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Home page > 1. IV Online magazine > IV338 - March 2002 > 7. Theses on Globalisation and the Palestinian Resistance
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Palestine

Theses on Globalisation and the Palestinian Resistance

Thursday 7 March 2002, by Dr Majed Nassar, Nassar Ibrahim

1.1 There can be little doubt that the anti-globalisation movement has been garnering increasing public support over the last decade. This support has often erupted publicly and very explosively, most famously in Seattle in 1999 but also with remarkable ferocity in Washington, Genoa and Los Angeles and so on. Largely in response to this outpouring of frustration, the discourse of globalisation is increasingly establishing itself as an important analytic concept within a broad range of economic and cultural dimensions as the social and political analysts attempt to play ’catch-up’ with the popular movement against globalisation.

1.2 Together, the popular support for anti-globalisation and the development of an analytical framework to serve this movement represents the creation of an organisational framework challenging the dynamics of a world market controlled by multinational corporations. The anti-globalisation movement is a principled struggle against worldwide policies of the multinational corporations that serve to increase the social contradictions within countries, between countries and between the north and the south.

Globalisation policies threaten the environment and increase the rate of poverty and ignorance; they create conditions for the eruption of cultural and religious conflicts.

1.3 Globalisation is a product of the information and communication revolution and impacts on the realms of economics, politics and culture. This process is exploited by capital in developed countries to promote the global rule of multinational corporations. At the same time, the material and ideological motivations of the western developed countries are still responding to imperialist practices which attempt to impose the western social and cultural model that is regarded by the Western powers to be the ultimate ’point of destination’ for all cultures and nations.

1.4 The combined domination of the multinational corporations and Western imperialism entails the control of other States as the western States seek to repress variety in the world populations and subsume other national, cultural and social characteristics to their own. At the same time, the politics of domination create within victim nations and cultures the conditions for destructive violence and conflict leading the world into a circle of war and self-destruction.

1.5 The framework of the globalisation debate allows for an examination of the role of imperialism in relation to modern economic forces in general, and multi-national corporations specifically. In this regard, while globalisation is often portrayed as States acquiescing to the demands of multinational corporations, the framework of globalisation/anti globalisation provides the conceptual framework to posit the relationship between commercial interests and imperial ambitions that operate on a more mutually serving basis.

1.6 In this regard, we can see that the goals of one are inseparable from the other. The commercial interests of the multinationals and the imperialist ambitions of the western powers are coterminous and mutually supporting. This may be clearly witnessed through the daily application of unequal forces within the sphere of international relations. We can see it in the GATT agreements, or in the various wars led by the US. We see it in international conferences such as the conference against racism and the environment. We see it in the stalling and obstructive practices of the US at the United Nations.

1.7 There is an urgent necessity to socially, morally and culturally resist this process in order to protect the richness of humanity. Such resistance does not necessitate the rejection of scientific and technological developments. These can, and should, serve all nations, nationalities, social categories and classes. Such advances must not be allowed to belong to a specific nation, culture or group of corporations that are devoted to profits at the expense of the misery and poverty of billions of people.

1.8 The Palestinian issue is one of the most tragic instances of the globalisation process in its imperial manifestation.

The Palestinian tragedy and the Israeli role in global oppression

2.1 At the end of the First World War, Great Britain undertook, through the 1917 Balfour Declaration, to establish a national homeland in Palestine for the Jews. Throughout the British mandate, Great Britain sponsored the Zionist movement, an ethnocentric and racist colonial project. By imposing its mandate in Palestine in accordance with the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, Great Britain protected the Zionist movement and supported it politically, economically and militarily. By the end of World War II, Great Britain had already prepared the ground for the Zionists to take over Palestine, after it had conspired to brutally suppress the Palestinian resistance for thirty years.

2.2 With the end of World War II and the rise of the United States as leader of the capitalist regimes, the sponsorship of the Zionist project passed into the hands of the US. Armed Zionist gangs started a war against unarmed Palestinians in 1947/1948, succeeding in establishing the state of Israel on 78% of the land of Palestine. 19 years later, in June 1967, Israel attacked the Arab countries and occupied the whole of Palestine, the Egyptian Sinai and the Syrian Golan Heights.

