Why the terrorist attack on an Israeli kibbutz should make us stop and think

Submitted by martin on 12 November, 2002 - 9:28

The saner elements of the Left have always been willing to condemn terrorist attacks when these are carried out by groups with which we have nothing in common -- such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad -- but what about when those attacks are carried out by members of Arafat's own movement, Fatah? Today's brutal attack on a left-wing kibbutz should make some on the British Left pause and think. But maybe not.
Kibbutz Metzer is affiliated to the Kibbutz Artzi federation, and like other kibbutzim of that movement has long been associated with the Israeli political Left. These are people who routinely march and demonstrate on behalf of an independent Palestinian state.

The fact that members of Arafat's own Fatah would target such a community, killing a young mother and her two children in their bedroom, surely raises questions about the somewhat artificial distinction we sometimes make between 'bad' Islamicists and 'good' secular Palestinian fighters.

Because even as we make these distinctions, the Palestinians themselves seem unable to distinguish between attacking an armed soldier and killing a child in its bed, or between fighting it out with Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, or crossing over into Israel and slaughtering a family of peace supporters.

Arafat has, of course, publicly condemned the attack and bravo to him for having said so. (Though it may not prevent Sharon from exiling him, or worse.) One wonders if Socialist Worker will join Chairman Arafat in the condemnation -- probably shouldn't hold my breath.

Will any group on the British Left pause for a moment from its Palestine-solidarity work, from Israel-bashing, to grieve together with the comrades at Kibbutz Metzer? I don't think so.

I'd be very interested to see if any comrades have any thoughts on this matter, and will return to this web page to see if anyone posts anything.

Comments

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 12/11/2002 - 15:16

Full title: Re: Why the terrorist attack on an Israeli kibbutz should make us stop and think

I guess there is an interesting parallel with the debate within the Socialist Alliance about whether to condemn the September 11 attacks. If I recall correctly, pretty much everyone in the SA wanted it to condemn the attacks, except the SWP.

The SWP's argument ran something like: The ruling class is always demanding that our side condemn 'terrorist' attacks that are prompted by their own military oppression. This is hypocritical, and we should not condemn such acts when the ruling class demands that we do.

Some problems with this line of argument:

1. We should condemn acts that warrant our condemnation - not because the ruling class tells us to, or tells us not to. We take an independent, working-class view.

2. We have to consider whether the perpetrators are in any sense on the same 'side' as us. Clearly, Al-Qaeda are not.

3. The worldwide victims of US imperialism are part of our side, but so is the US working class. We should condemn murderous attacks on it.

The SWP lost this debate within the SA, which agreed to publicly condemn September 11. (Which I think says something positive about being involved in the Socialist Alliance.)

So is there a parallel here? Not an exact one, but yes, I think there is. In particular, I expect that if certain groups (eg. the SWP) refuse to condemn the attack, then part of the reason is that they do not see the Israeli working class - even those who explicitly support the rights of the Palestinians - as part of our side, as a force to be remotely interested in.

It should be Marxist basics to see Israeli/ Palestinian working-class unity as central to the way forward on this issue. Acts which work against this unity - as the attack Eric describes surely does - should be condemned.
e-mail: JBooth9192 at aol.com

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