We publish here an open letter to the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. The network has published an open appeal called “It is time for the ‘Palestinian leadership’ to go!” This statement can be read below the letter.
Dear comrades of Samidoun,
The Palestinian liberation struggle has always been a question of extreme importance for Marxists. We were therefore very pleased to read your latest appeal, “It is time for the ‘Palestinian leadership’ to go!”, which one of your affiliates in Canada brought to our attention.
The appeal embodies the revolutionary will and determination which has always characterised the Palestinian people. We wholeheartedly support the revolutionary spirit in which it is written. But, there is one important weakness in the appeal which we believe needs to be discussed. Below, we will attempt to outline this and hopefully make a modest contribution to the discussion about the way forward for the Palestinian revolution.
For 72 years, the Palestinian people have been exposed to the most barbaric oppression at the hands of Israeli imperialism. The Israeli state has denied millions of Palestinian men, women, and children their most basic rights. It has met the demand for a homeland with the cruellest forms of persecution. Millions of lives have been lost or destroyed in the process.
The oppression of the Palestinians is a fundamental pillar of the Israeli regime. The ruling class needs to foment nationalist hatred and war hysteria to galvanise the most-reactionary layers of society behind it on the one hand, and to use fear to keep other layers of society in check on the other. Thus, on the Palestinian question, the regime is always united. As the political crisis in Israel deepens, this has become clearer. In the three elections of the past year, the two wings of the regime rallying behind Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Ganz were ruthless in their attacks on each other. But when it came to annexing more Palestinian territory, they were in complete unity. Benny Ganz, who is a darling of western liberals, was often more rabid in his proposals than Netanyahu. Now he is the minister of defence, in charge of carrying out the plans of Israeli imperialism.
The west is not without its responsibilities in the crimes of the Zionists against the Palestinian people. The so-called democratic governments and their lackeys in the western media are either silent about the conflict, or crudely distort it to depict the Palestinians and the Israeli military machine as two equal parties. They are the enemies of the Palestinian workers and poor. And all the begging and pleading of the liberals and NGOs will not change this fact. US and European imperialism support the Israeli regime. They have spent hundreds of billions of dollars in military and financial aid to create a bulwark of reaction and counter-revolution in the Middle East.
The Arab bourgeois of the region are no better. They cry crocodile tears over Palestine, but in reality, they only use the Palestinian question for their own narrow interests. They have no real desire to solve the problem. The Saudi royals, who are terrified of revolution, have supported any counter-revolution in the region. For years they have collaborated with Israel to undermine the Palestinian movement, in particular its left wing.
And what about the other alleged friends of Palestine? The Egyptian regime is an active participant in the blockade of Gaza and the Jordanian regime is acting as Israel’s border guard on the West Bank. Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime always raise a hue and cry about Palestine, but that is only in order to use the Palestinians as a means of getting concessions from Israel and US imperialism, as well as giving themselves a progressive veneer at home.
What we have is a coming together of the ruling classes internationally, to crush the Palestinian movement. In the end, it all comes down to a class question. This was the basis of the Oslo Accords and the so-called Peace Process. This was a united front to subdue the Palestinian people, who at that time were waging a revolutionary struggle on the streets during the first Intifada. The so-called Palestinian Leadership came to the aid of the capitalist class. This leadership had played no role whatsoever in the real movement.
This so-called leadership went along with all the main powers, to divert the movement down the blind alley of Oslo. In return, Israel graciously turned them into the de facto prison wardens of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian Authority is not, and will never be, a truly independent state. Its main role is to hold down the Palestinian people on behalf of Israel and to channel billions of dollars into the coffers of the so-called leaders. Their collaboration with the blockade of Gaza, where millions of Palestinians are perishing, speaks volumes about their true allegiance.
It would also be wrong to assume that Hamas is any different. This organisation was nurtured for decades by reactionary Arab monarchs and businessmen as a means of fighting the left wing in the Palestinian movement. For the same reasons, as is well known, the organisation was actively promoted by Israeli intelligence for decades. The so-called resistance of Hamas is in words only, and they have no concrete plan for actual liberation.
The denial of the democratic rights of the Palestinian people is therefore not just an Israeli endeavour. It is a general agreement backed up by all the major capitalist powers in the Middle East and beyond. The Oslo Accords were the basis of this agreement. It was a gigantic betrayal sprinkled with empty democratic rhetoric about a peace process and a “Palestinian Authority”. The “Deal of the Century” promoted by Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi regime reveals this fraud.
Thus, as you note very correctly in your statement, the only path forward is that of mass struggle. The Palestinian people will not find any true allies in the courts, boardrooms and corridors of power anywhere in the world. Neither do they have true leadership in the form of Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashal. As you say, a new leadership must be built! The people of Palestine can only rely on their own power and those of their oppressed brothers and sisters across the region.
