Waiting for the Massacre

by Mustapha Khayati, Lafif Lakhdar

The following text was written in Arabic and distributed amongst those immediately concerned in Jordan August 1st, 1970. It was translated into French, and published in An-Nidhal after the “Black September” massacre of Sept/Oct 1970.


From now on, words must have the same function as bullets. We must switch from delicate allusions to open accusations. The masses must know the whole truth and the entire reality, whatever their bitterness may be.


Through the application of the compromise at hand, the real defeat will take place in 1970, for it implies the liquidation of the Palestinian resistance which is potentially the departure point for the Arab masses of all their future real struggles. The defeat of 1967 is exclusively the defeat of the Arab military-bureaucratic classes, even if the movement of the masses has not yet come to the point of presenting them the bill. The defeat of 1970 will be our own.


Why are all sides of the Arab and world counter-revolution so diligently pushing for a rapid settlement of the conflict which ostensibly opposes the Israeli and Arab States? The reasons that impel the Arabs, Russians, Americans and Israelis to reach an agreement that can safeguard the essential of their mutual interests are many. But the decisive factor, the common denominator which unifies the protagonists, remains the “fear that the masses become radicalized.” The document concerning the Goldman-Hassan II encounter1 demonstrates this, as do the confidential expressions of Soviet diplomats. A mere reading of the important world press confirms the analysis of Nahum Goldman, as it appeared in “Le Monde” of May 30th 1970. As far as Washington is concerned, since Nixon’s inauguration its banner has been “Avoid a new Vietnam,” as it is militarily and economically unable to face more than one Vietnam.


The leaders of the resistance have constantly deluded themselves that “the Kremlin in the last analysis is on the side of the revolution.” The facts–and we need only quote the most recent–by themselves deny such illusions, which are only the expression of a Stalinism with critical pretense: the bureaucratic class that rules over the USSR has as its strategy the continuation of the status-quo and peaceful–not to say very friendly–coexistence with imperialist counter-revolution. Under Stalin, the politics of the Kremlin were not any different, but they were covered with more phraseological firmness. Today, the bureaucratic class which succeeded in harmonizing its ideology with its practice no longer needs such a cover-up of lies. That does not at all mean that there are no contradictions–for there are, at times, very sharp ones–between the Kremlin and the White House. What we now have are the contradictions of competition concerning the division of markets and spheres of influence throughout the world. These contradictions have so far been resolved on the negotiating table and not on the battlefield, always and basically at the expense of the international revolution and of oppressed peoples. The most recent proof of the counter-revolutionary nature of bureaucratic state-capitalism, inside and outside of Russia, is the Soviet-American bargain struck in view of a double liquidation. This deal aims both at the physical liquidation of the resistance and at the political liquidation of the Palestinians’ national rights and of the aspirations of the Arab masses toward their liberation from imperialist interests and all the classes that oppress them.


Certain organizations, notably Al Fatah, rose to utter ridicule when they counted upon the refusal of the peaceful solution by obstinate Israeli leaders, hoping that this would allow a revolutionary crisis to erupt. The day after Nassar accepted the Rogers Plan,2 Al Fatah found no more to say than “the Israeli refusal will take care of sinking the Rogers Plan,” instead of calling upon the masses–left without arms–to actually wreck it. Such “calculation” unveils, once more, the depth of the political stupidity of the Palestinian leadership. Contrary to the prevailing opinion among the resistance, and kept alive by the Arab press, the territorial conquests that were the objectives of the Zionist Movement, which saw its followers as “a people without land,” have lost their importance now that Israel has become a “land without enough people” and a developed economy cut off from a vast consumer market. What matters now for Israeli capitalism is “peace” and secure borders which would be closed to the Palestinians, recognized by the Arab States and “open to the free circulation of people and commodities.” (A. Eban, “Le Monde”, 25-7-70)3


The lucid elements amongst the Israeli officials have found the “final solution” of the Palestinian problem in the creation, on both banks of the Jordan, of an Arab-Palestinian State, worthy of its name. (See also the intimations of Dayan4 as revealed by J. Lacouture in “ The Nouvel Observateur” of July 19th, 1970, and his declaration in which he accepts the Rogers Plan, “I consider it very important to behave in a manner whereby we don’t lose the possibility for dialogue with the Palestinians of the West Bank, for it is with them that we will have to live, for better or for worse, and we had better acknowledge this fact.”)


This Palestinian State, as formulated by Dayan, will not be short of leadership candidates from among the different managers of the Palestinian resistance, notably that of Al Fatah. The bases of the resistance must know, from now on, that the most perilous enemy is now within our borders and in the very midst of our ranks. It is significant to bring up here the testimony given by Hassan II (“Nouvel Observateur” 7/6/70) in which he is more convinced than ever of the urgency and importance of the efforts to pick up again the Judeo-Arab dialogue within Palestine. “I have talked with the Al Fatah leadership and I believe they are lucid.” The “moderation” of Al Fatah–whose most serious expression of objection seems to consist in walking away from the negotiating table–no longer spells any mystery, not even to the most retarded of journalists.


