Revolution #247, October 9, 2011

The Call for UN Recognition of a Palestinian State…
… And the Demands of a Besieged Empire

On September 23, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a long-anticipated address to apply for UN membership for a Palestinian state—comprised of small parcels of Palestine, chopped up and militarily dominated by Israel. While such a resolution does not lead in the direction of ending the oppression of the Palestinian people, U.S. President Barack Obama still declared—in his speech to the UN two days before Abbas'—that the resolution wasn't going to happen. Abbas' speech was followed by a belligerent rant by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who dismissed the UN as "theater of the absurd" for (watered down and toothless) resolutions that have condemned Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their homeland.

As we wrote in the last issue of Revolution, "The UN resolution poses critical questions of the nature and role of the state of Israel, the root causes behind the oppression of the Palestinian people, and what it will take to achieve justice and liberation for a people who have suffered generations of subjugation and brutal occupation." ("The UN Vote… the Occupation of Palestine… and the Struggle for Liberation," #246, September 25, 2011)

Obama and the U.S.—Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Obama addressed the UN in the context of a region in upheaval, with the domination of the world's sole superpower challenged by a whole range of rivals, outmoded Islamic fundamentalist social forces in the region as well as by the mass struggles of people demanding freedom... And with U.S. support for Israel widely (and correctly) perceived throughout the region as shameful and outrageous.

Attempting to position the U.S. as the champion of democracy in the region, Obama made a gesture of portraying the U.S. as an even-handed broker between Israel and the Palestinians. He declared, "It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state."

A recent article in the New York Times revealed the nature of this "investment." It describes a meeting, arranged by the Obama administration, between Republican congressmen and Netanyahu to convince the congressmen to vote to continue funding the Palestinian Authority. It says, "One of the members of Congress who attended the meeting with Mr. Netanyahu ... said that it was carefully explained to the delegation that the money would be used for training Palestinian police officers who work closely with the Israeli government." (New York Times, September 21, 2011)

Whatever paltry assistance the U.S. would include in a package for social services or government functioning, it is those "Palestinian police officers who work closely with the Israeli government" that are the essence of the U.S. "effort in the building of a Palestinian state" that operates as an enforcer for Israel (and beyond and behind that, the U.S.).

The Godfather and His Enforcer

Immediately after laying out the U.S. "investment" in some version of a Palestinian state, Obama's tone shifted to the threatening demeanor he takes when lecturing rivals, or the oppressed: "But understand this as well: America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day."

The nature of this "deep and enduring" relationship is that since its birth, literally on the bones and homes of the Palestinian people, Israel has served as a rabid enforcer of U.S. interests around the world. When there was an apartheid regime to be propped up in South Africa, Israel was there. A genocidal Christian fascist dictator in Guatemala—Israel supplied guns, training and transport. Operation Green Hunt—a war of terror against indigenous peoples and Maoist guerrillas in India... the U.S. has called on Israel to provide support and training.

Obama went on: "Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it."

First, it must be said that these wars have all been provoked, if not launched, by Israel, and have been extremely one-sided in death and destruction. Beyond that, whited out from Obama's profoundly distorted narrative are the basic facts that Israel was built on ethnic cleansing and maintains an ongoing state of terror throughout the region.

Finally, Obama played what is supposed to be the moral trump card in defense of Israel and all its crimes: "The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied."

But who was responsible for the pogroms—orgies of violence against the Jews in Europe? It was the old reactionary ruling classes of Europe. Who carried out the Holocaust against the Jews in Europe? The Holocaust was unleashed and carried out by the German imperialist ruling class. And the ruling classes of "the Allies" were in the main complicit with that, turning away Jewish refugees attempting to escape from Hitler, while diverting them to Palestine, and refusing to militarily attack the trains to the death camps.

The actual lesson of the Holocaust is that pleading ignorance or impotence is no excuse for failing to oppose crimes against humanity. And that applies now to Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.

Opposing U.S./Israel Attacks... Bringing Forward Another Way

In the midst of the uprisings sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, there have been inspiring elements of the people of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and other countries marching to and even crossing the borders of Israel (and Israel responding with one-sided violence, killing many protesters). These developments, and the emergence of a growing struggle around the world against Israel's crimes against the Palestinians, have shown a glimpse of the potential for the people of the world to break through and beyond the deadly paradigm where the dead-end of Islamic fundamentalist jihad and outmoded social forces associated with that have been positioned as the main force opposing the U.S. and Israel. The uprisings in the region can be an environment in which a genuinely revolutionary alternative to the whole current world order gets on the map, including an understanding of the actual nature and role of Israel.

It remains critical that as debate and struggle erupts around the bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state, the truth about the role and nature of Israel, its fundamental illegitimacy be brought to light and into the swirl of controversy. And that moves by the U.S. and Israel and their lackeys in the region to clamp down on and lash out at the Palestinian people be politically opposed.


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