Arafat and the State of the Argument

or Dave Kersting on Eric Margolis on Arafat

by Dave Kersting
November 19, 2004

The Margolis article may be the best we can find just now, but let's get clear on some of the familiar errors he repeats, or perhaps his expedient but troubling word-choices.

Margolis writes:

The Palestinian state called for by the UN in 1949 was secretly divided up by Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

But let's keep in mind that the UN's "Palestinian State" was an artificial construct on paper, with no moral or physical value at all, nor was it recognized by Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, or anyone else who spoke honestly.

Zionist Israel certainly intended to take all of Palestine and more, but Margolis's concise statement misrepresents the long-term goals and strategies of Egypt and Jordan, in their necessary preparations against further Zionist expansion, and their practical need to correct the horror of Zionist ethnic-cleansing in Palestine.

Margolis writes:

Stateless Palestinians [were] abused or cynically misused by their heartless Arab "brothers."

But this repeats a standard Zionist emphasis and even some internalized Zionist racism. Zionists commonly blame the Palestinian refugee problem on "the Arabs," explaining that the Palestinian plight has been exploited by "their own Arab brethren." This is part of the Zionist pattern of making "Arabs" seem fundamentally heartless and traitorous (even to their own "brethren") thus far more threatening to "the Jews."

In reality, the Arab ethnicity and Muslim religion of most Palestinians and most of their neighbors have nothing to do with the conflict. Ethnicity enters the picture only in the Zionist racist perspective, because the Palestinians do not possess the preferred "Jewish" ethnicity. The campaign against the regional population would have been exactly the same if it had been primarily Mongolian, Amish, or Latino, and the response from that population would have been quite the same as the response from "the Arabs." The Zionists emphasize "Arab" ethnicity in an intentional campaign to make the victims of Zionism appear to be different -- and deserving of the racist violence Zionists inflict on them.

It is natural that many Palestinians and other Arab critics of Israel refer to themselves as "Arabs," but they have often made the mistake of overlooking the Zionist trick which gives Arab ethnicity undue emphasis.

In the Zionist ideology, "the Jews" would always come to the rescue of their "Jewish brethren," and for Zionist opportunists this is a key component of organizing an international interest to steal Palestine and as much of the Middle East as possible.

The trick of portraying the victims of racism in a racist manner -- as a particular ethnicity, different from the regular world population -- is universal to racist opportunism.

In reality, "the Arabs" are as diverse as "the whites,"  "the blacks," the "Latinos," etc., and of course, many of the world's most horrific wars have been fought between various camps of white "brethren."

The political intrigues and misbehavior that can be cited in Palestine's neighbors are merely business as usual for political parties, and they are particularly inevitable under the pressures of post-imperialism and Zionist conquest.

Margolis says:

[Arafat] created the dream of a sovereign Palestinian state, and kept reminding the world his refugee people deserved justice.

But true to the crucial Zionist trick, that statement deletes the most essential component of justice and peace: the Palestinian "right of return" --  an end to the openly racist, daily violence that prevents Palestinian return, perpetuates ethnic-cleansing, and maintains a solid base of "acceptable" Zionist racism. This imbalanced status-quo of acceptable, rewarded racism and daily racist injustice sustains the leaning, the momentum, of Zionist conquest, against an argument for justice that is fatally flawed by its quiet accommodation of racism.

The vague wording  "refugee people deserve justice" is the gloss which covers the racist violence of denying full Palestinian return -- leaving that primary issue to be treated as a last detail, in all "peace negotiations" since the early 1970s. And it is that "last detail" that assures the collapse of all "peace negotiations" in their final stages, when it appears, once again, that no Palestinian leader has the power or authority to sign away the human rights of anyone.

The whole set-up is the Zionist strategy.

The final "breakdown" of "peace negotiations," over "final details," despite "generous offers," is a cover-up of the Zionist demand for full surrender to ethnic-cleansing, a demand for full complicity by a Palestinian leader, in a historically regressive "two-state" apartheid "solution."

The most current example is the talk we hear about the Clinton-Barak "generous offer." That argument, as presented by demi-Zionist pundits, always fails to mention that this offer was a last-chance to reject the right of return, as Palestinian leadership had refused to do in Oslo, summer 2000. The whole point was, after three-and-a-half months (starting with Sharon's September visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque) of Zionist open season on Palestinian civilians, including 84 murdered children (before the first suicide-bombing) -- after the Palestinians had been shown that there would be no peep of objection by any significant "peace movement" anywhere in the world -- their leaders were given one last chance to surrender and avoid the bloodshed of hopeless resistance to the ethnic-cleansing that was on its way, which we have seen ever since.

