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Working Class Political Theory - Israel, Palestine and The Lebanon

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Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Aug 21 2006 17:19

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lazlo would be just as fair to point out that your job is to support the slaughter of Lebanese children, infact as you refuse to be drawn to condemning such things it would be a more grounded accusation.

Ho ho. I think if you read the posts a little more calmly, you'll discover that Lazlo would be just as fair to point out that the job of activist is to support the slaughter of Lebanese children.

I refuse to be drawn into the condemnation of anything, I leave that to single issue liberals. Condemning this or that is a waste of time, calling for retribution for past events even more so, it’s what you advocate next that’s important.

If we’ve all agreed that we can put up with the terms of the 1967 UN Border plan, with a UN security force to support it, we’d be better following through the implications. Such as whether or not we think the Palestinians can accept it and if so, what ground that opens up to develop a more progressive political arena there, and what that means for us at home.

Love

LR

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Aug 21 2006 17:24

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If Hamas set up checkpoints in Tel Aviv, bulldozed houses in Haifa and imposed curfew on Jerusalem under auspices of "security" would you claim any opposition would be just leaving the door a jar for IDF attacks on the West Bank and Gaza?

I’m not sure about the “leaving the door open” part, but opposition piggy backed on Jewish religious fanaticism would receive no support from me. My line’s the same regardless of who’s “winning or losing”.

Love

LR

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Aug 21 2006 18:24

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so your line would be that you would oppose any campaign against these Hamas checkpoints and house demolitions as it would only allow the IDF and various Zionists room to further attack Palestine?

I think so, yes, unless it's a trick question. I would certainly oppose the campaign against these Hamas checkpoints, if, as you imply, it’s a ruse to further the agenda of various religious fanatics, racists and avengers.

As I say, I’m not interested in condemning this or that or even advocating some vacuous position, I’m interested in getting to the heart of what our problem in the territory is, and solving it. The problem is that we’ve got a situation of racial and religious hatred that has developed since 1881, exacerbated by the bourgeoisie in order to better maintain their social status across the region. Simply calling for Israel to retreat to its 1967 Border, calling for Israel to dismantle its border controls, supporting Islamists who want a better chance of killing Israelis in suicide bombings, calling for a “fair” response to Hezbollah missile attacks etc is all so much liberal hot air and ignores the practicalities of the problem, in fact they exacerbate tension between the working class in both territories by assuming one side is more righteous than the other.

I advocate working class unity, I advocate insurgence against the bourgeoisie, cleric or capitalist. I’m even prepared to concede that a UN enforced 1967 border (albeit unwittingly) progresses that goal. The question is, if it failed last time, what reasons have we to think it will succeed now?

And if there are no groups on the ground that endorse the same position, then that’s just tough for me, and I’ll have to keep on advocating it until there is.

Love

LR

john
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Aug 21 2006 20:17
Alf wrote:
john tells us:

"I think an internationalist view can see Isreali expansion as the securitization the Middle East on behalf of international capital.
From this perspective it is possible to side with (but not merge into) Hezblah in an attempt to resist the further concentration of power in the hands of multinational capital-US state".

Which is just a more subtle way to wave the Hizbollah flag. Perhaps Revol would care to answer john’s argument.

no it's not - by that logic, I need to check all my opinions/actions to make sure they don't coincide with any other groups' opinions, for fear of implicitly supporting those other opinions too.

By this logic, if both I and the BNP call for an end to murder, then I am implicitly supporting the BNP.

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Aug 21 2006 20:28

john - So would you describe yourself as 'siding with' the BNP on anything?

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Aug 21 2006 20:41

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From this perspective it is possible to side with (but not merge into) Hezblah in an attempt to resist the further concentration of power in the hands of multinational capital-US state.

Maybe, but then the same could be said about siding with Israel in an attempt to resist the further concentration of power in the hands of multinational-Islamo-capital Syrian state.

All the anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah comrades should stick with Revol’s line, it’s the most robust one they’ve got.

