Dialog with X re: Palestinian problem

2002-06-01

Richard Moore

Bcc: X

Friends,

Thanks for all the comments sent in to recent postings.  I'll send 
those out soon.  In the meantime I'd like to share some more dialog 
with X, who was featured in the "ruminations" piece.

rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

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X> ... How can the two sides reverse direction and start looking
    towards the future? For the Israelis, the answer is obvious
    (even to many Israelis) though not easy. Declare the
    occupation over; recognize a Palestinian State including
    East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza; announce a quick
    time-line for dismantling the West Bank settlements; and, on
    this basis, offer negotiations to settle other differences...

    The Palestinians have one bold option that can break this
    futile violence. That option is nonviolent resistance.  In a
    previous column I wrote that the Palestinians have never
    tried this option, but a number of readers informed me that
    I was wrong. In 1983 Mubarak Awad, an American- educated
    Palestinian with a doctorate in counseling, returned to
    Jerusalem, where he was born, and started a nonviolent
    movement. Through his efforts, the first Palestinian
    intifada had a small, experimental nonviolent component that
    incorporated acts of reconciliation with Israeli Jews with
    nonviolent direct action against the Israeli occupation.
    
    Awad's nonviolence was not embraced by Palestinian leaders.
    They did not rally to his defense when, in June 1988, he was
    expelled by Yitzak Shamir's Likud government -- one of the
    many Israeli mistakes that has led to the current violence.
    Or maybe it wasn't a mistake. The Likud Party is opposed to
    a Palestinian state. Perhaps Shamir feared that Awad's
    nonviolence was the most likely way for the Palestinians to
    achieve their dream of statehood...
    
    
rkm> For the Palestinians and the Israelis, you identified
    something each could do that might improve things.  I don't
    have any better suggestions for either of those parties. 
    Unfortunately, the Israeli government will not follow your
    suggestion.  And as I argued before, no action of the
    Palestinians will get anywhere because Israel is intent on
    maintaining and expanding the settlements and eventually
    finding some final solution for getting rid of the
    Palestinians.
    
    There are at least two other parties involved. 
    International peace activists are putting their bodies on
    the line in Palestine, which is good, and that's about all
    they can do.  And there is the USA.  Washington could impose
    a solution.  Unfortunately, it is as unlikely to do so as
    Israel itself.
    
    This is unfortunately one of those many problems that cannot
    be remedied until much more basic problems in the world are
    dealt with.  Such as elite rule & capitalism.

X> Richard, I think you caricature Israel. There is a left
    and a peace movement; one that is larger than in most other
    countries of the world.

rkm> In a sense I did caricature, in that I referred to
    Israel as a single-willed agent.  But I am aware of the
    political diversity in the country, and somewhat of the
    political process.  The Sharon wing has gained control, and
    they have the means and the will to retain that control for
    some time.  It is from that perspective that I spoke of what
    Israel could and could not be expected to do.
    
    The settlements have been growing under a variety of
    governments, and abandoning them would be an explosive
    political undertaking.  I just don't see it happening
    without ~determined~ U.S. insistence.  As long as the
    settlements continue, with all that entails, the
    Palestinians remain essentially prisoners in their various
    enclaves, subject to arbitrary treatment at any time.
  
X> The strategic error of Palestinian action is that they have
    forced it to duck for cover.
  
rkm> You speak as if there had been some kind of acceptable
    status quo, and that the Palestinians undertook to disturb
    that for some anticipated gain.  I don't believe that was
    the scenario.  Instead, the Palestinians were subjected to
    an escalating spiral of abuses, making their daily life
    unlivable and threatening their future existence.
    
    How long can a people put up with increasing abuses before
    they strike back in desperation?  It is unfair to paint
    their response as being a peace-breaking initiative.  The
    peace was broken by the Israeli oppression.
  
X> A nonviolent strategy would also split Jewish opinion in the
    U.S. and Canada (don't know about Europe) and totally
    undermine the current influence of the Zionist opinion.
  
rkm> What do you think the Israeli response would be to
    large, politically effective, non-violent demonstrations? 
    My guess would be that some kind of violent incident would
    occur... a scuffle with IDF personnel, shots fired by a
    settler, whatever.  The gathering would be declared illegal,
    more violence would ensue, and a program of enforced curfews
    would be set up.  Or something else along those lines, as
    you indicated in the Awad case.  Any politically effective
    initiative would be undermined, one way or the other.
    
    The key factor in the whole scenario is the fact that
    Israeli policy makers intend to incorporate the occupied
    territories into Ersatz Israel.  The settlements pave the
    way, as did western settlements in 19th Century America. The
    settlers, and the policy makers, have the same attitude
    toward the Palestinians that the American settlers had
    toward the redskins. A friend of mine lived on a Kibbutz,
    and I asked what the young people did when they grew up. 
    She said, "All the young men think about is joining the army
    and killing as many Arabs as possible."
    
    Neither violence nor non-violence saved the Native
    Americans, and neither will save the Palestinians.  Only a
    major political shift in Israel and / or the U.S. can do
    that.  And the Palestinians will not be permitted to carry
    out any political strategy which might encourage such
    shifts.  

---

X> Your comment about capitalism is one that needs full
    discussion. Like many on the left I used to believe that
    capitalism caused or at least enflamed racism and other
    forms of intolerance, while socialism heeled. ... I'm not
    saying socialism supports racism, just saying that the neat
    division of capitalism/bad socialism/good, when it comes to
    racial and similar issues, does not totally hold up. There
    are good reasons to oppose capitalism but I'm not sure that
    race is one of them.
  
rkm> You're making some unwarranted assumptions here.  My
    critique of capitalism does not emphasize racism or
    intolerance, and my understanding of credible new-society
    scenarios is not oriented around socialism.
    
    Capitalism is unsustainable, and it is inherently
    characterized by elite rule.  Indeed, the adoption of
    capitalist government policies is already evidence that
    those elites have taken over.  For a century or two, the
    growth of capitalism seemed to serve the interests of
    Western populations.  They were willing to ignore or
    rationalize the imperialist exploitation that underpinned
    their prosperity.  Globalization is a response by elites to
    the fact that global growth was slowing down to unacceptable
    levels.  Capitalism ~must~ always have growth, and
    globalization is the process of squeezing out more growth by
    totally unleashing corporations to do whatever is necessary
    for that purpose.
    
    African famines, genocidal wars, monopolization of water
    supplies and seed crops, implementation of police states and
    crowded prisons in the West - WHATEVER IT TAKES - is what
    globalization is about.  And globalization is simply the
    natural and inevitable outcome of Capitalist evolution.
    Capitalism has become totally dysfunctional in every way and
    it must be abandoned if humanity is to survive in any kind
    of acceptable way.
    
    What to replace it with is a deep question, and 'Socialism'
    does not answer that question for me.  Economics needs to be
    sustainable, but that leaves a great deal of room for local
    variation.  The people of Chiapas and of Montana, for example,
    probably each prefer different economic systems.

    I think the more central question, regarding new societies,
    is the question of politics / governance.  What would real
    democracy look like?  Without that, no economic system would
    be sustainable.  If elites rule, even if through
    manufactured 'majorities', then eventually those elites will
    start reorganizing the new system for their own benefit.

stay in touch,
rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

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