The Palestinian revolution and the Jews

Published in Beirut in May 1970 in Fateh newspaper


The institution of a progressive society open to all the Palestinians is certainly a better solution than the one which consists in "sending the Arabs into the desert" or "throwing the Jews into the sea".

But this solution can only be made feasible if it is accepted by the sides which are concerned, as well as by the peoples across the world acting as an involved third party. We have to prove that this plan can come through.

We have already examined how the Palestinian revolution acted to reach that aim by emphasising its attitude towards the Jews. A revolutionary change has been highlighted: Palestinians no longer consider Jews as hereditary enemies; they clearly identify the racist-colonialist State of Israel and its imperialist allies as the enemy. By reading Jewish writings, by holding out their hands to progressive Jews across the world and by becoming more self-assertive as the revolution advances, Palestinians have changed their attitude.

Jewish attitudes have then been analysed. Zionist propaganda persists, considering Palestinians as a people of nomads, blood-thirsty terrorists and traitors. But a number of Jews - especially those living outside Palestine - are changing their opinion and are rallying to a call for a progressive and secular Palestine. Changing the mind-set and attitudes of Palestine's Jews remains an important task of the revolution, which has yet to be achieved. But a war of liberation of the people, meant to destroy the imperialist-racist State, will create new living conditions and make new Palestine possible.

So the option presented to Palestine's Jews has radically changed. Before, the State of Israel had to be powerful, or they risked being thrown to the sea; today, instead of insecure living in an exclusive and racist State of Israel, the revolution offers open, secure and tolerant Palestine for all those who live in it. In the long run, the revolution tends in this way to win Palestinian Jews as well as non Jews to its liberation forces, and this is a meaningful step towards the achievement of the ultimate goal. But this necessitates deep changes in Jewish attitudes.

To reach this objective, we now need to work out and clarify the plan for a democratic Palestine.


It is quite difficult and risky at this early stage of the revolution to make a clear and definitive statement about the new Liberated Palestine. Realism rather than romantic day-dreaming should be the basic revolutionary approach. We do not believe that victory is around the corner. The revolution does not underestimate the enemy or its imperialist allies. What will happen during the years of hard struggle for liberation cannot be easily predicted. Will the attitude of Palestinian Jews harden or become more receptive and flexible? A further drift to the right, stepping up anti-Arab terrorism- in the Algerian O.A.S. tradition- followed by a voluntary mass exodus on the eve of liberation, would pose a completely different problem and would be quite regrettable. On the other hand, joining the revolution and working with it will lay firmer growth for the new Palestine. The revolution is striving hard to achieve the second alternative. Guerilla operations are basically directed at the military and economic foundations of the Zionist settler-state. Whenever a civilian target is chosen, every effort is made to minimize loss of civilian life- though one would find it hard to distinguish civilians and non-civilians in this modern Spartan militaristic society, where every adult is mobilized for the war. Hitting quasi-civilian areas aims at the psychological effect of shocking the Israelis into realization that the racist-militaristic state cannot provide them with security while it conducts genocide against the exiled and oppressed Palestinian masses. In the Dizengoff street bomb (Tel Aviv), Fateh guerillas delayed the operation three times to choose a place (in front of a building under construction) and a time (12:30 after midnight) to maximize noise but minimize casualties: The result, few were injured, but thousands were shocked and made to engage in serious rethinking.

In conclusion, despite all uncertainties, there is the hope, the vision and the behaviour of the Palestinian revolutionaries designed to achieve a better future for their oppressed country. Answers must be thought out and found for myriad questions relating to this future. Even if the answers are tentative, they will start a dialogue which provides the road towards maturity and fulfilment.



Pre-1948 Palestine- as defined during the British mandate is the territory to be liberated and where the democratic, progressive state is to be created. The liberated Palestine will be part of the Arab Homeland and will not be another alien state within it. The eventual unity of Palestine with other Arab States will make boundary problems less relevant and will end the artificiality of the present status of Israel, and possibly that of Jordan as well. The new country will be anti-imperialist and will join the ranks of progressive revolutionary countries. Therefore, it will have to cut the present life-line links with and total dependence on the United States. Therefore, integration within the area will be the foremost prerequisite.

