by Yoav Bar *
This paper is written as a contribution to the discussion in the Anti Imperialist Camp about perspectives for work within the imperialist countries. The situation in Palestine is very different from that of Europe or the US. Since the beginning of the Zionist colonization of Palestine, some 130 years ago, Jews in Palestine were a small enclave of settler population in the midst of the Arab homeland. Colonialism is not external expansionism of some imaginary “western-capitalist Israel”, but the essence of Israel’s existence. Palestine is an occupied colonized country, where the real center of political life is the struggle against the occupation. Any progressive struggle within the Jewish community in Palestine should be part of the perspective of Palestinian liberation.
From many aspects, the democratic struggle in Israel, as a remote outpost of imperialism, may differ from the general perspective for revolutionary struggle in the imperialist centers. Anyway, I tried to keep my analysis strictly committed to the facts on the Palestinian ground, and let the audience treat it critically to decide what lessons may be drawn for other fronts.
A lot was written about the evils of Zionism as a colonialist movement and Israel as a racist regime, but the role of Zionism in the Imperialist Hegemony over the Arab East is much less known and understood. Still the main role of Zionism is not the exploitation of the Palestinian people, of which they prefer to get rid by continuing ethnic cleansing, neither the building of a Jewish society in Palestine (and the subsequent exploitation of the Jewish working class). The main role of Israel is as an advanced military outpost in the middle of the Arab East to prevent Arab independence, Arab unity and the building of a national economy and democratic society.
The military character of the Israeli project is enshrined in many strategic agreements between Israel and the imperialist powers, guaranteeing the “strategic superiority” of Israel in the region.
The current imperialist hysteria against Iran’s nuclear program has only one meaning – imperialist determination to keep Israel as the only power with nuclear weapon in the area, so as to enable it to use it on need. In many recent writings by Zionist leaders they tell openly how close they were to using nuclear weapons in some of their past conflicts…
For their role in keeping imperialist hegemony over this strategically important region, the Zionist military-capitalist elites receive a wide range of economic and political privileges, which are a small fraction of the imperialists’ profits from the subjection of the Arab nation and the robbery of its natural and human resources.
Colonialism and Class
In order to be able to expel and oppress the Palestinian people, and in order to be able to militarily terrorize the whole region, the Zionists need the best of all imperialist weaponry, but they also need soldiers to fight their wars. The state of Israel uses those Jewish masses it succeeded to tempt to come to Palestine as its base of support and as the foot soldiers for its colonization, oppression and aggressive wars. It needs this immigrant community to be satisfied, to prevent it from re-immigrating to safer places, and to keep its loyalty as a fighting force.
Fear is one major force behind the intense control of Zionism over the Jews in Palestine. In this sense, Zionism is the main beneficiary of anti-Semitism and it shares its conviction that Jews can’t assimilate in the societies where they live. It also benefits, to some degree, from terrifying Jews in Palestine from the possible consequences in case Israel will loose it military dominance.
In order to provide replacement to the expelled Palestinians, the Zionist movement is bringing in Jews from all over the world. At a process of internal colonization, Jews from Arab and other third world countries are deprived of their culture and social structure, which are declared by the state as “inferior”, and their society is crashed to provide defenseless “human raw material” for the Zionist manipulation and exploitation.
But the main mean used by Israel to keep the loyalty of the Jewish masses is to make their daily way of living depend of a complex system of privileges as against the native Palestinians. This system of privileges includes every aspect of daily lives in Israel: Health and Education, Housing, Welfare, Acceptance and promotion at work, just everything. Much effort is done to involve as many Jews (from all classes) as possible in actively expropriating Arab land, in the ’48 occupied territories as well as in the West Bank and the Syrian Golan heights.
This system allows only one way for effective struggle for sections of the Jewish masses that aspire to improve their daily lives: To struggle to enhance their privileges and distance themselves from the much more oppressed and exploited Arab masses. It is not a coincidence that the most successful struggle of Oriental Jews in the last years was a campaign for more equal distribution of expropriated Arab land, waged under the slogan “this land is also mine”.