Love

LR

john
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Aug 21 2006 21:51
Ret Marut wrote:
john - So would you describe yourself as 'siding with' the BNP on anything?

well, I think the BNP want better public services for (white) people in the UK

I also want that (I also want better public services for non-white people in the UK and for people outside of the UK), it's just that I don't think it's the fault of "foreigners" that we don't currently have them.

john
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Aug 21 2006 22:01
Lazy Riser wrote:
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From this perspective it is possible to side with (but not merge into) Hezblah in an attempt to resist the further concentration of power in the hands of multinational capital-US state.

Maybe, but then the same could be said about siding with Israel in an attempt to resist the further concentration of power in the hands of multinational-Islamo-capital Syrian state.

not really, because this ignores any kind of analysis of existing global power relations - i.e. Israel is much more powerful globally than Syria - so a shift in power towards Syria would represent a decentralization of global power.

Of course, this doesn't mean I support the strengthening of the Syrian state - as that is still too much of a concentration of power for my personal liking - just that if the Syrian state seeks to resist the concentration/centrlaization/strengthening of Israeli power, then it may perform certain actions that I could support in the short-term (e.g. if it offered refuge for people being tortured/imprisoned in Isreal), whilst of course I'd also argue that there is a better way to attain that refuge (through mutual and voluntary cooperation between people, not the dependence upon the "generosity" of states) even if that better alternative is not possible in the present.

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Aug 21 2006 22:13

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this ignores any kind of analysis of existing global power relations

I suppose it does. If that renders the analogy between the two statements invalid, then fair enough. I apologise for my vulgar invocation of the phrase “multinational-Islamo-capital Syrian state”, by the way.

Quote:
Of course, this doesn't mean I support the strengthening of the Syrian state

I would leave that up to the Syrian bourgeoisie to decide if I were you. I’m sure AATW don’t support Hamas, but, according to John., that’s not what Hamas think.

Quote:
if the Syrian state seeks to resist the concentration/centrlaization/strengthening of Israeli power, then it may perform certain actions that I could support in the short-term (e.g. if it offered refuge for people being tortured/imprisoned in Isreal)

OK comrade your position is clear: The stronger of two evils is the greater of two evils.

Love

LR

john
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Aug 21 2006 22:26
Lazy Riser wrote:
OK comrade your position is clear: The stronger of two evils is the greater of two evils.

well, yes, really - we have to live in the world as well as try to make it change

we can be as pure as we want about what we want the world to become, but the living in the present bit is always a bit messier

surely all we can do is devise (and constantly re-evaluate) a strategy of engagement with the present that makes a realization of the desired future most likely, no?

you can drop E in the water, I'll march from A to B calling for an end to Isreali murder

neither of the strategies are perfect, but neither is the world we live in - you might be tacitly increasing the power of multinational drug barons, I might be boosting support for Hamas - but what's the alternative? stick our respective heads up our own arses and tell our intestines we want to see a world in which everyone is nice to each other?

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Aug 21 2006 22:37
john wrote:
Of course, this doesn't mean I support the strengthening of the Syrian state - as that is still too much of a concentration of power for my personal liking - just that if the Syrian state seeks to resist the concentration/centrlaization/strengthening of Israeli power, then it may perform certain actions that I could support in the short-term (e.g. if it offered refuge for people being tortured/imprisoned in Isreal), whilst of course I'd also argue that there is a better way to attain that refuge (through mutual and voluntary cooperation between people, not the dependence upon the "generosity" of states) even if that better alternative is not possible in the present.

But Syria (along with Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Jordan) is one of the states to which the US outsources the torture of suspects who have been victims of 'extraordinary rendition' - ie snatched and disappeared. So I don't think the balance of global powers is quite as you portray it. There are shifting alliances, developing conflicts, rapprochements/resolutions in various areas at different levels of state relations between any two states at any one time; none of which it is in our interest to 'side with'. (Unless you tolerate torture/extraordinary rendition as a 'lesser evil'...)

john
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Aug 21 2006 22:45

Ret - yes, I agree with you, especially about shifting relations thing.

sorry if i was unclear - I do view Isreal as stronger than Syria. The bit on Syria as a possible source of refuge, though, was a hypothetical situation.

