[Marxism] Gaza-After the vigils are over

sobuadhaigh at hushmail.com sobuadhaigh at hushmail.com
Tue Jan 20 15:10:23 MST 2009

It was not coincidental, of course, that the 
invasion of Gaza ended just as the swoon over the 
Obama inauguration began. One media extravaganza  
seemed to merge seamlessly into the next. I am glad
that the IDF is on "pause" and I am painfully aware 
that this will not be their last assault against 
Palestine. The vigils and demonstrations will end 
now too as the  ad hoc, disaster reaction force 
known as the anti-war/peace movement also fades 
from sight.

I hope comrades will not mind my sharing an 
interesting critique of the Palestine solidarity 
movement posted by the Qawem coalition and their 
thoughts on the way forward. I don't know who 
they are and have have never worked with them 
but I do think their analysis and proposal has 
merit. My advice on this day of bourgeois 
self-congratulation is don't get depressed 
and angry, organize.

We Support the Resistance in Gaza

The recent massacres in Gaza demonstrate the 
zionists' capacity for violence. They also reveal 
their fear and weakness in the face of Palestinian 
armed resistance. Still humiliated by their defeat 
by Hizballah in Lebanon in 2006, they have chosen 
to  inflict massive casualties on easy targets. 
The deliberate bombing of schools stands out among 
the atrocities, which now include the bombing of 
mosques, hospitals, ambulances, universities and 
all other forms of civilian infrastructure.

Because the assault comes after a regime of mass 
starvation–with people forced to eat animal feed 
in the months before the military attack–we can 
predict that the secondary casualties from lack 
of food, clean water and medicine will dwarf even 
the staggering numbers from  the attack itself. 
The current attack can only be seen as the 
culmination of a deliberate plan to starve and kill 
the people of Gaza. The portrayal of zionist actions 
in corporate media as "retaliatory" and Palestinian 
resistance as "provocation" falsifies the nature 
and history of the zionist state. 

“Israel” is a colonial settler state founded on 
the racist ideology of zionism. It has followed 
the expansionist and genocidal logic of white 
supremacist, settler-colonialism for over 60 years:
its aim is to completely eradicate the indigenous 
population — either by “transfer” or by total 
annihilation. Historically, the only force that has 
stood between the zionists and the completion of 
this goal has been the armed resistance. It was 
the armed resistance of Palestinians in the 1930s
that first forced the British to reconsider their 
goal of establishing a zionist state in 
Palestine. Armed resistance forced Ariel Sharon 
to scrap his plan in 2000 of bringing a million 
new settlers into the West Bank. Armed resistance 
drove Israel out of South Lebanon, and forced 
5,000 settlers out of Gaza.

In the absence of armed resistance, zionist 
expansion has continued unhindered and without 
international attention– as in the case of the 
Naqab, where Bedouins have been driven from their 
traditional lands. As the collaborationist 
Palestinian Authority increasingly tightens 
its repression against resistance forces in 
the West Bank, settler atrocities against 
Palestinians —aimed at driving them from 
their land— now escalate unchecked.

Rockets fired from Gaza on settlements in 
‘48 occupied Palestine (e.g. Sderot, Ashkelon) 
are not mere acts of symbolism: they have 
defeated the capacity of the zionist 
state to offer settlers "security." Since 
"security" is now the main promise which the 
state holds out to its settler population, 
this defeat is quite significant. It has 
prevented the zionists from achieving their 
“demographic” goals: deluging Palestine with 
fresh new waves of colonial invaders.

We recognize that Palestinian resistance 
follows in the tradition of many other 
indigenous peoples who have  had  to 
survive and defend themselves against 
colonialism. First Nations peoples in 
the Americas, enslaved Africans in the 
United States, Canada, the Caribbean, 
Latin and South America, the Zapatistas 
in Mexico, the Herero in Namibia, the 
Mau Mau in Kenya, Aborigines in Australia, 
Arabs in Iraq, and the Macheteros 
in Puerto Rico have all had to, and continue 
to, defend themselves against white supremacist 
violence and land theft.

All in the international community who 
support the Palestinian people in their fight
against zionist oppression must also support 
their struggle against the colonization of their 
land. This means supporting not just the right 
to resist, but the resistance itself—
recognizing both its legitimacy and its viability. 
The resistance has issued statements asking all 
supporters worldwide to state their support for 
the legitimacy of the Palestinian resistance 
and recognize it as the sole alternative for 
Palestinian liberation. This was their only 

We, the undersigned, answer this call:

1. We reject zionism as a white supremacist 
colonial ideology.

2. We recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian 
resistance as an expression of the will of the 
Palestinian people. This includes the right to 
decolonize all of historic Palestine by any means

3. We support the Palestinian resistance and 
acknowledge that it is the sole legitimate 
alternative in the fight for Palestinian 

