By MARK UGOLINI
— CHICAGO — On Feb. 15 more than 200 Palestinians and their supporters converged on Trump Tower to protest the White House visit of Israel President Benjamin Netanyahu. Several buses from local mosques transported protesters, who held signs and shouted chants demanding: “Free Free Palestine!” “Justice is our Demand. No Peace on Stolen Land!” and “From Palestine to Mexico: Border Walls Have got to Go!”
Immigration rights was a powerful theme; some marched behind a banner, “Build Bridges Not Walls.” At the rally speakers expressed solidarity with all groups fighting the new wave of anti-immigrant and anti-refugee attacks.
Vivian Khalaf, an Immigration Attorney from the Arab American Action Network, explained how Trump lies when he says a wall on the Mexican border is for “security” and “protection”: “Donald Trump told Fox News the other day that ‘a wall protects. All you have to do is ask Israel.’ Really? … We don’t need a wall [on the Mexico border] … The huge concrete wall built by the Israelis is inside the West Bank, … it is not a ‘security wall,’ Mr. Trump! The purpose of this wall is to unilaterally annex the land on which the majority of Israel’s illegal settlements and outposts currently stand. This is a separation wall, Mr. Trump, an apartheid wall … the likes of which we have never, ever seen before!”
The White House visit came at a time most advantageous to Netanyahu, who at home is plagued with multiple criminal corruption charges and harsh attacks from the far-right party. He hoped to bolster his sagging reputation by showcasing strong ties with the also embattled Republican Party administration.
One goal is to prod Trump to take aggressive measures against Iran, including sanctions and potential military actions to counter Iran’s missile program and steps taken to expand its influence. Netanyahu accuses Iran of “mischief” around the world, including its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Assad regime in Syria, and Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the West Bank.
The White House discussions, however, focused primarily on the “stalled peace process.” At the joint press conference, Trump for the first time broke from decades-long U.S. policy promoting the so-called “two state solution.” Trump said: “I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like.”
Netanyahu again repeated his long-held opposition to Palestinian sovereignty, insisting that Israel must remain a Jewish-exclusive state, and retain “security [military] control of the entire area west of the Jordan River.” This ensures that Palestinians would forever remain under military rule, without basic rights.
The “two-state” formula, as originally conceived, allows for an independent, viable, and sovereign Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel’s Jewish state. However, due to ongoing expansion of illegal settlements and Israeli military rule over the years, any state granted to Palestinians would not be sovereign or viable, and would likely bear striking resemblance to the Bantustans imposed on Blacks in apartheid South Africa.
Since it was proclaimed in 1948, Israel has protected its exclusive character and demographic majority via over 50 racist laws, codified by Israel’s Supreme Court. The discourse around the “two-state solution” has helped veil the racist and exclusionary nature of Israel’s Jewish state. Liberal Zionists fear that waning relevance of the “two-state solution” brings the supremacist character of the Jewish state into sharper focus.
In the Feb. 15 New York Times, Thomas Friedman, a long-time “two-state” proponent, expressed growing concerns of many liberal Zionists that its demise unveils Israel’s true nature:
“As long as the two-state solution was on the table, the debate among Jews on Israel was ‘right versus left’ and ‘more security versus less security. ’… But we could mostly all agree that for Israel to remain a Jewish democratic state, it had to securely separate from most of the 2.7 million West Bank Palestinians. … But if Netanyahu’s weak leadership and the overreach of the settlers in his party end up erasing the two-state solution, the debate within the Jewish community will move from ‘left versus right’ to ‘right versus wrong.’”
Here Friedman ignores, almost as inconsequential, the facts that more than two million Palestinians live under a barbaric siege and military rule in Gaza, and more than 6 million Palestinians remain in diaspora around the world, unable to return to their homeland.
However, Friedman’s words reveal how supporting a Palestinian state makes it much easier to justify the existence of the colonial state of Israel and Jewish supremacy. Without the ability to credibly argue for a “two-state solution,” one must confront squarely the reality of Israel’s Zionist system of oppression and the racist subjugation of the Palestinian people.
A backdrop to Netanyahu’s visit is massive opposition within Israel to any recognition of Palestinians, and outright support for continued land theft and annexations. On Feb. 13 Netanyahu pushed the “Regularization Law” through the Knesset. This outrageous law sanctions expropriation of private Palestinian land illegally occupied by Jewish settlers in the West Bank. It is one example of Israeli legislation imposed on Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank, who have lived under military occupation since 1967—forbidden citizenship and all democratic rights, including the right to vote.
This racist law is the latest in a series of steps promoted by settler groups, and enacted by Israel since the election of Donald Trump. Soon after he took office, Israel announced plans to build over 6000 settler homes on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
After expressing staunch support for illegal Israeli settlements during his election campaign, and after ignoring the initial series of settlement expansion announcements since his election, Trump on Feb. 2 said that settlements “may not be helpful.” But after the “Regularization Law” was passed on Feb. 13, the Trump administration signaled it would wait to see how Israel’s courts would interpret the law before it comments.
As an alternative to the “two-state” approach, Trump raised what some have referred to as an “outside-in” negotiating strategy, calling on Saudi Arabia and other Arab states friendly with Israel to help impose a solution on the Palestinians. This is a method previous administrations have attempted. One variant of this strategy is an agreement that allows outright annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israel, with Palestinians directed to live under Jordanian rule.
Any future annexations will extend and deepen Israel’s apartheid rule over Palestinians. Since all Palestinians in occupied territories remain non-citizens, they are subject to military rule and denied all basic democratic rights.
History has shown that Palestinians will never accept a “solution” that leaves them living in squalor and poverty, without equal social or political rights, and without equal access to natural resources, housing, and other necessities of life. The master-slave relationship must end before a truly just society can be built—a democratic and secular state throughout all of historic Palestine, which recognizes full and equal rights to all regardless of religion, race, or national origin.
Revolutionary Marxists believe that as an oppressed nationality Palestinians can never achieve true self-determination and full equality in the context of capitalism. We advocate the struggle for socialism, which must entail the overturn of Zionist colonialism led by the Palestinian and Israeli working classes united in struggle. The unity forged needs to be grounded in the resolute support of Jewish workers for Palestinian equal rights.
Photo: Mark Ugolini / Socialist Action