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.”