The situation in Palestine is as follows: Israel is a racist state with theocratic characteristics (for instance, civil law is based on the "Halacha" or Jewish medieval religious law) which threatens to turn into a fundamentalist and bonapartist one. What here is called the "War of Independence" was in fact an ethnic cleansing of one million Palestinians, which in the meantime have turned into four million refugees to which the state denies the right of return - and they want Arafat to formally accept this situation. The Jewish and non-Jewish (especially the Arabic) population are separated by a regime of segregation very similar to the South-African apartheid: it is impossible for a Jew to marry a non-Jew, the police and the army are lily-white, etc. In fact, the state is in a situation of constant undeclared war with the Arabic population: for instance, many hundreds of Palestinian houses are systematically destroyed every year in order to force them to leave the country. "Arabic" parties (those whose voters are mostly Arabs, including the Communist Party) have never been allowed to take part in any government coalition. The motto of the Jewish "peace supporters" is "peaceful coexistence" - integration (intermarriage, living in the same building, etc.) being absolutely taboo.
The situation in the "territories" (West Bank and Gaza) is even worse. The Palestinian Authority is a puppet of Zionism and American imperialism and acts as a more "legitimate" apparatus of repression against the Palestinians. Their economic situation has worsened terribly since the signing of the "peace agreements" (Madrid and Oslo) because Palestinian workers haven't been allowed to enter Israel - something which never happened even during the height of the Intifada. In fact, they have been replaced by foreign workers from the Philippines, South America, Turkey, Romania, Thailand, etc. The policy of the Zionist state towards the Palestinians since 1948 has been one of "divide et impera" ("divide and rule"): they separated between the Palestinian refugees, those living in the territories, those living in Israel, the Bedouins and the Druzes (who are conscripted to the army), etc. Now that is no longer true: during the last week the army and the police have carried out a massacre, firing live bullets at protesters in the territories and in Israel without any distinction. A recent opinion poll by a daily newspaper has shown that 60 percent of the Jewish population supports a "transfer" (ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinians. During the last few days, Jewish mobs have carried out outright pogroms in the Arab neighbourhoods and cities, as a result of which several Arab Israeli "citizens" have been killed with the tacit support of the police and the army. Not a single one of the Jewish working class organisations, either political or trade-unionist, have condemned the massacres.
The only solution to this horrid situation is the establishment of a democratic secular republic in the whole territory of historic Palestine and the granting of the right of return to the Palestinian refugees. Unfortunately, no major party supports this elementary democratic demand. Within Israel there are only two very small organisations (the "Abna el Balad", "Sons of the Country" movement, in the north, and the Committee for a Democratic Secular Republic, in Palestine, in Jerusalem) who advance this slogan. The Communist Party during the last elections called to vote for Barak and supports partition ("Two states for two peoples.") There is also a small organisation in Tel Aviv called "Maavak Sotzialisti" ("Socialist Struggle"), which call themselves Trotskyists, but even they support partition and call for "a socialist Israel alongside a socialist Palestine" - apparently there will be second-class "citizens" in the Jewish commonwealth of the future. As for an orthodox Marxist party, that is an unheard-of luxury here.
Most activists believe that the worst is yet to come. There is a threat of war with Lebanon, for Israel refuses to exchange the civilian hostages it took in Lebanese territory for the soldiers kidnapped by Hizbollah outside Israel's borders, arguing that it is a terrorist organisation (the Palestinians are not terrorised by the Israeli state, of course!) There is also the possibility of a large number of suicide bombings in buses carried out by desperate Palestinians. In both scenarios, there are talks of a "national unity" government of all the Zionist parties - which under the present circumstances can only mean a fascist government aiming at massive repression and perhaps also an ethnic cleansing a la 1948. During the last few days I took part in many manifestations and have been repeatedly insulted and physically threatened by Jewish fascists. Some of my friends have been sent to jail and one of them had his hand and two ribs broken by the police (I attach to this letter an appeal he wrote to the Jewish population in Israel).
Postscript: Jews patrol to defend Arab neighbourhood in Haifa
Last night we patrolled in an Arab neighbourhood in Haifa because a right-wing demonstration was due to pass there and we were afraid that a pogrom might take place, as happened in Nazareth, Jaffa, Acre, etc. When the demonstration ended, we dispersed. Then, after midnight, an armed soldier began shooting into restaurants in Yaffo Street, in downtown Haifa. Four people were injured - two Arabs and two Jews. One of the injured, a worker in the restaurant from the Galileean village Arabet el Battof, is suffering from dangerous injuries in the intensive care unit at Rambam Hospital. The Hebrew media did not report the event. In fact, the situation is pretty similar to the pogroms against the [Russian] Jews described by Trotsky in his book "1905".
An Appeal to the Jewish Public: The Apartheid Regime Is Drowning Our Future in Blood
The liar-prophet Barak continues to predict the coming peace, while he tries every murderous measure to force surrender on the Palestinian people. Barak himself chose the option of religious provocation, by raising the arrogant claim for Israeli sovereignty over Al Aqssa and Omar mosques as a central issue in order to shipwreck the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Barak is using his newly-found "religious zeal" to turn away public opinion from the essential issues, like his unwillingness to recognize the right of return of the refugees and his determination to continue with the occupation and the building of settlements at any price. For these reasons Barak fully backed the provocative "visit" by Sharon to the mosques' area. For the same reasons he instructed the police to invade the mosques at the time of the Friday prayers, while tens of thousands of worshippers were gathered in them - thus proving the Israeli sovereignty over them by a ruthless massacre.
