End-game in the war for Greater Israel

The current attack on Palestinians in Gaza is a display of brutal military might, but ought not to be construed as evidence of Israeli strength because the War for Greater Israel really has been lost.  Despite the delays, the outcome must be a viable Palestinian State in the short term future. The killing continues, not because Israeli leaders believe that they have any chance of preventing that short term outcome, but because the racism inherent in Zionism  means that the lives of Palestinians are still expendable in the lead-up to the Israeli elections.

Since 2002, we at Strange Times/LastSuperpower have argued that supporting the Zionist war for greater Israel has become untenable for the USA and that we should therefore expect to see a Palestinian State within the next few years. Five years have passed since we first made that prediction and yet the Palestinians remain not only stateless and  now split between HAMAS controlled Gaza and a Fatah ‘controlled’,  but still occupied West Bank. Nevertheless, I think we are right to  remain confident and that our detractors will scoff less as events unfold in 2009. It is very clear that neither  Livni or Netanyahu have any realistic alternatives to acccepting that 40 years on, they have lost the war for greater Israel.  The attack on Gaza is designed to show just that. When it  is over and the elections have been contested and won,  the next step will have to be a comprehensive settlement.

The launch of the Iraq war, heralded a fundamental change in US policy and our prediction that Israel would be forced to finalise its defeat in its war for greater Israel was an integral part of our analysis of what the US is up to.   We supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein because we believed that it was clearly in US interests to kickstart democratic change in Iraq, rather than to replace Hussein with a US client regime. We also argued that a successful democracy in the heart of the Arab world would have the impact of undermining the grip of autocracy and reaction throughout the entire Middle East. The issue of Palestine clearly could not be left unresolved in such a circumstance. Subsequent events have given us no reason to revise our position on this.

Over the past five years the direction of events  in Iraq have shown that our prediction about US intentions was correct. Those who opposed the war have now had to fall back to the conservative arguments such as  ‘the price has been too high’ and that the “peace of fascism” would have been preferable.

We argued from the start,  that the invasion of Iraq was the first step in a far larger enterprise, aimed at eradicating terrorism by bringing on the democratic revolution throughout the entire Middle East and in doing so we were clear that the  success of that enterprise would rest crucially on an Israeli retreat from the occupied territories and the establishment of a viable Palestinian State.

(Rather than attempt a full spelling out of (what we have called) the “Drain the Swamps” theory here, I’ll just provide a link to an article I wrote for The Australian in September  2006: Drain the Swamps Where Terror Breeds.  At the end of this blog entry I’ll also append  a list of links to various expositions of the theory on our old forum.)

The default position of “the Left” was to oppose the war in Iraq and to treat it as yet another case of US Imperialist aggression. Very few on the Left have been prepared to engage productively with us over the issues. Although currently  there appears to be some reluctant admission that “miraculously” Iraq now does seem to be moving in a democratic direction,  various people have now resorted to taking some delight in telling us that since our prediction about the necessity for  a Palestinian State  has still not been confirmed, we got that part crashingly wrong.

I don’t think so! We certainly expected progress to be faster and we were clearly wrong to be so convinced that it  would be accomplished by the end of Bush’s term. Highly specific predictions are hazardous, although at times worthwhile, even if only to provoke further analysis when they don’t happen. For example Patrick was wrong when he predicted that Marwan Barghouti would be among the prisoners released by Olmert on August 25 last year. Similarly he was over optimistic in his post “How Goes the War for Greater Israel?” in which  he predicted that a Palestinian State could be a done deal by the end of 2007.

However, a Palestinian State remains  historically necessary, and in the short term. Israel’s latest round of atrocities against the Palestinians has no chance of changing that. It simply indicates what we already knew: the brutal, bankruptcy of the Zionist war for greater Israel. The attack on Gaza demonstrates the vicious opportunism of the current crop of Israeli politicians, rather than any continuing capacity of the Israeli State to keep prosecuting the war.

Any political position which aims to be part of history, rather than just meaningless commentary combined with post hoc “explanation”, ought to have some real predictive power. Simple scientific theories can generate specific falsifiable predictions but that  is just not possible in theories about ‘future history”. We should beware of assuming the ability to see the future in all its messy detail,  and we must also expect  the occurence of contingent events which have the potential to derail things in unpredictable ways. Nevertheless any practically useful political/social theory ought to be able to predict the general form and direction of things to come within a reasonable time frame. The point of such theories  is not  to prove oneself capable of making smart-arsed predictions, but to understand the world well enough to know what is possible, and to thus become capable of intervening in such a way as to make the best possibilities happen faster. Marx summed this up when he wrote: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

The “Draining the Swamps” theory did produce testable predictions about events in the entire Middle East region. And things have unfolded in the direction we predicted, although, not surprisingly, much of the detail has blurred the picture. Gradually, however, the image has become sharper, and what we see has been similar to what we expected. Along the way though, I think we’ve all become more aware that major and deep change is full of unpredictable twists and turns and of what  the phrase “a revolution is not a dinner party” really means.

