Morals and tactics

Sorry for the missed days. For yesterday at least I have an excuse – I share a computer, and another user of my computer downloaded enough pop-up programs and viruses to destroy my computer. That problem still isn’t fixed, so I’m blogging from elsewhere.


Sorry for the missed days. For yesterday at least I have an excuse – I share a computer, and another user of my computer downloaded enough pop-up programs and viruses to destroy my computer. That problem still isn’t fixed, so I’m blogging from elsewhere.

Now onto serious matters. Michael Albert from ZNet gives an analogy in his talks (analogies being his specialty). He says, suppose that you were to talk all the books, articles, talks – the total output of leftists – that discuss and analyze and document horrors, atrocities, and the devastating impacts of the economic system, racism, militarism, imperialism, sexism, and turn them into a pile. It would be many feet high. Then you were to do the same for the leftist output envisioning a better society and strategy for achieving it – the pile would be much smaller.

It’s a good point. And I’m no less guilty of it than anyone else. In my own case the problem is multifaceted. First I believe strategy is more important than vision. Second, I believe that both, if discussed at a sufficiently high level of abstraction, are fairly useless. Discussions of strategy and vision have to be tied to what real people and organizations can actually do in real contexts – they have to be, in other words, quite specific, to be of value, and they are of most value when the people having the discussions are the same people who are going to implement the strategy. It seems to me that there is some ways to go in North America before big strategy discussions will have much meaning. But we should certainly spend more time thinking about these things, in whatever context.

An old but classic book with some interesting stuff in it on these issues is Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’. One of the ‘rules’ is his tidy resolution of the problem of means and ends. Alinsky says that the only questions to ask about ends is – are they achievable and worth the cost. The only question to ask about means is – will they work.

In that context, a discussion on strategy and tactics for the North American movement in solidarity with Palestinians would be welcome. There are some interesting pieces about this on ZNet. Joel Kovel’s piece from last year had some interesting thoughts about how to deal with the ‘anti-semitism’ accusation that is inevitably hurled at people working on Palestinian rights.

More recently, Palestinian commentator Omar Barghouti published an article making the case for a cultural and academic boycott against Israel. It’s a well-argued piece that makes a moral case. Montreal activist and writer Samer Elatrash gave a thoughtful reply today, in which he points out that Barghouti’s case for a boycott was made on moral grounds, but not practical ones. To paraphrase and use Alinsky’s words, Barghouti failed to ask the key question about a tactic like a boycott – will it work. Elatrash suggests that it would not work, for various reasons, but above all because public opinion is not prepared for such a measure. Since Palestinians’ only remaining weapon is the justice of their cause and the horrible injustice of what they are being subjected to, solidarity with the Palestinians means above all finding ways to reach public opinion with that moral case and then translate that public opinion into action against the very powerful interests that are out to dispossess and destroy Palestinians. To quote Elatrash:

We should not get ahead of ourselves and assume that we have done the groundwork, in raising awareness in the publics that would call on their governments to boycott Israel. Does this awareness exist (say) in the United States, where orthodoxy tells us that the Palestinians turned down a state in 2000, and much of their problems stem from an inflammatory public education system and the decadence of a national leader’s wife? Or in the UK, where polls suggest that Britons view the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an Alice In Wonderland looking glass?

I would (weakly) agree.

I think that in general and specifically on Palestine, we are at a desperate enough stage that brutal honesty is warranted, about our own shortcomings and failures and what we have to do differently (and perhaps even about who ‘we’ are and are not). I’d certainly welcome it if some of that discussion took place here – Samer Elatrash suggested such a discussion. So, if people want to comment below, or send something on this specific topic – not only the idea of a boycott, but strategy for Palestine solidarity – that you think I should post here, or react to here, please do.

Author: Justin Podur

Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

18 thoughts on “Morals and tactics”

  1. I have to confess I haven’t
    I have to confess I haven’t as yet read the Barghouti article, but I have written about the limitations of a sanction campaign against Israel previously (my analysis borrowing heavily from Chomsky) and many of the same points apply to a boycott.

    I won’t rehearse my arguments here, but if you’re interested saunter over to my blog. I welcome any comments:

    http://disillusionedkid.blogspot.com/2004/07/sanctioning-israel.html

    [On a technical note, can I take this chance to recommend Mozilla Firefox as an alternative to Internet Explorer, might help you with some of your difficulties, its also a lot better generally. See: http://www.mozilla.org]

  2. I dream of using linux one
    I dream of using linux one day but I’m just not smart enough I’m afraid. You’ll be happy to hear the friend who set this blog up does use linux. I’ll check your stuff out Disillusioned kid. Thanks.

