Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 28, 2010

Israel, South Africa and the single state non-solution

Filed under: middle east — louisproyect @ 4:19 pm

Ali Abunimah

For well over five years, there has been a steady stream of articles in the liberal and radical press—both online and in print—for a “one state” solution in the Middle East. In contrast to the revolutionary socialist call for a democratic and secular Palestine, this one-state solution grants either implicitly or explicitly the Jewish character of the state and the participation of Palestinians in the occupied territories as citizens with the same rights as those now living in Israel proper. More recently, these advocates of what amounts to a Greater Israel have been encouraged by support for a single state solution by rightist politicians, seeing this as analogous to De Klerk coming around to the idea of ending apartheid. Do these ideas have any merit? I don’t think so.

One of the more prominent spokesmen for this approach is Tony Judt, who has evolved into a target of the Israel lobby. Judt, like many other American Jewish intellectuals, has understandably become appalled by the realities of Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the punishment of Gaza. He expressed his hopes for an end to this nightmare for the Palestinian people in a 2003 New York Review article titled Israel: the Alternative.

The problem with Israel, in short, is not—as is sometimes suggested—that it is a European “enclave” in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a “Jewish state”—a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded—is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.

Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention carefully, but the world has not moved on when it comes to individual rights and open frontiers, especially during a period of declining economic indicators. Judt seems to have pinned his hopes on an outcome that is virtually excluded in an epoch that is generating the same kind of xenophobia that victimized the Jews in the 1930s.

The London Review of Books, a journal inspired by the New York Review but with politics more closely aligned with the left, hosted a like-minded article by Virginia Tilley that appeared in late 2003 as well. Tilley is an American professor who has contributed to the New Left Review and is now working for a progressive think tank based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Titled One State Solution, Tilley reprises Judt’s argument and provides some policy recommendations that would make the new state more equitable:

The long-established role of the Jewish Agency, which administers Jewish national resources and privileges in Israel, would have to be re-examined. Electoral politics and Knesset representation would also be transformed, to permit legislative debate on the basis of equal ethnic standing. Alterations to the Basic Laws, or the creation of a secular constitution, could ensure that Israel continues to safeguard Jewish lives and rights, providing the sanctuary which many Jews in Israel and abroad remain anxious to preserve. But the same basic law would have to ensure Muslim, Christian and, indeed, agnostic/ atheist rights, and eliminate – at least juridically – any institutionalised hierarchy on ethnic or religious lines. Such a transition would require years of debate and struggle – and a political will now glaringly absent. Truth commissions and/or a general amnesty might eventually surmount the legacy of violence and hatred, but as in all such aftermaths, the process will take generations.

While these changes in and of themselves are not objectionable, they do not address the fundamental cause of inequality in the region, namely the ethnic cleansing that robbed Palestinians of their land and houses, in some cases owned by families for hundreds of years. It would be analogous to a post-Civil War Reconstruction in the USA that failed to grant land to the former slaves.

Perhaps the highest profile on the left for the single state solution is Ali Abunimah who wrote One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse in 2007, a book that can be read on Google Books, with the customary omissions, including all of chapter four “Learning from South Africa”.

Fortunately, we can look elsewhere to understand the basis for his comparison. In 2006, Abunimah wrote an op-ed piece for the Chicago Tribune titled South Africa as a model for one state in Palestine that argued:

Allister Sparks, the legendary editor of the anti-apartheid Rand Daily Mail newspaper, observed that the conflict in South Africa most resembled those in Northern Ireland and Palestine-Israel, because each involved “two ethno-nationalisms” in a seemingly irreconcilable rivalry for the “same piece of territory.” If the prospect of “one secular country shared by all” seems “unthinkable” in Palestine-Israel today, then it is possible to appreciate how unlikely such a solution once seemed in South Africa. But “that is what we did,” Sparks says, “without any foreign negotiator [and] no handshakes on the White House lawn.”

Now, four years later, Abunimah finds events moving slowly but perhaps inexorably in the direction of a post-apartheid Israel:

By the mid-1980s, whites overwhelmingly understood that the apartheid status quo was untenable and they began to consider “reform” proposals that fell very far short of the African National Congress’ demands for a universal franchise — one-person, one-vote in a nonracial South Africa. The reforms began with the 1984 introduction of a tricameral parliament with separate chambers for whites, coloreds and Indians (none for blacks), with whites retaining overall control.

