A way forward for Palestine? Part 1

28 Oct

In 2019, I returned to Israel … the only country where being Jewish does not make me a minority … In Hebron I saw the mistreatment and oppression of its Palestinian population. Walking streets Palestinian residents are forcibly denied access to, I understood its label as an “apartheid state” … how the Jewish homeland has come at the expense of others …
Michael Segalov, The Guardian, October 28 2023
Millions around the world watch the conflict … as a binary contest in which you can root for only one team …You see it in those who tear down posters on London bus shelters depicting the faces of more than 200 Israelis held hostage by Hamas – including toddlers and babies. You see it too in those who close their eyes to the impact of denied water, food, medicine and fuel on ordinary Gazans – including toddlers and babies …
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, October 27 2023

Haunting an inferno lit by Hamas terror and fuelled by IDF genocide is the zero-sum collision of two meta narratives. One is informed by Nakba, as both historic event and ongoing process; the other by Shoah  and Never Again.

Each is seared on the collective psyche of its adherents..

They do not exactly mirror one another, these grand narratives. There are asymmetries. One is that Palestinians had no hand in the Holocaust, nor with the preceding millennium of European pogrom. Zionism 1 by contrast had everything to do with the displacement of a nation in 1948. 2

Another asymmetry is even more glaring. Israel has the unconditional if at times embarrassed support, for reasons set out here, of the West at large; its most powerful nation in particular. When Uncle Sam has your back, right or wrong, why negotiate with your adversaries? 3

Which makes Washington uniquely culpable. For two decades it was the unchallenged military and economic hegemon of a unipolar world. It could in theory have used its supremacy to exert ‘tough love’ pressure 4 on Israel to negotiate in good faith (one quick win being the twin burial of Hamas and Likud) but that didn’t happen. Tel Aviv’s shunning of diplomacy is enabled by US military aid and Security Council veto; Washington’s by “indispensable nation” delusionality.

Only two decades? I do not say Washington’s power to resolve the Palestine Question began with the collapse of the USSR. It goes back further, to the ’70s OPEC crises, when America took over from Britain and France as top guardian and beneficiary of Western interests in a region not only abundant in oil, 5 but of immense geostrategic significance as gateway both to the far east and a Eurasia viewed for half a millennium as a threat to Western supremacy. But Soviet meltdown did open up a window in which Washington might single handedly have pulled off a just and hence durable solution. For reasons implied in this paragraph, and explicated here, it had no real interest in doing so. 6


Bear with me a moment. I’ve made clear, here for instance, my view that Eurasia rising offers a sliver of hope – as a father I wish I could put it more strongly – for humanity.  It’s not a popular view in the Western mainstream when (a) the Western mainstream is at best only dimly aware of the life negating nature of capitalism in the impoverishing, ecocidal, warlike and profoundly undemocratic forms necessitated by neoliberalism, and (b) the most sophisticated propaganda matrix in history sees to it that perceptions of China and Russia remain, even within educated circles, at the level of cartoon caricature to which the verdict, weak opinions strongly held,  has never been more applicable.

It’s not a popular view on the Left either. Revolutionaries agree with part (a) of the previous but insist that Russia and China are no better, and the only hope for humanity lies in the removal by armed force of all capitalist regimes. I spend little time talking to these fantasists, due to their silence on how states armed to the teeth, and with surveillance capabilities beyond the wildest dreams of 20th century totalitarianisms, can be so removed. (Least of all in the West. Its export to the global south of manufacturing has eroded the conditions which led Marx and Engels to view the proletariat as history’s vanguard.) Due too to the fact most ‘revolutionaries’ will in any case return, by middle age if not earlier, to a mainstream whose more progressive elements I’ve yet – for all my piss poor salesmanship – to give up on.

Back to Palestine. Since October 7 I’ve written more on it than in the previous decade, but not a word of condemnation of the Hamas attacks will you find here. Why? Because I applaud them? Because I see Hamas Islamism as the authentic voice of the Palestinian people? Because I don’t regard Israelis as truly human? Because unlike anyone with a working brain I somehow failed to see that Gazans would pay a terrible price?