2.3 As a result of these wars, over one million Palestinians were forced out of their homes and lands and became refugees living in camps in neighbouring Arab countries (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon). The refugee population today numbers about 4 million people, to whom Israel denies the right to return to their homeland in violation of international law established by the United Nations Security Council.

2.4 Though these colonial acts were legitimised in terms of securing the well being of the Jewish people, the actions of the western powers were performed at a crucial stage in the formation of global power relationships and served to establish a bridge across which the western powers could protect the interests of global capitalism in the Middle East.

2.5 As such, Israel was established as part of an imperial project in the region, making use of the Jewish tragedy to legitimate its own goals. In this way, the majority of the Jewish people are also victims of the colonial project in the Middle East. The interests of the Jews do not lie in gaining the hostility of the Arab nations and expelling the Palestinians; the Jewish tragedy in Europe does not justify the making the Palestinian people victims of the western colonial ambitions.

2.6 In the global division of labour, the State of Israel became the Border Police of imperialism and as such, had three tasks to fulfil: to control Arab resources and especially oil, to act as a bulwark against any revolutionary rise from within the Arab nations and to face the Communist progression in the Middle East, represented at that time by the Soviet Union.

2.7 The Palestinian tragedy is the consequence of the imperial globalisation policy that is based on oppression, occupation and unlimited support for Israel in its regional aggression. The Palestinians are the victims of this process, and Israel is the tool to control the region through the denial of human rights, through occupation and through unfettered military aggression.

2.8 The Zionist conception combines the view of Israel as an exclusive Jewish State and the vision of Israel as an expression of the western cultural and demographic model. As an exclusive State, Israel is the permanent negation of the existence of the Palestinians as a nation.

2.9 Consequently, the recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people represents a threat to the colonial existence of Israel. As an expression of the western model, Israel ’forces’ the capitalist countries to recognize Israel’s policies and practices as defensive and protective of western values and lifestyles which provide a line of resistance to the ’barbarian East’ and ’Arab terrorism’. The unconditional political and material support that the United States, and other capitalist countries, provide to Israel supports a strategy based on strengthening their own global control.

2.10 The negative role of Israel is not limited to the occupation of Palestine and the denial of the Palestinian rights, but also encompasses Israel’s regional and even global role: Israel serves as the regional spearhead of imperial forces of globalisation, reflecting through its practices and policies the nastiest and most violent faces of the globalisation process. This can be evidenced by Israel’s continuous aggression against the Arab nations and in its relations with the world’s bloodiest dictatorial and racist regimes, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa, the fascist dictatorships in Latin America and the war lords in Africa.

2.11 In sum, the alliance between Israel and imperialism is not accidental, neither does it have emotional or religious motivations, nor is it a response to the tragedy of the Jews in Europe. On the contrary, the alliance between Israel and the West expresses the interests that Israel protects in respect to the political, economic, and military ambitions of US global policy. In this regard Israel reinforces the United States’ continuous rejection of the rights of the Palestinian people and assists in keeping the nations of the Middle East under western military and political domination.

The Negation of the Palestinian People

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3.1 The negation of Palestinian existence is achieved through Israel’s colonial strategies of ethnic cleansing, systematic segregation, the denial of basic civil and human rights and the erasing of Palestinians from history. The Israeli story of the colonisation process is rooted in a religious mythology that justifies the invasion and occupation of Palestine and at the same time rejects historical facts such as the continuous ethnic cleansing of Palestine in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

3.2 Currently, all forms of Palestinian political or military resistance to the Israeli occupation are described as ’terror’ that should be ended by any means, thereby negating the present validity of Palestinians as humans and who would therefore entitled to the rights of humans.

3.3 For the western media, Israeli aggression, wars and massacres are described as ’the right to self defence’ by ’democratic Israel’. In this representation, Israel confronts violent Arabs and Palestinians who do not understand democracy. Israel represents a symbol of civilisation and democracy with the right to set standards of justice and punishment and to have authority over those who do not conform to its will.

