The Dream of Free Palestine

Revolutionary Worker #1146, April 14, 2002, posted at

The survival of the Palestinian people is on the line. A people who will not be vanquished are up against a brutal state that is compelled to vanquish them.

Confronting the most severe onslaught by the Israeli armed forces since Ariel Sharon led the Israeli army to attack the Palestinian camps in Lebanon in 1982, the Palestinian people-who have resisted and resisted in the hopes of regaining a homeland-face an historic turning point.

Their cause is the cause of the oppressed everywhere.

Despite the attempts of the Israeli army to hide their atrocities from the world by banning the media and the criminal distortions of the U.S. media, the whole world is witness to the essence of this conflict. We see occupier vs. occupied; justice vs. injustice; the State of Israel and U.S. imperialism vs. the oppressed people of Palestine.

Throughout the Middle East, the outrage of the masses has taken them to the streets, as hundreds of thousands brave the water cannons and tear gas of the Arab regimes to aim their anger at Israeli and U.S. embassies.

Rampaging through the West Bank towns, the Israeli army has imposed a brutal occupation on the Palestinian people. This occupying army-with its Apache helicopters, F-16s, tanks, and bulldozers-has destroyed Palestinian cities, dismantled the Palestinian Authority, killed untold numbers of people, driven people from their homes, prevented ambulances from picking up the wounded, and imposed a reign of terror.

In the midst of this, we are told that the biggest oppressors on the planet-the U.S. imperialists, who give billions in military aid to the state of Israel-are the only ones who can bring peace. But the current U.S. "peace mission" has nothing to do with justice for the Palestinians. As protests erupt in the Arab capitals, the crisis in Palestine now threatens to disrupt U.S. plans for war in the Middle East against Iraq. And the U.S.-sponsored peace accords have proven to be plans for keeping the Palestinians locked up in a mini-state in the shadows of Israel-with Yasser Arafat as the warden.

Even this kind of Palestinian state and leadership is threatening to some in the Israeli ruling class. When Ariel Sharon went to Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, in September 2000, surrounded by a thousand Israeli soldiers, he was delivering a message of contempt for the peace process. Flaunting Israeli control of this key site in East Jerusalem which is viewed as the historic capital of Palestine by the Palestinians, he meant to humiliate the Palestinians and assert Israeli power. Sharon brought with him a bloody record-from the Qibya massacre in 1953 where forces under his command blew up 45 houses and killed 69 people to the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 where thousands of Palestinians were murdered at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. After seven years of bitterly disappointed hopes in the Oslo peace process and an increasing recognition that their national survival altogether was on the line, the Palestinians expressed outrage and rose up in resistance to this provocation by Sharon. In response, the Israeli army gunned down 90 youth who were throwing stones and sent tanks, combat helicopters and missiles into Palestinian areas.

Now the Israeli government declares itself to be on a mission of self-defense provoked by suicide bombings. But the reality of the situation-for those willing to see-is that the Israeli armed forces are on a mission to wreck Palestinian society and to deliver a message that Israel and the U.S. hold the fate of the Palestinians in their hands.

Occupation. What does it mean? It means living under the gun. It means land stolen, homes destroyed, culture denied. It means that the Israeli government and army dictate the lives of the Palestinian people. Resistance, any resistance, is met by punishment.

A whole generation of Palestinian youth have seen occupying troops gun down kids throwing rocks, bulldoze people's homes and uproot orchards in retaliation for acts of resistance. And living under occupation has kindled a desperate determination to fight against the occupiers. Without a real revolutionary strategy for taking on and defeating the occupiers, many youth have turned to suicide missions as a way of hitting back. At the same time, when Israeli tanks and thousands of troops rolled into the West Bank and Gaza Strip in early March and U.S.-made F-16s and helicopters attacked from the air, they were met with increased resilience by Palestinian fighters, including stepped-up guerrilla tactics-which shocked the Israeli army. An aroused people living under the gun are determined to fight back.

Many eyes have been opened by the actions of the Israeli armed forces.

Amidst the brutal occupation, there have been some positive signs of Jewish opposition to the occupation. Earlier this year, the Israeli reservists who refused to take part in the military occupation of West Bank and Gaza confirmed the terrible injustice and the war crimes of their own army. And as Israeli forces savaged Ramallah, the world was surprised by a young Jewish man from Brooklyn, who brought medical assistance to the beseiged Palestinian President Arafat and told the press, "This is not about politics between Jew and Arab, between Muslim and Jew. This is a case of human dignity, human freedom and justice that the Palestinians are struggling for against an occupier, an oppressor. The violence did not start with Yasser Arafat. The violence started with the occupation."

This brutal occupation has made it clear that there will never be peace or justice in Palestine until the terms of things are dramatically changed. But all who oppose the occupation need to look deeper.

At the heart of the problem is the reality of Israel as a settler colonial state-armed and backed by the world's most powerful imperialists. Built on stolen Palestinian land and a trail of terror to deny the Palestinian people their homeland and their national rights, for 50 years the state of Israel has been riding roughshod over the Palestinians and the people of the region. And still they know no peace-because where there is oppression there is resistance. The current occupation of the West Bank cities have made it painfully clear that there will never be justice for the Palestinians until the Israeli military juggernaut is defeated and a new state is forged through revolutionary struggle. Though it seems like a dream, we can envision a red Palestine, a secular democratic state in which all the masses of Palestine have equal rights and together exercise genuine power.

This may seem unrealistic. But the Palestinian youth who are willing to give their lives deserve a real revolutionary strategy and a real liberating struggle. And the reality of the "two state solution"-where one state is Zionist Israel, armed to the teeth and acting in accord with the biggest oppressors on the planet, and the other is a Palestinian mini-state-can be seen in the destruction of Ramallah and Bethlehem and Nablus and Jenin. 

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