From David Hirst's The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East:
In the wave of official 'self-criticism' which swept the Arab world in the wake of the second Catastrophe of 1967, it was generally agreed that 'Shuqairism' and all such verbal excesses should be banished... In early 1968, Fatah began to formulate a new concept of 'liberation'.
Vengeance, it came to be understood, could not serve as the motive for a people's war; liberation had to be built on a vision of tomorrow, not on the nightmare of the past. It was natural, though regrettable, that in the first years of exile the Palestinians should have behaved in the way they did-that they had come to hate Jews and everything Jewish. For, although a distinction was usually made between Jews and Zionists, most refugees were either too bitter—or too simple—to take it seriously. They were inclined to accept Zionist propaganda at face value—and that propaganda insisted that all Jews were Zionists and potential Israelis. Had they not been driven out to make way for the Jewish National Home? Was it not Jewish money, Jewish pressure in the United States, that was perpetuating their misery and exile? Their hatred of Israel, and that of the Arabs in general, took on an anti-Semitic coloration. With the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other classics of European racism as their inspiration, they fitted Israel and the Catastrophe into an updated demonology of their own. Indeed, there were influential, educated Palestinians who preached that it was a matter of the utmost importance not to distinguish between Zionism and Judaism. As the head of the PFLP, and a devout Marxist-Leninist, George Habash is now wedded to the internationalism of 'world revolution'; but in the early years of exile, as the moving spirit behind the Arab Nationalist Movement, he held that the real enemy was not Western imperialism but International Judaism, 'all Jews from the far left to the extreme right' ; there was no choice for the Arabs but to meet the Zionist challenge on the same terms laid down by the Jews: expulsion or extermination. His slogan, which came in for a good deal of criticism even at the time, was 'Unity, Freedom, Vengeance'.
With time, however, and especially with the growth of the fedayeen, new attitudes came into being. The distinction between Jews and Zionists really acquired meaning:Revolutionary leaders engaged in a serious study and discussion around the topic ... old truths emerged. Jews suffered persecution at the hands of racist criminals under Nazism, so did 'we' under Zionism. Several revealing parallels were discovered. 'How could we hate the Jews qua Jews?' the revolutionaries were saying. How could we fall in the same racist trap? A study of Jewish history and thought was conducted. Jewish contributions as well as dilemmas were identified. The majority of those who came over to Palestine were fleeing German concentration camps and were told that they were a people without land-going to a land without people. Once they were there, they were told that the Palestinians left Palestine of their own wish, following orders from Arab leaders in a treacherous move to perpetrate a massacre of the remaining Jews.
Further, it was discovered, new Jewish immigrants as well as old settlers were told by the Zionist machine that they had to fight to survive, that the only alternative to a safe 'Israel' was a massacre or at best a little sinking boat on the Mediterranean sea. Even Arab Jews—called Oriental by the Zionists—who were discriminated against in 'Israel' by the European Zionist oligarchy had to accept the argument and fight for what they considered to be their very survival. Fighting the Zionist revealed the strengths and limitations of the 'Jewish' character. Jews were not monsters, supermen or pigmies. Martin Buber, Isaac Deutscher, Elmer Berger and Moshe Menuhin, all spiritual, human Jewish thinkers, were read and re-read ....
People of the Arab nation...
People of Palestine...
Fifty years ago, the masses of our people faced a continuing series of assaults by Zionism and colonialism upon the people of this nation, and our right right to liberty and life. Fifty years later and the global forces of Zionism and imperialism continue concocting plots, attacks and wars in order to establish the idea of an entity – the State of Israel. On each day of this historic era, the masses of people are struggling against each of these schemes. We have seen throughout the years in the life of our Palestinian people, a continuation of this struggle through upheavals and uprisings, crystallizing in the last period in commando work practiced by the vanguards of the people on the ground with full refusal of submission, surrender and compromise, and other serious forms and methods of political action. This advance has also represented the determination of the masses of the Palestinian people to take the initiative to pave a road to full emancipation, which is simultaneously the responsibility of the entire Arab masses. Our struggling people...
The military defeat suffered by the Arab armies served as the beginning of a new phase of work in which the revolutionary masses must take their responsible leadership role in confronting the forces and weapons of imperialism and Zionism, which history has proved is the most effective weapon to crush all forms of colonial aggression and to give the initiative to the popular masses to formulate the future according to their will and interests. The only weapon left to the masses in order to restore history and progress and truly defeat enemies and potential enemies in the long run is revolutionary violence in confronting Zionist violence and reaction. There is no other option in front of the masses of the Arab nation—they face a fierce enemy who wants them to surrender unconditionally. The hopes and anticipation of the Arab masses have reached a qualitatively new level from before the fifth of June; they are aware of the nature of the stage and the objective conditions have matured to the extent that allows us to raise the slogan of the popular armed struggle and put it into practice until victory in a long and protracted battle, a victory that must be achieved through the will and aspirations of the masses.
