The Yasser Arafat Surrender Ceremony
What Died on the White House Lawn?
– Statement by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement
14 September 1993
On 12 September the whole world was subjected to Yasser Arafat’s surrender ceremony on the White House lawn. The reaction from the Palestinian masses was swift. Anger and a sense of betrayal swept across Palestine, among refugees and all friends of the Palestinian people.
The Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement expresses its resolute and complete opposition to this latest capitulationist agreement and pledges its support to the Palestinian masses in their continuing struggle for a democratic secular state on the entire territory of Palestine. With great trumpets, the U.S. imperialists and the Zionists are proclaiming that the signing of the Israel-PLO agreement means the end of the long struggle of the Palestinian people and the definitive acceptance of Israel’s existence on Palestinian land. They are declaring that this surrender agreement is the reward for the many decades of aggression, occupation, repression and arrogance of the imperialists and of their most faithful attack dog, Israel, in this region.
At the same time, these same reactionary forces are calling on the PLO to fulfill its new role as a policemen repressing the people in the service of imperialism and Zionism.
Many Palestinians are urgently seeking to understand how it is that such a heroic struggle for which so many thousands have given their lives has ended up betrayed. How is it that the PLO, an organisation identified with the struggle of the people, has become little more than an Israeli-backed militia?
In fact, this betrayal was long in the making, long before the hatching of the infamous Madrid conspiracy, and even before the Gulf War or Arafat’s 1988 recognition of the state of Israel.
For two decades now, the Palestinian leadership has been seeking some way to reconcile the struggle of the Palestinian people with the imperialist-imposed "realities" of the Middle East. This way came to be known as the plan for the Palestinian "mini-state" in the West Bank and Gaza, and it was promoted at the time especially by the Soviet Union and those Arab and Palestinian forces aligned with it. This dream of reconciling the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people with imperialism and Zionism was never realisable, not then and not now, for the linchpin of imperialist domination of the Middle East is the dispossession of the Palestinian people and the establishment of the pro-West military outpost known as Israel.
Different Palestinian leaders and tendencies, and different forces among the imperialists and reactionaries themselves, have been divided over what would be the role for the Palestinians in such a mini-state, and especially over whether and how a small section of the Palestinian upper classes would be given the right to share in the exploitation of the people. As long as the imperialist states themselves were sharply divided into the conflicting East and West blocs, it was impossible for the so-called "comprehensive peace plan" to be instituted and shoved down the throat of the people. Now the U.S. feels that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with the punishing example of the Gulf War accomplished, it is finally possible to enforce a Pax Americana on the Middle East, at the expense, of course, of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
Today many forces who have been allied in the past with Yasser Arafat are loudly condemning his betrayal. But the main criticism they raise is not of the Israel-PLO agreement itself, but of the particularly humiliating terms of the agreement. Some are saying, in effect, that abandoning the struggle against Israel, giving up the most basic rights of millions of Palestinians, and coming to an agreement with the imperialist overlords of the region, in short, selling out, is acceptable providing the price is right. Certain Islamic forces claim to be fighting for the complete liberation of Palestine but say nothing about the imperialist powers behind the Zionist state and in fact seek support from the reactionary states of the region.
The revolutionary communist forces can never accept any of this logic. It is impossible to separate the struggle of the Palestinian people for their national liberation from the overall world-wide struggle against imperialism and all reaction. Any attempt to make such a separation cannot help but lead to the kind of shameful humiliation and betrayal that Arafat personifies today.
The great strength of the Palestinian people’s struggle and the support the struggle has received from revolutionary and progressive people around the world has come from the fact that the Palestinian people have been a shock brigade in the international struggle against imperialism and reaction. Today the Palestinians are being asked to turn their back on this proud heritage while Arafat polices the streets and begs the imperialist and Zionists for a bowl of soup.
But the people of Palestine cannot and will not remain meek and silent while others trample on them. As Mao Tsetung put it, "wherever there is oppression, there is resistance". This latest capitulation and whatever new structures of oppression are set up as a result of it will only lead to a new round of resistance.
Today the Palestinian people have the task of defeating Arafat’s capitulation. But it is important that Palestinian revolutionary comrades draw correct conclusions from the many decades of struggle as well as from the series of betrayals. The link between the Palestinian people’s struggle and the world revolutionary process has been deeply strained by the treacherous behaviour of Arafat and others who sought the friendship and support not of the revolutionaries but of the imperialist states (the U.S. or former Soviet Union) and the blood-soaked Arab regimes. This type of leadership is based upon the interests of a minority of exploiters and its class nature makes it drawn like a magnet toward capitulation and betrayal.
It is high time the revolutionaries in Palestine went about building a genuine Marxist-Leninist-Maoist vanguard party. Only such a party is capable of standing up ideologically, politically and organisationally to the threats and bribes of the imperialists and reactionaries. Only such a party can correctly situate the struggle of the Palestinian people as a vital link in a worldwide chain which unites the proletarians and oppressed all over the globe. Only such a party can lead the masses of people in carrying out the long and bitter struggle for genuine national liberation as part of the world proletarian revolution.
The capitulationists claim that the Maoist path is "unrealistic". But as we have said before, what is truly unrealistic is to expect that the Palestinian people can ever achieve justice at the hands of the imperialists and Zionists. The capitulationists say we are for war and not peace. But we know that there will never be peace in the region as long as the imperialists and their Israeli hooligans run roughshod over the people. The capitulationists say that now is the time for construction. But we know as Mao taught us that there can be no construction without destruction. A bright red Palestine, a Palestine of the proletariat and the people, can only be built upon the ashes of imperialism and Zionism.
We pledge the support of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement to the Palestinian people at this difficult moment. Through struggle, this latest attack on the people can be transformed into another nail in the coffin of imperialism and reaction. The capitulationists declare that the revolutionary struggle of the Palestinian people has died with the signing of the Israel-PLO accord. But it is the illusion of a "just settlement" reconciling the just demands of the Palestinian people with imperialism and Zionism that died on the White House lawn.