After Netanyahu’s meeting with Donald Trump
Blogpost by Jeff Halper, 16 February 2017
I suppose I should chime in with my comments about yesterday’s meeting between Trump and Netanyahu. To be honest, my heart’s not in it. This is the first post I’ve put up in a month — since before the inauguration. It has nothing to do with me personally, but with a malaise I’m feeling — NOT because of Trump or Netanyahu, but because I feel we could beat them and aren’t really trying. I feel so isolated politically.
I don’t mean “isolated politically” in terms of being part of a larger political community. Regarding my views on Trump I’m part of what is probably an overwhelming global majority, and am certainly heartened by the outpouring of protest in the US itself. I am isolated in Israel, of course, as is our tiny peace movement, but, again, if I look out at the world, I find myself part of a large and vibrant community of people struggling for a just peace in Palestine/Israel.
Why, then, do I feel isolated politically? Perhaps I’ve always taken the Left, the grassroots, the People — myself — too seriously as political actors. In all my political work over the decades, though, from the civil rights and anti-war campaigns of the ’60s in the US through the Israel-Palestine issue, I always saw myself — us — as political actors. I’ve participated in hundreds of protests, campaigns and marches, and I’ve engaged in many acts of physical acts of resistance, most recently in rebuilding Palestinian homes demolished by Israel and sailing into Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement to break the siege — all of which have gotten me arrested (though my racial, class, gender and ethnic privilege has always protected me). I did so, however, because I saw these forms of protest as effective means of actually achieving political goals. And in some cases they were.
I’m now involved in two significant struggles (for want of a better word): for a genuinely just peace in Palestine/Israel and, much broader but still connected, trying to help forge a more just, peaceful and inclusive post-capitalist world. Both in my mind are achievable, and I am encouraged by the depth of analysis and the mass movements that support these ends. But…and here’s where my feeling of political isolation comes in… I can’t seem to find others who see themselves as political actors and not merely commentators or protestors.
My mantra for several years now — and I KNOW it has alienated me from the Israeli and Palestinian peace camps — is that without an end-game to advocate for, we may protest and BDS, but we are not political actors. We may protest Israel’s policies, but when Netanyahu gets up to spoon-feed a clueless Trump, there is no programmatic pushback. Even when Trump blithely and, again, cluelessly releases the “one state” genie from the bottle — probably the first time an American president ever mouthed those words — there was no one-state program that we who KNOW that is the only solution to raise up and exploit the unexpected space Trump gave us.
Worse, without a just political alternative of our own to push for, nothing is standing in the way of Israeli apartheid over the entire country, of the judaization of Palestine. We protest, of course, we BDS against Soda Stream and Hewlitt-Packard and Bruce Stringsteen performing in Israel, but to what end? What are we BDS-ing for? (and don’t tell me to “end the Occupation”; that is a goal, not a political program). My feeling of isolation comes from the fact that there is no genuine movement for liberation empowered by a end-game among either Palestinian or Israelis. Its as if we don’t see ourselves as political actors, we really don’t think we can prevail, so why offer a solution of our own? And the more I rail about what I consider a strategic flaw — especially since I believe we could actually win given all the mobilizable forces abroad that are just waiting for their marching orders from us — the more I piss off my erstwhile partners.
Same, in a way, on the global level. We protest Trump and are mortified by the Hillary Democrats and the neoliberal liberals in power in much of the world, but what are we offering? Have we ever sat down to articulate what a post-capitalist world would look like (beyond worn socialist formulas)? Can we transform marches and protests into genuinely global movements of change with clear, achievable visions, goals, strategies and organization? I’d love to be a part of that, to contribute in my own modest way. But I don’t see one effective POLITICAL group/movement/party out there that could be that vehicle.
So my sense of isolation — and my growing disinterest in FB posting. We have enough analysis and anger and complaints to fuel ten revolutions. But without direction, a program and organization — at least a global network — we’re just spinning our wheels. Maybe that’s it: I’m tired of spinning my wheels.