  3. While I agree with Samer’s
    While I agree with Samer’s arguments on why an academic boycott is not strategically sound, I don’t see how the alternative he offers would lend more fruitful results. A boycott on settlement products is based on the assumption that presenting a motion to parliament (I’m talking about Canada specifically) demanding a boycott on settlement products from Israel will easily pass.

    I’ve thought about this move for quite a while now and here are some of the hurdles that I see us having to pass to get there. One, is there data out there specifying which Israeli corporations manufacture in the settlements? Are we asking for a boycott of all those corporations’ products regardless of whether they manufacture a percentage of their goods in the settlements or not? More importantly, can this date be collected in the first place?

    Two, if we were to push for such a bill, we need to make a complete and thorough study on the effect of this bill on trade relations for Canada, on employment, on whether it will breech the Canada/Israel agreement on trade. Why would the parliament be willing to support something that might have a negative effect on the Canadian economy even if it was for the sake of human rights? I mean, all Western governments don’t usually care much about human rights unless there is an economic benefit in the long run, where is the economic benefit here?

    Three, who is going to present this motion? It’s obviously not going to be a cabinet minister, this means that the motion is going to be a private member’s bill. Those bills have limited space each year on the parliament floor and even if an MP sympathizes with what we are trying to do, s/he would rather use their private member bill space to demand something his/her constituents want. So basically, unless we get a petition drive in a certain riding to prove to a sympathetic MP that there is demand for such a bill from his/her constituents, this might not work. Also remember, the bill will have to wait for months, even years to be presented in parliament.

    Fourth, usually private members’ bills are sent to committee for research and modifications, and that process takes a few weeks, sometimes months or years even, depending on how willing are the committee members to discuss the issue.

    Fifth, if the bill ever makes it back to parliament after committee, what’s the garantuee that parliament will vote for it?

    I believe that such a strategy has the same moral equivalence of an academic boycott. While I see it to be more effective since it will set a precedent for other actions in the future, I don’t believe we are ready to take this path yet. Our awareness campaigns have to be stronger, and our grassroot pressure as well.

    There is no guarantee that Canada will follow the human rights rhetoric on this case. It’s the Canadian Liberal way to look so pro-human rights to the World while manage to slyly avoid real human rights concerns. So I don’t believe any strategy would work unless there is pressure from the ground and there is awareness in the media.

    I know I sound very pessemistic and negative, but I’m definitely working on those awareness campaigns myself. And the awareness campaigns should not only be targetted towards the public in general, but towards Palestinian and Arab diaspora communities in particular. These communities should learn that they should not give the Liberals their guaranteed vote (or the mainstream party in any Western country). No one should criticize them for being Liberal, that in itself is a useless startegy, but we should help them realize that they have voting power and if the Liberals are not following up on their campaign promises, then as constituents they must hold their elected MPs accountable and make a protest vote for another party. Just like the Quebecois did this last election and punished the Liberals for the scandal, the Arab communities can do the same.

  4. Re Linux: Justin! Not smart
    Re Linux: Justin! Not smart enough? Oh Pleeeeease. What nonsense, try a Linux Live CD, that is a Bootable Linux CD that you just put into your cdrom, reboot, and bingo, Linux! If you dont like it, take out the CD and your computer is just like it was. If you do like it, use the installer to install the distro on your hardrive. My fauvorite live cd is PC Linux OS (www.pclinuxonline.com), but other popular ones include Mepis (the most popular) and Morphix (has a version for older computers called LightGUI). Now stop it with the excuses and just try it. No spyware. No viruses. No pirated software. No supporting the enemy.

  5. Regarding
    Regarding Palestine/Isreal.

    Respectfuly, I find a two state solution utterly moraly revolting.

    There are no such thing as Jews, there are no such thing as Palestinians, Race is an artificial, outdated, regressive construct.

    Every state is a Jewish state, every state is a Palistinian state, no state should assume an ethnic identity, every state must represent all the people who happen to be there, equaly and fairly, wether they identify as Palisitinians, Jews, or, like me, with the unbred denizens of postnation.