Interesting about Syria being partner with US on renditions - can you post link to some writing on this so I can find out more?

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Aug 21 2006 22:53

These are mainly just basic news reportage/factual;
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,1270541,00.html
http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?050214fa_fact6
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_rendition

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Aug 22 2006 07:59

Personally i'm still trying to figure out how the ICC and their various pathetic tailenders have come to the bizarre conculsion that the checkpoints have nothing to do with workplace struggle. How exactly do they think palestinians are getting to work? By magic?

Perhaps you can tell me how those opposing the checkpoints here, http://thistuesday.org/node/63 were simply being ''bourgeois naionalists''. Oh wait let me guess, they were doing something far worse, being trade union members, oh how could they. roll eyes

Unless you're actually willing to engage with the way nationalism in the area is a weapon of the ruling class to split the proletariat and enforce casualisation, then what fucking right do you have to talk about a working clas alternative to nationalism. Just as you've not got a leg to stand on going around telling us whether we can or can't join a union to further our economic interests. It seems to me that your entire arguement is based on abstract demands and a pitiful desire to cry 'revolution' or 'internationalism' from right at the top of your intellectual mud hut like some sort of mad communist holy man at any given opportunity.

john
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Aug 22 2006 08:43
revol68 wrote:
Can we just forget about Syria and all the rest of that shit for the moment.

revolt68 - why don't you choose which factors you want to focus on in order to understand contemporary social relations in the Middle East, and I'll choose mine?

thanks for those links Ret, very interesting - I noticed a lot of the mention of renditions to Syria were from 2003/4 - would be interesting to know if they're still going on now, especially as Syria is lining up behind Iran, US has placed Syria on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and, obviously, Bush-Rice have both been very critical of Syria lately.

Also interesting, Syria was providing refuge for Palestinians attacking Isreal - which led them to get attacked by Isreal in 2003.

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Aug 22 2006 09:29
john wrote:
revol68 wrote:
Can we just forget about Syria and all the rest of that shit for the moment.

revolt68 - why don't you choose which factors you want to focus on in order to understand contemporary social relations in the Middle East, and I'll choose mine?

Surely the factor to focus on is the day to day lives of the working class in all nations, because you could literally spend all day trying to negotiate the political minefeild of bourgeois political society and its myriad of factions within factions but you'd still never get anywhere.

So what matters is how a palestinian or israeli gets to work, what they're housing is like, how they link in unions and workplace organising and how nationalism and its varios material manifestations, such as checkpoints occupation, troops on the street, militant islam etc effects this, what the goals of the syrian bourgeoisie happen to be are not particuarly important, unless you are looking at how lebanese and palestinian migrants work within syria, but there again, you need to focus on their everyday conditions and how they can be changed.

john
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Aug 22 2006 09:44

but the bourgeoise (if we have to use that word) have a strong role in creating the world that is faced by the proletariat - we need to understand both

surely this is the point of a Marxian dialectical approach (which, given the terminology you use, I assume you are sympathetic towards) - that the existence of the proletariat and the bourgeoise are inter-connected and co-dependent (and, also, contradictorily, mutually antagonistic).

we need to understand capital-capital relations, intra-proletariat relations, and labour-capital relations.

That's what I think, anyway.

how could we understand the day-to-day opportunities faced by workers in Palestine if we don't also understnnd the role of capitalists in creating that world?

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Aug 22 2006 09:47

Can'tdo raises a valid point in that wherever workers are gathered together there is a possibility for collective discussion and action. This could take place at the checkpoint queues as it could at workplaces or the streets. I don't think that the legalistic campaign featured in the link constitutes an example of this however.

In any case, I don't really think this is the central issue. The main problem seems to me to be a refusal to accept the degree to which the conditions of imperialist war in Israel/Palestine have erected enormous obstacles to the most basic expressions of the class struggle.

As a result, there is equally an underestimation of the huge dificulties that would face any kind of internationalist political activity in that region. In Israel you would certainly face jail for undermining the war effort; in Gaza , Beirut or the West Bank you would be in clear danger of assassination by Hamas or Hizbullah.