Deleting the crucial "right of return" issue covers up the real nature of that "generous offer" and the whole Zionist program.

For a Palestinian leader, accepting any such "solution" would be a dishonest act of subjugation to a Zionist lie (since no leader has the authority to sign away the human rights of anyone), and it would assure a future of more horrors and Zionist conquest, as a racist "solution" is sure to prove unworkable, thus creating more opportunities for Zionist "intervention" and "overreaction" in "self-defense."

Real peace negotiations, if they ever begin -- based on equality, not racism -- would be far more difficult if the first few years have to be spent overriding the falsehood of a Palestinian leader's previous signature on a denial of Palestinian return: a surrender to "two-state" racism.

And if Palestinian leaders keep refusing to play along with that trick, the alternate Zionist strategy is the propaganda trick of recruiting countless "critics of Israel" to delete the right of return from the record, to obfuscate the core issue -- the perpetuation of ethnic-cleansing: the active racist violence perpetrated every day against the ethnically unwanted Palestinian families, in denial of their return.

Margolis writes:

In spite of his tough talk, Arafat sought peace with Israel on numerous occasions based on an Arab state holding 21% of original Palestine...

Yet the failure of Arafat was that he never really "talked tough" -- as he would have done if he had simply appealed to world opinion on the fundamental folly of trying to build a fake peace based on openly racist violence of preventing Palestinian return.

Arafat never used the kind of language provided so plainly by Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, nor does any other person in the Palestine National Authority. Arafat never pointed out that US support for "Jewish" supremacy in Palestine is plainly unconstitutional. He never begged or advised the world to start investigating the path to real peace by eliminating all ethnic and religious PREJUDICE in the resolution of human-rights claims.

Arafat -- or any Palestinian leader -- could easily galvanize US and world opinion by simply speaking up for the same ethnic, religious, and human equality that is a bedrock progressive principle everywhere.

Hanan Ashrawi never does that, nor does Mustafa Barghouti, nor did Edward Said. They all have played exactly the role that would be most ideal for Zionism -- appearing to argue eloquently (and at length) about Palestine, without once saying what would be obvious to any US schoolchild who has done some homework about Martin Luther King.

So we must assume that Arafat and the PNA have been acting under very dire Zionist assurances of total disaster (or personal execution) if they ever dare to utter the obvious truth, or say the one and only thing that offers any real challenge to the Zionist juggernaut.

We may also believe that Arafat did everything he possibly could, consistent with Margolis's praise, and he may have been right in thinking that getting himself killed -- by uttering the A,B,Cs of human equality and its necessity to peace -- would have been counterproductive for Palestinian rights.

No Palestinian leader can dare to take that position until sometime AFTER we start to hear it from international progressives -- and THEIR silence about this, sometimes even BOWING to Palestinian silence about it, is the key to the entire Zionist strategy.

International progressive honesty about the urgent need for human equality in Palestine is the one and only factor that can reverse our global slide into Zionist-sponsored chaos.

Margolis writes:

But each time, the Israelis moved the goal posts away and stalled, intent on buying time to finish colonizing the West Bank and Golan. Only in his Oslo Peace accords with Israel's PM Yitzhak Rabin did Arafat really come close to a just settlement. But Rabin was murdered by Israeli far rightists determined to expand the Jewish state. Further peace efforts were wrecked by Rabin's successors and Arafat's indecision.

Arafat never suggested that he would sign away the right of return; thus he never actually "came close to a just settlement." The Oslo Process was an obvious charade, as it left the crucial right of return to be discussed as a last detail -- thus acting as yet another reason for Palestinians to foolishly (or timidly) keep quiet for a few more years, about their bulletproof moral argument against even one more day of official racist violence against Palestinian return.

Since the 1920s, the Zionist strategy has always been to boondoggle discussions or misinterpret rulings, while "creating facts" --  what Margolis calls "moving the goal posts."

In agreeing to recognize Israel as a sovereign state, Arafat and the PNA can be said to have done the right thing -- but only if it is understood that this sovereign Israel must immediately begin the reforms necessary to end its official racist violence and begin to allow the conditions for peace and justice. This would, of course, lead toward an integrated, egalitarian, stable, and peaceful "one-state solution."

Only the natural requirement that Israel end its official racist injustice could make peace possible -- and provide the "take" half of any "give and take" in diplomatic recognition of Israel.

