by Tony Greenstein
Moshé Machover, who I count as a friend and comrade, is a legend in his own lifetime. One of the founders of Matzpen, the Socialist Organisation in Israel, Machover more than any other single person has helped educate a generation of socialists in a Marxist approach to the question of Zionism and Israel.
When I grew up, there was a myth, common amongst the left, that Israel was an example of socialism. The kibbutzim were held out as the socialist ideal – a communal way of living and producing. Little did we know that the kibbutzim were the pioneers of stockade and watchtower colonisation, that they owned industries which exploited the labour of Arab and Misrahi Jewish workers, that they were Jewish-only organisations and that they provided the officer corps for the paramilitary Haganah and Palmach, which spearheaded the massacres and ethnic cleansing of 1948. But, then again, we grew up with the fable that the Arabs in 1948 fled Palestine on instructions from the Arab leaders in order that they could conquer the country and commit another holocaust.
As a teenager groping my way towards a socialist analysis of Zionism, the first thing I read that made sense on the subject was an article in the New Left Review by Moshé, Akiva Orr and Haim Hanegbi, which was reprinted as a pamphlet by the International Socialists (now the Socialist Workers Party).1 It is therefore with some hesitation that I disagree with my teacher.
A separate Hebrew nation?
Moshé argues cogently and forcefully in his article, ‘Palestine and Hebrew self-determination’,2 that without an acceptance by the Palestinians that the Jewish or Hebrew inhabitants of Israel constitute a separate Hebrew nation there can be no resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only by making this concession and accepting the reality of two nations is it possible to find a solution to the existing conflict.
Firstly let me explain that I agree with Moshé and Matzpen that it is impossible for the Palestinians, by themselves, to overthrow Zionism. A solution to Zionist colonisation will not be found within the confines of what was the British mandate territory of Palestine. The balance of forces is such that it would be (more…)