Due to their class nature and their chronic economic and technological backwardness, all Arab regimes are incapable of victoriously confronting the IDF in a classic war. This type of war, fought between a developed and an underdeveloped country, has become an anachronism. It is not by chance that Bureaucratic China is prepared to again take up its strategy of the Long Peoples’ War, in case the Russians or Americans invade. The only means for the masses of underdeveloped countries to rid themselves of national and foreign oppressors remains armed revolutionary struggle. The Arab regimes, which have absolutely nothing to do with such struggles, thus consider to the contrary, that the arming and the self-organization of the masses is the rope with which they will be hung. That is why they do not hesitate to plot with the pseudo-enemy in order to smother their real enemy: the revolutionary masses of peasants and workers.


It is only by arming the masses and organizing within democratically elected Workers’, Peasants’ and People’s Councils (in the refugee camps and in the cities) that the resistance can rise to the level of its historical tasks. Then, the means will correspond with the end we are after: not “the liquidation of the traces of aggression,” but the liquidation of its main causes–the established Arab regimes, the imperialist interests and the State of Israel. The last decisive battle of the Arab Revolution will be against the State of Israel, and this after having brought together the essential instruments for victory: an Arab revolutionary army, a qualitatively and quantitatively developed guerilla force and a popular militia; in a word, the people in arms. To get so far, it is necessary to tear down the Chinese wall made up of the established Arab regimes, and to immediately nationalize Arab oil.


Let’s be thankful to Nasser for having taken it upon himself to deny the thesis of the theoreticians of the eleventh hour, who divide the Arab regimes into two camps–that of the “anti-imperialist patriots and friends of the resistance” and that of “reactionaries who, conniving with the counter-revolution, prepare the liquidation of the resistance.” Now, everything is clear, except for those with jaundiced eyes. All the Arab regimes, at different levels, are counter-revolutionary. Through the traditional regimes, imperialism directly pushes through its plans, and through the “patriotic” military regimes, the two imperialisms (Russian and American) are able to advance the compromise they have reached (the Rogers Plan among others) in order to slow down the revolutionary movement and to subsequently destroy it.


Only a few elements among the leaders of the resistance were actually conscious of, and therefore effectively preparing for, the inevitable bloody confrontation with the “patriotic” regimes. To this day, no Palestinian organization had dared to point the finger at Nasser. The most audacious amongst them are satisfied with hardly critical, delicate illusions. George Habash refused in his press conference to consider Nasser as an enemy of the resistance, because the latter, according to him, has only one enemy: imperialism. As though it were imperialism which had announced from Cairo its acceptance of the Rogers Plan and had suppressed the Palestinian broadcasts, and not the “Rais of the Arab Nation”–this frost that smothers the spring of the Arab peoples. In the same way, the “left” and the right of the resistance have communion in silence about the abject role of the tsars of the Moscovit bureaucracy in preparing the murder of the resistance and of the Arab Revolution. It is certainly in this murder that we can find the famous “Soviet support” of the Arab peoples with which the Arab Stalinist parties gorge themselves and, with them, certain organizations of the resistance. Few men succeed in ridding themselves of the illusion of their epoch. And it's not the first time that the resistance has fallen victim to its own illusions, and those of others.


Up until now, the majority of the Palestinian leaderships have subordinated (if they are not dead against) the study of revolutionary thought and history to the fetishism of purely military activity, in the form of suicide operations without any strategic perspective. These operations have become one of the essential elements in the pressure that has accelerated the process toward a peaceful settlement. Worse yet, in the south of Lebanon, these operations have led to a catastrophe for the resistance, now caught in the trap of a politically deadly confrontation with the Israeli Army. While the real task of the resistance–as we have written several times–was first of all, to find its roots among the masses and to gain their sympathy and organized support with the aim of turning the tables on the adversary at the right moment, reversing the balance of military power. But, the resistance has not found anything better to do than to fight for the sake of fighting. The leaders of the resistance, who never stop preaching “the creation of an Arab Vietnam,” seem to ignore everything, down to the elementary principles of the Vietnamese experience. Before resuming the armed struggle in earnest and creating the FLN, the Vietnamese took no less than six years of political preparation. As for the multiple “fronts” of the resistance that shoot up like mushrooms, they advertise their birth certificates with gunshots, mostly of a terrorist character (Rome, Zurich, Athens, Munich and so on).


The disarray that grips the resistance's leaders during each crisis clearly reveals their real chances of managing the final crisis.


