Tito’s partisans and events in Palestine

Friday 20 February 2009 by CEPRID

by Alberto Cruz, CEPRID

The recent massacre carried out by 21st century would-be Nazis under the auspices of Israel’s Zionist regime, has again shown the persistence of the neither-nors, an old tradition of one sector supposedly of the left wing. On public demonstrations and in written analysis and commentary this significant sector has affected indignation at the Israeli-perpetrated massacre in Gaza but made clear they are as much against Hamas as they are against Israeli aggression.

They are the people who did the same when they demonstrated against the war in Iraq at the start of 2003, carefully avoiding identification with the government of Saddam Hussein. Or those who in the summer of 2006 criticised Israel for razing southern Lebanon at the same time as embracing any and every way of distancing themselves from Hizbollah.

And now they have done the same thing again. However far from being angelic beings, these neither-nors show who they prefer with their type of argument by giving equal weight to the aggressor and the victim, putting oppressor and oppressed on an equal footing, ignoring the oppression itself. Most importantly of all, like the Zionists and their allies, they trash international law and the history of peoples.

So, while it may be repeating the obvious, perhaps it is worth looking back into History with capital letters, a look that gives this article its title. Noteworthy, certainly, provocative if you like, but at the same time very clear about linking the struggle for national and social liberation by Tito’s partisans in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia with the struggle of the Palestinian organizations, especially in Gaza. In fact, one could say that any semblance to reality is actually something much more than a similarity. It is a strong coincidence.

The invasion of Yugoslavia lasted twelve days. Once the Nazis controlled the country they proceeded to dismember it politically and accentuate the confrontations between Yugoslavia’s different component peoples. The Croats were treated gently, so much so that the Nazis permitted a puppet government controlled by the Croat Ustaze fascists, giving them every kind of help, including military help. This government deployed the troops and paramilitary forces the Germans had allowed them to keep against the Resistance to the Nazis. Nobody was safe. Any anti-Nazi resistance person was systematically detained, abused, tortured and murdered. The victims of Ustaze savagery ran into the tens of thousands. That lead the Serbs to organize around Drazha Mihailovic, a fervently anti-Communist, former monarchist colonel who could not have cared less about the social or economic difficulties caused by the Occupation.

Mihailovic was such a moderate he did not carry out military activities worth the name against the German occupiers, waiting instead for other people’s efforts to clear the way for him so that after the German withdrawal, with his forces practically undamaged, the victorious powers would turn to him to take over Yugoslavia. This Serb Chetnik spent the whole war seeking recognition from the allied powers - and he got it - as the leader of the insurgency, not hesitating to make contact with the German Occupiers to sound out some kind of cooperation in the face of the ever increasing and most significant and serious part of the Yugoslav resistance, Tito’s partisans.

Josip Broz, "Tito", was the very opposite of Mihailovic. A Communist Party member, he spoke simultaneously of social revolution and of national liberation, offering a political argument to the Serb people that the Chetnik collaborationists did not even contemplate. His offer of carrying out joint actions with Mihailovic fell on deaf ears and even lead to armed confrontation with the Chetniks who already collaborated openly with the Germans, suffering a decisive defeat that was to change Yugoslavia. From then on it became clear there was only one resistance to the occupation of Yugoslavia, even to the Western powers, who began to send “liaison officers” to the partisans.

Tito’s partisans suffered and resisted no less than seven major German offensives. The Nazi aim was to wipe out Tito’s resistance and they did so systematically. Nothing stopped them, not women, nor children nor the old or wounded. But the partisans resisted again and again. One of those liaison officers sent by the British relates in his memoirs, “Partisan tactics were conceived as the reflection of the enemy and the special style of their action explained the miracle of their survival. The partisans moved along ever contracting internal lines. With light arms, familiar with the terrain, trained to act on instinct in small isolated groups, their units were able to elude heavily invested enemy encirclements.”

But along side the military action, the Yugoslav resistance led by Tito’s communists placed great stress on the administration of what was going to be their State. They produced arms. They supplied the population in areas under their control with food and other necessary supplies – when they were able to – and they set up their own postal system. They even put an old cigarette factory into production, the famous “Red Star” cigarettes that became the most effective propaganda weapon of the resistance.

Perhaps well aware of this history, the Israeli generals ordered the bombardment of the only ice-cream factory in Gaza so as to stop any child that tasted one – if they had the good fortune to survive the bombardments – from implicitly recognizing the Hamas government in the Strip

There were few neither-nors in the Second World War. But if there had been, there would have been those who assigned equal blame to Tito’s partisans – who did not follow the rules in combat – and the Nazi occupiers. So they would occupy a comfortable position like Mihailovic or the two-faced Roman god Janus : apparently a resister, in practice a collaborator.