    Further, where will Capital investment come from in a “Palistinian State”? US dollar denominated foriegn loans, aid, retributions and “investment”, forever locking them into dependency on foreigners? Does anyone seriously beleive that this new state of Palestine will be anything more than a cheap labour gheto for their economicly superior neighbour, controlled by neoliberal preditory tactics? If you do doubt this, give your head a shake before you condemn the Palestinians to issolation and slavery, and give Isreal even more phoney moral currency for their opression.

  6. Hey Shady,
    We have a

    Hey Shady,

    We have a precedent to judge how a call for banning settlement products would go. Unspurred by Palestine solidarity activists, a Bloc mp decided to put such a bill before the parliament a few years ago, it got lost in limbo in a parlaimentary committee.

    But that doesnt say much, in the absence of a campaign around this bill (I dont think many people were even aware of it, I only found out recently when I was researching this topic). There are now mps who have agreed to bring it up, if we write them a bill (they’re very lazy people).

    First, there are settlement products sold in Canada. I contacted Guch Shalom, who have compiled a list, for products specifically in Canada. So far I have only found three or four, one of which had made news, not because it originated in the settlements, but becuase ut made people who ate it sick. Their advice was to go ahead with the products that we know about.

    Banning these products, or atleast marking them, as is done in the EU, doesnt go against Canadian treaties, it actually conforms with them, as does placing an arms emargo on Israel. An embargoe itself isnt exactly a big blow to the Candian economy, there is less than 1 million dollars worth of trade in arms with Israel, and I suspect that Israel sells more arms technology to Canada than the other way around.

    I think that this is an entirely different thing from a boycotts. First, the settlements, and the humamn rights abuses in the territories, are indefensible. This government says that the Fourth Geneva Convention is applicable in the territories, all we have to do is to say that it is, contratry to its own obligations, reinforcing these violations. We have a stronger case here than Bnai Brith had when it took the Canadian government to court over Hizbollah.

    Second, all indications, provided by polls, show that such a move would have a great deal of support among the Canadian public. The government knows this, as do the Zionist lobby groups, which is why they would hardly welcome a focussed campaign against something that they cant defend. Also, we are merely bending the stick back to the middle. If the government has already banned and outlawed Palestinian groups for terrorism, why shouldnt it be evenhanded, and apply the same criteria to Israel in the occupied territories? There is no dearth of documentation, including by Human Rights Watch (see their recent report on Rafah)–which, incidentally, features Lloyd Axeworthy as an executive–that makes the case that Israel is practicing war crimes in the territories. Whether the government approves of teh Court ruling on the wall or not,I do not think that there is an argument that the courts findings were judicially sound. We should use this ruling on the issue of settlements, which the Court emphasized are illegal and contrary to the Fourth Geneve Convention.

    We have to kep this campaign focused, and trim any excesses that our opponents could grab on to and divert from the main demands. If we do this, I think that such a campaign, which can realistically, with hard work, be succesful, will also be great to raise awareness about the occupation and our governments obligations towards the Palestinians. This is as good an oppurtunity as any, at a time when the government is under scrutiny for its position on the Middle East.

    But I agree that this cant replace grass roots pressure. It has to be grass roots pressure that carries this campaign, not only in pressure on MP’s, but media work, pickets before stores, and even a legal campaign in court, which would require funding. And we do need to mobolize the Arab and Muslim communities, but should remember that it should not be our focus. We really have to look at mobolizing churches, NGO’s, and a large bloc of civil society groups on this campaign. We shouldnt further the impresion that this is an Arab community thing, which people should account for during elections. This is rather a social justice acampaign, which represents the “Canadian public”.

  7. Shady – I have to admit that
    Shady – I have to admit that your list of reasons why a boycott campaign would be difficult read, to me, like a reasonably good plan of action. The kinds of things you listed that we have to know, for example, are very important that we know regardless (and Samer points out in his reply that we already do know much of it).

    I am not sure but I suspect the stuff you said about the diaspora is coming from the perspective of someone in the community. But I agree with Samer on this. I once saw some movie – made by activists, actually – about some solidarity movement on some campus in Montreal. The main flaw with the movie was that the whole thing was presented as if it was a conflict between Muslims on campus (of which there are many) and Jews on campus (of which there are fewer). I don’t know if that was the filmmakers’ intention – I’m sure it wasn’t the intention of the activists represented in the film. But at any rate the point is this: in order to make something change or move on this issue, it’s going to be necessary to move much more than the diaspora. And at any rate, the idea that the diaspora will be moved more by ‘special appeals’ to them as Muslims or Arabs compared to the appeal based on the justice of the cause, the simple moral framework that would theoretically appeal to everyone, seems to me to be mistaken. I suspect that on practical and moral grounds it makes more sense to just set the case forward on simple grounds of human rights and social justice.

