No State Solution

The Israeli government is threatening to stop a flotilla of ships that carry supplies and activists who intend to land in Gaza.

Israel has blockaded Gaza since Hamas gained control of the area in 2007. Israeli authorities allow only a limited amount of food and medicine into Gaza, causing economic stagnation and harm to those who cannot afford expensive smuggled items. It also severely impairs construction of vital infrastructure, including that destroyed during Israel’s 2008-2009 attack on Gaza. Denouncing the importation of supplies as support for Hamas, Israeli officials have said the navy will divert the ships.

This doesn’t mean that Hamas are good guys either. An organization full of religious extremists that makes deliberate attacks on civilian centers doesn’t get to be the hero.

Of course, Jews and Muslims are not fated to be hostile toward one another. As Jason Adams notes in “Nonwestern Anarchisms,” Palestinians and Jewish immigrants in the early 20th Century were involved in an anarchist movement that called for the peaceful coexistence of individuals of different religious and ethnic backgrounds. More recently, Anarchists Against the Wall and the International Solidarity Movement have engaged in international action against Israeli policy. It is in establishing and maintaining government, forcibly institutionalizing the statuses of superior and inferior, that violence becomes necessary.

Rather than argue through the United Nations bureaucracy and international power games, the activist flotilla is engaging in direct action. They are directly moving to effect changes without asking permission from officials. Doing such a huge public action raises awareness of what is happening and may force concessions from state leaders.

One could also engage in direct action that is underground, not public. The smuggling tunnels into Gaza might offer a clue into this kind of activity. But the tunnels are problematic from an anarchist perspective – smuggling is used to raise tax revenue for Hamas and bring in prison building materials. But they do allow the economy to function, which will raise the demand for services that poor Gazans can provide.

The long-term solution is to abolish all states and wannabe-states, and the monopolies and privileges that they enable. But in the meantime, people have to eat nutritiously, hospitals have to be built, and infrastructure needs to be maintained to enable the improvement of life. Direct action might not immediately get the goods, but it does force the hand of politicians, show that people can act regardless of the political obstacles placed in their way, and give teeth to demands that politicians cannot dismiss with parliamentary wand-waving.

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