The entire masses of our Palestinian people live today for the first time since the catastrophe of 1948 on a completely occupied Palestinian territory, confronting a rapacious enemy face to face, and we now must take up this challenge to its conclusion or we must accept or surrender to the ambitions of the enemy and the daily humiliation of our people and absorbed fortunes of our lives. The displacement and dispersion of the last twenty years have created a circumstance in which we must confront the Zionist invaders; the fate of our people and our cause and every human being in Palestine relies upon our Palestinian determination to fight the invaders in order to preserve our dignity, and our lands and our rights.
Palestinian people displaced in the camps of displacement and isolation...
Tillers of our inflamed land...
Oh poor, steadfast in our cities and villages, in the camps of misery...
Through your valor and resistance in confronting the enemy, one slogan is paramount and repeated daily—only armed resistance, and there is no life for us on our occupied land except the life of popular armed struggle in the service of our objectives and the daily battle. The armed resistance is the only effective method that must be used by the popular masses in dealing with the Zionist enemy and all of its interests and its presence, the masses are the authority, the guide, and the resistance leadership from which victory will be achieved in the end. It is necessary to recruit the popular masses and mobilize them as active participants and leaders, something that can only be achieved through systematic organization addressing the armed struggle of the forces of the masses, creating a heightened awareness of the full dimensions of the battle and the stages, and continuous recruitment of manpower for the armed organization, building he revolutionary leadership in order to become more able to exercise resistance and continue despite all the difficulties and obstacles. Therefore, in order to unite the forces and energies of the Palestinian masses in the occupied land, we have held a full meeting between the following Palestinian organizations: The Heroes of the Return, the Palestinian Liberation Front squads (Organization of martyr Abdul Latif Shrour—Organization of the martyr Qassam—Organization of the martyr Abdul-Qader Al-Husseini), the National Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Youth Organization for Vengeance), and several other Palestinian groups on the homeland. These organizations have agreed among themselves to unite under the banner of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, achieving a fateful unity among these forces, realizing that the nature and dimensions of the battle and the hostile forces requires us to cluster all efforts and revolutionary ranks for our long and bitter struggle against our enemies.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, initiated and directed by a core group of revolutionaries, is at the same time open to all forces and Palestinian groups, to meet in a broad national revolutionary front in order to achieve a national unity established between all factions engaged in armed struggle. The unity of all the freedom fighters is real demand for our people, as the battle is long and cruel and rupture is intolerable in the ranks of the national movement, and therefore the Popular Front is dedicated entirely to this requirement, because it has formed on this basis. Today our masses are marching through the doors of armed struggle and we believe that the masses’ leadership in the armed struggle, bearing its standard as the only guarantee for the steadfastness of this struggle and its escalation up to the level of the Palestinian revolution, with all of its dimensions and content.
Our fighting people...
The only language that the enemy understands is the language of revolutionary violence. The armed struggle is the main curriculum for our protracted conflict that we are waging against occupation and against attempts to liquidate our struggle through attempts at settlement, which have begun again in some areas of the Arab homeland and impose a totally unacceptable occupation upon some parts of our Arab land. We are fighting against the enemy in every land where the feet of his soldiers march. This is our historical approach – where we are going until we reach the stage where we open a wider front against the enemy and turn our land into a burning hell for the invaders. The crossfire of armed struggle is not known to have limits and the armed resistance should not be confined to the militants, but also embrace all parts and sectors of the Palestinian resistance against the enemy at every level, dealing with the enemy militarily, but also a total boycott of all economic, civil and political institutions of the enemy and a rejection of all ties.
The slogan of our masses must be resistance until victory, rooted in the heart with our feet planted on the ground in deep commitment to our land. Today, the Popular Front is hailing our masses with this call. This is the appeal. We must repeat it every day, through every breakthrough bullet and the fall of each martyr, that the land of Palestine today belongs to all the masses. Every area of our land belongs to our masses who have defended it against the presence of the usurper, every piece of land, every rock and stone, our masses will not abandon one inch of them because they belong to the legions of the poor and hungry and displaced persons. In order to liberate this land, and for our steadfast people, our fighters today fall with their heads lifted. The masses—Oh sons of our heroic people—are the lifebreath of the fighters, and it is the involvement of the masses in the battle that ensures victory in the long run. The popular support for the militants at all levels in every land form the basis for genuine, firm, and escalating struggle and steadfastness, rising until we crush the enemy.
