Clara Fraser, co-founder of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, addressed this statement to the Northern California Conference of Liberal and Progressive Jewish Intellectuals, held Nov. 11–12, 1989, in San Francisco.
Her reference to Shamir is to Yitzhak Shamir, who served two terms as Israeli prime minister from 1983–1984 and 1986–1992. In his earlier history, Shamir led organizations that perpetrated massacres and assassinations to further the Zionist cause and drive Palestinians from what is now Israel. As prime minister, he vowed to populate the occupied Palestinian territories with Jewish settlers “to the end of the horizon.” Fraser’s statement is published in her book Revolution, She Wrote, available at redletterpress.org. More essays by Fraser can be found at socialism.com.
As a daughter and defender of the great radical and humanist Jewish tradition, I extend greetings to this conference on behalf of myself and my organization, the Freedom Socialist Party.
We applaud your stance against Shamir and against Israel’s Palestinian policy. And we urge you to go even further — to say no to the Zionist myth.
World Jewry must face the truth that Israel’s horrifying treatment of Palestinian people is no aberration but the direct and inexorable product of expropriating Arab land for an exclusive Jewish state.
A mockery of Judaism
Too many Jews, for too long, have denied the harsh underpinnings of Zionism.
How else could they be surprised by the intifadeh, embarrassed by Israel’s iron-fisted response, or shocked by Israeli development of nuclear missiles for South Africa and provision of military training to Colombian drug dealers?
And now the Israeli army has become a brutal tax collector that forces the West Bank town of Beit Sahur to pay for its own occupation — a travesty against centuries of Jewish resistance to unjust, antisemitic taxes.
Deathtrap for Jews
Israel is not, has never been, and can never be a safe refuge for Jews.
Jewish nationalism has provoked interminable war and a looming replay of the holocaust.
Indeed, how could Jewish freedom ever be gained as long as anti-Arab racism is so endemic among Zionists? This virulent racism blinds Israel’s supporters to the real nature of Israel: a colonial outpost of the imperialists and an expansionist country.
Israel has leapt into the role of permanent military aggressor, a U.S. pawn in suppressing the Arab liberation struggle, and best friend to bloody dictatorships around the world.
Stubborn ethnocentric refusal to make common cause with Palestinian Arabs can only end in disaster for Jews. As our own tortured history so eloquently teaches, passion for freedom and justice cannot for long be silenced or smashed.
For a future worthy of our past
Jews used to have a proud history of support for the dispossessed.
But ever since Israel crystallized into an exclusively Jewish state, all Jews are branded with the mark of the oppressor.
Dissent and turmoil are ballooning among Jews in Israel today, and American Jews like ourselves must intervene in the debate. We must differentiate ourselves from Jews who behave like Nazis. We must condemn both the Pentagon’s agenda in the Middle East and Israel’s tyrannical occupation forces.
And we must explain that the essence of the matter is not simply occupation or withdrawal from the West Bank. In the final analysis, the only salvation for Palestine is a bilateral, integrated, secular, and socialist Jewish/Arab state with full rights for Jews, Palestinians, women and non-European Jews.
This conference has an historic opportunity to unearth the vibrant roots of Jewish internationalism and humanitarianism. We believe this is the only road to Jewish survival, to the flourishing of our rich culture and creativity.
The afflicted must help each other; it is written.