Long live the Palestinian Resistance!
Qawem Coalition

We are encouraging organizations to sign this 
statement by sending an e-mail to 
qawem at riseup.net . 
Names will be posted to the statement on 
our website: http://qawemcoalition.org


Pro-Resistance Coalition in Support of Palestine

People of good-will have been horrified by the most 
recent genocidal zionist assault on Gaza. Many have 
felt powerless to have any significant impact on it, 
but have still used the means at their disposal to 
express their outrage. Since neither the anti-war 
movement nor the Palestine solidarity movement have 
developed more serious forms of organized, oppositional 
power, these expressions of grief and anger have 
followed a well-worn pattern:
* emergency demonstrations in front of the “Israeli”

·candle-light vigils for the people of Gaza

·marches and rallies

With hundreds murdered within the first days of 
the bombing, and almost a thousand massacred by 
the third week, the sheer magnitude of atrocities 
committed by the zionist military in Palestine has 
brought groups together around the narrow call for 
an “end to the massacre in Gaza.” Given the power 
that is currently organized in the US on the side 
of maintaining the zionist project, it is 
understandable that people who are earnestly 
searching for some way to intervene strategically 
on the Palestinian side would want to see 
the broadest possible coalition of forces around 
key goals. Regardless of political differences, and 
however conflicting the long-term goals of these 
forces may be, the crisis is felt to call for the 
broadest possible immediate action to stop an 
unfolding act of mass-murder. As the zionists 
outdo themselves in the brutality of their military 
actions, this crisis-driven unity rears its 
head every few years. One thinks most immediately 
of the mass mobilizations that took place in 2002 
after the bombing of Jenin and 2006 during the 
sustained air-assault on Lebanon.
But this unity not only fails to lead to more 
serious sustained action, it presents fundamental 
obstacles to the struggle for
Palestinian liberation. These obstacles include:

1)   a failure to denounce and reject zionism

2)   a narrow reliance on marches, rallies, vigils 
and protests that have no impact

3)   a co-opted and dangerous call for ‘unity’ between 
colonizing zionists and colonized Palestinians

4)   a diffusion of resistance by channeling 
opposition into forms of protest that do not 
threaten the status-quo of occupation and

1.  Failing to Denounce Zionism
By ignoring the implicit white-supremacist 
foundations of zionism, people are able to 
protest massacres while silently accepting the 
larger pattern of colonization. The message at 
the root of these actions seems to be one that 
denounces how Israel oppresses Palestinians 
(with ‘disproportionate’ violence) while silently
accepting the racism, colonialism and violence 
implicit in “Israel’s” very existence. As the 
violence of “massacres” becomes the exclusive 
object of protest, the violence of colonial 
settlement can be portrayed as “peace.” 
This also serves as one more weapon in the 
zionist propaganda arsenal: Palestinian 
resistance against the ordinary, daily 
violence of colonial oppression can be 
presented as “provocation,” and zionist 
violence as “retaliation.” The failure to 
denounce zionism itself also means that 
zionists who object only to the most extreme 
policies of aggression are tolerated within 
a movement that should be guided exclusively by
those who are fighting zionist oppression.

2.  Rallies, Marches, Protests Protests, marches, 
and rallies can be effective when they are part 
of a larger strategy of building and exerting power.  
This can take place when movements have a strong 
base and clearly articulated visions.  If a union 
is considering a strike to enforce its demands, 
a mass demonstration of unity by workers is a 
direct threat to management. A million people 
mobilizing on the streets of Lebanon to demonstrate 
their opposition to foreign intervention aimed at 
disarming Hizballah was enough to scuttle a number 
of NATO plans. In both of these cases, the tactical 
meaning of demonstrations is an implicit threat: 
there is a next step after demonstrations, a threat 
that the powerful cannot ignore.

In both the anti-war and in the Palestine 
solidarity movements, there is no next step 
after marches and rallies, except more marches 
and rallies. Usually these marches and rallies 
will get big, then will taper off into smaller 
marches and rallies, and then will get big again 
in the face of the next crisis. The marches and 
rallies alone fail to:

 1) send a clear message in support of the 
 Palestinian struggle for liberation through 
 active resistance

 2) have an immediate tactical impact on the 
 machinery of genocide and war here where we live

 3)become the launching point for more serious, 
 sustained initiatives. This is at least partly 
 a consequence of the political forces
 involved in the current broad coalitions.

