Palestine’s Fight for Self-Determination Challenges Apartheid Israel

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By GERRY FOLEY

The deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on June 1 highlights the increasingly poisoned relationships between the two communities inhabiting the lands of historic Palestine. The immediate effect of this desperate act has been to expose the Palestinian people to still more violent attacks by the Zionist state.

In its June 3 issue, the Jerusalem Post pointed out: “The U.S., which has until now routinely accompanied its condemnations of Palestinian attacks with calls for restraint, refrained yesterday from asking Israel to limit its response to the Tel Aviv bombing, signaling it would be more understanding this time of an Israeli response.”

The U.S. authorities apparently think that they can afford to condone more openly Israeli attacks on Palestinians. In the wake of the bombing, moreover, an Israeli mob attacked a Palestinian mosque in Jaffa, the old Arab port city that is now an appendage of Tel Aviv, and the Israeli and international press has been filled with declarations of anti-Arab hatred by Israelis.

That such feelings exist among the Israeli population is not a new revelation. But the shock caused by the bombing of a group of teenagers at a disco, 19 of whom died, offered a perfect occasion for expressing it.

Neither the Israeli nor the international capitalist press asked the obvious question of what motivated a young Palestinian man, hardly older than the bombing victims, to sacrifice his life. But the answer is obvious.

For many months the powerful Israeli armed forces have been waging a ruthless war against a practically defenseless people, sending tanks, bombers, and missiles against poor Palestinian neighborhoods, often miserable camps housing Palestinian families driven from their homes in previous decades by Zionist ethnic cleansing.

The precarious Palestinian economy has been virtually destroyed, shattering any hope of Palestinian young people for a future or even a tolerable life. Even before the present undeclared war, the wretched Palestinian GNP had declined by 20 percent in the wake of the so-called peace accords signed in Oslo.

Under the cover of a war against terrorism, the Israeli secret services have been assassinating Palestinian leaders, waging a “dirty war” from a distance against the Palestinian movement.

In these circumstances, it is inevitable that Palestinians, either individuals or organizations, will strike at the Zionist state in any way they can and at any cost. Tragically, the Israeli population is a much easier target than the Israeli armed forces. And that inevitably increases the likelihood of incidents like the Tel Aviv bombing.

Given the growing desperation of the Palestinian people, it is not possible to protect the Jewish population from terrorist attacks except by separating the Arab and Jewish communities by a thoroughgoing policy of apartheid and a new Middle East War that would offer the Zionists an opportunity to expel the Palestinian population or a large part of it.

The refusal of the Israeli politicians to give up the Zionist settlements in the West Bank (and their policy of continuing to expand them) indicates that they are continuing to envisage the possibility of new ethnic cleansing to establish their hold over all of historic Palestine.

The Zionist leaders, from their standpoint, are also increasingly desperate. The Jewish population in the region is a shrinking minority.

For example, News from Within, an anti-Zionist magazine published in Israel, reported in its March issue on a special interdisciplinary seminar held in Hertzliya on the “strength and national security of Israel.” The seminar noted that within 20 years, the Arab population of the state of Israel will have risen to a third of the total.

One of its recommendations was that Zionists settle in areas with big Palestinian populations “in order to prevent a contiguous Arab majority that will geographically divide the country.”

But given the present political conditions in the Middle East, including the policy objectives of Israel’s imperialist backers there, it very difficult for the Zionists to strike for a general military solution to their problems.

Thus, the Zionists and the imperialists have obviously decided to let the conflict continue to fester and to use the increasingly likely acts of desperation by Palestinians as an excuse for stepping up the pressure on the Palestinian people and their leaders.

As we go to press, it seems that the Israeli leaders are deferring major military reprisals against the Palestinians for the sake of politically exploiting the shock created by the Tel Aviv bombing. Nonetheless, they are inflicting economic reprisals by closing Israeli border crossings to Palestinian workers.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has tried to defuse the current tensions by condemning the bombing and calling for a halt to armed confrontations. But Israeli and U.S. officials are demanding that he prove his peaceful intentions, apparently by repressing Palestinian resistance, including arresting militants.

However, given the demonstrated anger of the Palestinian masses, it is doubtful that Arafat could break the mobilizations.

And even if he succeeded, as long as the Palestinian people have no hope of a better life, he could hardly prevent individuals from expressing their hopelessness by desperate acts, like the Tel Aviv bombing. In fact, there are indications that the Tel Aviv bomber acted on his own.

Of course, the only way that the Palestinian people could gain any hope for the future would be if the Zionists made important concessions. But they have proven remarkably reluctant to do that. It is now clear that the Oslo agreements did not represent real concessions but only an attempt to corrupt the Palestinian leadership. They opened the way for the creation of a Palestinian bureaucracy but left the people worse off than they had been before.

In fact, given the long-term weakness of the Zionist project, it is not likely that the Zionists can or will offer any significant concessions to the Palestinian people. Thus, as long as Zionism is maintained, the outlook is for increasingly poisoned relations between the Israeli and Palestinian community and for new wars.

The only hope for peace, therefore, is for the Jewish population of Palestine to abandon the Zionist project and try to find a new framework for living together with their Arab neighbors, on the basis of equality in a common country.

Socialist Action News

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