It should be quite obvious at this stage that the New Palestine discussed here is not the occupied West Bank or the Gaza Strip or both. These are areas occupied by the Israelis since June 1967. The homeland of the Palestinians usurped and colonized in 1948 is no less dear or important than the part occupied in 1967. Besides, the very existence of the racist oppressor state of Israel based on the vacating and forced exile of part of its citizens is unacceptable by the revolution even for one tiny Palestinian village. Any arrangement accommodating the aggressor settler-state is unacceptable and temporary.

Only the people of Palestine: its Jews, Christians and Muslims in a country that combines them all is permanent.


All the Jews, Muslims and Christians living in Palestine or forcibly exiled from it will have the right to Palestinian citizenship. This guarantees the right of all exiled Palestinians to return to their land whether they were born in Palestine or in exile, and regardless of their present nationality. Equally, this means that all Jewish Palestinians- at the present Israelis- have the same right, provided of course that they reject Zionist racist chauvinism and fully accept to live as Palestinians in the New Palestine. The revolution therefore rejects the supposition that only Jews who lived in Palestine prior to 1948 or prior to 1914 and their descendants are acceptable. After all, Dayan and Allon were born in Palestine before 1948 and they- with many of their colleagues- are diehard racist Zionists who obviously do not qualify for a Palestinian status. Whereas newcomers may be anti-Zionists, and work ardently for the creation of the new Palestine. In the interview referred to earlier, Abu lyad, one of the officials of Fateh, reasserted that not only progressive anti-Zionist Jews but even present Zionists who will be willing to abandon their racist ideology will be welcome as Palestinian citizens. It is the belief of the revolution that the majority of the present Israeli Jews will change their attitudes and will subscribe to the New Palestine, especially after the oligarchic state machinery, economy and military establishment is destroyed.


The Palestinians in the process of, and at the time of liberation will decide on the system of government and on the political-economic-social organization of their liberated country. (One repeats at this juncture that the term Palestinians includes those in exile, under occupation and anti-zionist Jews).

A democratic and progressive Palestine, however, rejects by elimination a theocratic, feudal, aristocratic, authoritarian form racist-chauvinistic government. It will be a country that does not allow oppression or exploitation of any group of people by any other group or individuals; a state that provides equal opportunities for its people in work, worship, education, political decision-making, cultural and artistic expression.

This is no Utopian dream, for the fight to achieve the New Palestine inherently produces the requisite climate for its future system of government, i.e. a people's war of liberation brings out new values and attitudes that serve as guarantees for democracy after liberation. Witness changing attitudes towards collective work in refugee and guerilla camps in Jordan and Lebanon. Palestinians and other brothers joining them volunteer work and livelihoods. They are not exploited or enslaved labour. The values of human life changes. Unlike Israeli Napalm raids and indiscriminate killing, Palestinian guerillas kill sparingly and selectively. New forms of human relations emerge. No master-slave relation can be attained among fighters for freedom. Increasing awareness of the international dimensions of their problem and discovery of who backs the oppressor and who supports the oppressed create new responsibilities to the international community, especially to the supporters of liberation and democracy.

Therefore, Palestinians after liberation will not accept subjugation from anybody and will not reintroduce oppression against any group for this will be a negation of their raison d'etre and abdication of their revolutionary existence. This is quite obvious in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. After twenty two years of oppression, humiliation and manipulation by secret police and local exploiters, the camps have awakened to the revolution.

In the process, the exiles have broken their bonds, have thrown out the secret police and its spies and allied exploiters, and have instituted democratic self-management. Medical, educational and social services are being provided locally through the revolutionary organizations in a self-help fashion that have brought back dignity and self-respect. Crime rates in these camps have drastically gone down to 10% of the pre-revolutionary magnitude. Self-discipline has replaced the police. The Net militia is providing the link between the revolutionary avant-garde and the base of the masses. Democratic checks are built in. These Palestinians will not accept oppression and subjugation from anybody and will not enforce it on anybody.