On the eve of the alternative that awaits the resistance – to disappear or to become the opposite of what it is – it is important that the rank and file pose the real problems in order to see the real solutions.

  1. 1. Through its multifaceted relations with Arab regimes and their political extensions, on the one hand, and with the Palestinian and Arab masses on the other, the resistance movement has proved totally incapable of becoming conscious of its own tasks. It has failed to distinguish the support of those whose class interest drove them naturally toward it from the support of those who embrace it only to smother it more effectively. The program and the practice of the resistance do not in any way differ essentially from the programs of the Arab regimes. It has never bothered to lift the Arab masses to the consciousness of their historical interests, nor to defend their daily interests against the exploiting classes and the police regimes. Quite the contrary! We have seen Al Fatah, as a genuine strike breaker, sending its troops to menace and commandeer the construction and tobacco workers of Amman. As for the Democratic Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DPFLP), it has not even had the guts to publicly defend its own militants against the police of Cairo and Baghdad. Worse yet, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) of George Habash, which this shitheap of well-advised newspapers, on the left or on the right, presents as “diehard extremists” has revealed itself to be systematically complicit with all the crimes of its financiers against both the workers murdered in the streets of Baghdad and against the Kurds.
  2. 2. No serious effort toward the elaboration of a coherent revolutionary program and theory has been made by any of the factions of the resistance. They have remained, as always, prosaically empiricist.


It is now of the utmost importance that the rank and file of the resistance, liberating themselves from their leaders who are now more than ever holding the movement back, judge the Arab regimes not any more from what they say, but from what they do, not as they present themselves but as they really are. We cannot believe that the hangmen of the masses and of the revolutionary elements in their own countries can be sincere allies of the resistance.


Among the main characteristics of the Arab military-bureaucracy one finds hype and bluster. On their lips, words have lost all meaning; revolution has been translated as coup d'état, scientific socialism with police socialism, the struggle against American imperialism with acceptance “without conditions or reservation” (Nasser) of its plans. The weak refusal by the Syrian Ba’ath of the Rogers Plan is only a cover for its actual acceptance, which nobody doubts any longer. The comical refusal of Boumedienne is comprehensible through these fantastic acrobatics that succeed in reconciling “the right of each Arab State to decide over its fate in all independence” and “the Algerian support to the resistance.” How can Jordan, for example, decide “in all independence” its fate, without at the same time deciding the fate of the resistance and the Palestinian people? How is the Algerian government going to translate this support? (1) Boumedienne has already sent his rivals to the Suez front in order to enforce the resolution of November 22, 1967.5 He has sent to the resistance the sad Kaid Ahmed, heading the Commission of Four, in order to convince them to accept the demands of Hussein. The idea of sending even a few hundred volunteers to “support” the threatened resistance is completely foreign to him.


The hype that surrounded the Iraqi military class's verbal and self-serving refusal of Ba’athist asylum should fool no one. This must be the last occasion to unmask the actors of the Palestinian tragedy. The whole scope of the Iraqi position is revealed when one recalls even only the most recent past of its architects:

  1. a) The Iraqi regime publicly supported the Lebanese government against the Fedayeen during the crisis of November 1969.
  2. b) At the time of the February and June crises of 1970 in Amman, the Iraqi Ba’ath remained faithful to its anti-Palestinian position. It was George Habash himself, considered by Baghdad the number one man of the resistance and consequently an unassailable witness for the prosecution, who confirmed this to the press. (See “Le Nouvel Observateur” of July 26th 1970.)
  3. c) Only people with a very short memory have forgotten that the counter-revolutionary Ba’ath was the first to sense the risks that the Iraqi masses–who have at all times lived in the shadow of the gallows–might be contaminated by the resistance, and that this party pronounced its famous 14 Points that forbid practically all Palestinian activity in Iraq.
  4. d) Unless one is a Gilbert Mury,6 how can one take seriously the pretensions of Baghdad to support till the end the Palestinian resistance? Baghdad has diligently supported the manufacture (Made in England) of the United Arab Emirates against the rising revolutionary movement in that region. Both the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman (NDFLO) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG) have already denounced the “counter-revolutionary meddlings” of the masters of Iraq.(2)


None of the Arab armies, by virtue of this class nature (3) and their unfathomable privilege, could ever be the ally of the resistance. If Western bourgeoisies invest their capital and develop the economy, Arab officers invest the stripes they have granted themselves in order to assure themselves the lion’s share of the social surplus value. Wherever they rule, they behave as in a conquered country left to pillage.