Like it or not, in the case of the recent massacre in Gaza, the neither-nors have acted in the same way. They have condemned the launching of rockets from Gaza which are no more than a dramatic way of calling attention to the siege in which the neither-nors have collaborated and then they have referred to the Israeli “response” as “disproportionate”

If these neither-nors knew what they were talking about, one might be able to have an interesting and necessary debate on the proportionality used by one force against the other. It already took place in the Yugoslav war of liberation against Nazi domination and took place again in the Vietnam War when the Viet Cong (Red Vietnam in Vietnamese) decided to execute US prisoners in response to the execution of their fighters by the occupiers and their collaborationist southern allies.

The Zionists hide behind the argument that their offensive in Gaza had “proportionality”. Proportionality with airplanes, helicopters and phosphorous bombs? So we return again to the argument under international law that the use of armed force by Palestine is not illegal because proportionality exists between the means used – the Palestinians do not have an army – and the objective pursued, which is no less than self-determination and independence.

The Palestinians are not suggesting the recovery of the lands of historic Palestine (Israel today occupies 78% of that historic Palestine, Gaza and the West Bank represent about 22% of it) and furthermore Israel refuses to withdraw completely from the territory it occupies illegally in contravention of international law since 1967. Someone will recall that Hamas not long ago talked a lot about historic Palestine. That is true. But now it only refers to the 1967 frontiers.

The use of proportionality in international law has been constantly and flagrantly violated by the Zionists just as they have done again in Gaza in the case of not attacking civilians. And since we are on the subject, it is worth remembering that according to international law, the occupied party has no obligation to obey the occupier (Article 50 of the First Protocol of the Fourth Geneva Convention). Nor can the occupier inflict collective punishment on the civilian population (Article 33) and it is obliged furthermore to facilitate and guarantee the supply of food, medical inputs, health, public hygiene, care and education for children (these aspects are also noted in Article 50). That is to say, everything that Israel does not do.

What does it mean to remember these Articles, among others, from the body of international law that Israel systematically violates? Well, neither more nor less than that Palestine – Gaza as well as the West Bank and East Jerusalem – has been under occupation for more than 60 years. Something the neither-nors seem to forget or not want to mention. And that, nothing else, is the root of the matter.

To face that occupation the Palestinians have used force, they have offered truces and signed peace agreements in the hope of having an independent sovereign State. Mahmoud Abbas, the Mihailovic of the account above, has spent years offering truces for the Palestinian resistance organizations and rejecting armed struggle. His forces are dedicated to repressing his people and protecting the occupier rather than struggling for independence. If one doubts the truth of that , currently 1600 Dayton troops (a reference to the US general Keith Dayton who is in charge of training the Palestinian security forces based on a new extension of the State’s authority) have been trained in Jordan and in the next few days (1) a new contingent of another 500 will join them even without the existence of a Palestinian State and with no frontier to defend.

So the simple question is what there function will be. Well, it will be what it has already been during the Gaza massacre, namely to prevent any successful call by Hamas for a Third Intifada. The “Dayton” soldiers have been very active preventing demonstrations in solidarity with the Gaza resistance – carrying out dozens of arrests – and have deployed in the town of Hebron to avoid confrontations between a few hundred settlers there and the Palestinians. But when these settlers attack the Palestinians, the “Dayton soldiers” do not intervene because their orders are not to confront the settlers.

Just as Mihailovic did during the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia, Abbas and his party, Fatah, have spent 16 years trying to make the Palestinian people see that treating with the occupier is the only way to realise Palestinians’ historic claims. But the reality is different and stubborn. As Tito understood very well, only struggle brings results. The Oslo Agreements have been a complete failure for the Palestinians in every sense, including the situation of the political prisoners. Under Oslo, the Palestinian political prisoners should have been out on the streets a long time ago and they are still behind bars. Israel holds on to them as exchange currency.

Therefore, only military action will be able to set them free. Like that carried out in 2006 to capture a soldier, Shalit, in the power of the Palestinians since then. Shalit is no a kidnap victim but a prisoner of war and used, too, as exchange currency. Shalit will be set free in exchange for 1000 Palestinian prisoners.

Two Palestinian prisoners are resistance icons: one, Marwan Bargouti, is the main leader of the Fatah militias and the other is Ahmed Sa’adat, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. If they are finally among those set free one will be able to talk about a resistance victory and the failure of collaboration.

Islamist political military movements in the Arab world are currently fulfilling a revolutionary role as regards the defence of the historic claims of their peoples. Hizbollah for example maintains strategic cooperation with organizations of the Lebanese Left and is developing cooperation and dialogue with openly Marxist organizations. Hamas is doing the same, although to a lesser extent.

Neither Hizbollah nor Hamas, for their self-same religious structure, argue for the abolition of capitalism or the creation of socialism. They are. after all a long way from what Tito proposed. But today , like him in his day against the Germans, they are the main point of reference against the Israeli occupation and the imperialist plan to change the map of the Middle East.

(1) Al Quds Al Arabi, February 9th 2009.

Centre for Political Studies for International Relations and Development (www.nodo50.org/ceprid)

translation copyleft toni solo

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