On the Sadat spectacle and Thus only!: two documents from Matzpen

Two documents from Matzpen, the first explicitly anti-zionist socialist group in Israel, written in 1977. The first on Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel, the second a declaration of Matzpen's anti-zionist position, which was published in Ha'aretz newspaper.

Submitted by Ed on January 17, 2013

On the Sadat spectacle

Public statement on Sadat's visit
The following statement was published on 19 November 1977 by the Socialist Organization in Israel (Matzpen), jointly with Harakat Abna' al-Balad (Sons of the Village Movement), The Revolutionary Communist League, and the editorial board of Key. Issued in Umm al-Fahm, Israel.

Public attention in this country and throughout the world is at present directed at [The Egyptian president, Anwar] Sadat's visit in Israel, and rightly so. Many people genuinely hope that this visit will open an avenue to the peace which is being discussed by everybody. Can the visit realise these hopes?

Our answer is No.

For the root of the conflict in the Middle East is not the conflict between Israel and Egypt, but rather the dispossession of the Palestinian Arab people from its homeland, its exile and the denial of its natural right to exist as a people, as well as the denial of its national and human rights.

Sadat's visit is designed to overcome 'procedural problems', by bypassing the recognised representative of the Palestinian Arab people – the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Even if Sadat manages to get [Israeli prime minister, Menahem] Begin's consent to the return of Sinai to Egypt, or if Begin manages to wrest out of Sadat portions of Sinai, the Palestinian problem will still be unsolved, and so peace will not be achieved.

The road to peace must go through the recognition and im­plementation of the right of the Palestinian Arab people to self ­determination and to return to its homeland. Any settlement reached behind the back of the Palestinian Arab people or at its expense, and without the participation of its recognised representative, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), will not bring peace to the peoples of the region; rather, it will be a prelude to a new war.

So long as in reality the Palestinian Arab people under Israeli rule is subjected to confiscation of lands, demolition of homes, colonisation, Judaisation of the Galilee, suppression of basic human rights, and murder of citizens, like the seven Victims of the Land killed on the Day of the Land [March 30, 1976] and [the man killed by the police] in Majd al­Kurum – all talk about peace in Jerusalem, Cairo, Geneva or anywhere else is an illusion and an exercise in deceiving the people who are longing for peace.

The road to peace goes through Palestine, and is not that of Sadat.

Thus only!

Declaration of the Socialist Organization in Israel (Matzpen), Published as an advertisement in Ha'aretz, 27 December 1977

The peace-carnival, conducted by the Israeli Prime Minister, helped by troops of henchmen from the right and the 'left', is aimed at confusing the masses.

The aim of Begin's plan is to prove to the whole world that the Israeli government, under the leadership of Begin, did everything in order to achieve peace, and now the Arabs have to act. They have to choose: either to accept the plan and thereby help Begin and Co. perpetuate the oppression of the Palestinian-Arab people and con­solidate the occupation of Arab lands; or reject the plan and thereby be responsible, according to Begin, for sabotaging the peace and for further bloodshed of Jews and Arabs in the next war. A real catch – made in Israel.

But the truth is: Israel is the one that must make the choice – war or peace.

He who wants peace should struggle for the recognition and respect of the national and human rights of the Palestinian-Arab people; he who avoids this struggle accepts de-facto the continuation of the oppression and occupation and paves the way for the next war, which will be bloodier than the previous ones.

Begin's plan is based on the false assumption that one can break the stick and keep it whole at the same time: perpetuate the oppression of the Palestinians and consolidate the occupation of their lands, but also achieve peace and the recognition of Israel by the Arabs.

Anyone who follows such a false assumption is bound to be disappointed. And there is no need to look too far back in history to find out that wherever there is oppression there is revolt, wherever there is discrimination, there is bound to be resistance.

We have seen such things, here in this country, 30 years ago: two leaders – one Israeli and one Arab – signed a peace agreement based on the deprivation of the rights of the Palestinians and on their op­pression, each in his own state. They were Ben Gurion and Abdulla. And the facts are well known: many have been killed since then in order to keep the status quo; and the Palestinian masses, who seemed to have been wiped off the map of history, were back on the scene.

Therefore, even if Begin finds an Arab leader to sign his plan for 'autonomy', this will not bring real peace between the Jewish-Israelis and the Arab-Palestinians. Because the meaning of this 'autonomy' is the creation of a Bantustan for the Palestinians who live here, and leaving the rest of the Palestinians in the status of refugees. Just like South Africa's Bantustan, so will Palestinustan be a prison under the auspices of Israel. But while black Bantustan is a prison closed to the whites, Palestinustan will be open to Israeli settlers.

The sincere desire for peace, shared by the Arab and Jewish masses, is used by the Israeli Prime Minister in order to camouflage the continuing occupation as 'autonomy'. In doing so he is helped by the 'Left-Zionists' from Mapam and Sheli, who have suddenly forgotten all their talk of the rights of the Palestinians. But it is clear what such an 'autonomy' means: A Palestinian army – no! A Palestinian government – definitely not! As Begin himself said – it is not even 'self-rule', but only 'self-administration'.

The basic right of self-determination is denied to the Palestinians who will live in the framework of this 'autonomy'; but each one of them will enjoy the doubtful right to choose their nationality: to become subjects of the Hashemite king or of the zionist state. All this under the watchful eye of the Israeli army and continuing pressure of Israeli settlers.

In spite of our small numbers, we repeat our support for the struggle of the Palestinian people for its liberation – including the struggle for a complete and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the 1967 occupations, and the establishment of an independent political entity there.

In this spirit we struggle:

For an immediate, complete and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories!

Against any Israeli attempt to dictate to the Palestinian masses who will represent them!

Against any Israeli attempt to dictate the future of the territories after a withdrawal!

Thus only can peace and equality between the two peoples of this land – the Arab-Palestinians and the Jewish-Israelis – be achieved.

We are convinced that even if Begin's government will be forced to make concessions to Sadat, and adopt his plan, this will not solve the problem of the Palestinians. Since the problem of the Palestinians can be fully solved only in the framework of the victory of the revolutionary struggle in the whole region for socialism; a struggle which will defeat imperialism; defeat its agents' rule in Israel and the Arab states; abolish the existing borders; unify the Arab nations; secure the rights of the non-Arab nations living in the Arab East, including the Jewish-Israeli nation.