Currently the Palestinian picture is still blurry, there could well be some more tortuous twists and turns but  as the image sharpens, I don’t think we’ll see anything which confounds us.

Our prediction that a Palestinian State would come into existence by the end of Bush’s term  is indicative of a tendency on our part to overestimate the capacity of that small section of the bourgeoisie who spoke in favour of democratisation, to weather the storm and actually get the job done. Related to this, we crucially underestimated internal Israeli issues. As far as the US has been concerned, a few more years of oppression for the Palestinians and x thousand more deaths has (very foolishly) never been a major concern.  They  have undoubtedly paid a major price for this throughout the rest of the ME swamp, but history is full of examples of short term interests trumping rational calculation of the longer term consequences.

The Bush rhetoric about “the war on terror” which was designed to mobilise support from the most backward elements of the foreign policy establishment (and thus was a necessary move on his part), has also slowed things across the board. The reality is that there is no way of launching democracy in the Middle East without involving mass based, fundamentalist Islamic groups such as Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. These groups have all engaged in terrorism of various types, are all hostile to the USA, and all embrace ideas which run counter to those which are the norm in the advanced liberal democracies. However they are fundamentally different from Al Qeada. The deliberate spreading of the idea that it is US policy to be at war with them is very misleading, and has led to massive confusion (including the widespread delusion that GWB is either completely dumb or a lunatic). It has also forced the US to make frequent declaratory attacks on these groups, rather than go public with the more nuanced view, which underlies their practical policy decisions. Inevitability this pandering to the conservative Right (however necessary) has created enormous constraints on how fast things can be achieved.

Nevertheless the unfolding  Iraqi democracy shows quite clearly that US on-the-ground policy does recognises the distinction between AQ and these other groups. In Iraq,  the US has worked alongside these non-AQ Islamic fundamentalists (many with terrorist pasts), and successfully brought them into the democratic process. This has been enormously undermining to the autocracies throughout the region who have for decades been able to justify their repression as being necessary to keep groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood at bay. As a consequence, time is now beginning to run out for these regimes. When that happens, what we will see is the development of Islamist based, infant democracies which are not particularly pro-American.  Not surprisingly, a large section of the US Right appears to have no grasp of this and just can’t make any sense of the outcome in Iraq being the empowerment of Islamic groups who are quite hostile to the USA (and contain people who are prepared to throw their shoes at the US president!).

The “decents” ( eg Harry’s Place and  The Drink-Soaked Popinjays for War) who claim to be leftwing supporters of the liberation of Iraq, are among those who have  embraced the simple-minded notion that it’s all a “war on terror”.  These groups have  remained impervious to the idea that US policy is to wipe out terrorism by draining the swamps, rather than to make war on every variety of terrorist tinged Islamic fundamentalism. As a result they have slipped into shameless support for Israel as a “victim” of Islamic terrorism.

Very few people who supported the war from the Left have continued to support the Palestinians and oppose Israeli aggression. The shallowness of the “decents”‘attitude to Israel continues to astound me. It is perfectly possible to remain implacably opposed to the anti-semitism that is rampant among these groups and to recognise how backward and reactionary they are, without either embracing Zionism or failing to see that the best (and only) way to reduce the grass roots appeal of groups like Hamas is by democratizing the region. This obviously requires a Palestinian State, rather than support for Israel on the basis that Hamas is a reactionary, terrorist organisation.

Bin Laden has repeatedly described democracy as toxic to his cause, and has publically expressed fury at the Sunni Awakening movement agreeing to join the political process in Iraq. This is evidence enough, against those who argue that the war in Iraq was irrelevant to the struggle against AQ. What has happened in Iraq has been a mighty blow against everything that AQ stands for. Since 2003, the AQ position has been rapidly losing its influence, well beyond Iraq. Everywhere in the ME we see evidence of the preparedness of these large, grass roots Islamist organisations to participate in the democratic process, rather than follow the AQ path.  Reuel Marc Gerecht’s recent analysis of the capacity of militant Islamists to move away from regarding Islam and democracy as antithetical is well worth reading: God, Man and the Ballot Box.

The current criminal events in Gaza need to be seen in the broader context of the struggle to drain the swamps by moving the entire region into the democratic era.