Newsmen and other foreign visitors have discovered that nowhere in the Arab World can they find equally mature and tolerant people vis a vis the Jews than in the camps in Jordan and Lebanon and especially among the Ashbal: the fighting lion cubs. These young Palestinians (8-16 years) are almost totally free of any anti- Jewish biases. They have a clearer vision of the New democratic Palestine than that held by bourgeois city-dwellers. These young people are the liberators of tomorrow. They will complete the destruction of Israeli oppression and the rebuilding of the new Palestine,.

If the democratic and progressive new Palestine is utopia, then the Palestinian guerillas and camp dwellers are starting to practice it.


Several interpretations of the Democratic Palestine have sprung up in different quarters that require clarification and some corrections. An attempt will be made presently to discuss two of them that seem to be quite vital:

1. The call for a non-sectarian Palestine should not be confused with a multi-religious, or a bi-national state. The new Palestine is not to be built around three state religions or two nationalities. It will simply provide freedom from religious oppression of any group by another and freedom to practice religion without discrimination. No rigidification of religious lines is desired by the revolution. No hard and fast religious distribution of political offices and other important jobs is envisioned. The Lebanese model (where the reactionary, quasi-feudalist or commercial capitalist hierarchy divides jobs and offices on the basis of sectarian lines to perpetuate its domination of the masses) is completely alien to the revolution. Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat] reiterated several times that the president of the liberated Palestine could be a Jew, or a Muslim or a Christian not because of his religion or sect but on the basis of his merit as an outstanding Palestinian.

Furthermore religious and ethnic lines clearly cross in Palestine so as to make the term bi-national and the Arab- Jewish dichotomy meaningless, or at best quite dubious. The majority of Jews in Palestine today are Arab Jews - euphemistically called Oriental Jews by the Zionists. Therefore, Palestine combines Jewish, Christian and Muslim Arabs as well as non-Arab Jews (Western Jews).

2. The New Democratic Palestine is NOT a substitute for liberation. Rather, it is the ultimate objective of liberation. A client state in the West Bank and Gaza, an Avneri-style de-Zionized or pasteurised Israel or a Semitic Confederation are all categorically rejected by the revolution. They are all racist blue-prints to delude the Palestinians and other Arabs and continue Israeli hegemony and Palestinian subjugation. They all assume the maintenance of the basic aggression that led to the forced exile of Palestinians and the oppression of the masses. The sine qua non of the New Palestine is the destruction of the political, economic and militarist foundations of the chauvinist-racist settler-state. The maintenance of a technologically-advanced military machine through a continuous Western capital flow and exchange of population have led the expansionist Zionist machinery to perpetuate one aggression after the other. Therefore, liquidation of such machinery is an irreplaceable condition for the creation of the New Palestine.


It is quite logical to expect specific transitional collective accommodations immediately after liberation, and even the few remaining in the normalised Permanent State, i.e. some collective or group privileges besides the pure individual privileges. Jews or non-Jews for that matter, would have the right to practice their religion and develop culturally and linguistically as a group, besides their individual political and cultural participation. It is quite logical for example to have both Arabic and Hebrew as official languages taught in governmental schools to all Palestinians, Jews or non-Jews.

The right of free movement within the country and outside it would be guaranteed. Palestinians desirous of voluntarily leaving the country would be allowed to do so. Immigration would be restricted in a transitional period to the return of all exiled Palestinians desirous of return. In a normal permanent state, however, subject to the agreed upon regulation and the absorptive capacity of the country, immigration would be open without discrimination. Freedom of access, visits and extended pilgrimage and tourism would be guaranteed - subject of course to the normal regulation - to all Jews, Muslims or Christians of the world who consider Palestine a holy place worthy of pilgrimage and meditation.