Recently, we have seen powerful movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Jordan. These are movements against the same ruling classes that take part in the oppression of the Palestinians. The masses of these countries have a common interest with the oppressed Palestinians.
The best way forward, therefore, is to form the broadest possible alliance of the working masses of Palestine with the oppressed workers, poor and youth of the whole region. All the preconditions for a generalised struggle against the rotten rulers of the Middle East are ripening as we speak. The present crisis will only add to the anger and frustration of the masses against their rulers.
And here we come to the main weakness we see in your statement. You write that you want a “restoration of the revolutionary democratic” struggle. We support the struggle of the Palestinian people for their democratic rights. However, what your statement seems to imply is a struggle that would remain within the confines of capitalism. We think that is a mistake. And it is precisely this idea, i.e. that Palestinian liberation can be achieved without breaking with capitalism, that led the movement down the blind alley that it is in today.
What all the movements of today reflect, is the rotten nature of the capitalist ruling class, a class whose interests are diametrically opposed to the wellbeing of the people of the Middle East. This region produces enormous riches, and yet the vast majority are struggling to survive on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the rich amass the most obscene wealth. This is the logic of capitalism, a system which requires society to be run not the interest of the many, but the few: the rich parasites like the Trumps, Netanyahus, Al Sauds, Al Sisis, Erdogans, Al-Husseins, Khameneis and yes, also the Abu Mazens and Khaled Mashals.
The struggle for Palestinian liberation cannot be disconnected from the struggle against imperialism and the capitalist class as a whole. Even if independence were achieved at some point, on a capitalist basis Palestine would immediately come under the domination of the world market and the same capitalist powers that dominate it by brute force today. In the immortal words of James Connolly, speaking to fighters for Irish liberation:
“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”
The same applies to the struggle for Palestinian liberation today. We see how those words describe perfectly what happened with the Palestinian Authority. Today, the capitalist system is at an impasse. This system is not capable of providing the bare necessities of life for billions of people. The Palestinian Leaders say that, under the present conditions, there is nothing else they can do, and that they have to carry out the austerity and attacks imposed by imperialism. They say that fighting back is futile, but that is true only if we confine the struggle within the framework of the capitalist system. However, now we have the living proof of one revolution after another in the Middle East that have shown us that this does not have to be the case. Everywhere, the masses are looking for a way out of this impasse. These struggles must be connected worldwide and across the region - and the Palestinian struggle must become a part of it.
In the next period, new and even more powerful revolutions will erupt in one country after another. This will at some point also have an impact inside Israel itself. The present political crisis in Israel is only a precursor for deep social turmoil in the next period. The grip of the reactionary Zionists over Israeli society will begin to be loosened as class contradictions inside Israel itself will inevitably increase under the hammer blows of the deep crisis we have entered. Along with a general revolutionary wave in the region, this will open a path for the Palestinian masses to reach out to the workers and poor of Israel. In 2012 and 2013, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the street, carrying signs such as “fight like an Egyptian”. In the future, such developments will take place again, on an even higher level. The Palestinian movement could use this as a lever with which to divide Israeli society along class lines, thus weakening the power of the Israeli state apparatus. This would be a precondition for bringing to an end Israeli imperialism altogether.
Capitalism is entering the deepest crisis of its history. While this is causing much suffering for the workers and the poor, it is also spurring them on to the path of revolution. We invite you to join us in the struggle against capitalism in the Middle East and across the world. A new world is within our reach, where all oppressed peoples can live without exploitation and oppression, free to take their destinies into their own hands and shape their own future. This would be a socialist society, without barbaric wars and destruction. And where friendship and unity of peoples would be the basis for the wellbeing and prosperity of all.
Down with imperialism!
Down with the Oslo Accords and the “deal of the century"!
Full support to the oppressed Palestinian people and their just struggle for a homeland!
Down with capitalism!
For a Socialist Federation of the Middle East and beyond!
Hamid Alizadeh, on behalf of the International Marxist Tendency
We, the undersigned Palestinian youth and student organizations, and with us the associations, organizations and institutions that have signed this statement, call on the masses of Palestinian youth and students throughout occupied Palestine and in exile to join us in a popular initiative for the advancement and initiation of national development for the restoration of the revolutionary democratic approach for a new stage of struggle. The core of this initiative is the objectives of our Palestinian people: return, liberation, and continuing struggle to achieve all of their legitimate national goals and aspirations, no matter how long it may take.
The cause of Palestine, the sacred cause of our people, the cause of the exploited popular classes in our Arab homeland and the forces of freedom in the world, is today intended for liquidation, to be uprooted from the awareness and memory of our people and our nation. The rights of our people everywhere are subjected to all forms of distortion and confiscation. Nothing will protect this great cause from the ravages of liquidation and destruction except for the minds and arms of our people, the will of the committed, patriotic and revolutionary youth, and the steadfastness of women, workers and peasants.