Neither HAMAS nor the current Fateh  leadership  is now any source of inspiration for the mass of Palestinians. The answer to this leadership vacuum is for the Israelis to release Marwan Barghouti (or to sit back and take the negative consequences of him being elected in the upcoming Palestinian elections, while still locked up). I remain convinced that this must happen, and that some time in 2009, a Palestinian State will come into existence, accompanied by both Israel and the USA describing it as a result of their own wonderful success in forcing the Palestinians to relinquish terrorism!

Like any new democratic state emerging from a background of repression, backwardness, tribalism, intense nationalism (and all the rest of it), it will wobble in different directions.  I can already hear the voices of the doomsayers maintaining that the situation remains hopeless, it’s all a fraud (or whatever else they can think of to prop their conviction that things just must go from bad to worse).

It will however be a huge step forward, and not just for the Palestinians.  The dynamic of the entire region will begin to shift even further than it has already.

Links to  few past  discussions of the “Drain the Swamps” theory:

Spelling out the Draining the Swamps theory

Draining the Swamps

Draining the Swamps in 2007

18 Responses to “End-game in the war for Greater Israel”

  1. 1 melaleuca

    Sorry for the off topic question, but do you guys accept Mark Bahnisch’s characterisation of your blog as Maoist?

    As to Hamas, I don’t see how Israelis can be expected to view them as anything more then vermin given the fact that their Constitution quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and calls for the annihilation of Israel.

    As to this claim:”I remain convinced that this must happen, and that some time in 2009, a Palestinian State will come into existence, accompanied by both Israel and the USA describing it as a result of their own wonderful success in forcing the Palestinians to relinquish terrorism!” Are you taking bets? How about  $50? I’ll even give you 2-1 odds 🙂

  2. 2 Arthur

    Israel supporters excuse themselves for treating Palestinians like vermin by complaining about Hamas.

    That terminology merely highlights the total isolation of Israel supporters. You are talking only to yourselves when you speak of vermin.

    Remember when public opinion still had illusions about Israel, and Israeli propaganda aimed to foster the delusion that Zionism was peaceloving and loveable, instead of openly admitting its deep rooted contempt for Palestinians as sub-human?

    More interesting is the bet.

    The odds offered are tempting but events are too contingent for me to predict firm timetables.

    What’s clear though, is that only a few short years ago, Zionists would have offered better odds than that on “there will NEVER be a Palestinian State”, “Jordan is Palestine”, “Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of Israel” etc ad nauseum.

    Though not clear cut, there is more than a hint in melaleuca’s bet of weary acceptance that it’s only a matter of time. Even if melaleuca turned out to be right about 2009, it isn’t much of a platform for Zionists to mobilize around. “Let’s make heroic sacrifices to postpone the inevitable for another year or decade”.

    The war with the Palestinians now makes precisely as much sense to most Israelis, as the war for return of P.O.W.s from Vietnam did for Americans (ie lots of enthusiastic breast beating about how reasonable the demands are, but now confined to ending rocket attacks, which implies acceptance than the original war aims have been lost, and further sacrifice is completely and utterly pointless).

  3. 3 keza

    Yes, Hamas’ propoganda is vilely anti-semitic, and its views in general are of the most reactionary, backward type.  No-one here would claim anything else. The reason such views have taken hold throughout the Middle East is because the place really is a swamp. 

    A major reason for this is Israel’s 40 year war on the Palestinians.  Until there is a Palestinian State, groups like Hamas will continue to find fertile ground for their ideas, and the autocracies of the region will to continue to benefit from Arab anger being deflected away from them and toward “the Jews”, the Big Satan etc .

    And, for all Hamas’ big words about refusing to recognize Israel’s “right to exist”, the reality is that it does accept the continuing existence of an Israeli State and has publically embraced a two State solution. Early last year it offered a “ten year truce” with Israel, provided it withdraws behind its 1967 borders.  This is in fact, de facto recognition of Israel, it can’t be seen in any other way.

    Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal’s words: “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as an alternative to recognition.” “We agree to a [Palestinian] state on pre-67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital with genuine sovereignty without settlements but without recognizing Israel,” Meshaal said.”We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition,” he said.

    Hamas is as much constrained by reality as are the Israelis.  There’s no option for Israel other than ending this 40 year war and withdrawing behind its ’67 borders, and no option for the Palestinians other than accepting the continuing existence of the Israeli State.  Hamas knows that as well as anyone. 

    The current attack on Gaza, is not about stopping rocket attacks on Israel, because that can only be accomplished by ending the war and establishing a viable Palestinian State.  While the Palestinians remain stateless, groups like Hamas will flourish, and Israel will continue to cop attacks from rockets and suicide bombers.Give the Palestinians a State, and groups like Hamas will  have to either gradually moderate their views and adapt to the modern world, or die away completely.  Their existence is a grotesque manifestation of the swamp

    .re your off-topic question as to whether we  “accept Mark Bahnisch’s characterisation of your blog as Maoist?” :Bahnisch  et al are big on engaging in ad hominem attack rather than engaging with the actual views expressed. If you want to know what we think, read our material and judge us on that.   You could also look at the “About the StrangeTimes bloggers” page, where some of us have provided biographical material.

