The Hope for Peace' Sharon's Latest Casualty
Interview with Koorosh Modaresi
The Israeli government's extensive onslaught and its indescribable carnage and brutality against the people of Palestine have shocked every decent human being. Who is responsible for and what changes have caused this current situation?
Koorosh Modaresi: As you pointed out, the dimensions of the Israeli government's atrocities in Palestine is shocking for any decent human being. Military operations against defenceless civilians, the detaining of all men and boys between the ages of 14 to 40 years old, lining them up and numbering them in the exact manner of Hitler's fascists, the murder of children whose only crime is to protest the occupation of their country, the 'targeted' assassination of Palestinian leaders and political activists, the collective punishment of people, the destruction of suspicious homes and making thousands of families homeless, etc. are crimes. This must be stopped and the perpetrators must be tried. If the name of this country was Yugoslavia rather than Palestine, today Ariel Sharon would be wanted for mass murder and war crimes. Arbitrary and double standards of the West and the US, however, portray one as a criminal and the other as a hero.
The unambiguous cause of the current situation is the Israeli government's policy. Islamic terrorists definitely are accomplices but the re-production of Islamic terrorism and its ability to recruit new forces, more than Islamic propaganda, is the result of Israeli government policy. The Israeli government is not prepared to end the occupation of Palestine, it wants to maintain Jewish colonies forcibly built on Palestinian land and homes, and it is not prepared to recognise an independent Palestinian state with equal rights. The Israeli government does not want peace; it wants the surrender of Palestinians and their acceptance of the racist and colonialist policies of this government. This is the Israeli government's current policy.
In a way, this policy is not a new one. In fact, the Israeli government has completely returned to its original policy. Over the last 30 years, its policy has been one of occupation, extensive arrests, collective punishments, the imposition of nearly complete rightlessness on the people of Palestine vis-à-vis the Israeli government and Jewish colonies (which have been given the respectable name of settlements), constant humiliations and military and police repression. This policy was defeated by the intifada. This defeat opened the way for the debate on post-Zionism. The state of Israel was formed on the basis of a Zionist ideology, which called for Jewish immigration to Palestine and the formation of a Jewish Israeli state - a history you must be acquainted with. The establishment of the state of Israel with relative security is the end of Zionism. Zionism, like any other nationalism, does not have a clear and realistic argument about the future after the formation of a nation state. This void was highlighted with the collapse of the Eastern bloc and particularly after the Gulf war, which changed the strategic position of Israel and the Arab states in the system of Western governments, and with the defeat of Israel by the growing mass movement of the people of Palestine. This was the basis of the debate called post-Zionism. The core of the debate was defining the strategy and role of the Israeli government and its position in the region after its establishment and the relative guarantee of security for a Jewish state. It was within this framework that the idea or alternative for peace with Palestinians and through that peace with the Arab states and becoming the technological and economic centre of the region and naturally becoming completely absorbed into the Middle East came about. This viewpoint was the basis for the emergence of a tendency in the ruling establishment and think tanks for peace and coming to terms with Palestinians to the extent of recognising a Palestinian state. Yitzhak Rabin was in fact the politician representing this tendency. Clearly, it is not an easy task for such a tendency in an environment and society, which is based and established on a racial-religious ideology and the cleansing of Palestinians, and for the interests of those Jews who were immigrating from all over the world. The Israeli relationship with Palestinians and with Arabs in general has been shaped on a racial-religious outlook and this outlook has been the dominant one in Israeli society. To this extent, various Israeli governments, whether affiliated with Labour or Likud parties, have always been in line with the most Right-wing and fascistic Jewish currents in this matter and these parties and groups have been accepted as legitimate and fit for coalition governments - comparable UK, French and German parties and groups have been excluded as fascist parties at least by main political parties and groups. In Israel, this dissociation never took shape since Zionism was the common basis. In any case, these factors made possible the Oslo agreement, the coming to terms with the PLO and the recognition of the existence of both sides.
One significant factor that has made the situation unstable and led to the current situation, in my opinion, is the peace-seeking tendency's non-disassociation or better yet its not seriously and comprehensively confronting the deeply-rooted racist and fascist history and ideology in Israel. The peace-seekers half-heartedly explained peace as tactically appropriate in order to control the intifada, while maintaining the colonies and the right of Jewish settlement on Palestinian cleansed lands, and a Palestinian state under the control of Israel. They did not separate their path from that of Jewish fascism; they did not challenge it. Israeli society did not deal with its own past and put forth a future that was based on the foundations of its past. This allowed the Right-wing fascist current, which opposed the peace process, to rob the process with ease - a current that understood and understands peace as the subjugation of the Palestinians and saw and sees in Palestinian independence, not a country but a collection of areas under Israeli control but of course with Palestinian local management. Even the labour government during the Barak premiership continued the same policy with some variations. The colonisation (settlement) policy continued and the continuation of the occupation of important areas such as Jerusalem, water resources, maintaining Jewish colonies and limiting the right of the Palestinians to sovereignty were its basis. This policy pushed the peace process into an impasse on the one hand and on the other created an environment of helplessness, gloom and despair which allowed the terrorist and Islamic fascists to grow, by continuing the occupation and racist policies and daily humiliation of Palestinians. Fascism on one side helped the rise of fascism on the other side. Jewish fascism developed Islamic fascism. As I mentioned, the Israeli policy is the most important factor in the reproduction of political Islam and Islamic terrorism not only in Palestine but also in the entire region. The current policy of Arial Sharon is the declaration of a return to the policy of suppression, which cannot have any strategic objective apart from the subjugation of the Palestinians to the demands of the state of Israel - a policy, which cannot have anything but more hatred among Israelis and Palestinians, a policy that has been defeated once before.