The Arab military-bureaucratic class is subdivided into several fractions, but their common denominator remains, before and after all, the safeguarding of their privileges, the survival of their armies–their only real guarantee of maintaining themselves in their positions; their real program is to endure and not to fight. That is why the last word on their relationship with the resistance can only be, as the latter rises to the level of its tasks, a struggle to the death. For all its faults, the resistance remains a threat to all Arab regimes, because of its latent possibilities, real or imagined, to provoke a surge of the shackled Arab masses onto the stage of history. Certainly the bluff of Boumedienne or of the followers of Aflaq will be short lived, but is incumbent upon the rank and file of the resistance to put an end, once and for all, to false oppositions. The divorce of the Arab masses from their husband-leader (Nasser) must be the last one.


Without any devout revolutionary optimism, the resistance's leadership–which, we hope, is the last rendering of a militarily backward and ideologically defeated form of organization–is in no position to transform the massacre that awaits it into a general and victorious Arab insurrection. It would be a Santo Domingo and not a Vietnam. But the people, that eternal Thalassa, is always full of historical surprises, as Bakunin and even Lenin have observed: “There is more common sense and intelligence in the instinctive aspirations and the real needs of the masses than there is in the profound minds of those who have appointed themselves as their educators and counsel” (Bakunin). “In revolutionary situations the masses very often go beyond their leaders and take their place” (Lenin).

  1. a) Can the most lucid elements of the resistance assume this historical role in the ordeals that the masses must pass before their hangmen-teachers in Amman, Lebanon and elsewhere?
  2. b) Can the few elements that have a clear and precise consciousness of the role and the historical future of the resistance as possible vanguard of the Arab revolution… can they on D-Day be the gravediggers of the Arab palaces and barracks and in this way take the place of their leaderships, which are defeatist, theoretically illiterate, politically confusionist and militarily impotent?
  3. c) Can they draw the practical conclusions from the crisis of the resistance, wiping out forever the poisonous flattery of the spectacular press and thereby radically supersede the partial and often merely verbal critique of the only organization on the left: the DPFLP?
  4. d) Finally, can they transform the feeling of disappointment of the masses when they suddenly discover Nasser at the head of the counter-revolution, into a rediscovery of their own strength in order to engage in the real struggles of present and future? This essentially presupposes the ability of these revolutionary elements to counter the rape of the masses by official propaganda–ideological repression that is in no way outdone by police repression–with the most extensive broadcasting of truths and facts. And that they call the Arab soldiers to disobedience and insurrection.


Otherwise, the resistance movement will finish in a bloodbath; the remnants will transform themselves into terrorist gangs having as their only program the assassination of “presidents and traitor-kings.” The Arab States, already police-states, will defend themselves by installing a murderous fascism and each country will have its Franco and Mussolini.


Given that the Hashemite tribe7 is incapable all by itself of putting an end to the resistance, or rather of enduring the consequences of a slaughter, it would require participation in the crime, even if symbolic, from the states that accept–publicly or tacitly–the Rogers Plan. The only response to the unity of the Arab States in the counter-revolution is the unity of the Arab masses in the revolution. It is up to the Arab revolutionaries to seize this historic occasion in order to denounce the holy alliance of Arab and world counter-revolution, and to call for its destruction.


At this crucial moment when the Arab leaders are getting ready to recognize the State of Meir-Dayan and to sign the peace of slaves, a truly internationalist voice must rise from the ranks of the resistance in order to say a resolute NO to the Israeli state and a sincere YES to freely consented coexistence with the Israeli masses. The latter will determine themselves either within the framework of the power of the generalized Workers’ Councils in the unified Arab world, which would follow the arc of history, or in separation. Let the testament of the resistance, in the case of defeat, and its watchword, in the event of victory, be revolutionary and internationalist.


With the end of the military revolutions which, as thieves in the night, have seized the state, the first phase of the Arab Revolution, petty bourgeois and blanquist, is closed. A new epoch heralds itself where there will be no “miracle” and where no decisive victory will be easily realized. The era of long struggles, of genuine revolution, is about to begin.

Lafif Lakhdar-Mustapha Khayati

August 1st 1970.



  1. (1) We actually know since August 9th 1970 the kind of practical support the military of Algiers intend to give to the resistance, since they called upon the Algerian people to pray for the resistance in all the Mosques on Friday August 14th. (footnote added August 9th 1970).
  2. (2) The counter-revolution of the Imamship of Oman recruits Omani and Dhofarian mercenaries in Kuwait and sends them for training in Iraq. (document of the PFLOAG, published by Al Hurriya of July 20th 1970.)
  3. (3) E.g. an Iraqi officer receives upon his graduation from the military academy a credit of 3,000 pounds ($10,000); when he marries he receives a gift from the State of 1,000 pounds; every time he goes “in the field” (that is to burn the villages of the Kurds or to bury alive the Iraqi communists) his pay increases by 25%; etc.

Based on a translation from French to English by CREATE SITUATIONS in 1971