Nope. I didn’t condemn that atrocity – opting instead to contextualise it – because I didn’t set up steel city scribblings to offer redundantly asinine endorsement of the hypocrisies our corrupt media and politicians spew out without let or hindrance – and assuredly without need of any assistance from yours truly.

Voices like mine are free to say it as we see it, and we do. But freedom, as the song goes, is just another word for nothing left to lose. We keyboard warriors and Palestine-flag-waving, river-to-sea-chanting protesters will damn Israel to hell and back but it changes nothing. And nothing, as the song continues, ain’t worth nothing but it’s free …

But what of the emerging global powers? Here, lightly edited, is the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Director of Information and Press, Maria Zakharova – truth be told I have a bit of a crush on her – in a statement of October 7, the day of the Hamas attacks:

Russia is gravely concerned over a sharp escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We reaffirm our principled and consistent stance that this conflict, which has continued for 75 years, cannot be resolved by force but by negotiation based on the need for an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with a capital in East Jerusalem that co-exists with Israel in peace and security.

The current escalation is another dangerous manifestation of a vicious circle of violence resulting from chronic failure to comply with the corresponding resolutions of the UN and its Security Council and the blocking by the West of the work of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators made up of Russia, the United States, the EU and the UN.

We call on both sides to implement an immediate ceasefire, renounce violence, exercise restraint and begin, with the assistance of the international community, a negotiation process aimed at establishing a comprehensive, lasting and long-awaited peace in the Middle East.

More recently, on October 28, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – for whom I have great respect but no romantic designs – said of the current crisis:

We categorically reject and condemn any terrorist acts. We extend our condolences to all who have lost loved ones in Israel and Palestine. And in other countries, too. There were a lot of foreigners in the region, including many Russian citizens, among whom there are victims too …

“But while condemning terrorism, we categorically disagree that terrorism can be responded to by violating international humanitarian law, the indiscriminate use of force, including against targets with civilians, hostage-taking and other actions that, as I have already said, contradict the international humanitarian law.

And of its wider context:

The Soviet Union was one of the main initiators of the creation of a Jewish state at a time when the British, having left the region in chaos, did not care much about this topic. We were in favour of the creation of an Israeli state and we were the first to recognize this state.

But the Palestinian state has not yet been created for various reasons. With each historical period, the idea became more and more fleeting.

What do such statements tell us? Having made clear my assessment – rarely encountered in mainstream media but hardly controversial – that the USA under successive administrations has not only failed to win peace but has been its most formidable obstacle, does a changing world order offer a way forward?

Don’t miss Part 2 …

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  1. To be clear, Zionism and Jewishness are two distinct sets. Not all Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists Jews. The first truth is more widely recognised than the second but Christian Zionists, frequently anti-Semitic, played a key role in the establishment of Israel. See my review of Stephen Gowans’ Israel: a Beachhead in the Middle East.
  2. On “the displacement of a nation in 1948” – aka Nakba – the definitive text remains The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2007) by Jewish Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe.
  3. “When Uncle Sam has your back, why negotiate with your adversaries?” It’s true that a similar calculation hasn’t worked out so well for Kiev but the differences –  a Russia not existentially threatened in the Middle East, and a USA more tightly bound to Israel than to its dispensable Ukraine proxy – outweigh that otherwise striking parallel.
  4. Yes, Washington’s unconditional support is the root driver of Israel’s arrogance. No, the threat – even if taken seriously in Tel Aviv given the power of AIPAC and its equivalents across the West – of discontinuing those literal and figurative blank cheques, to let sober reason and enlightened self interest do the heavy lifting, would not of itself bring Israel to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians. Due to US, UK and French connivance, Israel joined the nuclear club decades ago and cannot simply be abandoned – isolated and vengeful, and on both counts prey to its worst instincts.
  5. The USA is self sufficient in energy. Its efforts to control global supply and movement of hydrocarbons are not those of an economy fearing denial of access to a critical resource, but of an empire bent on leveraging the same at the expense of trade rivals. Think Nord Stream!
  6. The power and reach of America’s Israel lobby are legendary but are not the sole or even most important drivers of US backing of the Jewish State. In any case that lobby sits on a demographic time-bomb. Jewish youth in the West, America included, is markedly less inclined than its elders to give Israel that “Never Again” free pass.