Israel justifies its onslaught against the people of Palestine under the guise of defending its innocent citizens, particularly children, against suicide bombings and terrorism. Should there not be a condemnation of the so- called cycle of violence from both sides and a demand for its end?
Koorosh Modaresi: Of course, terrorism and the killing of innocent people are condemned. The people of Israel have as much right to be safe from such killings as the people who live in any other place, including Palestine. But to explain the current situation with the term cycle of violence is seriously misleading. This formulation portrays both sides of this confrontation in a comparable situation. As if two states are at war. This concealment of the truth is in favour of the aggressor. Palestine is a land occupied by Israel. It is the Israeli government that can end the occupation and is not willing to do. It is the Israeli government which can end the policy of colonising and ethnic cleansing but continues it. It is the Israeli government which believes it can impose its will by sheer military bullying, an illusion that nearly all colonialist states share and are forced to accept defeat after killing huge numbers of people. Terrorism is condemned but the protest and struggle by the people of Palestine against the occupiers are just and right. It is violent because it is faced with the most despicable violence, i.e. the occupation of Palestine, ethnic cleansing, colonising, and the enslavement accompanied by 30 years of humiliation. It is the Israeli government that has blocked any political means of ending the occupation and has turned fear, hopelessness and despair into the norm in Palestinian society - a desperation and hopelessness, which produces Islamic terrorism in the entire region. This cycle of violence started with Israeli violence and will end with it. More than anything else, the growth of Islamic fascism is the result of Jewish fascism. With the resolution of the Palestinian question, the swamp in which political Islamic grows will dry up.
In this case, are the peace process and the Oslo agreement defunct?
Koorosh Modaresi: It seems so. It is doubtful that one can talk about a serious peace process without the definite defeat of the Right-wing in Israel. It is possible for the hostilities to have its ups and downs but it seems that the Right in Israel has succeeded in returning everyone to the starting place with the difference that the Israeli government has managed to strengthen blind terrorism.
Can Israel be forced to abandon this violent and fascist policy? Apparently neither the UN resolution nor the people's protests have any influence on the Israeli government.
Koorosh Modaresi: I believe that the precondition for an end to this situation is the defeat of the Right-wing in Israel. The Right must be defeated politically and socially. The force that can defeat the Right is the resistance of the people of Palestine, the emergence of a peace movement in Israel itself and its uncompromising, active militant confrontation with Jewish fascism and finally protests and struggles in Europe and the US to expose this Right and in defence of the people of Palestine. The combination of these forces can very quickly defeat the fascist views in Israel.
The Worker-communist Party of Iran has stated that an end to the occupation, recognition of the right of the people of Palestine to sovereignty and the establishment of a Palestinian state will ensure peace in the Middle East. Will the formation of an independent Palestinian state resolve the problems of the people in Palestine?
Koorosh Modaresi: The problems of the people of Palestine are not one and the same. Palestine like any other place including Israel has worker and capitalist, woman and man, young and old, freedom-loving and reactionary. It has religious people, communists, liberals and conservatives. It would be ideal to have Israelis and Palestinians put aside their national and religious identities, and for the communists and freedom-loving people of both to organise an equal and free society without religious, nationalist or ethnic affiliations. This is theoretically possible but the immediate and practical realisation of this ideal is doubtful. Nationalism and religious bigotry have created such a deep rift between the people of Israel and Palestine that an end to the occupation of Palestine and the formation of a Palestinian state with equal rights with Israel are the pre-condition for any development. An end to the occupation of Palestine and the formation of an independent state of Palestine will end this national-religious and ethnic humiliation and will return civil identity to the people pf Palestine and will allow them to intervene in determining their future and organising their society far from any nationalist prodding. The end to the occupation and the resolution of the question of Palestine will furthermore allow the working class and freedom loving and egalitarian forces in Israel to reach their objectives more quickly with the removal of society from under Zionism's umbrella.
What do you mean by a government with equal rights?
Koorosh Modaresi: You see today everyone agrees with the idea of an independent Palestinian state. Even Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu both pledge allegiance to this idea. The problem is that the state that they have in mind for Palestine is like the governments that the former racist government of South Africa formed for blacks - cantons under the supervision of the racist government with black management. This is a similar situation. If the issue is the resolution of the Palestinian question then both states must have equal rights as any conventional state and if there is to be any agreement on limitations of military force, this limitation must include the Israeli state. Otherwise, one side will be declared the victor and the other side the loser and the hostilities will continue. The states of Israel and Palestine must have equal rights; this is the pre-condition of the resolution of the question of Palestine.
How would Israel's security be guaranteed? Would the recognition of the state of Israel and an end to the current military situation and peaceful co-existence between the Israeli and Arab states particularly the Palestinian state resolve the problem?
Koorosh Modaresi: Firstly, the security of Israel is as important as the security of Palestine. But it would an illusion to think that in the context of the current situation, security is possible for one side in the absence of security for the other. If this was so then the occupation of Palestine would have guaranteed Israel's security. Secondly, security is a relative concept. In an absence of war and in normal relations the security logic of both parties falls into the security norms of any other state.
The above is a translated interview first published in Persian in International Weekly 100.