The fact that it is elements of the Israeli hard right like Moshe Arens who are raising the possibility of a one-state solution rather than the Labor Zionists convinces Abunimah that Israel might be on the same track:

That proposals for a single state are coming from the Israeli right should not be so surprising in light of experiences in comparable situations. In South Africa, it was not the traditional white liberal critics of apartheid who oversaw the system’s dismantling, but the National Party which had built apartheid in the first place. In Northern Ireland, it was not “moderate” unionists and nationalists like David Trimble and John Hume who finally made power-sharing under the 1998 Belfast Agreement function, but the long-time rejectionists of Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party, and the nationalist Sinn Fein, whose leaders had close ties the IRA.

Am I the only person troubled by such analogies? If there is anything that can be learned from the South African and Northern Ireland experience, it is that the oppressed nationality gained very little except for formal democratic rights. If South African blacks, except for a privileged and decadent minority, still lack property, what good is the right to vote? Furthermore, being part of the “peace process” in Northern Ireland is not very reassuring when it comes to the role of one David Trimble, named to the committee established by Israel to whitewash the murder of 9 peace activists on the Mavi Marmara.

Trimble was a leader of the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland who amounted to the Irish De Klerk. Since being named to the panel, Trimble got involved with another project:

Initiated and led by Spain’s former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, a group of international leaders is to meet in Paris on Monday night to launch the “Friends of Israel Initiative,” a new project in defense of Israel’s right to exist.

The leaders – who include the Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble, Peru’s former president Alejandro Toledo, Italian philosopher Marcelo Pear, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and British historian Andrew Roberts – say they seek to counter the attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders.

Their launch meeting Monday will be addressed by the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold. On Tuesday, they will release a formal manifesto at a press conference in the French capital.

The initiative is being launched now, its sponsors said in a statement, because of their outrage and concern about the “unprecedented delegitimation campaign against Israel, driven by the enemies of the Jewish state and perversely assumed by numerous international authorities.”

Just the right man to sit in judgment on whether or not Israel was guilty of war crimes or not.

Unfortunately, what is missing entirely from the calculations of Tony Judt, Virginia Tilley and Ali Abunimah is the question of class. Analogies with South Africa and Northern Ireland are most unfortunate since they elide the basic question of who rules. As long as a society exists on the basis of social and economic inequality, there can be no true democracy. Institutional racism in South Africa, Northern Ireland and Israel effectively precludes the possibility of true equality.

27 Comments »

  1. So I understand that you see anything other than a the erection of a Workers Republic of Palestine the moment Israel ceases to exist (practice apartheid, same thing) as a dud in the process of fighting Apartheid Israel. A democratic Bourgeoisie republic with all of its inequalities with all of its contradiction and infighting.. Do you look at SA and think “we have lost” or “we’ve won the battle, not the war”? civil emancipation vs human emancipation.

    It was also inconsequent the text that you’ve brought about Dave Trimble and his involvement in Friends of Israel, Ali did not even bring him up as an example of some kind potential revolutionary of the Northern Ireland peace movement but a “moderate” a “liberal”. That seemed to me as a play on the cooties effect.

    Comment by Michael T — July 28, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  2. In the Abunimah article you link, Abunimah writes:

    “The experiences in South Africa and Northern Ireland show that transforming the relationship between settler and native, master and slave, or “horse and rider,” to one between equal citizens is a very difficult, uncertain and lengthy process. There are many setbacks and detours along the way and success is not guaranteed. It requires much more than a new constitution; economic redistribution, restitution and restorative justice are essential and meet significant resistance. But such a transformation is not, as many of the critics of a one-state solution in Palestine/Israel insist, “impossible.” Indeed, hope now resides in the space between what is “very difficult” and what is considered “impossible.””

    Doesn’t it seem then that he’s actually agreeing that economic transformation are central? You make it sound like he’s uncritically idealising South Africa and N Ireland.

    Comment by Evan S — July 28, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  3. “Unfortunately, what is missing entirely from the calculations of Tony Judt, Virginia Tilley and Ali Abunimah is the question of class. Analogies with South Africa and Northern Ireland are most unfortunate since they elide the basic question of who rules. As long as a society exists on the basis of social and economic inequality, there can be no true democracy. Institutional racism in South Africa, Northern Ireland and Israel effectively precludes the possibility of true equality.”

