Competing Marxisms, Cessation of (Settler) Colonialism, and the One-State Solution in Israel/Palestine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


From 1917 to 1967 Arab nationalism generally, and the PLO specifically, attempted to materialize in the minuscule territory comprising Mandatory Palestine what I term a
‘standard’ anti-colonial struggle vis-à-vis pre-1948 Euro-Zionism and post-1948 Israel,
that is, attempt to de-colonize the homeland along the lines of the Algerian/Vietnamese/Indian struggles whereby invading colonialists are destined to vacate occupied territories.Pre-1967 Palestinian Marxists, Nationalists– and the 1964 PLO Charter itself– did not conceptualize Zionism as a form of settler colonialism: the frame of reference of the anti-colonial struggle was 1917, entertaining a sociopolitical restoration of a 1917 state of(pre-colonial) affairs. For a rainbow of reasons I explain, in 1967 the struggle’s frame of reference changed from 1917 to 1948: Zionism ceased being viewed as a form of ‘standard’ colonialism but was conceptualized now as a form of settler colonialism. The novel challenge was this: how to normalize in the colonized territory the presence of some 2.3 million colonial Israeli settlers without demanding their exit as ‘standard’ anti-colonialism/de-colonization otherwise command. Substituting the anti-colonial FLN model (vis-à-vis Pieds Noirs) with the ANC’s ‘inclusive’
model (vis-à-vis white South Africans) - post-1967 Marxist-Leninist PFLP was now willing to grant Israel’s Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews individual rights as equal citizens of a secular-democratic Palestinian-Arab state,conceptualizing them as members of a religious minority group. Post-1962 Marxist Matzpen viewed this framing as ahistorical because it bypassed the possibility that 100years of friction have socially constructed into the (empirical) Middle East a Hebrew-speaking collectivity that could no longer be conceptualized in individual-liberal terms alone, let alone by Marxist-Leninists.
Matzpen posited that a unified Arab Middle East is unlikely to materialize without granting – and institutionalizing within it – collective sub-state national rights to Kurds, South-Sudanese and Hebrew-speaking Israelis. My analysis explains in detail and depth why, and how precisely, the so-called ‘old’ intra-Marxist PFLP-Matzpen divergence remains potently relevant to 21st century controversies over the vision of a single non-partitioned state in Israel/Palestine, controversies that have chiefly evolved following the 1999 publication of Edward Said’s essay “The One State Solution.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Arab and Jewish Questions
Subtitle of host publicationGeographies of Engagement in Palestine and Beyond
EditorsBashir Bashir, Leila Farsakh
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherColumbia University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780231552998
ISBN (Print)9780231199209
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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