3.  Unity between whom?
“Unity” in this case is not just the unity 
of more and less radical forces or of different 
social forces with limited shared goals. 
Because unity is formed around the call to 
“end the massacre,” it tends to include 
organized groups whose fundamental interest 
is in maintaining the state of “Israel”.  
They tend to be groups who think that 
massacres are a bad idea tactically (a real PR
nightmare).  For these groups, it is important 
to maintain support for “Israel” while at the 
same time objecting to the “cycle of
violence” and calling for more “dialogue.”
In our current situation, these groups 
include people here who are tied to the 
Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority 
exists to administer the occupation and is now 
preparing to reap the benefits of the recent 
assault on Gaza.  They are complicit in this
US backed, zionist attempt to destroy the 
resistance. They have imprisoned and tortured 
members of the resistance. They have received 
guns and training from the “US” while promising 
not to use them against zionist invaders ­that 
is to say, exclusively against Palestinians. 
Abbas has prepared an emergency cabinet to take
control of Gaza when the zionist assault is over. 
While those tied to the Palestinian Authority 
need some kind of a stage from which to publicly 
proclaim their opposition to the attack, their
condemnation of ‘Israeli’ attacks in Gaza keep 
them legitimate, but do not make them implicitly 
pro-resistance or pro-Palestinian liberation.
It has become clear that “unity” in this context 
includes forces who are against the resistance in 
Gaza and who oppose any real liberation for 
Palestinians. In any given coalition, these groups
are more likely to have resources and sustained 
organizational infrastructures that put them in
a much better position to project the message
of collective action. The main focus of political 
activity has been symbolic demonstrations that 
send a political message.  That message fails
to articulate unambiguous support for the 
Palestinian resistance, in this case military 
resistance in Gaza.  These dangerous omissions
 negate the significance that such action might 
have. This is a crucial failure: political 
support for the legitimacy of the resistance 
is the single most important request that the 
Gaza resistance has asked of the broader 
international community.

4.  Impact: Diffusing Resistance 

mobilizations in the streets carry with them 
the potential to disrupt the machinery ofwar 
and business. One could better sympathize with 
limited calls for protest aimed at maximizing 
numbers if those numbers were being mobilized 
to do something to impede the infrastructure of 
mass murder.  In six years of organizing against 
the war in Iraq, this goal has not crystallized.  
Any attempts at disruption of the imperialist war
in Iraq have been limited to smaller groups in a 
few locations. Here, once again, it is possible 
to see how the organizations involved in broad 
coalition work have functioned to keep anti-war
actions on terrain that is safe and unthreatening 
to the war. These include groups who have 
functioned as appendages of the Democratic party 
who have used demonstrations as another stage for
electioneering and self-promotion.  At the root of 
their protests is not support for the Arab resistance
and struggle for freedom, but alternately, 
progression of their own political and economic
fortunes.  Included in the types of coalitions 
who participate in co-opting sustainable, 
effective activism are left-wing party
organizations that have used demonstrations 
primarily as a means of recruitment.

These types of coalitions diffuse 
resistance by providing avenues through which
people can protest massacres  while ensuring 
that these protests do not disrupt wars.  
These coalitions and their demonstrations 
allow people who feel ‘uncomfortable’ with massacres
the ability to express this discomfort.  Not organizing
or supporting resistance beyond that, centralizes these
demos within the consciousness of the demonstrating 
protestors.  It becomes more about protestors’ 
feelings and anxieties than it does about stopping
violent institutions and the states that perpetrate
thebloodshed being protested. Marches and rallies, 
if they did nothing else, could potentially be
a way of getting new people involved in a movement 
with strategic goals. This is something different 
from mere recruitment to existing organizations 
and parties: it requires the building of
credible initiatives by groups and individuals 
with shared goals that would allow us to exert power.

What We Can Do
Such strategic initiatives will not arise from 
coalition work with any of the forces already 
mentioned above.  Zionists have a long history
of involving themselves in “pro-Palestine” work 
in order to prevent Palestine solidarity from having 
any real consequences. Liberal democrats have worked 
hard to ensure that the anti-war movement does not 
organize demonstrations that might potentially
harm the interests of Democratic Party war-mongers 
(Kerry in 2004; Obama in 2008).
Despite these ideological and structural obstacles,
we need to build coalitions.  In those coalitions, 
we need to hold serious strategy discussions, 
and from those strategy discussions, to build
initiatives with both short-term and long-term 
goals. These initiatives cannot be the initiatives 
of any one group, but must be owned by a larger 

1) We need a coalition that is both 
anti-zionist and pro-resistance. Whatever 
immediate strategic action or initiative we
may form, it must be guided by those who 
share the consensus that Palestinians have
a right to reclaim all of their historic land by
any means necessary.

2) We need a coalition that supports not 
only radical principles but radical actions. 
Such a coalition must be willing to look for
ways to intervene tactically and to move beyond 
the script of rallies and demonstrations.

3) Out of that coalition, we need to set 
both short and long term goals and build 
movement infrastructure for achieving them.

The Qawem Coalition has come together to advance 
these goals:

  1. Supporting the resistance in its struggle 
     to liberate all of historic Palestine
  2. Providing aid to Palestine that is not 
     tied to political parties and organizations 
     whose primary goal is to undercut support
     for the resistance
   3. Ending all “US” aid to “Israel”: military, 
      economic and political.

   4. Fighting colonialism and “US” imperialism 
      here where we live  

If you are interested in joining the Qawem 
coalition(qawemcoalition.org), please write 
us at qawem at riseup.net. 


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