Several well-intentioned critics maintain that even if the creation of the democratic Palestine is possible, it will not survive for long. Their basic contention is that the population and cultural balance will be heavily favouring the Jews in the new Palestine. This -in their argument - will lead either to an explosive situation, or to the domination of the New Palestine by the Jews and a possible reversion to a neo-Zionist state in disguise. The argument is serious and looks quite plausible given the present setup, and the European Dichotomy of the "Arabs" as a backward group and the "Jews" as a modern one.

As for population, the Jews in Palestine today number 2.5 millions which is compared to 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs (Christians and Muslims) in the occupied territories before 1967 and after it, and in exile. Birth rates and net natural growth rates are higher among Arab Palestinians compared to those for the Jews in Palestine. Immigration, however, has been the major cause of growth in the Jewish ranks. Nevertheless one must consider the fact that 250,000 Jews have permanently left Palestine (emigrated) since 1949 in a period where relative security prevailed. Most of the emigrants were European Jews. Whereas most of the new immigrants were Arab Jews who found it very difficult to stay in their countries after the creation and survival of the aggressor settler-state of Israel.

The process of the revolution will inevitably increase the tempo of emigration, especially of those beneficiaries of a racist state who will find it very difficult to adapt to an open plural society. Parallel to that development will be the increasing modernisation of the Arab countries and toleration of all minorities including the Jewish citizens. Fateh is already engaged in serious negotiations with several Arab countries to allow Jewish emigrants back and to return their property and to guarantee them full and equal rights.

These factors are expected on the whole to maintain relative population balance in Palestine.

The pace of social and educational development is rising rapidly among the Arab Palestinians as well. It is estimated that the number of University Graduates among the Palestinians in exile exceed 50 000. Palestinians have successfully played the role of educators, professionals and technicians in several Arab countries especially those in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

Arab Palestinians faced this cultural challenge in pre-1948 Palestine and managed in the relatively short period of 30 years to compete effectively with the Jews in agriculture, industry, education and even in the field of finance and banking.

Armed with the spirit of a victorious revolution, hopefully in comradeship with a significant number of Jews, the Arabs of Palestine will become effective and equal partners, in the building of the new country.

Integration of Palestine within the Arab region will add to its economic and political viability. The present Arab boycott will obviously be replaced by economic aid and trade, a goal which the settler-state of Israel completely failed to achieve, remaining thus an American ward and protégé during its entire existence.


The Democratic, non-sectarian Palestine still lacks full clarity and elaboration, but this is the best that can be done at this stage in the arduous liberation struggle. The Palestinians have outgrown their bitterness and prejudice in a relatively short-time, through armed struggle. A few years ago, discussing this proposal would have been considered as a complete sell-out or high treason. Even today, some Arabs still find it very difficult to accept the proposed goal and secretly - or publicly - hope that it is nothing more than a tactical propaganda move. Well, it definitely is not so. The Palestinian revolution is determined to fight for the creation of the New democratic and non-sectarian Palestine as the long-term ultimate goal of liberation. Annihilation of the Jews or of the Palestinian exiles and the creation of an exclusive racist or theocratic state in Palestine be it Jewish, Christian or Muslim is totally unacceptable, unworkable and cannot last. The oppressed Palestinian masses will fight and make all needed sacrifices to demolish the oppressor exclusive state.

The Israeli racists are greatly irritated by the idea of a democratic Palestine. It reveals the contradictions of Zionism and bares the moral schizophrenia that besets world Jewry since the creation of Israel. The adoption by several significant progressive Jews of the new goal scares world Zionism. Several of these Jews were threatened and molested by Zionists for their sponsorship of the Democratic Palestine as the ultimate goal of liberation. The Zionists are stepping up their campaign to discredit the idea especially among the Jews. Their effort has been in vain. The force of logic and the effect of years of persecution in exclusive societies at the hands of racists are opening the eyes of Jews and others in the world to the only permanent solution that will bring lasting peace and justice to our Palestine: building a progressive, open, tolerant country for all of us.

From DIALOGUE REVIEW ( www.dialogue-review.com )