Comrade Khaled Yamani of the Palestinian Youth Organization delivered the following paper at the Anti-Imperialist Youth of World Conference in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2014:
Confrontation of the Zionist/Imperialist Project in the Arab Region
Imperialism is the main enemy of the people. Imperialism stems from multiple sources, and not only one; while the largest, most influential, sophisticated and aggressive is U.S. imperialism, which may conflict and struggle over interests with other imperialisms, this does not mean that other imperialisms are an ally for our struggle. It also does not mean that all imperialisms are equal; clarity in what is our primary struggle, against U.S. imperialism, will only deepen the conflicts between U.S. imperialism and other imperialist forces.
In order to build on our clarity around this concept, we must turn to look at the role that we should play in practice: challenging illusions of peace with the Zionist state and exposing the terrorism of U.S. imperialism in its drive to control the Arab world and Central Asia (the expanded area labelled the “Middle East”) in order to control the oil markets in order to exercise its dominance over the world.
We are at war with imperialism, which is led by the U.S. state terror, with the Zionist state playing an organic and critical role, and supported by other imperialist states. These forces have the goal of destroying all of the progress that has been achieved in our region since independence and decolonization, which is illustrated by the destruction of infrastructure, and the overall economy, in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. This comes in addition of the promotion of sectarian conflict in order to dismantle and undermine social structures and social cohesion in targeted societies. While its control is incomplete, imperialism exploits these conflicts to keep us suppressed, disadvantaged and disunited, because this is the situation most advantageous to imperialism’s achieving control and perpetuating occupation.
The imperialist Zionist occupation entity
The primary objective of the Zionist invasion was to transplant a human base to undergird imperialist armed might, to confront and push back the Arab liberation movement, which constitutes a major threat to the interests of imperialism, which seeks victory in this vital region of the world. It is not true that the Zionist movement was a result of the persecution of Jews in Europe, and there is no true separation between the plans of the Zionist movement and those of imperialism for the region. There is a strategic cohesion between “Israel” and the Zionist movement and global imperialism. The battle with the Zionist entity is key to the overall conflict in the region: between the masses on the one hand, and global imperialism on the other hand.
The Palestinian revolutionary forces raise the slogan: “No coexistence with Zionism.” The end of the Zionist entity is necessary in order to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region. Zionism requires a serious response and confrontation equal or greater in measure to the imperialists’ promotion of the Zionist entity in the region.
This approach must be fundamental and constant in our discourse – especially of the Arab left, and must be at the base of building our strategy of confrontation. Our independence, development and unity as Arabs will not be achieved except through struggle, force, and power. The achievement of social progress is in fact a battle against the imperialist/Zionist juggernaut. Our well-being as a society is not possible without struggle and victory against the imperialist powers.
This is the basis of a clear strategy to build resistance, but it also requires the achievement of internal change in order for it to become possible to build a force that is capable of implementing this strategy and achieving its aims. Thus, the overlap of internal and external conflicts: we cannot build power and strength to confront imperialism with the ongoing presence of internal groups attached to the imperialist project. At the same time, we cannot overlook or minimize the direct threat from imperialism and Zionism engaging in wars against us, seeking control and occupation.
The development of a strategy to resist the imperialist/Zionist project in our region and the world must take into account the following:
1. There has become one battle, from Palestine, to Iraq, to all Arab countries. This struggle is intertwined with that of the peoples of Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, as well as Latin American nations and the rest of the world in general. The Palestinian people are standing on the front lines, and struggling in the trench of the various oppressed peoples and classes affected by the colonial capitalist system, in the struggle of the people in the greater battle against imperialism and its associated forces.
2. Palestinians and the Arab world must note that the Zionist state is an organic part of the politics of imperialism, a colonial settler entity, and an army of “mercenaries” to confront the movement and development of Arab progress. It is an economic center for the corporations of monopoly capitalism and imperialism. We affirm the illegitimacy and illegality of the racist Zionist entity and refuse all attempts to view it as a natural and normal state permanently accepted in the Arab region. The natural, former, present and future relationship of the Arab region with this entity is the relationship between the resistance and the dismantling of the occupation and the settlement. The primary contradiction in our region is between the Arab liberation project on the one hand and imperialism, Zionism and their projects on the other hand. This conflict cannot be resolved by any settlement that leaves imperialism and Zionism in place; it is a struggle until victory.
Any project that includes the integration of this entity in the Arab region is a project of domination that must be resisted. It is necessary to resist normalization of relations at all levels throughout the Arab world; normalization is an important mechanism to install and uphold Zionist hegemony. It is also essential to uphold the right of return of the Palestinian Arab people to their homeland, to their cities of villages of origin, as an absolute, unconditional, personal and collective right that is inalienable, and no authority is entitled or authorized to bargain or waive that right in any form. We emphasize here the Arab character of this right, as it is part of the Arab liberation project.
3. We must rebuild our society on the basis of resistance and the need to build democratic systems that represent the popular classes, in order to confront the imperialist Zionist schemes. We are concerned as revolutionary leftists that all projects of renaissance, renewal and resistance must be centered in the popular classes, in order to defeat capitalism and its subsidiaries who hold authority, and to confront and defeat the Zionist imperialist project.
4. Dependence on the so-called “international legitimacy” reflects and demonstrates imperialist hegemony and U.S. domination of the world. It is this supposed legitimacy that allows these forces to deny and disregard the natural, historical and moral rights of the people of the world. Legitimacy instead must be measured by the people’s right to accept or reject international resolutions approved by the imperialist powers engaged in a global war against the people.