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Aug 22 2006 10:16
Alf wrote:
Can'tdo raises a valid point in that wherever workers are gathered together there is a possibility for collective discussion and action. This could take place at the checkpoint queues as it could at workplaces or the streets. I don't think that the legalistic campaign featured in the link constitutes an example of this however.

So basically you're going to sit there as usual and pick holes in an attempt to twist peoples sentiments. So i'll say something like ''hmm i don't think workers tryin to win compensation is that bad a thing', and you'll say 'oh so you must be spporting the left of capital'
And you wonder why people get agressive when they argue with you guys.

Lets get this straight, the checkpoints and wallare at present the central barrier to unified action between israeli and palestinian workers. This is because it s not ideological nationalism, but a material barrier that enforces casualisation and degenerates the palestoinian woprking class. If you do not oppose the existence of these checkpoints then everything else you may say is pretty much a nonsense because it adds up to nothing more than abstract calls for unity that fly in the face of reality.

Quote:
In any case, I don't really think this is the central issue. The main problem seems to me to be a refusal to accept the degree to which the conditions of imperialist war in Israel/Palestine have erected enormous obstacles to the most basic expressions of the class struggle.

Doesn't that just echo the SWP's position, Their psotion being that all action against things like checkpoints is going to be destroyed or hijacked by nationalism so you should just give up and cheer the nationalists anyway. Whereas you lot are argueing that all action against checkpoints erc is going to be destroyed or hijacked by nationalism, so we should just give up and shouldn't support it.

Effectively you are both giving up on the class struggle in the entire region.

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Aug 22 2006 10:53

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may i suggest you read some history and you might come to the realisation that Islamic fundamentalism is rather seeking to piggy back on the opposition to the occupation.

Of course you may comrade. That’s a valid way of looking at it I suppose. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but Israel was created by the 1947 UN partition plan in order to try and end sectarian violence between Arabs and Jews, thus the whole notion of an “occupation” is predicated on religious contention. The practical consequences of the occupation, Israeli checkpoints etc, are no doubt exploited to further the agenda of Islamicists, as you say.

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Lets get this straight, the checkpoints and wall are at present the central barrier to unified action between israeli and palestinian workers.

Maybe so. But ending the occupation in any practical sense replaces Israeli checkpoints and border controls with UN ones. The whole world wants to end the occupation in one way or another, its how stable, how acceptable to the Palestinian working class, the resulting territorial configuration is going to be that’s at issue. Vacuously opposing this-or-that is useless, whatever it is that’s being advocated is important. UN enforced 1967 borders? If that’s what people want then they should say so.

Love

LR

john
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Aug 22 2006 11:46

ok, well we seem to have come full circle (again).

Lazie thinks a removal of borders will do nothing because it will leave the antagonism between communities in place; revolt69 thinks changing the borders will be a start in the process of building intra-class/cross-nation cooperation.

surely the next step, then, is to envisage how cooperation between Isreali/Palestinian working class can be facilitated? (I'm still not convinced by the E in the water approach).

Personally, i see nothing wrong with adopting both strategies - a weakening of border controls/drawing in of Isreali borders combined with attempts to promote intra-class/cross nation cooperation

Lazey, I don't see why you seem to think these 2 approaches are so incompatible?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 22 2006 11:45
Lazy Riser wrote:
The whole world wants to end the occupation in one way or another, its how stable, how acceptable to the Palestinian working class, the resulting territorial configuration is going to be that’s at issue.

Yes, and supporting working class action to create their own 'configuration', through action against the occupation, is the best way to achieve this, rather than calling for a specific border plan and trying to fit the working class into it.

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Aug 22 2006 12:37

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revol68 wrote:
Lazy, why do you keep reverting to the 1947 partition?

Because it demonstrates the underlying racial and religious conflicts at the heart of the problem.

revol68 wrote:
Most Palestinians would be prepared to accept the 1967 ones with some form of negioated settlement around the rest and a right to return.

