The Palestinian question, the Kurdish movement and the Turkish left

By Kenan Kalyon

If one first cursorily glances at the Palestinian question, one can analyse it very simply as a “national question” of a well known kind: it shows almost all the features that are specific to a national struggle since, basically, two peoples exist. One of them is oppressed, the other one is the oppressor. The Palestinian nation has been fighting for decades for its right to self-determination and it has repeatedly been granted that right by international legal bodies.

According to a well known argument, there is one single, straightforward solution: the oppressor people must recognise the right of the oppressed people along with all the consequences and independent Palestine must be created on the Gaza and West Bank territories to join in the family of States existing around the world. The Turkish Left considers that the solution is that simple. If, however one gives the Palestinian solution a more in-depth examination, one can perceive that such simplification is – in this case – incorrect, and that the Palestinian question belongs to quite a different category than other national questions. Why?

First, we are facing not a regional but a “universal” question. “Universal” because it is neither an Arab versus Israeli conflict, nor a conflict which would simply be tied to the status of Jerusalem (for the three religions).

This question is actually based on a global, especially Western, question: the “Jewish question”. During the process of formation of Nation-States that saw nationalisms gain ground, the Jews became the chosen targets of the mounting bourgeoisies. They were repressed, turned out of their homes, systematically destroyed. The Dreyfus trial took place even in a country with a revolutionary, secular and republican tradition such as France. In many countries, hostility against the Jews turned into the mounting wave of racism and fascism. We know much about the Holocaust implemented by the Nazis. Zionism put this curse to use in order to become a majority trend among the Jews, which led to the foundation of the Israeli State.

Thus, as the Western world had failed to solve its own “Jewish question”, and above all, had exported it abroad, the Jewish populations turned to the task of finding a new homeland. And thus it was that the Palestinians were preyed on in their turn by the Jews. The Palestinian question is a universal question for just that reason.

In that framework, we must give a radical answer to the following question: is the State of Israel legitimate? Can a State that deprives a people of its homeland be legitimate? What is the root of the legitimacy of that State which continues to systematically settle colonists in territories on to which it relentlessly expands? The more so a it is a Theocratic State?

From that point flows the most important assertion: the two state-solution cannot solve the Palestinian question either in the present or in the future. A State in which Gaza and the West Bank could only be linked through a corridor shrinking to the limitations imposed by the Hebrew State. A State carved up into cantons. A State were drinking water resources are controlled by the Israeli State. A State where the State of Israel can pick and choose the people it needs. Such a Palestinian “State” is no genuine state and cannot possibly survive. The solution to the problem lies with a “South Africa-like” method, which the leaders of the Hebrew State and their imperialist allies refuse to heed. The solution only lies with a single, secular, State which accepts the return of all the refugees on their native land.

But, for such a State to be founded, two indispensable and indivisible pre-requisites have to be met. On the one hand, the demise of the Zionist State; on the other hand the issue of the emergence – on the Palestinian side - of a secular and revolutionary current capable of inspiring those movements which, inside the Israeli State, are fighting for the dissolution of the Zionist State. Unless those two pre-requisites are met, the Palestinian question will remain in an impasse.

The two State-solution, which actually means building a “nation” on religious and ethnic criteria to determine who is a citizen, can only be quite a sick and reactionary way of forming a “nation”. Should such be the case, the two States will continue being hostile to each other and no peace will be possible.

If we speak of the impasse of the Palestinian question, we should also pay some attention to the Kurdish question. On the basis of the solution to the Palestinian question, in Turkey, the Kurdish movements proposes the following solution: “For a democratic republic of Turkey”.

Should we not wonder at the Turkish left's lack of interest in that proposal?

Kenan Kalyon is the leader of the Workers' Socialist Movement.

The present article is an excerpt from issue N° 1762 of BIRGÜN daily (February 10th 2009) reproduced in Dialogue with the author's permission

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