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Slogans on Gaza

Submitted by Matthew on 28 November, 2012 - 7:43

Socialist Worker (24 November), reporting on Gaza, explicitly opposes "calls for Israel and Palestine to negotiate a settlement". "The only solution", it says, "is to create a single state that allows Jews and Arabs to live alongside each other".

The voluntary merger of neighbouring nations into larger units is desirable all across the world. But merger without negotiation? Involuntary merger? That is only another way of saying "conquest".

If in areas where decades of cooperation have eroded old conflicts — say, between Britain and France — social progress had made national differences fade so much that the neighbouring nations were merging into a common political unit, then we might hope that after some decades or generations the Israeli Jews and the Palestinian Arabs would follow.

But that is not happening. SW's talk of "living alongside each other" suggests a voluntary merger, with nations so harmonised that they meld into a common unit; but their opposition to negotiation makes it clear that they advocate merger by force, in other words conquest.

Conquest by whom? By "a democratic uprising across the region".

But how can the uprising be "democratic" if it involves — if, in fact, the chief purpose of it is — the forcible suppression of the Israeli Jews? (And of other nations too? The Palestinians have been badly treated by Arab states as well as by Israel, and demand not to be part of a big Arab state ruled from Cairo or Baghdad, but to have their own state).

SW sees its desired future also as "secular". But how does that square with their support for Hamas, who are vehemently anti-secular?

SW's line amounts to abandoning all pressure on Israel to negotiate and counselling the Palestinians to wait for a promised future pan-Arab effort, called "democratic" for no clear reason, which will revenge them by imposing on the Israeli Jews the conquest and suppression which the Palestinians themselves have suffered at the hands of Israel. It is both unrealistic in any foreseeable future and reactionary.

Eric Lee's polemic (Solidarity 265) is right in condemning the slogan "From The River To The Sea", used by some demonstrators against the Israeli assault on Gaza. The slogan implies the conquest and driving-out of the Israeli-Jewish people.

Eric's polemic, however, begs another question. He suggests calling for a ceasefire.

At the time of the previous, bigger, Israeli attack on Gaza, in early 2009, Eric endorsed slogans like "Yes to peace, no to Hamas terror", which, if they were a call for ceasefire at all, put the onus entirely on Hamas.

We disagreed then and we disagree now. We oppose Hamas's stated aim of establishing Islamist rule over the whole of Palestine. But there is a huge disproportion of casualties — 160 Palestinians, six Israelis. There is a huge disproportion of forces: Israel could negotiate a two-states deal if it wanted to; Hamas can do little.

Those facts made the chief demand "stop the Israeli assault on Gaza". There's the additional fact that the conflict seems probably to have been unleashed deliberately by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu for electoral and geo-tactical reasons.

Most of the Gaza protests, even those where "From the river..." was heard, mobilised mainly people driven by proper anger against the use of overwhelming Israeli military might.

AWL members were there, sharing the anger, arguing for our "two-states" view against all "conquer-Israel" slogans, and getting a hearing.

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