    Dmytri, I won’t try to take you on on the Linux issue (I will instead weasel out of it, changing my excuse to cowardice). On Israel/Palestine, the one-state stuff is of interest to me – I listened to Ali Abunimah present the case here in Toronto some weeks ago. Worth discussing further for sure, because I’m of two minds on it.

    Back to the boycott though. In terms of research, we need to know much more not only about Canada-Israel relations. We also need to understand exactly how these decisions are being made: who are the players in the Liberal party. What are their connections to outside groups. What is the basis of their support (ideological? material? are they just right wing or pro-Bush?) And how many Liberals – I’d wager quite a few, Martin and Pettigrew among them – are just going along because the Israel supporters are coherent and disciplined and carrying the rest with them? The answers to these sorts of questions ought to inform the kinds of things we do in the short-term, at least.

  8. Hey Justin,
    Is that

    Hey Justin,

    Is that documentary youre referring to Discordia? If so, that definetly wasnt made by activists, actually, two very clueless guys. Both good friends of mine, but they would agree that what we have in common is St Laurent bars, not politics. But that documentary I think deals with a subtle ideological barrier that is faced by solidarity activists: Canadian multiculturalism, the ideology. The way events were framed in Concordia was done purposelessly, influenced both by the ideology of the filmakers as well as market consiederations–ie what would sell, which angle would most interest as Canadian audience: identity and the sucesses/faliures about a peculiarly Canadian ideology, ofcourse. You have written about multiculturalism elsewhere, this needs no rehearsing, but there are certain barriers that make solidarity activissm and antiracist activism difficult. There is the construction of good/bad, authenitic/inauthentic cultural representatives, of course. Canada is busy expropriating Native lands, First Nations are the poorest, most wretched communities in Canada, products of hundreds of years of genocide, racism, colonialism–all this, and Paul Martin will get a “medicine man” to recite prayers over at his inauguration, a true showing of multiculturalism. This medicine man is an “authentic” Native, Ellen Gabriel, and the people at Oka, are “thugs” and “shitstirrers.” This is a superb ideology for glossing over structural racism, institions of oppresion, power relations, into debates over identity, whether someone has a right to pray in the workplace, whether you have the right to wear a hijab or a kirpan to school, etc.

    It is also a big obstacle to raining awareness about our governments complicity in the occupation of palestine. Very simply, pro-Palestinan activism is classis solidarity work, but that is the last impression most people have of it. Rather, it is seen as the frictions between two ethic groups, one more recent than the other, settling into Canada. It is followed as such: will these groups adapt to multiculturalism or not? Lost in this debate is our governments complicity, and our agency to change what is happening there. Ofcourse, Zionists in Canada love to further this impression, which is why they have know taken to holding “events for peace”, “reaching out” to Arabs and Muslims here in Canada, as if this is all a tribal war.

    So I think that focussing on Arab and Mulsim communities is a bad way to go. Its advantages are that there is an easier organized bloc of people, who will come out for demos, vote in student elections, and provincial and federal elections etc. For groups that are interested solely in lobbying the government, they have to demonstrate that they “represent” the community. What we should be aiming for, however, is to be represented by a “hegemonic” bloc of public opinion, hegemonic by virtue of allowing people to identify with it across ethnic, religions and even ‘political’ lines.

    I agree Justin that we need to know exactly what is happening in teh government. I’m trying to work on a report for SPHR on Canadian foreign policy, it should be circulated in the next two weeks, will send you a copy, or something summarizing it, if you wish.

  9. Justin, I wont let you
    Justin, I wont let you weasel out of the linux thing so easy, what is the harm in *booting a harmless cd*? It will not touch the data on your hardrive, it will leave windows alone (along with all the viruses and spyware). It will just show you how easy to use a desktop oriented Linux distro is. Once you see and use it your fear will be gone. And if not, simply take the cd out of the cd rom, reboot, and your windows
    desktop will be back, just as it was, in all its pornographic popup window glory.

    You should understand that this is more than simply a good software choice for you, it is also an issue of solidarity, and us activists who are also free software advocates need your solidarity.

