In character

In an article in the NYT, Anshel Pfeffer, an Israeli political commentator and biographer of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, is quoted as saying,

“Netanyahu didn’t invent the tensions between Jews and Arabs. They’ve been here since before Israel was founded. But over his long years in power, he’s stoked and exploited these tensions for political gain time and again and has now miserably failed as a leader to put out the fires when it boiled over.”

One has to wonder how much of the present outbreak of violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis is explained by the political ambitions and election maneuvering of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in his effort to hold onto power.

 

False equivalence

While not getting into the details of this new outbreak of violence between the Israel and Palestinian people, I want to make this observation: the whole notion of equivalency in this conflict between the Palestinians and the Israeli government is a dangerous falsehood that conceals the actual dynamics and lines of resolution of this violent (and reoccurring) clash.

Look at the realities: The balance of military and economic power is overwhelmingly on the Israeli side; the Palestinians have nowhere near the fire power or economic resources. A long suffering and colonized people – the Palestinians – are fighting for their independent and long denied statehood against a powerful, imperial and expansionist state whose mission is to prevent the realization of that fundamental right by all means at its disposal. Palestinian land is occupied and Israel is the occupier. Finally, the casualty lists are long and the destruction is immense on the Palestinian side, while on the other side the loss of life and damage is minimal.

In short, this isn’t a conflict between two equal adversaries with equally just claims. Don’t buy into that notion. It’s fool’s gold, meant to conceal the real dynamics in this struggle as well as forestall the only solution that stands a chance of bringing peace to both peoples in this decades long conflict – an independent, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state living side by side and in peace with its Israeli neighbor.

Addendum: Trevor Noah says it much better than I do.

A comment

Here is a comment I made on someone else’s facebook page that I thought might be of interest:

1. To see economic and political processes in the present and future as simply a continuation, with slight modifications, of the past is analytically mistaken and politically counterproductive. A vibrant, open ended Marxism should take into account discontinuities, changing conjunctures, and new phenomena at the national and global level that emerge in the course of capitalist development and modify, not only the conditions for the production and realization of capital, but also class and democratic struggles at the national and global level. Sometimes these modifications are of great consequence and thus have deep going programmatic, strategic and tactical implications.

2. To comprehend the evolution and shifts of US capitalism over the past century one has to be mindful not only of its systemic imperative to accumulate capital at the level of the firm, but also to remember that that this law operates within and is greatly modified by a world system in which capitals and nation states compete for political and economic dominance/hegemony. The Golden Age of capitalism, not to mention the turn to neoliberalism, can’t be comprehended outside of this larger context and dynamic.

3. In thinking about the rise of Trump and Trumpism from a strategic and tactical point of view, one has to understand it more as a sharp break than a continuation of past political processes.

4. As for the social/political constituencies that have to be assembled to move down “freedom road,” one has to accent the imperative of political and social alliances/coalitions. Such a view finds confirmation in the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Gramsci, etc., but also is evident in the historical record of the past century. The gravediggers of capitalism and the drum majors of a deeply democratic and egalitarian society are not confined to the point of production. Socialism’s historical subjects – note the plural – are found in various social spaces, possess multiple identities, and are animated by a range of social needs, desires, and interests that are at loggerheads with capitalism’s imperatives, trajectory, and values. A narrow framing of this matter serves no good purpose.

Liz Cheney and the nature of this moment

Liberal and left critics who mock Liz Cheney’s opposition to Trump’s Big Lie and defense of the rule of law are missing the point. Such critics fail to understand the nature of this moment and – more to the point – the political requirements necessary to decisively defeat a not so incipient fascism.

The November election threw Trump and his movement on their heels, but they quickly regrouped, organized an assault on the Capital, and are reasserting their iron like grip over the Republican Party.

Thus the existential threat to our democracy continues. A coalition that stretches from Liz Cheney to Angela Davis remains a political imperative. And the bolstering of Democratic majorities in the Senate and House in the midterm elections is an absolute necessity.

Joe Manchin?

One has to hope that Republican overreach to suppress and eviscerate voter rights and the force of public outrage and pressure will compel West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and a few other Democrats in the Senate to support the suspension of the filibuster rule and then the passage of the John Lewis voting rights bill.

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