    While I agree with this general statement, it is entirely beside the point. This argument can also be used against each and every incidence of decolonization in history, and against the abolition of Jim Crow in the South or even slavery (and indeed something similar, though not the same–since he actually was a supporter of slavery– was argued by George Fitzhugh). Just because attaining a classless society or even reducing class differences is difficult and an ongoing process does not mean that one should not applaud the end of other (connected, though independent) social hierarchies or injustices. And who is to tell that a ruling class would not also develop in independent Palestine in case of a two-state solution also?

    Comment by tveb — July 28, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  4. Typo, only one “also” is called for above

    Comment by tveb — July 28, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  5. I don’t think this addresses the ethnic cleansing and occupation of Palestine very helpfully. Louis is addressing what amounts to the key problem of colonized peoples. It has been addressed by Mao, in his discussion of primary and secondary contradictions—his argument that it might be necessary to align with the KMT to fight the Japanese invasion of China, putting the class war temporarily on hold. It has been addressed from another perspective by the great Palestinian Marxist novelist and theorist Ghassan Kanafani, whose THE 1936-39 REVOLT IN PALESTINE (available at http://www.newjerseysolidarity.org/resources/kanafani/kanafani4.html) argues that this “First Intifada,” as it has been called, failed because of the failure of the Palestinian ruling class (the “notables”) to maintain solidarity with each other and the with the Palestinian working class and peasantry.

    But Louis is mixing up this perennial problem, which has to be addressed in the context of particular struggles, not a priori or from above, with an attack on the one-state solution. All the stuff at the end about the loathsome David Trimble is beside the point. Abunimah isn’t holding Trimble up as any sort of model—quite the opposite—so this digression is confusing at best.

    Louis doesn’t even bother to look at the sort of “two-state solution” now being established day by day in capitalist Ramallah and elsewhere. There, with the connivance of Israel and the US, we see emerging a nouveau riche class of Palestinian capitalists under the PA umbrella, with little or nothing said about or done for the millions of Palestinian refugees and émigrés. It is precisely the one-state solution (or at least some versions of it—Abunimah’s, for instance, and that of Al Awda, the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition) that holds out the possibility of the right of return for these ignored Palestinians.

    The key question to address is which model (one-state or two states) holds out the best prospect of an egalitarian revolutionary praxis that will build in Palestinian poor and working people and their rights from the very beginning. And from everything I’ve seen, the one-state model wins this contest, hands down. Only a one-state solution offers up a Palestinian revolution that isn’t based on fratricidal forgetting of the camps.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — July 28, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

  6. The question of power in a one state solution is a big question. Would it be acceptable for Jews to be ruled by Hamas?

    When you accept the “democratic secular” solution, its like calling for a South Africa situation.

    I think the old fashion Trotskyist position is best, for the right to self determination for Arabic, Hebrew and Kurdish speaking people, as part of a socialist Middle East.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — July 28, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  7. Greetings,

    Hope all is well.

    It makes me very angry when Americans talk in great lengths on how to fix Palestine and ignore the same tragic injustice that has been inflicted on the First Peoples of the United States. The only difference between America and Isreal is that the Americans have managed to commit a physical and culutral genocide, if not completely.

    Pay some attention to what’s happening in your own country. You want to fix Isreal then lead by example and fix what’s wrong in your own country.

    I once had somebody told me that we aren’t trying to kill all the Indians. That’s because we’ve done so. Remember the slonan “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Furthermore the genocide in the United States, Canada, Mexico marches on today.

    Love,

    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — July 28, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  8. Don’t be angry, John. The problem with your “start at home” advice is that the US is almost as responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as we are for the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, so it really should not be (and need not be) either/or. Palestinians and others have talked a lot about the analogy between the two forms of oppression.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — July 28, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

  9. Speaking of contradictions, there’s an AIPAC ad right above the comments.

    The “socialist federation of the Middle East” seems about as likely an outcome as the “Black Belt Republic” of the ’30s. Every political movement sometimes unwittingly indulges in self-parody.

