Monday, March 19, 2012

Meeting Gérard

I hosted today Gérard Chaliand for an in-depth visit to the Shiloh Bloc and a discussion of issues. My high school French was inadequate but Chaliand speaks a perfect English.

Back in April 2006, he said, referring to the reality just after the disengagement:

...the Palestinians, whatever happens and whatever concessions they make, do not fully recover what was lost in June 1967. There will be no full recovery of territories lost in 1967, no return of refugees, only financial compensation. If they recover what remains of the West Bank after the Wall, and the Greater Jerusalem, I hardly see what they can get more. In history, there is no justice, it is always a compromise in which the strongest was the best part.

The idea that time is working for the Palestinians is a misconception. For the cold observer, time since the creation of Israel worked for the Israelis. They are stronger today than they were in 1948, they have a larger territory than in 1948, they defeated the Arab states in the region. Egypt, Iraq and Jordan cooperate except for Lebanon in which the Hezbollah has the more influence and Iran barks. Nevertheless, Hamas will have to redefine now that it is in power. Its leaders are considering an interior refurbishment, even though nothing is officially announced. Hamas can not have any illusions on the subject that will defeat Israel, not today, not tomorrow or after tomorrow. Hamas knows that Arab states do nothing to them. Moral: the movement is alone and can not do it. The opponent is stronger, has a strong ally. One can find a way, at a time, to break the deadlock. "

And in 1969 (!), he wrote:

The tragedy of Arab nationalism is that, so far, no social force has emerged which is capable of overcoming the social, political and cultural obstacles which clash with national construction, modernization, and the aim of unity. The traditional feudal and mercantile governing classes, which were incapable of fulfilling their role, have been replaced in many countries (UAR, Syria, and, at the present time, Iraq) by theadministrative middle classes which have also, in their turn, shown themselves incapable of bringing about the necessary social transformation in order to emerge from their state of underdevelop-ment and humiliation. The defeat of 1967 was a clear demonstration of their incapacity.  “Arab socialism” was the expression of the rise of the “petite bourgeoisie” capable of nationalizing the dominant peaks of the economy (banking, foreign trade, industry), and of carrying out a certain degree of agrarian reform (productive of a rural “petite bourgeoisie”) but incapable, in as far as they present a picture of corruption and nepotism, and consume a large part of the national income, of mobilizing the masses for the construction of the country. Their nationalism goes no further than the survival of the regime. This is the context of the Palestinian problem in 1969.

With that I can agree. With this I cannot fully agree:

The state of Israel is not a colonial state in the classic meaning of the term. The Israelis do not constitute a master class, living on the surplus-value produced by the natives. But the state of Israel has usurped by force a land in which an Arab community had been established for centuries. In this sense, the Arab-Israeli conflict (or more precisely the Palestinian-Israeli conflict) is a national one. And it would be too much of a generalization to designate Israel as the “agent of imperialism” in the Middle East. Would she be the only one?

He erred as regard the characterization of the conflict as a national one. It is religious and existential in that Jewish nationalism must be negated, replaced and eradicated. Not knowing of this four-decades old analysis, we did discuss the point and I made my viewpoint clear.

But this seems as if written today:

The pressure which the Arab masses have stirred up against the state of Israel is not only, as is often believed, the product of governmental propaganda or the expression of simple European-style anti-Semitism. Certainly at the present time the frontier between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism often seems badly marked. It is also clear that the anti-Zionism of many Arab states serves to draw attention away from the negligence and corruption of the governing classes by canalizing pressures against an outside enemy so that unemployment and poverty will he forgotten.
I will wait for his Le Monde article to see what his thinking is.

With appreciation to Boaz Haetzni.


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