The house of Zion

Perry Anderson,
New Left Review.

An informative summary of some options open to the Palestinian people [ME4Change].

Since the turn of the century, the Arab states have come to constitute a zone for Western military intervention without parallel in the post-Cold War world—us invasion of Iraq, nato bombardment of Libya, us proxies in Syria, Washington-backed gcc assault on Yemen. What of their traditional enemy? At the time of the second Intifada, an essay in these pages surveyed the balance of forces between the two nationalisms, Zionist and Palestinian, reflected in the naked inequities of the Oslo Accords. [1] Since then, how much has changed? On the West Bank, very little. The first Intifada was the rebellion of a new generation of Palestinians, whose activists came from local universities that were themselves recent creations. Displacing the compliant notables on whom the occupiers had relied, they led a three-year wave of popular demonstrations, strikes, boycotts and punishment of collaborators. The exiled plo in Tunis was caught by surprise, and played little part in it. Driven out of its bases in Lebanon, and defunded by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the Gulf War, the organization was rescued from its weakness by the Oslo accords, which returned it in pomp to bits of the homeland.

The Palestinian Authority established in 1994, presented as a milestone in the struggle for national liberation, was in design a co-production of the West and of Israel, whose primary function was not to embody but to contain resistance to Zionism. For the West, a pocket of residual Arab turbulence needed to be tidied up after the triumph of Operation Desert Storm, to round out the New World Order. For Israel, the Palestinian Authority would act as a cost-effective surrogate for the IDF in blocking the springs of the first Intifada, which had threatened to jeopardize ongoing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, whose expansion required the more secure environment that an indigenous paramilitary apparatus could provide. From the outset, the Palestinian Authority lacked any autonomous means of subsistence, between 70 and 80 per cent of its revenue coming from Western subsidies and Israeli transfers. Erected was a parasitic miniature of a rentier state, detached from a population on which it did not materially depend and whose needs it could ignore. Far more important, inevitably, were the requirements of its paymasters.

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