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — July 28, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  10. Full of false analogies and red herrings. So that is you, the stalinist two-stagers, the vicious zionist sect, the historically decrepit Palestinian aristocracy and stunted national bourgeoisie and their political representatives all backing the fiction of two states versus the palestinian masses and the growing anti-zionist jewish population, with the help of a growing international opinion of disgust towards Israel, groping towards a single democratic secular state despite everything. Your position is both madly sectarian and an opportunist capitulation to political backwardness. In the course of struggling for an all-Palestine constituent assembly covering Israel, Gaza, West Bank which will at last give political expression to and recognition of the Palestinian majority at the same time as protecting the rights of the substantial jewish minority, the question of socialist economy will undoubtedly become a major issue.

    #6 You are no trotskyist.

    Comment by David Ellis — July 28, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

  11. While it’s trivial for this blog, in response to the “Trotskyist position” there is no historical Trotskyist position for ” for the right to self determination for Arabic, Hebrew and Kurdish speaking people, as part of a socialist Middle East” that I’ve ever heard of. The position of the Fourth International in the 1930s through at leat the 1970s, was for a “Democratic Secular Palstine”. Period. (certainly by the end of this period *different* “Trotskyist” positions developed as groups spun off and formed their own tendencis).

    That is, support of the Palestian struggle was not *conditioned* on support by THEM for a “Socialist anything”. This didn’t mean the FI abandoned the struggle for Permanent Revolution or a Socialist Middle East, but that the *starting point* was the Democratic Secular demand.

    David Walters

    Comment by D. Walters — July 28, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  12. Exactly David W, it’s a starting point. We may have a Kerensky, but what is certain is that we have no Lenin. We have a whole bunch of popular social democratic people like Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zahalka and plenty of straight up Marxists like Ameer Makhoul, Mohammad Kana’neh and Ahmad Sa’adat (all three are currently imprisoned) and we have the popular Islamic people like Raed Salah and Ismail Haniyeh.

    All come from disparate parties and ideologies, we have to have to acknowledge this. Also left-wing radicalism isn’t new in the land of the Palestine, the first Palestinians to lift arms against Zionist settlers in organized fashion were communists.

    And I think Renegade was thinking of Radek there.

    Comment by Michael T — July 28, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

  13. Uri Avnery has a good writeup on the one-state solution proposals coming from the right and how they would implement it:

    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1279969692

    Comment by Dan Epstein — July 28, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

  14. A secular democratic state, or a binational state, is no more plausible an outcome than a viable Palestinian state in all or part of the West Bank and Gaza, which is frankly unimaginable. But as a slogan to organise around, there is much to recommend a demand for one state over two (or more): http://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/2007/06/how-many-states.html. It goes without saying that bourgeois reforms of this kind do nothing to deliver economic justice, although by removing the national issue from the equation, they potentially open the door to more explicitly class based struggle crossing the virtually impermeable national barrier that now exists between Israeli Jewish workers and Palestinian workers. Consolidation of the division, with, significantly, the colonists keeping the lion’s share of historic Palestine, with the rump ‘Palestinian state’ inevitably under the rule of either the terminally corrupt PA or the Islamist Hamas, or both, is hardly likely to remove the barrier. The important thing is the level of class consciousness and resistance to the dictatorship of capital we can reasonably expect to emerge from the struggle in Palestine, and everywhere. We know there is no just outcome short of socialism, but under current conditions, I’d anticipate that any attempt to organise around class demands at the expense of national demands to backfire and marginalise its advocates. Given the feasible options and the overall objective, which I take to be ordinary working people controlling our own lives, I reckon it’s better to involve ourselves in a struggle for democracy than a struggle for partition.

    Comment by Ernie — July 29, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  15. The Palestinian National Democratic Revolution was hindered by the arrival of British Imperialism but received an even more massive set back with the arrival of the zionist colonialists. Despite this, however it remains viable. A unified democratic, secular Palestine (Israel, Gaza, West Bank) which encompasses the demands of the refugees for jobs and homes or compensation, ends the so-called `Right to Return’ for jews, restores land to its rightful owners where possible in West Bank and Israel. On the way to a democratic Palestine serious democrats will come to agree with the socialists that it can only be achieved through the socialisation of imperialist and monopoly capital who are the real obstacles to Palestinian self-determination.