2 Replies to “A way forward for Palestine? Part 1

  1. Hi Phil,
    Harking back to the US/Zionist Israel war by proxy against Syria, it was understood by many, that four fundamental reasons were at play.
    1. The US “beachhead in the ME, Israel, still had it’s heart set on the Oded Yinon plan to conquer all lands it could grab.(Iran being top of the list)
    2. The US via Israel, hated and probably feared the Syrian State’s open friendly relations with Russia(as did Iraq and Libya).
    3. The US economy was sinking under the weight of it’s own debt and they needed the oil & anything else they could thieve from the conquered nations and the chaos in the ME that would ensue on the old divide & conquer idea.
    4. The US, with it’s other colonialist cabal and the 5 eyes, wanted to limit Russia’s influence in the ME so the western imperialist nations could continue to call the shots and have the ME nations under their boot.

    Back then many of us were insisting “It’s all about the oil”. But there were other factors too as we well knew.

    We tend to see this latest abomination by Israel as a hatred for Palestinians and the view of Israel for Jews only. The US has never been able to control their beachhead because they truly believe that the US “exceptionalism” won’t allow them to see Israel has been making a mockery of the US for over 75 years. Israel on the other hand wants the Palestinian lands to a) extend it’s beaches and b) plunder the Palestinian Leviathan gas & oil fields first discovered some twenty years ago. All the monstrous treatment, cruelty, ethnic cleansing and slaughter of the Palestinian people has been a devious progression toward a more subtle goal. Once the Palestinians are out of the way, Israel can claim to legitimately “confiscate” (thieve) the trillions of dollars of Palestinian owned gas and oil hoping and expecting the western elites will be keen to get their grubby mitts on such an opportunity.
    Having committed economic suicide in their race to be the loudest voices in condemning Russia’s Special Operations in Ukraine and cutting their noses off to spite their faces, they now need a source of natural gas and more oil so they don’t have to embarrass themselves further by having to buy Russian oil & gas from third parties at exorbitant prices. They will undoubtedly see the Israeli oil & gas grab “before 2024” according to Bibi’s own words as a superb opportunity.
    Israel too, will want to get it’s sticky fingers on that prize, but probably not so much to the advantage of those duplicitous merchants of the west. The Israeli Zionists may be evil, but they are also cleverer than the brain deads in charge of the west!
    As for the nasty Islamaphobe Tory PM(and Starmer), they’ll be only to glad to be centre of the “World Stage” (just as Blair luvved it up with Bush) trying to get in on the act.
    Any chance of peace is probably a forlorn hope.
    But, and it’s a big but, Palestinain Resistance is meeting with several other resistance movements from ME countries and Nasrallah, presumably to talk tactics on how best to resist the evil Israeli plan. Several of those ME countries could literally “wipe Israel off the map” as Net the nut has promised to do to Palestine.
    See(If you haven’t already viewed them)
    Spoilt for choice at the moment with Scott Ritter, Alistair Crook and Vanessa Beeley, Giraldi, Hedges. Pappe, all blogging on this latest Israeli ethnic cleansing/genocide horror.
    News out of Israel itself show many thousands of demonstrators demanding Bibi resign(not worth the effort since his replacement will be something just as vicious) but at least they’re letting him know they do not want this genocide against the Palestinians.
    Don’t know what’s happened to the Hamas faction working for Mossad who did the deed that made this all possible(false flag) – I’ve jumped off the fence here.

    The only good thing to come out of this is the glaring observation that while the west condemns Russia for it’s special op. they now have no moral high ground if they continue to back Israel’s murderous and very deliberate intent to target civilians in what can only be called a genocide. Russia, has gone to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, Israel is doing just the opposite.
    That’s going to take some verbal acrobatics to justify the diametrically opposed “warfare”.


    • Hi Susan. Masses to respond to here. And btw you’re the second person to alert me to what I’d otherwise have missed: Ilan Pappe’s podcasts on the current genocide. Thanks, I’ll check them out as soon as I get a moment.

      Stay well – you’re needed.

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