  4. 4 Arthur

    Actually these days Hamas propaganda is increasingly sophisticated and not “vilely anti-semitic”.For obvious reasons right-wing islamists like Hamas have even greater tendencies towards hatred of jews and belief in fantastic conspiracy theories than is widespread among Palestinians and Arabs generally. The Hamas charter includes spectacular examples which of course, Zionist propaganda keeps harping upon, but which did not inhibit them from encouraging the development of Hamas as a counter to the more dangerous Palestinian national movement led by Fateh. (Israel actively encouraged the Brotherhood while suppressing Fateh). Hamas certainly still includes strong reactionary and backward elements, but has moved a long way. Their mass base mainly supports their intransigent steadfastness against concessions to Zionist aggression and Fateh corruption, rather than the reactionary stuff, and most of the more reactionary elements have moved over to Islamic Jihad.

  5. 5 melaleuca

    Thanks Keza. As I’ve said before I do enjoy your blog’s interesting mesh of ideas even if I don’t always agree. May the material circumstances of history cause you to live long and prosper.

    Arthur says: “Their mass base mainly supports their intransigent steadfastness against concessions to Zionist aggression and Fateh corruption rather than the reactionary stuff and most of the more reactionary elements have moved over to Islamic Jihad.”

    Do you have evidence for this view? Call me old fashioned if you will, but I do like to see evidence in support of sweeping statements.

  6. 6 Arthur

    Evidence that mass base doesn’t support the reactionary stuff can be found in the policies they got elected on – which not only omitted the anti-semitic propaganda but also emphasized willingness to accept an agreement with Israel that is adopted by Palestinians in a referendum.

    They had a lot less support before they took that position, which is widely accepted as reasonable among all Palestinians, and enabled them to win a majority of seats in the last elections.

    Checkout the links (in my earlier comment)

    Naturally Israeli propaganda seeks to convey the opposite impression, just as it did with Arafat, the PLO and Fateh.

    The bottom line at present is that Hamas won’t agree to a ceasefire without an end to the siege which has been choking Gaza. That position is de facto endorsed by the US and Australia in calling for a long term ceasefire with the border crossings open. Naturally they both one sidedly denounce Hamas and resolutely support Israel, but when you look closely, the only achievable war aims the Israelis actually have are to cover up their acceptance of what has been Hamas’ position, by making it appear to be imposed by Israeli bloodshed.

    Israel is out on a limb with the siege of Gaza, and would much rather end it murderously than be seen to have simply backed down from the absurd position it took of withdrawing from Gaza while keeping it under blockade and siege.

    That’s also the strategic situation overall. The entire Zionist leadership is implicated in having dragged Israelis through a forty year war for greater Israel that was both criminal and futile. In retreating to the 1967 borders they have to present themselves as still strong, despite the obvious strategic defeat. So they have to turn it into a war against the terrorism that was a direct result of their occupation and can only be ended by ending the occupation.

    More pathetically, since they have to reach an agreement with Fateh and the PLO (and now also with Hamas), they need to invent a new “existential threat”. So these days suddenly Iran,  which doesn’t even have a common border, is presented as “the enemy” so that reaching an agreement with the Palestinians, and removing the settlers from the occupied territories can be a blow against the new enemy instead of a defeat for the Zionist leadership in their four decades battle against the old enemy. “Israel is at war with Iran, Israel has always been at war with West Asia…”.They are too gutless to simply suppress their own die-hards, and greatly prefer to out maneuver them and be seen as murderous, than as weak.

    This strategy worked well enough for Nixon. The US was in decline as a superpower from its defeat in Vietnam, but the opposite perception was so strong (especially as a result of the collapse of the other superpower) that it’s only comparatively recently that most of the world has started to recognize that the US is merely the “last superpower” rather than some all powerful “only superpower”.

    It worked so “well” that much of the anti-US hatred around the world is based on absurd misconceptions about US capabilities and intentions.

    If the Zionists are successful in perpetuating the myth of their strength, they can look forward to the same benefits as the US…Israel may well be the “last regional power” in the middle east. But it simply no longer has the dominance it once did have. Even an “incursion” into territory they were once able to occupy with impunity, involves great drama.

    The days of both superpowers and regional powers are ending. As Maoists say: Countries want independence, nations want liberation and the people want revolution.

