Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 31, 2005

Seven Oaks/Ted Glick exchange on Middle East

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 11:38 am


I must admit that I was more than a little disturbed to see that you would use the opportunity presented by the media circus around Ahmadinejad’s cruel and dangerous rhetorical outburst against Israel (an sick outburst which has, nevertheless, received a thousand times more attention than the far more tangible existential threat presented to Iran by Israeli and American nuclear sabre rattling and military grand-standing this past year) to take a swipe against the Right of Return. You’re buying in, wholesale, to the attempts to conflate Palestinian rights with Iranian political rhetoric, operating in the long and ignoble tradition of making Palestinian rights contingent on the good behaviour of foreign regimes.

I understand that the American anti-war movement has experienced very deep and vicious divisions on this issue, and that this has probably informed your writing, and for that I’m sorry. But we, Seven Oaks, will not be publishing this or, now, any other piece that you write and so I’d ask you respectfully to please remove us from your mailing list.

The fundamental and inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees are theirs and theirs alone, and their fates will be decided by them. It is not for North American progressives to set the limits and purviews of their demands.

Charles Demers
Co-Editor SevenOaksMag.com


Future Hope column, October 30, 2005
Wiping Israel Off the Map
By Ted Glick

I believe that it is important for progressive organizers to have a long-term vision of what kind of society, what kind of world, they are working towards. Having such a vision doesn’t mean you will see it fully realized during your lifetime; it is possible that it may seem further away when one’s death comes. But without a vision, to paraphrase the popular saying, one might as well be dead.

Jesus of Nazareth had a vision, that people should love their neighbor as they love themselves, that we should be as concerned for the well-being of others as we are about our own life.

Karl Marx also had a vision of a society that he called communism, where the guiding principle is “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need,” a society freed from the strait jacket of economic scarcity because of the development of industry and technology and culturally advanced so as to administer itself justly, thus giving everyone the opportunity to develop themselves in ways not possible under capitalism, feudalism, slavery and their predecessors.

Some who live in the land of historic Palestine have violently competing visions. Some Israelis have a vision of a “greater Israel” which would effectively destroy the Palestinian vision of a just and secure future in a land of their own. In reaction, some Palestinians, and some non-Palestinians who support them, have a vision of effectively destroying the majority-Jewish state of Israel, replacing it with a predominantly Palestinian, secular state that would, in theory, treat its minority of Jewish citizens fairly. This is the practical position of those who believe that the top priority when it comes to the Israel/Palestine issue is that of the right to return. The full implementation of the right to return would mean the physical return to Israel of up to four million Palestinians displaced by the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 or the descendents of those displaced.

And the newly-elected, fundamentalist president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has a vision of, in his words, “wip(ing) Israel off the map,” as he said at a rally in Tehran three days ago. Given his Islamic fundamentalist politics, however, his vision is certainly not that of a secular state to replace it.

For over three-quarters of a century, there has been a struggle, often violent, between Palestinian Arabs and Jews. This struggle began in the 1920’s and accelerated during the 1930’s and 1940’s as the rise of Nazism and the work of the World Zionist Organization nearly quadrupled the number of Jews in Palestine between 1931 and 1946 to approximately 600,000, about 1/3 of the total population at the time.

There is no question but that a great injustice was done when the United States, Western Europe, the Soviet Union and other countries, operating through the United Nations, partitioned Palestine into what was to have been a Jewish state and a Palestinian state.

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