Jul 14, 2003
If Bush's "roadmap" were to be followed, the vast majority of the Palestinian people would continue to live without any hope for a decent future. It was this very situation that, in 1987, led to the widespread popular uprising in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which became known as the Intifada.
The rock-throwing teenagers who were on the forefront of the uprising then are in their thirties now, but many of them are not less defiant in their outlook since the conditions under which Palestinian people are forced to live have not become any better. At the same time, since September 2000, when a new upsurge of the Intifada began, a new generation of young people has emerged, confronting Israeli guns, tanks, missiles and F-16s with the same kind of defiance and determination that the previous generation of Intifada fighters had.
After each suicide bombing, the funeral of the bomber turns into a mass demonstration, with hundreds of young Palestinians dressing like suicide bombers and swearing that they are ready to be the next bomber. This may show the determination of the young – but it also shows how their militancy is being led into a dead end. Not only do the suicide bombings kill young people who want to fight, they also suggest to the Palestinian population that the actions of individual "martyrs" can accomplish what, in reality, can only be accomplished by collective actions of the population. They also widen the rift between working-class Jews and Palestinians, who will have to be indispensable partners in building a different future for all working people in the region.
It's not an accident that suicide bombings have become so common. This is a conscious choice made by the leaders of organizations like Hamas, but also others, that have positioned themselves as the opposition, and possible successor, to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Just like Arafat, the longtime leader of Palestinian fighters who turned into an advocate of the futile and deceptive "peace process," these leaders are distrustful and hostile to the idea of the population taking matters in its hands. Just like Arafat's PLO, these organizations, while organizing young fighters from poor, working-class backgrounds, represent the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian elite – businessmen, military and civilian functionaries, professionals – who want to benefit from running a country of their own. Just like Arafat's PLO, these organizations compete for the favors and support of repressive Arab regimes, instead of relying on the mobilization and organization of the Palestinian population itself – which they see as a threat to their own rule.
For more than half a century, the political framework built in Palestine by the big powers, above all the U.S., and reinforced militarily by Israel, has only bred endless war and suffering for the people of the region. There is only one way out of this quagmire, for both Palestinians and Jews: to destroy that framework in a common struggle against the warmongers and build a new society which will make its priority to provide for the needs of the entire population regardless of ethnicity or religion.
On that path, Palestinian workers and poor are ahead of their Jewish counterparts: they already have an uprising going on. The Intifada offers the possibility for them to go further, but only if the Palestinian workers and poor can go beyond the narrow goals and tactics set for their struggle by their present leaders.
As for Jewish workers, they have to break with their leaders also – leaders who, for the narrow goal of a tiny national state and in alliance with imperialist powers, have turned the region into a prison for Palestinian people. But Jewish workers, who have to serve as prison guards over an entire population which hates them for that, are also trapped in the same prison. Their only way out is finally to refuse to do the dirty work of the oppressor and find a way to bridge the gap that decades of bloodshed has created between them and the Palestinian people.