  7. 7 dalec

    I want to know how you reconcile the US support for the fascist state of Israel, with its “program for democracy” in the ME in general; in particular Iraq. After all is not Israel doing the same thing in Palestine as the COW did in Iraq ? So by that logic you should support the Zionist killing of the innocents.

  8. 8 youngmarxist

    There are only two ways that anyone could possibly believe that dalec, and think that we believe it. You would have to ignore everything that anyone associated with this site has ever said, including everything in this article, and approach debate here with an assumption of bad will.

    Can we please put dalec into permanent moderation? He’s not here to engage and he doesn’t deserve to infest our comment boxes unless he changes his act.

  9. 9 dalec

    Yes it is far easier to talk among yourselves, comfortable and re-assuring. No wonder you have nothing on this site but heated agreement and a few token arguments.   My question stands however. Why do you support the destruction of Iraq and not the destruction of Palestine ?Surely the “swamp” in Palestine is being well and truly drained by the the US proxies. You should be celebrating every bit of “colatteral damage” surely.Also you could explain why the promised liberation of Palestine that you have been predicting for years under the Bush regime has never eventuated. Instead we have this genocide that is clearly approved by Bush and co and you lot too – by association.Dalec

  10. 10 Arthur

    youngmarxist, I think you’ve missed something about dalec’s stupidities.In the fantasy world that dalec inhabits (along with large numbers of other people who would ask the same question, less offensively) the US HAS been doing in Iraq what they support Israel doing in Gaza.One factor in sustaining that fantasy is of course the fact that both supporters of the US and opponents generally DO line up the same way on both issues. The common thread that unites both sides in being able to ignore reality and stick to fantasy is their total contempt for democracy and the people and their inability to handle complexity and dialectics.They cannot admit the inconsistentcy in reality of the US being allied with Iraqi islamists and fighting Iraqi fascists who are murdering large numbers of Iraqis to prevent them choosing their own government while at the same time being allied with Iraeli Zionists murdering large numbers of Palestinians to prevent them choosing their own government.So they either have to pretend that Zionists are not murdering Palestinians to prevent them choosing their own government (as the “decent left” does) or else pretend that the US is not allied with a popularly elected government fighting fascist mass murderers in Iraq (as the pseudoleft does).Actual analysis of reality and its complexities is quite beyond them.

  11. 11 Lupin3

    Clearly the question of whether Hamas legitimately represents the Palestinian people is at the core of the LS/ST position on this conflict.  Assuming for the moment that it does (an assumption Christopher Hitchens does not seem to share), I’m not sure that it naturally follows, from Israel’s perspective, that Hamas can be – in the dangerously cliched term – a partner in peace.I don’t think one can simply ignore the fact that Hamas was founded in part to secure the toppling of the Israeli regime and its replacement by an Islamic one. 

    One can dismiss this as merely declaratory policy, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that despite possessing the moral right to violent resistance, the actual act of violent resistance by Hamas (and the PA) has been deeply destructive to Palestinian society since at least the failure of the meeting at Camp David. So the question emerges: should one support Hamas for its electoral legitimacy (such as it is) despite its dangerously reactionary politics?

    If one takes the LS/ST position on Iraq as an analogue, one might well conclude that the answer to the above question would be “no,” given the fact that LS/ST seem to agree that despite their popular appeal, Shiite militia groups such as that lead by Moqtada al-Sadr should be sublimated into the political process.  But that hasn’t entirely happened with Hamas, and it would be surprising to find LS/ST condemning a Coalition attack against a Shiite militia group firing rockets into the Green Zone.

    But of course there are vast differences in the tactics and strategies of the Coalition occupation of Iraq (now no longer an occupation, really) and the Israeli management of Palestine.  My understanding of the LS/ST argument here is that Israel is essentially bombing its way to surrender, with the exit strategy being UN patrolled open borders.  Israel bombs in order to maintain the appearance of strength, while materially conceding to the Palestinians essentially what Arafat demanded at Camp David (ie, a Palestinian state with no preconditions of dismantled terrorist organizations).

    I’m not sure this fully accounts for the strategy in the current war, however.  Obviously, the stated goal of stopping rockets being fired by Hamas into Israel hasn’t been met, and probably cannot be, except by occupation, which Israel doesn’t want to do.  But I think the IDF is being used to exacerbate the rising tensions toward Hamas within Gaza, with the goal of further de-legitimizing them as a political force.  A goal fraught with risk, obviously.  Still, perhaps one worth considering.

  12. 12 Lupin3

    Considering, that is, in an analysis of Israel’s strategy, not as a qualification of the strategy itself.  Just to be clear.Also, still having paragraphs stripped in comments when using either Firefox 3 or IE 6.