    Regarding Palestine/Isreal, you say you are of two minds, can you give me a clue as two what possible benifit two racist states over one racist state would be? Can you explain how the Palestinians, even with Soveriegnty, can escape the neoliberal death trap that other *much richer and more stable* societies can not escape? And given the excuse that “they have there own state,” what is stop israel from taking away whatever little rights the Palestinians have left inside Isreal once and for all?

    I have not seen these questions answered, they certainly are not in the link posted earlier.

    Regards,
    Dmytri.

    BTW, if I where still in Toronto, I would be happy to come over and hold your hand through the linux thing, in anycase, if you need someone I will be happy to encourage one of my freinds to come by and help you. Of course, we don’t do Windows. Except to help delete it from your hardrive.

  10. Samer, yes, pass me your
    Samer, yes, pass me your report, for sure. Dmytri, I will think hard about Linux. I am much impressed with Venezuela’s ‘Bolivarian Linux’ program and you are, unfortunately, depriving me of excuses.

    As for this: “Regarding Palestine/Isreal, you say you are of two minds, can you give me a clue as two what possible benifit two racist states over one racist state would be? Can you explain how the Palestinians, even with Soveriegnty, can escape the neoliberal death trap that other *much richer and more stable* societies can not escape? And given the excuse that “they have there own state,” what is stop israel from taking away whatever little rights the Palestinians have left inside Isreal once and for all?”

    All good points. But it seems to me that in your question – how would two racist states be better than what exists now – you have something of the question I’m most interested in. Namely, what is the next step in getting to something better than what exists now. I am desperate enough to be open to whatever that better thing might be – two states, one state, no state – but the question is really about possibilities in the short term for slowing down and perhaps stopping the expulsion and destruction of the Palestinian people, and then reversing it and helping to create something that satisfies everyone.

    But really the point Samer makes is the key one. Palestine solidarity activists in both the US and in Canada (including myself) have the same problem: we are very sophisticated and knowledgeable about Israel/Palestine. We rely on empty slogans and rhetoric when it comes to our own societies. We would do much better by the Palestinians if we understood the basics there and had far better analysis and understanding of the context here. And the point some Israel apologists make – that focusing on Israel when there are crimes here (or in Darfur, or wherever) – might be ‘picking on Israel’, has a grain of truth. The moral thing to do would be to focus on all of those things that we have some control over, focusing on those we have the most control over and that are the worst or highest priority. The fact is that Israel/Palestine fits very well with those criteria, but so does much else, and again, we’d do better at everything if we had a better understanding of our own context.

    I’ll try elevating some of this to a blog entry.

  11. There’s a lot which could
    There’s a lot which could and should be said about the various issues raised above, which are unquestionably important. This is a far from perfect format for such a discussion, but I’ve picked up on a few issues below.

    (1) “There are no such thing as Jews, there are no such thing as Palestinians, Race is an artificial, outdated, regressive construct.”

    There is a considerable element of truth to this, but I think it’s besides the point. No-one seriously contends that the Palestinians are a race, rather that they are a nation. This is a far more complex concept incorporating elements of ethnicity, but also language, culture etc. Regardless of what we think of nationalism as a concept (a major – and important – debate in itself) it is clear that it has considerable popular currency.

    Both the Israeli and Palestinian communities view themselves as a nation. Unfortunately both nations have viewed themselves for much of the last fifty-years as enemies. Do we really think forcing them together (and we would be forcing them together, particularly those in the Israeli community where the support for a single-state is virtually non-existent) is a good idea?

    The state system is deeply, deeply flawed, but it is the way the world today is organised. I happen to think that an anarchistish federation of the whole Middle East would be a nice idea, but it isn’t going to happen anytime soon. As Justin says, we should focus our actions where we can produce the maximum benefit. This is the only moral position from a consequentialist standpoint.

    (2) “Can you explain how the Palestinians, even with Soveriegnty, can escape the neoliberal death trap that other *much richer and more stable* societies can not escape?”

    Can you explain how a single state even if “much richer and more stable” could escape this trap? If we pursued this line of reasoning, would we not have been compelled to oppose independence for East Timor? It is a real problem, but not one in my opinion which should lead us to the conclusion you draw.

  12. Re linux, don’t think too
    Re linux, don’t think too much Justin, just try it, the only thinking you need to do is which live cd distro you will try first.

    I mentioned 3 already, PC Linux OS, Mepis, Morphix, I should also mention Ubuntu.

