Arab revolutions and the Arab-Zionist conflict

This IJAN presentation was Presented at the First Forum for Solidarity with Arab revolutions on a panel about the challenges to Zionism posed by theArab revolutions and uprisings.

We are here to discuss theArab-Zionist conflict in the context of the Arab revolutions. The Arabrevolutions are the most salient challenge to Zionism after the Palestinianstruggle itself.  Our work in support ofPalestine is transformed by the revolutions here because everyone knows that ifit's Egypt today, its Palestine tomorrow. It validates and gives power to our work in the important sense thatpublic opinion in the West, of the region in general and Palestine inparticular, shaped by corporate media, is no longer dominated by the threat ofterrorism, but is filled with irrefutable images of people fighting fordemocracy - a fight that is incompatible with the existence of a Zionist,colonial state in the region.

I will first discuss brieflyhow we are challenging Zionism in a more general sense, and from our specificlocation as Jews, some of whom are Arab, but the majority of whom are not andwho live in the West.  Then I will speakdirectly to the implications of the Arab revolutions for this struggle. 

Our challenge to Zionism

For us, as it does for thepopular movements in the region here, our work against imperialism has at thecenter our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation. Because weunderstand the challenge to Zionism as an anti-imperialist struggle, we mustchallenge the role that Zionism plays in the region as an agent of imperialismand as a military stronghold for the West. Then, stemming from there, our workrevolves around solidarity with those most impacted by Zionism in the countriesin which we organize - Arab, Southwest Asian, and Muslim communities who arearrested and held without trial for fabricated charges of material aid toterrorists and subjected to racist attacks in their home and on the street.

Intrinsically connected tothis, we have an independent complaint against Zionism that opens the door tojoint struggle between those we are in solidarity with and ourselves. Mostrelevant to our discussions here today is the impact of the state of Israel onthe displacement of Arab Jews, their separation from the societies in whichthey lived, the destruction of Arab Jewish culture, language and history, andthe loss of the role they played in socialist, communist and anti-colonialstruggles in the first half of the last century. The mis-use and dishonour ofEuropean Jewish suffering to justify the oppression, displacement and violenceagainst others separates the history of Jewish struggles for emancipationagainst similar struggles of many others across history and today. In contrastto this, we draw from legacies of Jewish activism that are at the center ofworking class, socialist and communist and other struggles for humanemancipation.

Because Zionism is acolonial settlement of Palestine, our work is in solidarity with the currentstruggles against the legacies of colonialism and neo-colonialism in the regionand more broadly.  

Because Zionist Statebuilding was only possible with the backing of Western empires and imperialism- first Great Britain and now the United States - and serves their interests,our work is part of movements against imperialism, war and occupation in thecountries we live and organize.

Because Zionism is a racistideology and program against Arabs and Muslims, our work is in solidarity withstruggles against Islamophobia and other forms of racism.

Because Zionism itself isanti-Semitic in accepting the lie that Jews are only safe when separated fromour fellow human beings; because it denies the long history of theparticipation of Jews across the Arab and Muslim world; because it collaboratedwith the greatest anti-Semites in history from Tsars in Russia to Balfour tothe Nazi regime; and because Zionism requires and foments anti-Jewishsentiment, our work challenges all forms of discrimination includingdiscrimination against Jews.

Our work has historicalprecedents such as the Jewish Anti-Zionist League based here in Cairo and inAlexandria in 1946 - which the Egyptian government crushed by arresting all ofits founding members.  From 1948Palestine there have also been efforts. Matzpen was a Palestinian and Israeli Jewish organization from 1962 thatwas explicitly opposed to Zionism as an imperial project.  The Black Panthers were an Arab Jewishorganization in 1948 Palestine built to challenge the Zionist racism internalto Israeli society and on which the occupation of Palestine is premised. IJANworks with anti-Zionist Arab Jews in Israel who are active against the Zioniststate from within.  

Today, part of our work asan organized international force of Anti-Zionist Jews is to challenge Zionist institutions.  The job in front of us is to play a role inundermining and dismantling the network of Zionist institutions as well as toconfront our own governments and the military, economic and political supportfor Zionism they provide.

We are part of a growing anti-ZionistPalestine solidarity movement, within which there is a growing Jewishcomponent, and whose point of reference is the 63-plus years of Palestiniangrassroots resistance to Zionism. We also now have the power of the Arabrevolutions resisting Zionism, US imperialism and the dictators that serve both.

Arab revolutions and the Arab-Zionist conflict

Given the anti-imperialnature of the struggles for emancipation, democracy and access to basicresources, and the international nature of capitalism, in addition to thethreats posed by the Arab revolutions to the leadership of each countryrespectively and to the region more generally, they also, of course, posethreats to US economic, political and military intervention in the region and toZionism. 

The Arab revolutions makenormalization of Israel and negotiations with it much more difficult. This istrue in a very material way in the sense that the Arab peoples, when able toparticipate in political process, stand clearly alongside the Palestinianpeople in ways that will influence policy. The partial opening of the Rafahborder is a case in point. 

Given the specific role thatthe Egyptian government has played in recognizing and normalizing relationswith the State of Israel, the pressure that will be exerted here by the US,Israel, and their allies cannot be under-estimated.

Obama's speech on the MiddleEast a couple of weeks ago made this clear. His need, as the president of the United States, to impose a form ofdemocracy in the region that facilitates the status quo in global economicrelations is paramount.  He not onlystated the ‘unbreakable' commitment of the US to Israel; he reinforced hiscommitment to Israel not only as a state, but as a Jewish state, and offered‘solutions' to the conflict that ensure its unresolvable nature.  He also threatened to divest from Arabsources of oil. 

The assumption this leavesus is that the challenges posed by the Arab revolutions to Zionism and USintervention ca

n only be faced by a coordinated and consistent movement that isresisting, exposing and undermining governments and institutions of Zionism andWestern imperialism. These mechanisms include growing the BDS campaign in theWest and here in the region, direct action and demonstrations against bothIsrael and Western occupation and wars, and public education, activities andcampaigns that divest governments from the financial, political and militarysupport they provide for Israel.

The so-called Arab-Israeliconflict is one of colonizer against the colonized, oppressor againstoppressed, capitalist classes against workers of all kinds, and unites all ofour movements for justice, dignity, meaningful political participation,economic and social justice in the region and more broadly. 

Our work is to act in uncompromising solidarity withthe popular struggles in Palestine, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain andbeyond and to build the power and strength of the popular struggles in theplaces we live and organize.

We look forward to leavingthis conference with clear directions with which we can move forward together -coordinated, in solidarity and in joint struggle.






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