  13. 13 keza

    Hi Lupin,Glad to see you posting again. (Sorry about the paragraph problem, I’m trying to find a solution, can’t seem to make it work properly for people without full posting priveleges )

    I don’t think the issue of whether Hamas “legitimately represents the Palestinian people” is at the core of the LS/ST argument.  Clearly Hamas won popular support as the only alternative to the corrupt Fateh leadership and won the vote at the last elections, so I suppose we can talk of them as “legitimately representing the Palestinians” in that rather narrow sense.  But as far as the argument goes, that is by the by.  The issue has much more to do with the direction in which we see things moving.  Hamas’ current status as “legitimate”,  is not in itself reason for either supporting or opposing it. 

    What we argue is that a Palestinian State is now a necessity in the historical sense, quite apart from  in the moral sense.  So we need to interpret current Israeli agression in Gaza in that light.  I won’t make any attempt to produce further analysis here of just why the Israelis have gone into Gaza in such a savage and  apparently pointless way.  However I do think that the only explanation has to do with the need to disguise defeat in the 40 year war for Greater Israel.

    Right now, there’s a widespread tendency among nearly everyone who supported the liberation of Iraq, to drag their feet on the entire issue of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians (at best) or to give outright support to Israel (at worst).  The argument seems to go:  “Well, yes a Palestinian State would be ok, but not while Hamas has such influence. Such a State would be led by lunatics, only interested in using it to breed Islamic warriors even more efficiently. There’s no way genuine democracy could prevail (etc etc)”.  At a deeper level, this position is not only anti-Hamas, but very negative about the Palestinian people themselves. Fundamentally it sees the Palestinians as ‘not capable’, ‘untrustworthy’, ‘childish’ and requiring some form of external domination until such time as they are deemed fit.  One version or another of this attitude has always been expressed by opponents of democracy and freedom. It has a long history. 

    It’s easy to go on and on about Hamas because there is such a mass of available material which on the surface, makes it possible to paint the blackest picture of it.  And it is a deeply reactionary organisation.  However being able to focus on the reactionary Hamas ideology actually serves the opponents of a Palestinian State very well. They can claim to be against it because they are actually progressive! 

    But what’s the real situation?  Hamas won grass-roots support from the Palestinians, not on the basis of it’s loony anti-semitism or even (much) on the basis of its fundamentalist ideology, but because it provided real social services, was not mired in corruption and (of course) was clearly on their side with regard to Israel. However, at the same time, the Palestinian people are (and were at the time Hamas was elected), overwhelmingly in favour of two state solution based on Israel ending the war and withdrawing behind its 1967 borders.  The Palestinians do not want endless war with Israel, Hamas knows this and therefore did not run for election on such a platform.  Since then it has gone almost all the way toward recognising Israel, by proposing a ten year truce and pretty much saying that such a truce would be in lieu of formal recognition.Basically it has responded sanely to the real situation, because the Palestinians themselves are not insane and therefore have no real desire to sacrifice themselves in an endless war to wipe Israel off the map.

    Your attempted analogy with our attitude to al Sadr in Iraq doesn’t work very well.  We never opposed the right of militant Shia groups to run for election in Iraq, and in fact the elected government there contains a whole slew of groups of that nature.  Our opposition was only ever to those groups who attempted to destroy the electoral process itself. We’d take the same attitude to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah. Democracy in the Middle East is for a long time going to have an Islamist face.  It can’t be any other way.  A free vote in Egypt tomorrow would sweep the Muslim Brotherhood to power. The logic of those who stand in ‘principled’ (ie idealist) opposition to such groups, on the basis of their reactionary ideas, leads to supporting the contiunation of the repressive, stagnant status-quo (and at the same time, the continuation of the conditions which breed such groups).

    In the specific case of Hamas it amounts to accepting the brutal subjugation of the Palestinians by Israel and the continuation of exactly the conditions which have led to the popularity of Hamas.

    These people also fall for the line that we can’t have a Palestinian state now because it would become a dangerous proxy for Iran (blah blah).  In fact, it would undermine Iran.   A viable Palestinian State, with a democratically elected government, would be just one more nail in the coffin for that clerical regime (which already faces enormous popular opposition and desperately needs to shore itself up by seeming to be on the side of the oppressed Palestinians).  It’s already taken a huge hit from the coming into existence of a new Shia based democracy in Iraq.

    Both the Israeli and Iranian regimes have had an interest in the exacerbation of anti-semitic sentiment in the Middle East.  Anti-semitism is the raison d’etre of Zionism,. Without it, there would never have been the State of Israel. It took the holocaust for Zionism to win any support from the Jewish people, who up till that point were overwhelminly internationalist and had refused to embrace the Zionist project. When  anti-semitism   fades (which is what will (very) gradually happen, once there’s a Palestinian State), it will be very bad for Zionizm as an ideology. Israel will become just another modern democracy, probably economically integrated with Palestine and with the borders between the two becoming increasingly porous.   No one will care very much at all about Israeli or Palestinian national   identity.  That’s not what hard-line Zionists want. 