In this war for our occupied land, and the fate of collaborators and traitors and enemies of the people will be the fate of the occupying enemy, crushed in full. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is determined to reject delay and hesitation in engaging in the struggle in our occupied land and declares its determination to reject humility and humiliation and settlements. We stand today before our masses, our people, promising to provide them with the truth, the whole truth in every respect, regarding our struggles, achievements and obstacles facing our armed action. The truth must be the property of the masses because there is no other force more committed to their own interests. The masses must be fully aware of the achievements and problems of the armed struggle without exaggeration or hype because they are the custodians of the objectives of this struggle and their aspirations, which will be given to this struggle, include every possession, up to their blood. The active members, the fighters on the Palestinian land today pursue a new path of political action and deal with the masses with full openness and truth.
People of the Arab nation ...
This battle is long and harsh, and the armed resistance today is the vanguard of fighting along the steadfast Arab front. Every Arab demands today to provide full support for the march of the armed combat corps at all levels. The Palestinian fighting masses on the occupied land are actors of the Arab revolutionary march against imperialism and its proxy forces. In our response to the Zionist alliance and colonialism, we must make the organic link between the struggle of the Palestinian people and the struggle of the masses of the Arab people, facing the same risks and the same schemes, and therefore the work of the Palestinian armed struggle determines the position of the Arabs who stand by the struggle, against those who stand against it. The struggle of the Palestinian people is linked with the struggle of the forces of revolution and progress in the world, the format of the coalition that we face requires a corresponding governing coalition including all the forces of anti-imperialism in every part of the world.
Our struggling masses everywhere on Palestinian land...
Fellow workers and peasants ...
Oh poor people and refugees ...
Fellow students ...
Clerks and traders...
This is the beginning of a movement of the people flying the flags of sacrifice, steadfastness and challenge. We are on the ground and we promise that armed struggle is not a rosy dream, but more fighting, led by the political mobilization of the masses to defend the defenseless against reprisal and persecution. We are marching each fighting step today, preparing to fight a long, harsh and bitter battle with your leadership and commitment as the true owners of the cause. That battle is not easy nor quick, but it is the battle of destiny and its presence requires our deep commitment, ability to continue, and steadfastness.Glory to the steadfast of our Arab nation
December 11, 1967
1. Conventional War Is the War of the Bourgeoisie. Revolutionary War Is People’s War
The Arab bourgeoisie has developed armies which are not prepared to sacrifice their own interests or to risk their privileges. Arab militarism has become an apparatus for oppressing revolutionary socialist movements within the Arab states, while at the same time it claims to be staunchly anti-imperialist. Under the guise of the national question, the bourgeoisie has used its armies to strengthen its bureaucratic power over the masses, and to prevent the workers and peasants from acquiring political power. So far it has demanded the help of the workers and peasants without organising them or without developing a proletarian ideology. The national bourgeoisie usually comes to power through military coups and without any activity on the part of the masses, as soon as it has captured power it reinforces its bureaucratic position. Through widespread application of terror it is able to talk about revolution while at the same time it suppresses all the revolutionary movements and arrests everyone who tries to advocate revolutionary action.
The Arab bourgeoisie has used the question of Palestine to divert the “Arab masses from realising their own interests and their own domestic problems. The bourgeoisie always concentrated hopes on a victory outside the state’s boundaries, in Palestine, and in this way they were able to preserve their class interests and their bureaucratic positions.
The war of June 1967 disproved the bourgeois theory of conventional war. The best strategy for Israel is to strike rapidly. The enemy is not able to mobilise its armies for a long period of time because this would intensify its economic crisis. It gets complete support from U.S. imperialism and for these reasons it needs quick wars. Therefore for our poor people the best strategy in the long run is a people’s war. Our people must overcome their weaknesses and exploit the weaknesses of the enemy by mobilising the Palestinian and Arab peoples. The weakening of imperialism and Zionism in the Arab world demands revolutionary war as the means to confront them.
2. Guerrilla Struggle as a Form of Pressure for the “Peaceful Solution”
The Palestinian struggle is a part of the whole Arab liberation movement and of the world liberation movement. The Arab bourgeoisie and world imperialism are trying to impose a peaceful solution on this Palestinian problem but this suggestion merely promotes the interests of imperialism and of Zionism, doubt in the efficacy of people’s war as a means of liberation and the preservation of the relations of the Arab bourgeoisie with the imperialist world market.