3.4 At the same time, the western media creates a distorted image of the Arabs and Palestinians in the western imagination. The media creates stereotypes that encourage hatred and rancour. This construction degrades Arab religious and cultural beliefs, and creates the conditions for a ’confrontation of cultures’.

3.5 In sum, the Israeli negation of the Palestinian people is packaged with the western distortion of the Arabs in the globalised media. Both aspects embody a racist dimension that denies the particularities of the ’other’, denies their human rights, denies their cultural characteristics and denies their human experience. Israel appears as a superior entity with the right to bring other nations to justice.

The peace process and globalisation

4.1 Based on its military power, the support of the USA and a perception of the Arab world as primitive, Israel’s vision of attaining peace is to be realised through a process in which it has the sole right to dictate the conditions of that peace. This includes the scope, if any, of the realisation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

4.2 This scope is based on a list of ’nos’: no to the right of return, no to the admission of the historical and political rights to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, no to the removal of the settlements, no to a sovereign Palestinian State.

4.3 In order to dictate this version of peace, Israel is fully prepared to degrade the lives of Palestinians by limiting their movement and transportation, assassinations, detention, sieges, the destruction of homes and agricultural stock.

4.4 Israel is not seeking peace, but to impose surrender.

4.5 The peace process that began in the Madrid conference at the beginning of the 90s, was set in the framework of the US-Israel alliance, and moved on due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the results of the Gulf war. In this process, the US vision of the post-soviet era as a ’New World Order’, matched the Israeli wish for a ’New Middle East’.

4.6 The Madrid process was followed by a number of economic conferences: Casablanca, Doha, Amman and Cairo that attempted to restructure the Middle Eastern and North African economic makeup giving the region the last push from national regimes, already in crisis, into to liberalized economies in the global market. The goal of those conferences was to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, by dictating US and Israeli political and economic interests.

4.7 This was a double dictate: the political acceptance of the State of Israel without forcing Israel to accept any of the Palestinians’ demands, while also imposing the socio-economical liberalisation of the Arab states.

4.8 The cancellation of the Arab direct and indirect boycotts on Israel is the major economic symbol of this process.

4.9 The culmination of the Oslo process, in which the defeated Palestinian leadership in exile accepted conditions rejected by the Palestinian people in Palestine, was coterminous with the opening of the markets of the Middle East, Central and South Asia and the Far East to Israel. This process also exposed the Palestinians to a future as cheap workers in Israel-US led free-trade-zones to be built in the Occupied Territories.

4.10 The second Palestinian Intifada reflects the will and spirit of resistance, and the rejection of this project.

4.11 The Palestinian people propose peace as a strategic choice based on the United Nations resolutions, which call for the complete withdrawal of Israel to the borders of June 4, 1967, establishing a real independent Palestinian State beside the State of Israel and the implementation of the rights of the Palestinians to repatriation.

The Palestinians and the movement against globalisation

5.1 Along with the liberalisation of the national economies, the implementation of Structural Adjustment Programmes, and the dictates of peace with Israel as political surrender - all the internal contradictions of the globalisation process are violently realised in the Middle East.

These realisations include the rise of radical Islam, the eruption of cultural and religious conflicts, the intervention of imperialist military forces and the growing popular discontentment in all Arab countries.

5.2 The heroic resistance of the Palestinian patriotic forces to the imperial project is at the core of the resistance to these processes.

However, the Palestinians find themselves tragically alone confronting the assassination of political leaders, the demolition of houses, the destruction of lands, and the destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure.

5.3 The pathetic efforts of the leaders of the Arab countries and the European mediators provide a bitter irony in their attempt to make the Palestinians accept a settlement that negates their sovereignty and independence.

5.4 The role of the anti-globalisation movement is not a matter of wishing success to the Palestinian struggle, but to share in the struggle and to help it to victory. It is a duty for the anti-globalisation movement all over the world to raise the flag of defence of Palestinian rights, freedom and independence. It is an expression of faithfulness and commitment to an alternative to neo-liberal globalisation.