The outburst of anger of the Palestinian masses, as a consequence of the massacre in the mosques, is a natural and justified response. It came first and foremost to prove to the occupying racists that there is no way to hold the "Hafrada" regime (the Hebrew word for Apartheid) the way they like it: "It doesn't matter that they are massacred there, as long as we are able to celebrate a new year of prosperity and calm here." Israel continues with its policy of state terrorism, whose objective is to enforce a regime of occupation, settlement on stolen lands and racist discrimination. The police and the army acted to suppress the mass protest movement, aiming clearly at causing a high number of casualties in souls and bodies among the Palestinian population. The Israeli occupation forces are deploying marksmen using "Dumdum" bullets that explode after entering the body of their victim, a weapon that is forbidden by the international laws of war, in order to make the injuries more severe and the death toll higher.
The film showing in full detail the killing of the child Muhammad elDara, seen throughout the world, was followed by a wave of Israeli lies, aiming only at hiding the traces of their crime. The killing of the ambulance driver that tried to save that child, just like the killing of many children that did not happen in front of the TV cameras, arouse no echo in the Israeli racist conscience. The adolescents Asil Asla and Ala Nassar from Arabeh in the Galilee were caught alive by the "border guard" soldiers, beaten and then shot in cold blood. The facts are well known, and were published in the headlines of the Arabic press, with much evidence. The Israeli media is united in silencing such cases, as the killing of Arabs in this country "is not a subject of public concern." Both the police command, symbolised in these days by the overtly racist Elik Ron, and the highest political authority represented by Ben Ami and Barak, give full backing to the murderers in uniform that, in Barak's own words, "only carry out orders." No wonder that Israel is now sabotaging, with US support, the efforts of the international community to establish an international tribunal to judge war criminals.
Yes, the heads of the regime, not the police, set the murderous strategy. Barak has already explained that the high cost paid by the Palestinians in blood "will enable Arafat to reach hard decisions," which he avoided till now. Barak wants to use the current blood-bath in order to force the Palestinians to accept his "permanent solution". He wants to make permanent the results of the ethnic cleansing that Israel performed against a million Arabs in 1948, denying the right of return to the refugees. He wants to force surrender on the Palestinian Arabs that did not run away from the 1948 massacres, accepting a semi-citizen status within the framework of a regime of racist discrimination. He wants to give legitimacy to the settlements and the establishment of a client state in parts of the West Bank and Gaza strip, that with the credentials of formal faked independence will repress the masses and carry out the dictations of the Israeli occupier.
Till now the Zionists have been celebrating their victory, relying on their military superiority and on the high number of casualties they have been able to inflict on the Palestinian population. After killing an unprecedented number of Arab "Israeli citizens", Barak promises the local Arab leadership only an unofficial "fact-finding committee" - i.e., not even the standard Israeli fig-leaf of a legal "inquiry committee". On the other side of the ex-green line, Barak suggests Arafat to "resume the peace process", that is to say, to sign the bill of surrender that Arafat rejected in Camp David.
For the gang of generals, settlers and religious zealots that control all Israeli parties, arrogance and sole reliance on force and repression are naturally the only way. The Israeli public enjoys the democratic choice between the "rightist" option to get a half-free penthouse on robbed lands in the West Bank, or turn "left" and build a "quality-of-life home" on confiscated lands in the Galilee - then going around to swallow cheap oriental Humus in a friendly Arab environment. Till now Israelis felt that they did not have any problem, and tended to support oppression and reject concessions. This public is now incited by the politicians and the Zionist media to feel betrayed by the Arab citizens. "It is true that they are subject to unjust discrimination," most Israelis recognise, "but why break the law and close streets? There was a massacre and there are tens of dead youngsters. So what? There is no justification to spoil the Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) holiday and disrupt the vacation."
The dozens of dead, the many hundreds of injured and crippled, arrested and beaten, the millions of hungry and humiliated - that is "their problem", the problem of those who live beyond the lines of racial segregation that divide the country all along, between Jaffa and Tel Aviv, between Wadi Nissnass and Mount Carmel, between Harrarit and Arabeh, between Jerusalem and elQuds. Sooner or later, some explosion in Tel Aviv or Bet El will cause Israeli civilian casualties, and then the "enlightened" Israeli public will manage to free itself even from the vague distress that it felt seeing the Palestinian child hunted by IDF soldiers…
The situation can be different, but in order to make it different we must first break the walls of racism and discrimination that block our way in every direction. To do this we must understand that the problem of the old refugee or the small daughter in the refugee camp in Gaza, Deheishe or Shatila, is the problem of all of us - the most burning problem. We must understand that any regime based on racial discrimination is a disastrous and illegitimate regime, and should be fought against without compromise. We must understand that whoever wants to live in this country, where Arab Palestinians and Jews live, must act to defeat the Apartheid and to establish a secular democratic state in the benefit of all the country's inhabitants and refugees.
October 5, 2000
(The writer is a member of Abna elBalad - "Sons of the Country" - movement. I took part in all the demonstrations in Haifa against the elAqssa massacre. On Monday, October 2, I was arrested and, during my arrest, beaten. My left hand, two of my ribs and my front teeth were broken.)