    Greater Israel will only come about through ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and either the exodus of the Gaza population into Egypt, the ceding of the terriroty to Egypt or the permanent ghettoization and strangulation of the Gaza population. Two states is permanent bantustanisation for the Palestinians or bantustanisation on the road to ethnic cleansing.

    Comment by David Ellis — July 29, 2010 @ 10:37 am

  16. #15 The analogy with South Africa may be politically useful, but is a bit strained when it comes to practicalities;

    South Africa Land Area 471,000 square miles Population 50 million
    Composition Black African 79.4%, White 9.2%, Coloured 8.8%, Indian or Asian at 2.6%.
    Which means “Majority Rule” was a fairly easy slogan to get accepted.

    Israel Land Area 8,000 square miles Population 7.6 million (estimated 2010)
    Composition; Jewish 75%, Arab 20%, Other 5%
    The West Bank is inhabited by approximately 2.4 million Palestinians and the Gaza Strip by another 1.4 million.

    The main problem is how exactly pure “democracy”, secular or otherwise can deal with that situation.
    I’m not convinced that many people actually believe it can.
    Even if Marxists believe it can, I think they need to argue for something a bit more wide-reaching;
    e.g. a bi-national, socialist state.

    This recognises the different histories, languages and religions of the inhabitants of the land and it recognises that, as in South Africa, formal democracy doesn’t necessarily lead to economic equality.
    There are a whole host of other problems too…

    Comment by prianikoff — July 29, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  17. `e.g. a bi-national, socialist state.’

    That is capitulation and disgusting opportunism. Similar as to the ANC, hopeless as they are, agreeing to the whites having a racistalist enclave guaranteed by the black majority in the rest of s. africa.

    Comment by David Ellis — July 29, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  18. re 17, David Ellis, I’m not sure I understand your point. Israelis exist. Despite the injustice of the founding of the state it is the homeland of the people who were born there. The trick seems to me bringing justice to Palestine without turning Israeli Jews into the newly dispossed. Even the ones who deserve it by their political actions of the last 60 years.

    Re. 16, doesn’t the math change if you add back into the equation the right of return for Palestinians? Personally that seems like a necessary part of a single state.

    As for the class nature of that binational state: how different the Middle East would be if the national question was removed from the agenda. Wouldn’t the lies of all the capitalist states in the region be rawly exposed? Wouldn’t the class struggle be back on the agenda? Those seem like good things. And it’s not like socialism will be achieved in a Palestinian micro state.

    Comment by ish — July 30, 2010 @ 1:54 am

  19. dispossed=dispossessed. my bad.

    Comment by ish — July 30, 2010 @ 2:35 am

  20. #17 The way parties like MAPAI used the term in the late 40’s may have been. But they favoured segregated trade unions and “enclaves” and were basically social democratic in their approach to the slogan.

    That’s not how I see a bi-national socialist state.

    ” the bi-national state, unless visualised as a proletarian state, must necessarily be only a dream, an illusion, or downright treachery.”

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1947/xx/palestine.htm

    Comment by prianikoff — July 30, 2010 @ 9:40 am

  21. #17 For a start Judaism is not a nation it is a religion and marxists cannot support state or `national’ expression for any religion. What is behind the bi-national state slogan is an acceptance of the right of Zionism to have a state where secular democracy is outlawed. It would be like the ANC agreeing to the whites carving out a piece of South Africa where they could carry on being racists. A democratic secular state would protect the democratic rights of jews living in Palestine just as in theory the rights of whites to participate in civil society are protected in S. Africa today but I’m afraid the phoney Israeli nationality will have to go.

    Comment by David Ellis — July 30, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  22. A state can be both “democratic and secular” as well as “bi-national”.
    The term implies certain guarantees with regard to language, culture and religion.

    A bi-national state is, by definition, not the property of any one nation.
    Flemish Belgians are not Dutch, Walloons are not French.
    They’re citizens of Belgium.
    Canada, Switzerland and New Zealand have similar issues of bi-nationalism.
    Perhaps these states are destined to fall apart, but they’ve been around for rather a long time.

    The comment that “marxists cannot support state or `national’ expression for any religion” is more of a catechism than anything else. For a start I think the analysis is simplistic in the extreme and always have done.
    Was the Biro-Bijan autonomous region a “national expression” of religion?

