A series of armed attacks by young Palestinians against settler targets in Jerusalem and the West Bank is forcing world attention to the simmering intifada across Palestine.
The crisis over Al Aqsa has already raised the temperature. The Israeli offensive on Gaza lifted Palestinian sentiment to boiling point. Now the confluence of a polity of ethnic cleansing and an Israeli political class in crisis as the right and ultra right go on the rampage brings closer a generalised uprising in response to the intolerable.
Leading UK-based Palestine solidarity activist Kevin Ovenden argues that while the movement should be tactically alert to how to win majority opinion, it can do so only on the clear basis of unequivocal support for the right of Palestinians to resist and total refusal to engage in the false morality of equal condemnation.
He sent this to Left Flank from a conference in Beirut at which leading representatives of the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance declared unity against Israel and imperialism, placing differences over other matters in their rightful place.
Be clear what is happening here:
1) The retribution visited on the young Palestinians who are driven to these attacks, and on their families via house demolitions and so on, is enormous.
2) The young people are not under the command of any of the Palestinian factions. They are the Palestinian equivalents of Mohamad Bouazizi in Tunisia, whose self immolation started the revolution, or the Ultras and street kids in Cairo whose blood defended revolutionary Tahrir Square three years ago.
3) All this is an indication of the desperation, the intolerable conditions, faced in Jerusalem and in the West Bank by the youthful Palestinian population and their justified lack of faith in the Palestinian Authority and its threadbare strategy.
4) The emphasis on the wielding of knives by the Israeli-briefed media is an outrageous sleight of hand. All these Palestinian kids have in the face of the behemoth of the Israeli security apparatus — public and private — is kitchen knives.
Yet the none too subtle attempt is to smear them as some kind of franchise of ISIS, which chooses to behead large numbers of Arabs and others as it fights a barbarous campaign that could not better divert attention from Israel and the Palestinian cause.
5) Palestinians have a right to resist. The cause of the violence sometimes vented in that resistance and sometimes misdirected is the occupation, siege and dispossession. They are the cause in the strongest of senses. Without them, there would be no violent resistance. Without intolerable conditions there would be no desperate outbursts when people can tolerate no longer.
6) All the pressures — including the internal Israeli political crisis — are driving to a new intifada. In a generalised uprising all manner of resistance tools will be utilised, and not according to a disciplined plan, drawn up by a high command and implemented through the structures of a state.
The Palestinians do not have a state.
7) So the time is now to take sides and rehearse the arguments we must win in the wider movement and society:
- It is not good enough to call for peace and coexistence when one side is exterminating the prospects of national survival of the other;
- Peace cannot come without justice;
- Justice will not come without struggle;
- It is false morality to stand aside from that struggle and make an evenhanded call for both sides to reject violence;
- Doing so, in fact, is to take the side of perpetuating injustice — and therefore of war;
- Tactics can call for raising particular very concrete demands and slogans to affect politics in Israel’s Western allies and shift or mobilise public opinion;
- Strategy, however, requires winning a critical mass of people not just to criticism of Israel, but to support for the Palestinian resistance and wider revolutionary struggle in the Arab region;
- So to embark successfully into the coming storm with all the tacks, turns and tactics, the core of the movement needs to be clear and make itself heard clearly — it is right to resist in Palestine. Without resistance, Palestine loses its existence;
- So we will not evenhandedly condemn;
- There is no equivalence between tanks, F16s, drones, nuclear missiles, one of the biggest armies in the world and a militarised colonial settler state on the one hand, and desperate Palestinian kids with knives or scythes, hammers or sickles, or whatever comes to hand, on the other;
- Let the Zionist abomination bear responsibility for the desperate acts it drives some of these kids to commit;
- Our responsibility is to stand with them and with a Palestine in resistance — through sympathetic word and intelligent deed — despite all that and despite everything.