    Similarly,  Iran stands to lose, rather than gain from a Palestinian State. In fact ,even  the earlier stages of that process, well before there is a mature Palestinian State, will be a great threat to that regime.  The same goes for the stagnant Arab autocracies.Dislike of Hamas (and similar groups), can in no way justify supporting the status quo.

    If you haven’t already read this article which I linked to in my post, I reccomend it again;God, Man and the Ballot Box

  14. 14 Arthur

    Lupin3:”My understanding of the LS/ST argument here is that Israel is essentially bombing its way to surrender, with the exit strategy being UN patrolled open borders.  Israel bombs in order to maintain the appearance of strength, while materially conceding to the Palestinians essentially what Arafat demanded at Camp David (ie, a Palestinian state with no preconditions of dismantled terrorist organizations).”

    I don’t speak for LS/LT but that is at least close to my view. “Surrender” is overstated and the characterization of “what Arafat demanded” is certainly not mine. But I do think the aggression is intended to cover retreat from the siege of Gaza, and strategic defeat of a  leadership still stuck with having to withdraw while not wishing to appear defeated.

    Hitchens polemics against Hamas are beside the point. Both the siege and the murderous attack is against the people and civilian infrastructure of Gaza, not just Hamas. His analysis of Israeli strategy is quite obscure, simultaneously hinting that they are doing it for electoral politicking and as good for their own morale, while blaming Hamas.The reference to Benny Morris is interesting. As he admits, Zionists regard more than a million people within their borders as a “demographic threat” rather than as fellow citizens, so naturally they have a feeling of doom, and are lashing out.

    That expresses the mood that the leadership is responding to, but does not explain their actual goals and strategy.

    I agree with Patrick that the predictable effect is to delegitimize Abbas more than to delegitimize Hamas, and that this is inconsequential because the Palestinians will be led by Barghouti.

    As for whether Hamas should be “sublimated into the political process” – they are the elected government having won a (large) majority of seats in free and fair elections. Hitchens is deeply inconsistent in his support for democratic revolution in the region, despite being better than the pseudoleft. It is a position that would end up seeking to maintain the Egyptian regime because its successor will also be the Muslim Brotherhood (which happens to be the Sunni leadership within the Iraqi government). The Egyptian borders are closed because the Egyptian regime fears the Brotherhood on both sides of the border. There cannot be democracy in the region without the collapse of that regime.