    As I’ve already indicated, the analogies with S.Africa are very strained, for a whole number of reasons.

    Comment by prianikoff — July 30, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  23. Thanks, Prianikoff, not least for letting me know about Biro-Bijan! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birobidzhan.

    I think your comment gets to the heart of some of the misunderstandings, going all the way back to Louis’s original essay. In ONE STATE, Abunimah frequently draws the same analogy to Belgium (where he lived a few years, I think).

    The key to change (here, at least, Chomsky is right) is in the US: if we stop subsidizing Israel’s occupation and ethnic cleansing, and stop vetoing global efforts to stop its racism and rampages, Israeli Jews will find all kinds of reasons to compromise: Israel under a sanctions and a blockade, unlike Gaza under sanctions and a blockade, would actually have a choice: to start acting decently and abolish its apartheid.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — July 30, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

  24. This is a better link, as it deals with the origins of the “Jewish Autonomous Oblast” in the late 20’s.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Autonomous_Oblast

    Given that it was situated near a malarial swamp on the Amur River, it’s not surprising that it only attracted 16,000 working settlers.
    The choice of location was more to do with the desire of the Stalinists to secure the Siberian Railway against Japanese influences.

    The principle of creating an autonomous region under a socialist federation was something Trotsky supported in his pamphlet on the Jewish Question.

    “not a single progressive thinking individual will object to the USSR designating a special territory for those of its citizens who feel themselves to be Jews, who use the Jewish language in preference to all others, and who wish to live as a compact mass.
    Is this or is this not a ghetto? During the period of Soviet democracy, of completely voluntary migration, there could be no talk of ghettoes. But the Jewish question and the very manner in which settlements of Jews occurred, assumes an international aspect. Are we not correct in saying that a world socialist federation will have to make possible the creation of a Biro-bidjan for those Jews who wish to have their own autonomous republic as the arena for their own culture?”

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/xx/jewish.htm

    Comment by prianikoff — July 31, 2010 @ 8:52 am

  25. #24 You use Trotsky to jusfity zionism? Shame. Trotsky said that an autonomous republic could be estabished in the SOviet Union and possibly in a World SOcialist Federation where jews would be in the majority. Not a jewish state and not this side of revolution and certainly not at the expense of any indigenous populations. He talks of the vast `empty’ spaces in Russia and being able to carve out a small piece of it for those interested in living in a majority jewish republic. The apartheid analogies with Israel are appropriate. In fact I think they may be a far to generous an assessment given that the S. African whites were interested in exploiting the overwhelmingly black population whilst the zionists must push the Palestinians out. If the Arab world and the UN didn’t intervene for their own political reasons in Gaza it would be even more comparable to the Nazi siege of the Warsaw ghetto than it is now.

    Comment by David Ellis — August 1, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  26. `The principle of creating an autonomous region under a socialist federation was something Trotsky supported in his pamphlet on the Jewish Question.’

    Where is the socialist federation that gives Israel any legitimacy. This misuse of Marxism is awful. Trotsky supported national liberation struggles on the road to socialism but he was quite clear that the question of establishing some kind of republic where jews were in the majority was strictly a post-socialist issue and also, from the quote, that these autonomous `republics’ could be established within any and all nations if wanted. There was no question of some unique specifically Jewish State. He was quite clear that Jews should be coming over to the international revolution first and foremost. In the great secular democracy that is the US is there any demand for an autonomous republic where jews are in the majority? I doubt it as they probably have some kind of de facto existence anyway as they do in Britain as do Muslim communities. But no religion can have national, state expression as we would have to overthrow such an anti-democratic entity straight away.

    Clearly an autonomous republic in that part of Palestine where jews are in the majority would be silly, as silly as a Catholics in Britain demanding an autonomous republic, and would take us back to square one.

    Comment by David Ellis — August 1, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  27. Most people I know who see the Single State as the only solution to the Palestine issue plump very clearly for the Secular Multicultural State – where religion, if people have any – is a private matter, and that the state’s laws follow the norms of international treaties. My response to the non-acceptors on all sides is that they should consider returning to the country on their second, or third, passport leaving behind those who can work together in the spirit of freedom, equality and fraternity.

    Comment by Roo — August 2, 2010 @ 2:18 pm


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