First Published: Morning Freiheit, November 9, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxist Internet Archive as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Editor Note: The writer of this article is the secretary of Kibbutz Yad Ghana and a leader of the Israel Communist Opposition (Aki).
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The question of a correct attitude to the recently concluded Interim Agreement between Israel and Egypt can serve as an example of the complexity of the political problems that face the left and the peace forces in Israel. The partial withdrawal by the Israeli Army from occupied territory in the Sinai agreed upon by Israel, the commitment of both sides to try to solve disputed problems by peaceful means, the link, though vague, between this agreement and the Geneva Conference for a general settlement of the Middle East conflict, are all positive aspects. At the same time, the resulting firmer foothold of United States interests and influence in the region, especially in Israel and Egypt, and the various designs to create disunity among the Arab states so as to brake the dynamics of the liberation process of the area from foreign domination, are negative features of this Interim Agreement.
What, then, is the correct attitude for peace advocates in this situation? Should the agreement be rejected per se and completely? But then the question should be posed as to what would have been the alternative to this agreement in the existing circumstances and relations of forces? It can be assumed with certainty that a continuation of the political stalemate would have generated another shooting war in the future. Could the peace forces in Israel be “neutral” in the face of such a prospect? Moreover, what of the rabid opposition to the Interim agreement by the right-wing annexationists who denounced as treason even this modest withdrawal in the Sinai? Isn’t it a positive thing to prove to the Israeli public that has been brainwashed for years in the opposite direction, that withdrawal means progress towards peace, that there exist forces in the Arab world who declare their readiness to advance towards peace if Israel is willing to renounce its territorial conquests?
At the present stage of the political struggle for Israeli-Arab peace the practical, realistic alternatives are either to side with the camp which favors agreements with the Arab states and this includes partial withdrawals from occupied lands, or support for the camp which rejects any agreement with any Arab state and refuses to return any occupied areas. Can a consistent peace-fighter be neutral when faced by this choice and not by another imaginary one, can he afford not to use any grain of influence he might have to help increase the majority opposing the annexationist, chauvinist and clerical reaction? Would such an ultra-radical, “principled” stand help to develop the struggle for a better agreement, or would it not alienate from the peace camp many ordinary, peace-loving Israelis who still follow the government line? True, the Interim Agreement should be assessed realistically for its merits as well as for its defects and it has many of the latter.
Marxists who are neither opportunists nor hopeless sectarians should help to beat back the rabid attacks of the extreme rightist annexationist forces who now constitute the main danger. Then we can proceed to expose the shortcomings and reactionary undercurrents of this Agreement and also organize the struggle to recognize the just national rights of the Palestinian people, for a full withdrawal from all occupied territories and for curbing United States intervention in the Middle East.
What is the essence of political activity as opposed to mere preaching? Is it not to work to change reality in the desired direction, to the greatest extent possible at any given stage of the struggle?... Basing itself on this attitude AKI issued the following brief statement on the very day of the signing of the Interim Agreement, This statement, while not antagonizing those moderate circles who favored the agreement in its entirety, is meant to push forward their thinking to the next, more advanced level. This is its wording:
“Unity Against the Assault of the Annexationist Right-Wing is the Demand of the Hour!
“In the face of the assault of the Right, let us forge the unity of all the realistic forces which strive for peace and agreement between Israel and its neighbors.
“The Rightist opponents of the Interim Agreement concluded: Don’t aim at any agreement whatsoever but at keeping the territorial conquests! Thus they seek to perpetuate a situation producing permanent danger of war.
“The Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be settled by deepening U.S. involvement, but by a readiness of the concerned parties to mutually recognize the rights of both peoples, of the Israeli and of the Palestinian Arab people.
“A partial agreement may constitute a step towards peace if it implies a readiness to go to Geneva, to a Conference at which the Soviet Union and the United States participate, and a readiness to withdraw from the occupied areas and to respect the United Nations Security Council Resolutions No. 242 and No. 338. This is the path to establish a peace which will do justice to all the peoples of our region.”
The Secretariat AKI (Israel Communist Opposition) August 28, 1975.”