The Arab bourgeoisie is afraid of being isolated from this market and of losing its role as a mediator of world capitalism. That is why the Arab oil-producing countries broke off the boycott against the West (instituted during the June war) and for this reason McNamara, as head of the World Bank, was ready to offer credits to them.
When the Arab bourgeoisie strive for a peaceful solution, they are in fact striving for the profit which they can get from their role as mediator between the imperialist market and the internal market. The Arab bourgeoisie are not yet opposed to the activity of the guerrillas, and sometimes they even help them; but this is because the presence of the guerrillas is a means of pressure for a peaceful solution. As long as the guerrillas don’t have a clear class affiliation and a clear political stand they are unable to resist the implication of such a peaceful solution; but the conflict between the guerrillas and those whose strive for a peaceful solution is unavoidable. Therefore the guerrillas must take steps to transform their actions into a people’s war with clear goals.
3. No Revolutionary War Without a Revolutionary Theory
“The basic weakness of the guerrilla movement is the absence of a revolutionary ideology, which could illuminate the horizons of the Palestinian fighters and would incarnate the stages of a militant political programme. Without a revolutionary ideology the national struggle will remain imprisoned within its immediate practical and material needs. The Arab bourgeoisie is quite prepared for a limited satisfaction of the needs of the national struggle, as long as it respects the limits that the bourgeoisie sets. A clear illustration of this is the material help that Saudi Arabia offers Fatah while Fatah declares that she will not interfere in the internal affairs of any Arab countries.
Since most of the guerrilla movements have no ideological weapons, the Arab bourgeoisie can decide their fate. Therefore, the struggle of the Palestinian people must be supported by the workers and peasants, who will fight against any form of domination by imperialism, Zionism or the Arab bourgeoisie.
4. The War of Liberation Is a Class War Guided by a Revolutionary Ideology
We must not be satisfied with ignoring the problems of our struggle, saying that our struggle is a national one and not a class struggle. The national struggle reflects the class struggle. The national struggle is a struggle for land and those who struggle for it are the peasants who were driven away from their land. The bourgeoisie is always ready to lead such a movement, hoping to gain control of the internal market. If the bourgeoisie succeeds in bringing the national movement under its control, which strengthens its position, it can lead the movement under the guise of a peaceful solution into compromises with imperialism and Zionism. Therefore, the fact that the liberation struggle is mainly a class struggle emphasises the necessity for the workers and peasants to play a leading role in the national liberation movement. If the small bourgeoisie take the leading role, the national revolution will fall as a victim of the class interests of this leadership. It is a great mistake to start by saying that the Zionist challenge demands national unity for this shows that one does not understand the real class structure of Zionism.
The struggle against Israel is first of all a class struggle. Therefore the oppressed class is the only class which is able to face a confrontation with Zionism.
5. The Main Field of Our Revolutionary Struggle Is Palestine
The decisive battle must be in Palestine. The armed people’s struggle in Palestine can help itself with the simplest weapons in order to ruin the economies and the war machinery of their Zionist enemy. The moving of the people’s struggle into Palestine depends upon agitating and organising “the masses, more than depending upon border actions in the Jordan valley, although these actions are of importance for the struggle in Palestine.
When guerrilla organisations began their actions in the occupied areas, they were faced with a brutal military repression by the armed forces of Zionism. Because these organisations had no revolutionary ideology and so no programme, they gave in to demands of self-preservation and retreated into eastern Jordan. All their activity turned into border actions. This presence of the guerrilla organisations in Jordan enables the Jordanian bourgeoisie and their secret agents to crush these organisations when they are no longer useful as pressure for a peaceful solution.
6. Revolution in Both Regions of Jordan
We must not neglect the struggle in east Jordan for this land is connected with Palestine more than with the other Arab countries. The problem of the revolution in Palestine is dialectically connected with the problem of the revolution in Jordan. A chain of plots between the Jordanian monarchy, imperialism and Zionism have proved this connection.
The struggle in east Jordan must take the correct path, that of class struggle. The Palestinian struggle must not be used as a means of propping up the Jordanian monarchy, under the mask of national unity, and the main problem in Jordan is the creation of a Marxist-Leninist party with a clear action programme according to which it can organise the masses and enable them to carry out the national and class struggle. The harmony of the struggle in the two regions must be realised through co-ordinating organs whose tasks will be to guarantee reserves inside Palestine and to mobilise the peasants and soldiers in the border-territories.
This is the only way in which Amman can become an Arab Hanoi:—a base for the revolutionaries fighting inside Palestine.
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