq to bully the Palestinian leadership around Yasser Arafat into signing the infamous Oslo Agreement.

In the process, Arafat retreated on one after another long-held Palestinian position in an effort to placate the U.S. and win its support. The result can be seen on the faces of the Palestinian people. Their life is unquestionably far harsher today than it was before Oslo. Unemployment in the Occupied Territories has soared to over 50%. Malnutrition afflicts over a third of the children. There are tens of thousands more Israeli settlers on Palestinian land, which has been broken up into a series of ghettos, cut off and isolated from each other. This forces Palestinians making even the most routine family visit to submit to sadistically humiliating Israeli security ordeals. While Israelis have grown more prosperous, Palestinians have been driven into even greater poverty, and now earn on average less than 1/10 the income of an Israeli Jew. A few years ago this proportion was closer to 1/5.

In return they have a Palestinian Authority that has been stripped of anything but small weapons, intended only for controlling internal dissent, while occupying Israeli military forces have prevented their elected president Arafat from leaving his Ramallah office building for over a year now. Even foreign diplomats are no longer able to meet with him without Israeli reprisals. Just as the Nazis declared their right to choose the representatives of the Jews in the ghettos, Bush and Blair have installed their own hand- picked Prime Minister Abu Mazen, already widely regarded by Palestinians as a "U.S. stooge." Abdel Sattar Qassem, a professor at al-Najah University in Nablus, spoke for many when he concluded that "The new Palestinian cabinet is a security cabinet to oppress Palestinian people."

Mazen's new security chief, Mohammad Dahlan, privately told associates, "There's a generation of kids out there who listen to nobody." An on-the-ground source told the British Guardian 's Jonathan Freedland that these young people are typically 18 to 22, living desperate lives in the camps, and look at all authority with deep suspicion. "They watch al-Jazeera and decide their own policy.... There is no command and control structure that would enable Arafat, Abu Mazen or anyone else to rein these people in."

The Palestinian people today face not one road map, but two. One is being imposed by the guns of their oppressor. It offers them "attributes of sovereignty," in Ariel Sharon's words--the chance for new generations of Palestinians to suffer in silence under Israel's boots in a state stripped of any real power. The other road map is a path of determined self-reliant struggle that is based on a simple but undeniable truth: that there will never be peace in this region until there is justice for all the oppressed.

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