I can dig where you’re coming from and I certainly support Palestinian’s free movement and residence throughout the whole territory. I also think that the Palestinians should be compensated financially for the way they’ve been shoved around by the Zionist agenda. Please elaborate on your ideas for a “negotiated settlement around the rest”, because if the 1967 border finds consensus approval on both sides, that’ll be where racist conflict reignites.

revol68 wrote:
surely it's quite possible to just drop the checkpoints (you do realise that checkpoints refer to the hundreds of ones that cut across the West Bank and not Israels border)

Sure. But whatever border controls the UN impose are, in practice, going to have to be even more effective, and simultaneously less invasive, than Israel’s, because if Israel provoke more suicide bomber attacks for whatever reason, then we’ll be back to square one again. But as long as one takes a stand simply “against the occupation” or “against the checkpoints that invade Palestine” without setting out the shape of the UN enforced border, then you’re just aligning yourself with an underdog for its own sake. Whether Israel’s checkpoints are aggressive or a legitimate defence is largely a matter of divisive sentimental perspective. Just because I don’t vacuously condemn Israeli (or for that matter Palestinian) actions, shouldn’t be taken to mean I see any of it as “morally legitimate”, it’s just a matter of cause and effect.

Lazlo wrote:
Yes, and supporting working class action to create their own 'configuration', through action against the occupation, is the best way to achieve this, rather than calling for a specific border plan and trying to fit the working class into it.

That’s not supporting anybody, that’s just moaning how bad the world is. The situation in the territory hasn’t arisen because the Palestinians (or Jews) are morally degenerate but as a technical development due to an escalating chain of events. You can either set out your ideas for how to progress the situation, as individuals in the territory will have to, or you can continue to wash-your-hands of it through wishy-washy moralism and “protest”.

john wrote:
Lazey, I don't see why you seem to think these 2 approaches are so incompatible?

I’m not sure I do. What I’m not compatible with is the idea that attacking the bourgeoisie by kidnapping infidel soldiers on (albeit illegitimate) checkpoints is a great move. It enforces the occupation rather than undermines it. Evaluating and seeing the positive consequences of this-or-that action against a checkpoint is one thing, but calling for “an end to the occupation”, with no technical support to enable it, assumes that Islamism is somehow morally superior to Zionism; which is divisive for the working class, unless one imagines the Israeli working class doesn’t count.

Love

LR

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Aug 22 2006 12:38
john wrote:
surely the next step, then, is to envisage how cooperation between Isreali/Palestinian working class can be facilitated?

i remember reading something about a telephone line setup by mothers of suicide bombers and their victims so they could talk to each other and realise the similarities in their position. liberal humanism maybe, but the Israeli state was being obstructionist nonetheless. i think it might have been a bbc article actually.

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Aug 22 2006 12:45
Lazy Riser wrote:
revol68 wrote:
Lazy, why do you keep reverting to the 1947 partition?

Because it demonstrates the underlying racial and religious conflicts at the heart of the problem.

you don't think that given that most people in the region have been born since then and have known mostly intra-bourgoise wars, that the racial/religious rationalisations of the conflict (mainly) arise out of the fact of violence and not vice versa?

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Aug 22 2006 13:16
Lazy Riser wrote:
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but Israel was created by the 1947 UN partition plan in order to try and end sectarian violence between Arabs and Jews, thus the whole notion of an “occupation” is predicated on religious contention. The practical consequences of the occupation, Israeli checkpoints etc, are no doubt exploited to further the agenda of Islamicists, as you say.

According to an article I've just read you are wrong, insofar as that's not the whole story - it was also a response to a Jewish terrorist offensive begun in 1945 against the Brit. administration, and the 1947 plan was only the beginning of the process that formed the territories; (excuse the long c&p)

Quote:
"... the [UN] General Assembly is only a talking-shop. It has no Executive power. Executive power was deliberately made the monopoly of the Security Council when the UN was established. The General Assembly could not control the implementation of its motion to establish a Jewish State, and Britain prevented the Security Council from doing so.

The Jewish population of Palestine was still very much a minority in 1947, despite a quarter of a century of extensive immigration. The General Assembly therefore decided to divide the region into two states, allocating more than half of the territory to the Jews, who were considerably less than half of the total population. And there was a bare majority of Jews in the territory awarded for the Jewish State.