Therefore, today, we call on our Palestinian people, especially the young Palestinian generations, to reject and repudiate the policies and positions represented in the approach of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his cohort, and to affirm that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority does not represent our people and is outside the ranks of our national struggle. We also call upon our great people to embody this popular will on the ground by organizing the widest, unified popular framework to overcome the disastrous phase of Oslo and all of its accompanying effects.
We invite you to participate broadly in the overthrow of the program of the so-called “Palestinian leadership,” which is based on a path of surrender and abandonment. This corrupt approach has come to its last days after over 40 years of marketing the project of a phantom state. This political class that has brought only shame and disaster to our people seeks today to convert the administrative autonomy in the occupied West Bank into the end of our liberation projects. The money of this class is mortgaged to the agents of the occupation, to “economic peace” and normalization projects. It has become imperative for our people to isolate this sector and defeat its program in the squares, streets, factories, farms, universities and schools inside and outside occupied Palestine.
And as we confront the U.S., Zionist and reactionary policies that today target the rights of our people to life and existence, in the face of the acceleration of the hostile liquidation project that aims to demolish the horizons of the national liberation project and abort all possibilities for renewal, in front of the daily brutal attack on the prisoners’ movement in the occupation prisons, and amid the confiscation of all of the natural and human rights of our people in the camps, silence becomes complicity, betrayal, a form of submission and failure.
The time has come for these leaders of surrender to depart from the Muqata’ headquarters in Ramallah and to isolate this defeated sector that holds itself close to the Zionist entity and the CIA, participating in the collective punishment of our people in Gaza, depriving the families of martyrs and prisoners of their rights, suppressing the resistance and coordinating with the occupation forces to target the fundamentals of our society, its national resistance and its youth and student vanguard.
The defeat of the Oslo project and the isolation of Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies are more achievable and realistic than ever, despite all of the capacities and resources that the forces hostile to the Palestinian people use to support the leadership of the Authority. However, the crucial element in this lengthy historical battle is the role of the popular masses and their ability to generate the revolutionary approach from the grassroots and bring it into the light, from the depths of our history and our militant legacies of struggle and from the womb of our Palestinian societies in every popular community, every neighborhood, camp, city and village.
We call on all Palestinian resistance forces, with their various political and intellectual currents and paths, to end the state of disintegration and fragmentation by forming a unified national front. This will be a support and sustenance for our people everywhere, and it sword and shield will protect our people as they continue on their historical road of great sacrifice and struggle in order to obtain their rights and break their chains, achieving our collective and complete liberation from the clutches of Zionism.
We call on you to broad popular engagement and to intensify popular national activities during the Week of Palestinian Struggle, May 15-22, 2020, as our first stage in announcing a new phase of struggle under the slogan: Palestine Day – the Day of Return and Liberation. Let history bear witness to the crime, the ongoing Nakba that has continued since 1947-48 and, at the same time, testifies to the ongoing Palestinian resistance that continues until victory, despite all of the sacrifices and lengthy years of struggle.
No to the path of surrender and liquidation! No to the project of the “self-rule government” and “administrative autonomy!”
Yes to the path of return and liberation. Yes to the resistance and intifada until victory!
To add the signature of your group or youth organization, please email email@example.com.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
HIRAK: Palestinian Youth Mobilization – Germany
Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM)
“Sada” Movement – Jerusalem- occupied Palestine
Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition / North America
Palestinian Arab Cultural Center \Rio Grande de Sol, Brazil المركز الثقافي العربي- الفلسطيني/ ساو بولو، البرازيل
Unione Democratica Arabo-Palestinese (UDAP)- Italy الاتحاد الديمقراطي العربي الفلسطيني- إيطاليا
Democratic Palestine Committees\ Brazil لجان فلسطين الديموقراطية- البرازيل
مركز النّقب للأنشطة الشبابيّة – ِAl Naqab Center for Youth Activities
Palestinian Chess Forum- Shatila refugee camp الملتقى الفلسطيني للشطرنج- مخيم شاتيلا
AlKarama-Palestinian Women Movement in Spain حركة نساء فلسطين الكرامة في إسبانيا
Centro Cultural e Politico Al Janiah\Brazil مركز الجانية الثقافي والسياسي\البرازيل
Brazilian Arab Palestinian Society – Corumba\ Brazil
Students for Justice in Palestine at John Jay College
Students for Justice in Palestine at Butler University
Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine
Canada Palestine Association
Palestinian Student Association at Wilfrid Laurier University/ Canada
Palestine Solidarity Collective at York University
Palestine Solidarity Group at University of Windsor
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at McMaster University
Midwest Students for Justice in Palestine
Handala Coalition of Michigan
Palestinian Cultural Club – Beirut / Lebanon
Palestinian Arab Cultural Club\ Lebanon