    Here are the websites:

    http://www.ubuntulinux.org
    http://www.mepis.org
    http://www.pclinuxonline.com/pclos/
    http://www.morphix.org

    Visits these sites, download one or more, burn a cd, boot it (repeat if unsatisfied)… If you really dont like any of the above (I doubt that) chech out http://www.distrowatch.com for more, there’s a linux distro for everyone.

    Regarding Israel/Palestine and “Namely, what is the next step in getting to something better than what exists now,” to me the answer is obvious, and it is the same answer as it is everywhere else in the world, //focus on social justice//. Racist laws are easy enough to identify, economic injustice has been defined very clearly by writers from Karl Marx to Henry George to Micheal Albert. There is nothing different about Israel/Palestine except //how bad the situation is//. The solutions remain the same.

    Eliminating Racist laws within Israel would be better, creating two states with Racist laws would not be.

    Taxing Land Value or otherwise elimating private unearned income from land and natural resources, helping residents get their fair share of the productivity of natural capital would be better, creating two neoliberal states would not be.

    Strengthening trade unions and funding cooperatives, helping workers get a fair share of the productivity of Capital Goods would be better, creating two states dominated by cut throat multinational corporations would not be.

    Building stronger and fairer social institutions to provide for the welfare of the residents would make things better, creating two states with bankrupt and exclusionary social institutions would not be.

    Notice that these things hold true everywhere, Israel/Palestine and everwhere else.

    Don’t focus on Israelis and Palestinians, focus on Privrledge and Poverty. Forget the race war and remember the class war. The Racial divide is the phoney product of Ruling class spin anyway, an age old “divide and conquer” tactic keeping the people seperated by race, instead of united in the strugle of labour versus property.

    Regards,
    Dmytri.

  13. Disillusioned kid:
    Re:

    Disillusioned kid:

    Re: “rather that they are a nation”

    One can live in a nation, trade with a nation, visit a nation, one can not *BE* a nation. Nationhood is not in the Blood, not in the Body, it is in your location. All Nations must be either Multiethnic nations or Racist nations. Generally only Racist Imperialists use the term Nation to mean Race. I reject this usage.

    The only way I support a two state solution is if both states are Jewish states and both states are Palestinian states, and that all other people have all the same rigths as Jews and Palestinians in both states, regardless of race, creed, etc, etc.

    Re: “Both the Israeli and Palestinian communities view themselves as a nation. Unfortunately both nations have viewed themselves for much of the last fifty-years as enemies”

    Because this view benifits the Ruling class and foreign interests. Therefore it is promoted.

    Just like the ruling class and foriegn interests support the Two State sollution. Find that suspicious? You should. How many other things do you and the neo-cons agree on? Not to many I’ll wager. Hmmm…

    Re: “Can you explain how a single state even if “much richer and more stable” could escape this trap?”

    Yes: Agitate, Educate, Organize! Unite labour against property, not labourers of different races against each other.

    Regards,
    Dmytri.

  14. I think we have some fairly
    I think we have some fairly major conceptual difference here as to what “nation” means. To facilitate understanding I’ll put that question aside and focus on some of the other points.

    So the antagonism between Israelis and Palestinians is promoted by those in positions of power. That goes without saying, it does not change the fact that such perceptions are widely held and strongly felt (witness growing right-wing fundamentalist movements on both sides). This is not something which can be dismissed out of hand.

    I disagree with your assertion that “the ruling class and foriegn interests support the Two State sollution.” They certainly pay lip service to the idea, but what they conceive of is an emasculated “state” more akin to a bantustan. Neocons talk about a lot of things (notably democracy) which we don’t accept at face value. Their rhetoric about a two state solution is no different (and to some extent testament to the successes of the Palestinian movement, particularly over the last decade).

    I absolutely agree that we should treat Israel-Palestine the same way as other conflicts, but I don’t think we should minimise the very real differences. The best historical analogy I can think of is the establishment of the US and the genocide perpetrated against the indigenous people who had previously lived there.

    In the context of the US I find Ward Churcill’s argument for the establishment of soveriegn indigenous nation compelling. The indigenous have hardly done very well out of a single state so far, have they?

    Like I say, the state system is deeply flawed. There are no good answers until we can get rid of it. In the meantime, however, we’re forced to do the best we can with it.

  15. Re: “however, we’re forced
    Re: “however, we’re forced to do the best we can with it.”

    And as I said, the best that can be done is to organize labour against property and fight for social justice for everyone in every state.

    The “two state solution” is a red herring when both states are racist, neoliberal, kleptostates.

    Regards,
    Dmytri.

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