Letters

Conflict in Palestine

Unfortunately the present ceasefire in Gaza is no real solution to the conflict in Palestine. As long as the Israeli occupation continues and Palestinians have no homeland, the resistance and violence will go on. More than 460,000 Israelis now live in settlements beyond Israel’s 1967 borders, on Palestinian land in the West Bank that was captured during the June 1967 war. Israel says it will continue building in the major settlement blocs and is adamant that it intends to keep them in any future peace agreement. Israel’s settlement policy violates international humanitarian law, which bans an occupying power from transferring its citizens into occupied territory and from making any permanent changes in [the] occupied area, except for the benefit of the local population or for vital military needs. These Israeli policies and continued settlement construction are precisely the main obstacles to peace and a lasting solution to the Palestinian problem.

What sort of future Palestinian state is possible considering the facts on the ground that Israel has created in the occupied territory[?] On the West Bank, Israeli rule is pervasive, Jewish settlements are all over the place, with bits and pieces of Palestinian territory encircled by Israeli settlements, walls and military bases. The West Bank has been described appropriately as a portion of Swiss cheese, the Palestinian areas being the small holes, surrounded by the larger Israeli part. Israeli military forts and positions sit on the hilltops; Israel controls the road network and checkpoints, aquifers and other resources. Daily life, movement, the economy, everything is dependent of the whim of Israel’s military rule, its laws, regulations and curfews.

The Israeli government also wants an American commitment that any future Palestinian state would have only limited independence, have no military forces, with Israel retaining control of the state’s borders, airspace and the fertile Jordan Valley. Israel also wants its military forces to have free reign to operate in the Palestinian areas. Given this situation, a viable Palestinian state cannot be built on such a minuscule area, in reality a micro, mini-state lacking any actual political, social, military and economic independence and any real resources. Yet this is exactly the kind of state that the US government and Israel support and propose to set up. This is not an independent, genuine Palestinian state, nor is it a just, legitimate solution to the Palestinian problem.

The sweeping changes that Israel has made in the West Bank prevent any real possibility for Palestinian self-determination and the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state there. The key to resolving the issue is to restore the Palestinan people’s rights and give them their homeland back. This is only possible in one state for all those peoples to live in equality, whatever their religion or beliefs. Any other purported solution for the region is futile, unworkable and unrealistic.

Steven Katsineris
Hurstbridge, Vic
(Abridged)

DSP & Palestinian resistance

I read with surprise on the Democratic Socialist Perspective’s Links website that DSP national committee member Tim Gooden is publicly advocating a soft-Zionist position regarding the war crimes committed by Israel against the population of the Gaza Strip.

Links website uncritically reposted a January 9 Geelong Advertiser article quoting Gooden as saying “he did not condone the [Palestinian resistance’s] rocket attacks, but said the Israeli response was out of proportion”. So Gooden does not “condone” the Palestinians’ methods of armed resistance to the Zionists’ armed colonisation of the Palestinian’s national homeland? Does Gooden believe the Palestinians only have the right to defend themselves if this is done in a manner that does not offend Gooden’s liberal sensibilities?

Do Gooden’s misgivings derive from fears, peddled by the Australian capitalist media, that Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza are targeting Israeli civilians? According to the Palestinian resistance, both religious and secular, they are firing at a military power that continues to oppress and dispossess their nation. And how does one differentiate between civilian and military targets when most of the Israeli adult population is either active or reserve members of the Israeli military forces?

By condemning Israel’s “disproportionate response”, Gooden lines up with any number of left-Zionist or liberal apologists for Israel. Just what is a proportionate response? Maintaining the siege of Gaza? Assassinating Hamas leaders?

Gooden’s haste to appear “even-handed” becomes quite comical when he declares that “No one condones what Hamas does, and there are plenty of Muslims that are opposed to fundamentalism”. Well as his own organisation’s paper, Green Left Weekly, points out in its January 7 edition that Hamas “won control of the Palestinian Authority in the 2006 democratic elections”. So the majority of the Palestinian electorate “condones what Hamas does”.

Gooden’s opportunist accommodation to the Australian capitalist media’s attempts to demonise Hamas as religious fanatics simply plays into the capitalist media’s attempts to discredit the Palestinian people’s heroic struggle for national liberation.

Gooden’s organisation, the DSP, has had a long tradition of providing unconditional support to the Palestinian resistance to the Zionist state. Does the DSP “condone” Gooden’s public contravention of this tradition? Its uncritical reposting of Gooden’s comments on its Links website would seem to suggest so.

Linda Waldron
Queanbeyan, NSW

King’s dream

I have lost track of the number of newspaper and television reporters who described the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president as fulfilling the famous “dream” of Martin Luther King Jr. What King actually said about his dream in his speech at the 1963 March on Washington was this:

“Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

“I have a dream today!

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of ‘interposition’ and ‘nullification’ — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

“I have a dream today!

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together’.”

As can be seen, the dream King referred to was of the elimination of racial inequality and injustice. It had nothing to do with a black man becoming US president while other black Americans continued to suffer numerous forms of systematic discrimination.

Allen Myers
Phnom Penh

GLW & domestic violence

The editorial in Green Left Weekly #777, “End the domestic violence epidemic”, wrongly claimed that the “underlying causes of domestic violence” are “poverty, disadvantage, unemployment and women’s lack of financial independence”. This common liberal analysis is wrong because it overlooks the existence of women’s oppression, many facets of which, in combination, make women most likely to experience domestic violence, and make men most likely to be the perpetrators.

The profit-enhancing roles played by women’s on-average lower pay, drudgery within the family unit, and whole industries based on the provision and marketing of sexist products and services, make women’s oppression crucial for capitalism. So the role played by the family unit, other capitalist institutions and corporate media in reproducing and maintaining social hierarchies and divisions and conservative, sexist attitudes — enabling the ruling class to maintain this status quo — is very relevant to the question of domestic violence, although not a complete explanation of it.

But the editorial’s only explanation for why men are not equally likely to be victims of domestic violence is that men are less financially dependent! Right — so domestic violence is a problem only of the poorest and most alienated sections of society — outside of which no women get attacked — and women who are financially dependent catalyse domestic violence!

This is a backward analysis which overlooks the existence of cross-class women’s oppression. Of course poverty, disadvantage and alienation aggravate the incidence of sexist violence, but alone they don’t explain it. Nor does the explanation of “women’s lack of financial independence”, which certainly makes it harder for women to escape violent situations, but is by no means a cause of them (in fact, it can be an effect).

The article’s conclusion contributes only confusion to the cause of women’s liberation: “It’s not only men who have to change: the empowerment of women is essential for creating long-term change. Rather than constantly being treated as victims, women need to organise to take their fate into their own hands.”

Given the claimed “underlying causes” of DV, this would suggest to many that women should “stop being victims” and organise to become individually wealthier. Should men also organise to help them in this? And are there any systemic causes mentioned of women’s financial situation being on average worse than men’s? Apparently, no.

Nor does the editorial at any stage suggest that the vital gains in anti-violence services for women were largely the result of sustained struggle for women’s rights, rather than a service offered by a benevolent state that has just lately become uncaring. Unsurprisingly, the editorial is also unable to explain why the capitalist ALP and Coalition governments have consistently underfunded these services.

GLW’s apparent “long-term solution” of removing women from domestic violence situations through advocating that they “empower” themselves financially is a travesty of a radical approach. I encourage all readers of GLW to adopt instead the Revolutionary Socialist Party’s approach of trying to build a strong, campaigning grass-roots feminist movement of both sexes that aims to end women’s oppression.

Virginia Brown
Inglewood, WA