One Civil State in All of Palestine
Zionism is a global political project that has raised an army. The army then founded a state. And the state created a society. This society, in its material manifestation and perception, is turning into a burden on the state, the army, and the Zionist project itself.
It has turned into a burden on a state that is incapable of forming a government. Instead, it is looking for legitimacy from extremist religious trends while seeking to align itself with Western stereotypes. Its politicians are consumed with opportunism and public stunts, contributing, in the process, to increasingly religious and sectarian racism, even between Jews themselves. They have also intensified their apartheid policies towards Palestinians, in the large prison known as Gaza, in Jerusalem and the fragmented West Bank, and within the 1948 territories in which proposals to expel Arabs to Jordan are being publicly voiced.
Where does Israel stand today vis-à-vis the illusions of the “New Middle East” that accompanied the deceitful claim of the “Peace Process” in the early 1990’s? Here it is, metamorphosing into a military fortress, worriedly looking for correspondents throughout the Middle East, a region which it actively participated in tearing, and our own country is a testimony to it.
This society has also become a burden on the military institution, which does not dare anymore to sustain losses and pay the price, and, instead, hides behind a sophisticated technological war machine that elicits technological responses.
It has become a burden on the Zionist project itself. The project that initially fed on Western anti-Semitism, then exploited it in order to get recognition and support from Western states, while absolving them for its actions against the Jews, went even further. It became the strategic and geopolitical base for the expansion of Western imperialist domination in the “Near East” and on commercial routes linking the territories of the empire. Today, the Zionist project feeds Western anti-Semitism by putting the Jewish identity above equal citizenship in Western states, and by flirting with far-right racist movements developing in them. This is only adding to the social instability in societies already fragmented by immigration and an unbridled globalization are facing, and the security risks that arise with it.
It was the fate of Palestinians to face a global project, not only a society, army or a state. A project that is built on a malevolent collusion between Western racism conveniently absolved by the Zionist project and the racism that is practiced by the Zionists against Palestinians and the region on behalf of the west.
Indeed, identity politics is an appealing and effective instrument for political mobilization. But it inherently limits political possibilities and destroys humans and societies. A religious-racist project can dismantle societies that it confronts. However, and despite succeeding in its aggression, it also dismantles the society it was founded in.
Despite the enormity of the threat, aggression, and injustice, the Palestinians did not despair and their will was not broken by force or worn out by time. They have presented huge sacrifices without yielding rewards. Given the magnitude of these sacrifices and the fact that the Zionist project is not a mere occupation of a given territory, but instead global in its role and founding function which profoundly impacted all the region’s inhabitants and societies, aid needs to be delivered to those who are resisting in Palestine, and a decent living should be granted to those who have been forced into exile.
However, most importantly, the Palestinian cause is served best by evolving into a political project that takes it out of the vicious cycle of reactionary resistance and the shackles of identity politics.
The Lebanese people have contributed to Palestine in two contrasting ways. The first being an act of will, by those that have resisted Israel since 1948 until today and have proven that it can indeed be resisted. The second being a result of tremendous mistakes, by those that have bet on Israel for support as they are captives of their sectarian roles and interests, and have proven that it despises and betrays even those amongst us who side with it.
But Lebanon is capable today of giving even more. It can build on the bitterness of its experience and contribute in drafting a political project that negates the Zionist project and its legitimacy. The drafting of the alternative political project to the Zionist one is a necessity, so that the Palestinians, particularly those living in the territories of 1948, do not end up fragmented in the maze of Israeli politics. An alternative political project would have prevented Yasser Arafat from succumbing, after being let down by the Arab regimes, and paying the price of adventurous choices that he was led to, to Western dictation, ending up, along with his organization, as a proxy tool used by the occupying army and an NGO begging for external funding for a broken society. This outcome, the Palestinian Authority, should be dissolved today, and an alternative political project should be consolidated for Palestine. Otherwise, the religious proposal of current Palestinian factions involved in armed resistance can easily be used by Israel to justify its racist religious proposal.
Armed resistance is not an end in itself. It is a reaction to, and rejection of, defeat. It is therefore, beyond its nobleness and sacrifice, a means to impose an alternative socio-political project, one that imagines society in a way that is fundamentally different from the one that led to the initial defeat and accepted it.
The centrality of an alternative political project also necessitates two key things. Firstly, it requires a change in the essence of current negotiations among the Palestinian resistance factions. Secondly, it requires a change in the confrontation with Israel, so that the purpose of resistance is not limited to defensive military actions that tilts the balance of power only to deliver ephemeral negotiated limited ceasefires, but, instead, the confrontation becomes about changing the balance of power, accompanied by a comprehensive political project, that will become the basis of negotiations.
We, in Lebanon, have to change the balance of power and force our political opponents to negotiate a transition to a civil state. But our opponents are not settlers. They are part of our society. Palestinians on the other hand have to impose negotiations on a global project, which is an immense challenge, and the cost of imposing it is far greater. Yet, the immensity of the challenge as well as the difference in the means available and the costs of the confrontation do not change the fact that any negotiation requires both a clear political project and freedom of decision. What we propose to Palestinians – resisting in their land, dispersed across the world – residents of Palestine, and the entire world is a political project that is the anti-thesis of the Zionist project, and can be described in few words: one civil state in all of Palestine.