(The UN resolution also laid down that the strategic area of Jerusalem be under international control and provided for a common market between the two proposed States.)

A Jewish State could not be constructed with any semblance of democratic process in a territory where the native population was still about 48% of the whole. The Jewish nationalists therefore, when given the green light by the General Assembly motion, set about an ethnic cleansing of their territory. The General Assembly did nothing to hinder them. Nor did the British administration in its remaining six months. (The UN vote authorising the establishment of a Jewish State was in November 1947: the British administration withdrew from Palestine in May 1948.) And then the Jewish nationalists enlarged their territory by conquering half of the remainder of Palestine, including part of the area the UN intended to be under international control.

The pre-1967 borders, which are now taken to be the legitimate borders of the Jewish State, are not the borders set by the General Assembly motion in 1947.

The Jewish claim to Palestine never limited itself to the territory awarded by the UN in 1947, or to the territory conquered in 1948, or even to the territory occupied in 1967. The land God gave to Moses extended across the Jordan.

The Palestinians, systematically disabled by a generation of British rule, could not defend themselves against the Jewish expansion of 1948. But a couple of Arab states intervened and stopped the Jewish conquest at Ceasefire lines beyond the territory specified as Jewish in the UN resolution.

The `international community' ... awarded part of Palestine to the Jews for a Jewish State, and stood idly by while it took the rest. ..."
"Church and State", no. 85.
Full article; http://www.atholbooks.org/magazines/cands/currented.php

This is from an Irish national/leftist historical journal with some very lame conclusions to the article about 'international law and justice'. But can anyone confirm this as an accurate historical description?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 22 2006 13:19
Lazy Riser wrote:
You can either set out your ideas for how to progress the situation, as individuals in the territory will have to, or you can continue to wash-your-hands of it through wishy-washy moralism and “protest”.

No, it's not my job to set out what plans people should move towards. My support for their actions is based upon their practise rather than their stated end aims. I'd rather support anarchists working against the wall, for example, than stalinists attempting to reach a one-state solution, even though the latter may be more politically 'correct'.

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Aug 22 2006 13:27

Hi

Joseph K. wrote:
you don't think that given that most people in the region have been born since then and have known mostly intra-bourgoise wars, that the racial/religious rationalisations of the conflict (mainly) arise out of the fact of violence and not vice versa?

Perhaps. It would be difficult to argue that key events that eventually brought about the 1947 partition (Sorry Revol) like the Hebron Massacre weren’t racially motivated though. Jewish Zionism in the region smacks of racism to me.

I understand that in 1917 one of the Zionist options that was floated was Argentina rather than Palestine. I’d love to have seen how that would have turned out.

Ret wrote:
According to an article I've just read you are wrong, insofar as that's not the whole story

Ouch that's a bit harsh. I suppose you're right though.

Love

LR

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Aug 22 2006 13:32
Lazy Riser wrote:
It would be difficult to argue that key events that eventually brought about the 1947 partition (Sorry Revol) like the Hebron Massacre weren’t racially motivated though. Jewish Zionism in the region smacks of racism to me.

Zionism is primarily a nationalist movement (in the sense that it wants a state for the 'jewish nation'), with the inherent racism that tends to entail. Its a pretty piss-poor 'working class political theory' to see nationalism as a root cause of anything, it invariably tends to be a reaction to something else, with specific reference to 1947, the holocaust figures prominently, and with it all the reasons for the rise of the Nazis etc.

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Aug 22 2006 13:51

Hi

Joseph K. wrote:
Zionism is primarily a nationalist movement (in the sense that it wants a state for the 'jewish nation'), with the inherent racism that tends to entail. Its a pretty piss-poor 'working class political theory' to see nationalism as a root cause of anything, it invariably tends to be a reaction to something else, with specific reference to 1947, the holocaust figures prominently, and with it all the reasons for the rise of the Nazis etc.

I like where you're going with this. I could easily concede that there is no shiny root cause that can be put on a pedestal, despite key events indicating important, although irrational, underlying conflicts at that point in time, from which the chain of historical events continues and can be understood from a purely technical perspective. Go on…

Love

LR