Friday, January 16, 2009
Upon a cursory examination, there are two interesting aspects of the letter beyond the praiseworthy call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. First, there is the failure to acknowledge that Zionism has become an increasingly American project, supported by billions in yearly economic and military assistance. It is hard to imagine any issue of significance which results in such strong support among Americans other than the preservation of the state of Israel. Evangelicals, in particular, express an extremist support for the military actions of Israel equal to, and sometimes beyond that, of Israelis. Without such assistance and support, there would be no Israel. And yet, the letter is silent on this point, and, hence, silent as how people should attempt to change US policy.
The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel's ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel's war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.
Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides... against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.
We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.
We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.
Professor Gilbert Achcar, Development Studies, SOAS
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Politics and International Studies, SOAS
Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, Gender Studies, SOAS
Professor Eric Alliez, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dr. Jens Andermann, Latin American Studies, Birkbeck
Dr. Jorella Andrews, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths
Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson, Philosophy, University of Warwick
John Appleby, writer
and numerous others
Second, the letter, after explaining that Israel was created through the dispossession of the Palestinians, rather oddly limits itself to advocacy of the two state solution whereby Israel returns to its pre-1967 boundaries. The inconsistency of these two perspectives consigns the victims of this dispossession to eternal status as displaced people. It also abandons the Arabs of Israel to the mercy of a political system that gives and takes away their right of participation in a purportedly democratic process at the whim of the Jewish majority, as happened most recently with the disqualification of an Arab political party from the upcoming Israeli election. The two state solution is a relic of the 1980s and 1990s, designed at that time to preserve US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East by transforming the PLO into a supplicant client. With Fatah discredited, there is no prospect of putting this Humpty Dumpty back together again. For the left, there is only one approach consistent with its values: a single, secular state for Palestine.
Hat tip to lenin at Lenin's Tomb