Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Moshé Machover

“Can there be peace after the elections in Israel?”. Obviously … “peace” … [is] between the state of Israel and the phantom-state of Palestine; or perhaps between the Israeli Hebrews and the Palestinian Arabs. But the moment you spell it out, you begin to sense that there is something not quite right with this way of putting it. Talk of “peace” has a connotation of symmetry: two sides – states or nations – are at war with each other, and to end the war they must make peace. But the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is not really like this: it is highly asymmetric. At bottom it is about colonization: a conflict between the Zionist colonizing project, of which the Israeli settler state is both product and instrument, and the indigenous people of the country undergoing century-long and still ongoing colonization.

Netanyahu was not forced to call the election – he did it by choice because he had calculated that a new government, which he is now going to get, would be desirable. So if you want to know what his new government is going to do, you have to ask why the elections were called.

Netanyahu has abandoned Israel’s traditional strategy of accommodating American presidential pretence of managing an Israeli–Palestinian ‘peace process’ aimed at a ‘two state solution’. Whereas more cautious Israeli leaders kept up the charade and made sure that the sham process would go on and on but lead nowhere, Netanyahu brazenly burst the hot-air balloon in the face of the exasperated secretary of state John Kerry.

The strategy of Israel’s leadership towards the ‘peace process’ is patently designed to prevent the supposed outcome of that process: a two-state ‘solution’, with a sovereign Palestinian Arab statelet ‘alongside Israel’.

A political project is purely utopian unless it can indicate a likely agent – a socio-political force able to realise it and whose long-term interests it would serve. In the present article I propose to apply this precept to the project of the ‘one-state solution’ for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the vision of a single democratic (or secular-democratic) state in the whole of so-called ‘historical Palestine’ – the territory of Palestine as it existed under the British mandate from 1923 to 1948.

As [the conflict] is caused by colonization, resolution requires decolonization. In this specific case, as the cause is Zionist colonization, what is required is deZionisation, overthrow of the Zionist project and its state.

Watch US secretary of state John Kerry assuming the mantle of our lord: just as JC resurrected Lazarus, JK is about to revive the dead-as-a-doornail talks between the Israeli government and the captive so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’. Though, unlike old Lazarus, this corpse will talk and talk and talk … but will not walk.

Let me start with a proposition that should by now be a matter of general knowledge: the totality of Jews do not constitute a nation in the modern sense of this term; nor have they been a nation in any contemporary meaningful sense for well over 2,000 years.

Zionism is viewed [by Moshé Machover] as a colonial-settler project, not a national liberation movement. Its particular aims, “based not on exploiting the labor of the indigenous people but aiming to exclude and expel them,” are more characteristic of the U.S. model than the South African one. The fact that the Israeli state is not only a product of this settler project, but a force for its extension and expansion, produces the ever-present danger of new ethnic cleansing.

Moshé Machover remembers his friend and comrade, Matzpen co-founder Akiva (Aki) Orr (19 June 1931 – 7 February 2013).

We should never support a war undertaken by our own ruling classes. Often they are undertaken for domestic reasons. Kissinger said of Israel: it has no foreign policy, only domestic policy; and this is actually true of most states – their foreign policies result from internal class contradictions.

A continuous theme in … the book is the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a confrontation between the Zionist settler-colonialism and the Palestinian Arab people; it’s the last colonial war. Israel is a colonial-settler state, a result of settler colonialism and an instrument for its continuation. If one doesn’t understand this, one understands nothing about the conflict.

If an Arab state west of the Jordan is legitimate, then Zionist colonisation and its state were and are illegitimate. So by acting consistently to prevent a ‘two-state solution’ Israeli governments since 1967 were not behaving impulsively or opportunistically: they have been driven by a deep commitment to the Zionist self-legitimation of Israel itself.

The veteran Israeli socialist, Moshé Machover, has just brought out a wonderful collection of writings, chiefly his own, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is no exaggeration to say that this book is the best possible introduction to the topic for English-speaking readers. Its inestimable virtue is that it affords a historical overview of the whole Zionist enterprise, without which it is impossible to situate the struggle in any meaningful sense, much less reach a conclusion as to how it might successfully be resolved. Machover does both these things, and the result is a volume which Anglophone socialists must read.

The success or failure of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza can only be judged against the operation’s aims.

[Israel’s current “Pillar of Defence” assault on the Gaza Strip] may serve Netanyahu’s hidden agenda: a protracted regional war may provide a smokescreen for a major ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. This is a long-term plan supported by all major Zionist parties. It is designed to resolve the contradiction between the deep-seated Zionist opposition to the creation of a Palestinian sovereign state, however small, in any part of pre-1948 Palestine, and the even greater “demographic peril”, as it is openly described in Israeli public society, of Arab majority in that land.

In my opinion the whole semantic discussion of Israeli “apartheid” skirts around the fundamental question: the underlying political economy of Zionist colonization.

All the problems in this region stem from the way that the imperial powers France and Britain divided the region after the First World War, to serve their purposes… Syria, Lebanon, and a country called Palestine were created or refashioned. This new country, Palestine, was an invention of British imperialism following World War I; and it was designed explicitly as a domain for Zionist colonization. A whole complex of problems, including the Israeli–Palestinian conflict are a fallout from the fragmentation and parcelization of the Ottoman Empire.

Moshé Machover pre-launched his recently published book, Israelis and Palestinians: Conflict and resolution at a London event (podcast).

Victoria Brittain: “This collection of Moshé Machover’s writings from the mid-1960s to today brings together a coherent and consistent vision of Zionist colonialism and the dispossession and discrimination which have been its hallmarks throughout the whole period. [A] valuable book in its historical reach, accessible style, and forthright debunking of the ‘peace process’ and other lazy myths…”

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