Equality would, of course, end Zionism as we know it, and it would end the easy political opportunities it provides for every politician or land developer who wishes to exploit "Jewish" advantage in Palestine. It is THAT small faction which holds the Israeli people hostage to the violence it requires against the Palestinian people. No one else gains anything -- except certain horror -- from perpetuating "Jewish" supremacy in multi-ethnic Palestine.

"Rabin's successors" have merely been more in the relentless parade of Zionist opportunists who have always created the real Zionism, by "creating facts" and presenting themselves as defenders in the heightened crisis -- just as that ilk are sure to do, WHEREVER a destabilizing accommodation with official racism is treated as status-quo.

Any appearance of Arafat's "indecision" is merely a gap of sensibility where he strangely (or timidly) kept quiet about Palestinian equality and return -- and where the same issues are deceptively overlooked in demi-Zionist commentaries.

Margolis writes:

Israel long followed a policy of assassinating or jailing promising Palestinian leaders.

It is essential to realize this. Every young Palestinian who makes herself or himself noticed by starting to use the plain, time-honored arguments against deceptive "peace" based on denial of ethnic equality is probably killed or arrested and held without charges.

But let us not forget WHAT would constitute a potentially promising Palestinian leader.

And let us not fail to speak what we believe, as we can and they cannot.

Margolis writes:

Israel and the Bush Administration want a "moderate" Palestinian leadership. Translation: weak leaders bribed into agreeing to Israel's continued hold on prime West Bank land and Golan,

Again, Margolis appears to be radically criticizing Zionist Israel, even as he neatly deletes the crucial issue of Palestinian return.

Real Translation: weak leaders bribed into agreeing to Israel's denial of Palestinian return -- bribed into continuing a false, truncated, and distracting discussion neatly limited to various off-shoots of unchecked Zionist racism.

"Israel's hold on prime West Bank land.." , or "the occupation" and "the wall," "the Golan Heights,"  "the settlements," etc., can all be justified by any educated Zionist, as "regrettable but necessary," as long as the primary cause and nature of the conflict -- the essential, violent, racist imbalance -- is tactfully self-censored by international peace activists.

Margolis writes:

The most popular, strongest Palestinian leader, Marawan Bargouti, is a political prisoner in Israel. Hailed across the Arab World as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela, Bargouti, like his mentor Arafat, calls for peace with Israel.

Marwan Barghouti can never be equated with Nelson Mandela until he makes it clear that all he is asking are history's own requirements for peace: human equality -- a resolution that removes ethnic preference and prejudice, providing for the human rights of Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, and others alike -- a resolution that weighs all claims to property, residence, and citizenship in Israel-Palestine WITHOUT regard for ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. Nothing should be allowed to stifle this call for basic equality -- yes "even" if it leads to a "one state solution" with a natural Arab majority.

"Calling for peace" is not enough. A leader must show that he knows what peace entails.

Margolis repeatedly appears oddly oblivious of this.

Margolis writes:

PM Sharon rejects any peace plan beyond apartheid-style Bantustans. . He plans, as a senior aid recently revealed in a rare moment of candor: to plunge the peace talks "into formaldehyde."

Exactly. Formaldehyde makes people fall asleep. ALL this "formaldehyde" requires is to keep people dazed and confused about the most obvious, time-honored, and morally bulletproof argument -- the basic truth of the Israel-Palestine conflict -- that peace requires zero-tolerance for official racist violence.

Sharon's trick is the age-old Zionist trick: keep people (including Margolis) talking about everything EXCEPT the daily racist violence of perpetuating ethnic-cleansing -- as a good base for more ethnic-cleansing -- while everyone blithers away about side-effects.

Margolis writes:

Arafat led his people out of bondage and to within distant sight of their own Promised Land.

They could reach out now and take it. They only have to take the crucial, overdue, historic step of equating their struggle with the time-honored struggle for simple human equality.

And everyone, everywhere who wishes to restore stability to the Middle East and reverse the escalating "War on Terror" must get involved.

We must stop this regressive Zionist nonsense and return attention to the real global problems we all face equally -- population and pollution. We must speak up plainly about the one and only element that stands between a promise of peace and a guarantee of more disaster. Thank goodness it is something as simple and overlooked as human equality: the most time-honored, modern value of the past three centuries.

We must look beyond the deceptive partial criticisms of Israel and see the obvious.

The strategy is simple: it must be built up as relentless reform of every Israel-Palestine policy of official ethnic discrimination, in all matters of residence, citizenship, and property.

Anyone who still believes in human equality, anyone who really opposes racism, must simply demand that all ethnic and religious prejudice be weeded out of every issue that stands between Israelis and Palestinians.