5. In order to form and activate the front of resistance to imperialism and Zionism, in our case, the Palestinian struggle with the imperialist Zionist occupation, we must ask ourselves important questions. (How can the resistance intensify contradictions and class fissures in the Zionist occupier society? What is the tool best suited for pressure to escalate these contradictions?) Certainluy the answer is: The most effective and appropriate tool is the resistance, and the popular liberation war in all of its forms, and at the head, armed resistance. The only language that is understood by the enemy is that of revolutionary violence. The armed struggle is the principal approach that will make our land a key battlefield to the victory in the long struggle against the occupation and its attempts to liquidate our cause. With the masses and their conviction to achieve their goals of liberation at the forefront, this strategy ensures the resistance will achieve its objectives by multiplying the losses of the enemy and inflicting economic losses. The embrace of the resistance fighters who engage in armed struggle and revolutionary violence by the masses is a protective shield so that the enemy cannot isolate them or truly prepare to cope with their strikes.
6. Based on our understanding that the concept of the national democratic revolution is a scientific concept closely associated with the class struggle and national struggle, it is a revolution of national liberation and resistance to the presence of imperialism and Zionism, in order to end their presence in our nation. At the same time and place, there is a democratic revolution against despotic regimes of exploitation and dependency, that continues the struggle for complete liberation and sovereignty in economy, politics, culture and all of the issues of our people which primarily target the poor, the oppressed and the workers. Our vision of development is based on the principle of independent development, self-reliance, revolution and popular democracy. In our current condition as an Arab nation, the basis of revolution is a commitment to a vision and a program that reflects the interests and goals of workers, poor peasants, and the poor and oppressed masses, and it is from this understanding that we confront rulers.
Liberation requires liquidation of the comprador economic structure, the abolition of the domination of the market in the economic field and of the domination of right-wing neoliberalism in the economic, social and cultural spheres on a superstructural level. This means restructuring and building institutions of cultural and social resistance in line with the class interests of the masses of workers, poor and oppressed peoples, and hard and dedicated work to abolish social, economic and cultural backwardness and oppression, and to build instead on foundations of progress, enlightenment and democracy. Industrial and economic development must be planned, on the basis of equal opportunity, in order to provide a minimum income that ensures security for the people, meeting the needs of workers and the poor, and must come alongside the development of healthcare, social security, and cultural programs to serve the people, meet the needs of the masses, and achieve the principles of revolutionary social justice.
7. On the importance and role of youth in revolution and social justice: there is no doubt that the youth represents a significant and distinct social group in various communities. They are strong and vital, and constitute an important source of prosperity, progress, development and sustainability in the community. When young people are absent from the social arena, the signs of stagnation and decline, accelerate toward collapse.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of young people as a force of social change is that they are, in general, the most ambitious group in a community. The process of change and progress does not stop, and any political party, youth organization or social group seeking political and social change must prioritize attracting the energies of young people and employing these energies toward specific goals.
There is a consensus that the power of youth is a double-edged sword, youth are innovative, creative, and productive if they are supported and are given strength and investment; but with no investment and engagement, they can become an unproductive sector if society fails to deal with its problems and find effective solutions. Young people as a resource depend in the first and last place on the willingness of the community, with all of its components, to support them at various levels, economically, socially, politically, culturally, intellectually and otherwise.
Young people are an important social force and a key sector in this community, and this sector has the means to win in the battle for change. There are many examples of this; the world felt the importance of the youth and students for decades in the countries of the developing world, where the vanguard of revolutionary youth in the national liberation movements led their countries to freedom from colonialism.
It is also the responsibility of leftist forces to take up the task of promoting and deepening awareness of a national culture of democracy among young people, of accommodating the advances of society, and bringing together cultural, national and human projects to defend a democratic and revolutionary culture to confront obscurantist, narrow-minded and oppressive extremist cultural projects. The national democratic identity, affiliation and culture is one that inspires among youth national commitment and democratic vision based on the history and struggle of Arab liberation movements, and leftist liberatory goals.
The Left and Marxist parties and the forces of the Arab left must push to crystallize a new policy that reflects the aspirations of Arab youth. This comes first through political programs and organizing of young people, that express the concerns, interests and aspirations of young people themselves and the challenges they confront at the domestic and external levels, along with attention to the issues of democracy, freedom and social justice. This also means taking up economic struggle; there is a high unemployment rate among youth in the Arab world, in some places over 50%, in addition to issues of education, literacy and health care, which should be at the forefront of daily struggles and party programs. The state of poverty, underdevelopment, illiteracy, the absence of democracy and the suppression of individual and collective freedoms in the Arab world are the results of the dominance of imperialism and the control of the Arab reactionary regimes associated with it, which are one of the key barriers to advancing the Arab national project. The continuation of this deteriorating situation only furthers the continuation of imperialist hegemony and that of its reactionary and bourgeois allies among the Arab ruling class.
8. The liberation of women is a prerequisite to the liberation of our society. Arab women confront two intertwined persecutions, social injustice and discrimination; and Arab women are a full partner in life and share fully in the daily suffering and struggle at all levels. Arab women must be supported to contribute fully as members and leaders of leftist organizations and youth movements, and our organizations must struggle for the liberation of Arab women, at political, social and class levels.
The elimination of imperialist hegemony, exploitation and capitalist greed, and the defeat of global imperialism and its military, economic and cultural control over our countries, which produces extreme poverty, widespread unemployment, hunger, and destruction in poor and developing nations and regional ethnic conflicts, will not occur, and victory over the imperialist onslaught will not be achieved, except through the formation of a democratic global movement to confront imperialism and its consequences, and seek dialogue between the peoples of the world on an equal basis, away from the policy of annexation, subordination and domination.
Palestinian Youth Organization