  15. 15 patrickm

    Lupin3; Hi, long time no hear from, and it’s sad we have to be exchanging views over yet another murderous stage of the war for greater Israel.
    Christopher Hitchens in his Slate article has missed the main game by a mile while getting the obvious timing aspect of the Zionist attack up front.  Take his line US ‘… weapons are used to establish later bridgeheads and to realign our uneasy simultaneous patronage of the Israeli and the Egyptian and the Palestinian establishments.’
    Obviously the war had to be launched before the Israeli elections, but not just two or three weeks before.  That would be just too crude and probably backfire on Livni and Barak.  Also it is obvious that the war has been planned for months, so the cease fire with Hamas was needed and cynically employed. When expired it expired it was not renewed and instead the Israeli government ordered the next killings with the predictable response, and away they go!  Of course that was going to coincide with the US handover period, but if it hadn’t the war would have gone ahead anyhow because it is about the Israeli elections, ditto re: the coming Palestinian elections.  Hitchens, in raising these other elections, is not adding or really explaining anything, it is just adding extra words and yet another layer of confusion.
    And then there is this outright twaddle; ‘Benny Morris, one of the most tough-minded Israeli intellectual commentators, used to speculate that Israel would employ the Bush-Obama transition to strike at Iranian nuclear sites. He may have been wrong in the short term, but, in fact, the current attack on Gaza and Hamas is the same war in a micro or proxy form.’   Pleeese
    He gets the basic issue about Netanyahu not being able to out bid the current government, but then his analysis on the third election, that of the Palestinians, is even sillier than Morris  ‘…I think it’s safe to say that recent events have further postponed the emergence of a democratic and secular alternative among the Palestinians. I even think it’s possible that some people in Israel and some other people in Gaza do not want to see the emergence of such a force, but let me not be cynical.’
    Missing the whole point that this is the bombing before the Accords ending the failed war, and thus the release of the prisoners and the popular leadership of those heroic fighters led by Marwan Barghouti, Hitchens is unable to see where the democratic leadership will come from!  Those that are holding the 11,000 prisoners are not suffering this delusion.  The whole flavor of his article then goes through the well known world-weary; seen-it all-before…. this war will never end couple or paragraphs. It’s just more boiler-plate sprouted by a press hack, who has to write to get paid because that’s his living.  He is not facing in the right direction and so is not seeing the train.
    He completely muddies the waters with this: ‘Compared with the threat to its very existence that had been posed in 1967’.  NO.  He ought to be pointing out that that war was launched by the Zionists to establish greater Israel and that now this ongoing war is a failed policy, nearing its end!
    Then more boiler-plate about nukes etc., followed by this revolting throwaway  ‘It is only when one begins to grasp all the foregoing that one understands exactly how disgusting and squalid is the behavior of the Hamas gang. It knows very well that sanctions are injuring every Palestinian citizen, but—just like Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq—it declines to cease the indiscriminate violence and the racist and religious demagogy that led to the sanctions in the first place.’  
    What utter bullshit!  If this is the best he can do when the Zionists plan yet another stage of a failed war of conquest, no wonder he got the invasion of Kuwait so wrong.  The Zionists have just failed to renew a truce and started a slaughter but he thinks that now is the time to excuse them and focus on Islamists that are not going to be the main game anyway (and are themselves changing, and really the Palestinians’ problem anyway!)
    He concludes with a dose of pseudo-left hopelessness and helplessness.
    ‘To read Benny Morris is to be quite able—and quite free—to doubt that there should ever have been an Israeli state to begin with. But to see Hamas at work is to resolve that whatever replaces or follows Zionism, it must not be the wasteland of Islamic theocracy.’
    Christopher, your article might pay your bills but ‘How goes the war for greater Israel?’
    The key to understanding what is wrong with this line is to understand that it springs from the view that Arab people are not fit to rule themselves via democratic elections, just as the Vietnamese weren’t more than fifty years ago because communists would be elected. Now in the Middle East Islamists will be elected, and this must not be permitted!  Article after article puts this crap forward, explaining that the Bushies blew it by bringing elections to Arabs too soon etc.,  (‘Didn’t Bushco realize that Islamists would come to power’ goes the constant bleating)
    This article is more junk from the conservative right no matter how left the credentials of the author.  It is the essential problem of misunderstanding what a bourgeois democratic revolution in this part of the world is going to look like.  Revolutions are not made by future generations that have already been transformed by those revolutions.  They come warts and all.  Fortunately the doom and gloom around Islamists in Palestine and Lebanon and soon to be Jordan, and Eygpt etc is grossly misplaced.
    Just noticed Keza’s post, so I shall say no more, other than well said Keza.  Your link at the end shows exactly why these are indeed strange times.  

  16. 16 Cyberman

    Melaleuca,I’ll take you up on your 2-1 $50 bet offer. Your prediction of an imminent Palestinian state is not a first for this website. Nor will it, I dare say, be the last incorrect prediction.

    However, if Netanyahu and Likud win the coming Israeli election, the ‘two state’ , or ‘three state’ solution will be off the agenda for the next few years as far as the Israelis are concerned anyway. That will take a little longer than until the end of 2009 for the new US administration to sort out.

    The idea of a two state solution was always a fiction anyway. There would have to have been significant concessions on the principle on the ‘right to return’ and the status of East Jerusalem from the Israelis for that to be a possibility. There has been little or none. If the two state solution  was ever going to happen it would already be in existence. 

    The road map ( remember that? ) would have been followed and the destination reached.The current attacks on Palestinians in Gaza are being presented in the western media as an attack on Hamas. Just like previous attacks on Palestinians were presented as an attack on the PLO. What they are of course are an attack on all Palestinians: Hamas and PLO/Fatah, Muslim and Christian. They are an attack on anyone who dares to oppose a racist state. The situation in Israel / Palestine needs to be addressed in a similar manner by the international community to the situation in South Africa under apartheid. Multistate  ‘solutions’ were rejected out of hand then, and so they should in Israel/Palestine now.

  17. 17 Syd Walker

    “The situation in Israel / Palestine needs to be addressed in a similar manner by the international community to the situation in South Africa under apartheid. Multistate ’solutions’ were rejected out of hand then, and so they should in Israel/Palestine now.”

    Well said Cyberman. Spot on!

    Amazing to see so many veterans of the anti-Apartheid struggle memerized by Jewish separatist/supremacist hype, propped up by biblical appeals that would be laughable if they weren’t backed up by nukes and F-16s..

  18. 18 Richard W

    The Trotskyist Platform statement on Gaza is available from- subscription to the TROTSKYIST PLATFORM newsletter costs $AUS10 and is available from Trotskyist Platform: PO Box 1101, Fairfield NSW 1860, Australia.

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