Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lebanon, Israel, and Class Struggle (Chapter 2: Dwelling on the evolution of Societies)

Chapter 2: Dwelling on the evolution of Societies
The evolution of Lebanon and Israel differ in history. Actually Israel would differ from any neighboring country, and closest thing would be the United States, since both countries involved the expelling of natives in order to be constructed.

Lebanon like all countries has a history. Its people passed through all the eras to arrive towards its current status of a Capitalist nation. Lebanon passed through the citizenship system of the Romans, the feudal era prior to the Ottoman Empire, and evolved into Capitalism by 1860, when the silk factories opened in Mt. Lebanon and the process of urbanization occurred. Even the current Lebanon was not present when the province Mt. Lebanon was carved out, the people interacted within the community and in terms of means of production.

Israel on the other hand didn't experience any of those since they were not present. The Israeli nation existed for 80 years two thousand years ago and already they lived a Diaspora. Israel was a last minute patchwork. By 1920, the British noted that Palestine was not really empty of Arabs as the Zionists claimed. It was made 91% of non-Jews, and 9% of Jews. Two years earlier, the percentage of the Jews was 7% as the Zionists kept importing Jews into Palestine.

Lebanon was subjugated into one form of invasion after another. Actually that area in specific never experienced freedom ever since the Assyrians successfully invaded the separated Phoenician city-republics. Lebanon's means of production remained backward compared to Europe. By 1920, the infrastructure of a modern nation were placed by the French, but still a weak economy that hosts sectarian competition among the leaders kept Lebanon backwards.

Israel from day 1 of its formation emerged a modern nation as the Yishuv were organized in a European style left-wing party. I am not saying the Yishuv were leftists, that would be tackled later. The Zionists had all the modern machinery equipment as they gradually expelled Palestinians and enforced Jewish Labor on Jewish managers. They had all the latest state of the art technology while the majority of the Palestinians who had their homes for 2000 years lacked the means of such advanced production. Actually, the British also stressed on the fact that none of the Palestinian communities advance socially, because that means they will face organized Union oppositions.

Lebanon inherited centuries of social interaction while Israel was simply bringing groups to Palestine just because they are Jews and patching them up over there in terms of Labor. Israel was an enforced culture of "restoring the land of our ancestors" which is really illogical. It is as if asking the Indians in the United States to demand the restoration of their land which Europe colonialized to harvest its gold and raw materials.

While the French mandate was oppressive regarding military means towards Lebanon, by 1936, the Haganah (later to become the IDF) were receiving officially and unofficially military training under the command of Wingate. By 1939, the Zionists secretly began to develop the means of production of weaponry, in terms of rifles and grenades while extensively smuggled arms from Easten Europe behind the eyes of the hand that fed them: the British.

Palestine under the Mandate experienced such biased attitudes from the British towards the Arabs. The Zionists were technically left alone to do what they want except exceeding the line in promoting 100% free "Jewish" Palestine... ie Palestine without the Palestinians. It is empirical to distinguish Palestine before 1948 and Israel afterwards. The Zionists in Palestine had every mean of communication and media available. Actually they were given the freedom to write, unlike the Palestinians. They were already fully active on a global scale in terms of the Zionist circles to promote their "cause" of colonialism. They already established contacts with the Germans and the British during World War I, as competition between both fighting sides were promising assistance to win Palestine to their cause. Whether Germany or the British Empire, both were giving the Zionists promises. Actually some members of the parlaiment in Britain expressed dissatisfaction that the Palestinians and the Arabs lacked the means to express themselves in order to hear their side of the story.

Lebanon barely had any of the media means that the Zionists had. They underwent an enlightenment revolution back in the 19th century, and till early 20th century it became targeted by Europe and the United States as an education center. The competition was not out of love to the Lebanese people of course, rather sectarian competition between the Catholics and Protestants among the elites outside. al-Nahhar started publishing, but the closest organization was the Communists in Lebanon. By 1910, the word Socialist was translated into Arabic as "Ishtiraki", as the ideas of Marx and Lenin started arriving more extensively. The 1917 Bolshevik revolution has even encouraged the Communists to be more organized. What helped the Communists in Lebanon is the arrival of the Armenians escaping the Genocide carried by the hands of the Turks. On May Day, 1925, the first well organized Lebanese party was formed, in a demonstration of 7000 workers of all sects demanding their rights in the face of the French Imperialists. That night, it saw the birth of the Communist Party which was a merge between the Lebanese and Syrian communists with the Armenian Spartacus League headed by Artur Madayan. The first Union cell prior to that was in Bikfaya: the Tobacco Union.
By 1945, the Zionists shifted allegiance from the British to the United States as the US emerged the greatest victorious nation with most powerful military weaponry. The USA became the defender of Israel, while the Zionists already got Stalin head over heels to them as well in order to achieve regional control. Funny thing that Lenin and Trotsky opposed all forms of nationalism, and to Trotsky, it was Zionism. Lenin once expressed his opinion on Zionism and called it the "biggest superstition."

