Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Zionism, Palestinian Self-Determination, and Pan-Africanism

Free the Land,

Over the past five hundred years Europe has engaged in an expansive imperial project that has had an unprecedented impact upon indigenous cultures, the environment, and humanity in general. A central feature of the European imperial project has been the advent of settler-colonialism. Settler Colonialism is the conquering of a given territory then relocating a portion of the conquering nation to the newly colonized territory. In some instances, the goal of settler colonialism is to completely supplant the conquered population. A few examples are the United States, New Zealand, Australia, occupied Azania (South Africa), and occupied Palestine (Israel). This piece is a historical and contemporary examination of the Zionist regime that occupies Palestine. In this essay, I argue that the Zionist regime that occupies Palestine is a European settler-state which serves the geopolitical interest of and resource exploitation by Western imperial powers, such as the United States and Britain, in the Middle East region.

Unfortunately, most people who reside in the United States are not provided the historical background to the Arab-Israeli conflict by their educational institutions and media outlets. The Zionist regime is a product of the Zionist movement. The Zionist Movement contends that the only way Jews can be protected from persecution is the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The modern Zionist movement begins with the publication of The Jewish State in 1896 by Theodore Herzl, a secular Hungarian Jew. Prior to the end of World War I, Palestine was under the dominion of the Ottoman empire. Following the defeat and dismantling of the Ottoman empire after the war, Palestine became a British protectorate. Due to Zionist advocacy from individuals like Herzl, the British government wrote the Balfour Declaration in 1917. The Declaration was a letter sent by Foreign Minister Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, of the Banking dynasty family, stating “His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” At this time, over 90% of residents of Palestine were Arabs. But the increase in anti-Judaism during the interwar years in Europe sent hundreds of thousands Jews to colonize Palestine in order to escape persecution. Then, in 1948, the Zionist regime declared itself an independent state. The Zionist regime executed a massive expulsion program that instantly turned over 700,000 Palestinians into refugees. Palestinians refer to this event as al-Nakba (“the catastrophe” in Arabic). A large portion of their descendants currently live in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian people and neighboring Arab states have consistently resisted the Zionist regime culminating in several wars. A turning point in the ongoing struggle was the “Six Day War” in 1967. The war included Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Following a so called “preemptive attack” upon Egypt’s air force, the Zionist regime delivered a resounding defeat to the Arab states solidifying their position as a regional superpower. That same year, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 242 which called for “the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." But over forty years later, the Zionist regime still occupies one part of the territory, the West Bank. In fact, the Zionist regime continues to break international law by expanding settlements in the West Bank. According to the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, since 1967 over 19,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished due to the expansion of Zionist settlements. Later, in 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Zionist regime agreed to a peace agreement called the Oslo Accords. While this event was portrayed as part of the process to create a Palestinian state, the truth is, the accords left power in the hands of the Zionist regime in crucial areas such as security (Article VII). Throughout most of the Arab world, the PLO is now viewed as collaborators with Zionism.

From about 1987-1993 and 2000-2006 the Palestinian movement for national liberation and self-determination reached a peak in a period called the First and Second Intifada (“Shaking Off” in Arabic), respectively. Though originating in the Egypt, Hamas emerged from the peaks of resistance as a major force for Palestinian liberation. Eventually, Hamas gained a parliamentary majority in free and fair elections in 2006 but the Zionist regime does not recognize Hamas as a legitimate government. Hamas continues to uncompromisingly fight for Palestinian self-determination. But because of the disproportionate military power of the Zionist regime, Hamas can only fire short and medium range rockets at the settlements and military compounds. Also, several Palestinians have engaged in a practice referred to as ‘suicide bombing.’ Therefore, the Zionist regime has placed security restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank. In addition, though the Zionist regime abandoned its settlements in the Gaza Strip, it still controls the land, sea, and air space. For all intents and purposes Gaza is an open air prison.

Finally, on December 27th the Zionist regime began air assaults and ground raids on the Gaza strip. As of this writing, 680 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,500 wounded but only ten Israelis have died. The United Nations has reported that at least one in four murdered Palestinians are civilians, not armed combatants. Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, asserts the current crisis was instigated by Zionist armed forces entering the Gaza strip. International observers condemn the actions of the Zionist regime but the United States consistently uses its veto power to block UN resolutions critical of the them. They are rarely subjected to sanctions for breaking international law. Desmond Tutu, the revered anti-apartheid activist, has said the situation in Palestine is reminiscent of occupied Azania during the apartheid era.

How does the Zionist regime, continue the complete political, economic, and military domination of Palestine? The United States empire is one of their most ardent supporters. According to a report issued by the Congressional Research Service called “Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance”, since 1976 the Zionist regime has been the largest benefactor of U.S. aid receiving $3 billion dollars a year. In addition, they receive billions of dollars more in military assistance including tanks, missiles, and fighter jets. This assistance has allowed the Zionist regime to build one of the top ten arms industries in the world. Several of the arms are used in conflicts in Africa and other parts of the so called Global South. Moreover, in a great expose in the Guardian called “Brothers in arms - Israel's secret pact with Pretoria” Chris McGreal reported that the Zionist regime supplied the South African government with arms during apartheid and helped them to develop nuclear technology. These arms were used to terrorize Africans during the liberation movement in occupied Azania. Furthermore, the Christian Science Monitor reported, in a piece called “Inside Israel’s Diamond Trade: A Family Affair”, about 50% of the worlds diamonds are cut and polished in the Zionist state then exported primarily to Europe and North America. A large portion of these diamonds originate from conflicts in poor countries like Sierra Leone and the DRC. Therefore, the Zionist regime is an exploiter of Africa and Palestine.

The first step for African progressives and revolutionaries is to form an African Anti-Zionist Front organization. The front should be composed of individuals and organizations opposed to Zionist occupation of Palestine and exploitation of the African continent. This formation can serve a strategic role in the Palestinian and Pan-African movements for national liberation and self-determination.

Towards a Unified Africa and Liberated New Afrika….

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