The Proletariat in that sense in Lebanon underwent class struggle as Bourgeoisie elites struggled for sectarian power. In the case of the Zionists, they did not have any clashes. The worse case was the Split between the Zionists and Revisionists, whereby the latter were even more extreme and racists. The Jewish Proletariat were already either brainwashed or blackmailed to integrate them into the project Israel. The control over importing Jewish workers to Palestine made it easier to the Zionists elites to control Palestine. Lebanon was too involved in sectarian struggles among the Sect leaders, even though the Communists and Syrian Nationalists were growing strong.

Knowing this brief introduction about Lebanon and Israel, even though it is a sudden Nation, much more sudden than Lebanon since its goal was to bring forth Jews from all over the world to Palestine, while the Lebanese simply interacted in the new borders. It is obvious that Israel had the upper hand than not only Lebanon, but all its neighbors. It had already abused the Holocaust to support its argument to commit another Holocaust on the Palestinians. It already got the non-stop imperial support from advanced countries, and more support would come whenever this entity is threatened. In the end, the Zionists were a colonialist force, Lebanon was a colonized nation. Israel was a success of a European style Colonialism, Lebanon was a victim of all forms of Colonialism, and still is a pawn of regional power play. Saying all this, the Proletariat in Palestine despite religion and Lebanon paid the price.
Read Chapter 1: Background here


Renegade Eye said...

The Palestinian's can only get statehood, in a secular socialist state, with equal rights for Hebrew and Arabic speakers.

Questions as water rights, can't be worked out, in a capitalist framework.

Angry Anarchist said...

Comrade MFL, have you checked out Musa Budeiri's "The Palestine Communist Party 1919-1948: Arab & Jew in the Struggle for Internationalism" ? It's a really good book. If you haven't read it, let me know, I will provide you an e-copy of it. :)

troutsky said...

Thanks for the detailed work in providing background information.The masses in the West are given little historical context for these crises and conflicts.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

More than welcomed Comrade Troutsky and please do my lovely Anarchy


Jim Jay said...

Hi MFL, came here via Renegade Eye - this is all great stuff, keep up the good work.

Can I ask you a question - in the UK (and probably elsewhere) you hear that Israel is "the only democracy in the middle east" from the right and its really started to get on my nerves.

Israel's claims to be a democracy are obviously paper thin - but I'm interested as to how close to what I guess are "Western Democratc norms" other middle eastern states come.

I assume you know mostly about Lebanon - but feel free to drop in stuff about other ME countries.

For instance lots of ME regimes have an elected palriament of some kind - including Iran and Kuwait - how easy is it for opposition parties to organise relatively unhindered?

What about independent trade unions? And other anti-oppression movements like gay liberation - how easy is it to be gay in Lebanon?

You mentioned elsewhere a campaign for secular marriage - did it succeed and how strong was that movement?

Sorry for such a long post and all the questions, not meaning to be cheeky.

MarxistFromLebanon said...

I will gladly reply to you regarding those, afterall I am doing Interational Relations for my masters :)

Again Thank you for your notes :)

Angry Anarchist said...

Jim Jay, there is no real democracy anywhere. Anyway, democracy is overrated. The tyrrany of the majority (and in the Middle East often the tyranny of the minority). The only way out is to choose no tyranny at all.

Jim Jay said...

anarchist... sure - there is no real democracy but two quick points.

First I want the info to help understand what it's like to be politically active in the ME and to be armed with facts when the right want to say how great Israel is compared to other ME countries

and second - I don't think it's a zero sum game. It makes a difference if you can be shot for being a trade unionist, like in columbia, or unions can exist without *that level* of haressment

Until we have democratic control of the economy we can't have democracy - but it doesn't make it meaningless whether we have an elected parliament or live in a dictatorship... in my view.

lila said...
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