The Death of the Stalinist Left in Palestine

By Haidar Eid

To understand the reasons behind the rapid deterioration of the Palestinian Left, especially following Hamas’ June 2007 take-over of the Gaza Strip, one needs to scrutinize the verbalized positions of its’ leaders. Interviews and media statements made by Abdul Rahim Malouh, Deputy Secretary General of the PFLP, following his release from Israeli prisons, indicates that the PFLP has chosen to support the right-wing within Fatah. Amazingly, this is also the position of the DFLP and the People’s Party, in spite of the pro-American agenda spouted and supported by Mahmoud Abbas and his cabal within Fatah.

The U-turn taken by the Palestinian Left should not come as a surprise since it has historically expressed an undemocratic world-view, both in general and in relation to its’ Palestinian agenda in particular. This lack of democracy is, of course, the outcome of its Stalinist ideological orientation. As a result of this dominant orientation, both the People’s Party (which has recognized Israel since its inception) and the DFLP (which made the proposal that led to the interim solution later accepted by the PLO), could not accept the results of the January 2006 Palestinian elections. These elections, in fact, are the only non ethno-religious elections in the entire Middle East to date. Contrary to popular Western myth, these elections once again proved that Israel is NOT the only democracy in the region. Israel on the other hand, is a democracy for Jews only, exactly like South Africa’s Apartheid democracy was for Whites only. Instead of building on this unprecedented achievement for people’s power in the Arab World, the Palestinian secular forces chose to focus instead on creating convoluted justifications for their own failure to secure convincing electoral gains. They went on to turn a blind eye to the open secret of General Keith Dayton’s widely circulated plan to orchestrate a coup de’ tat using the PA security forces against the Hamas government – in effect colluding in a plan to subvert the democratic choice of the people.

The Palestinian elections could have ushered in a new era with the potential to consolidate real democracy in the Middle East: it would have shared its political and social dimensions with other established Liberal democracies. Moreover, these elections have a legacy of liberation. But it was not to be. The Palestinian Left, who have been compromised by their participation in the PA itself, have allowed themselves to be emptied of their revolutionary program, thus the retreat to Stalinist tactics to ensure the rejection of the outcome of the elections. Only a lack of a revolutionary programme can explain their current support of the undemocratic and dictatorial wing within the PLO. Through its undialectical and self-pitying analysis of events in the Gaza Strip, the Left has made its position clear: the situation in the Gaza Strip has been caused by the democratically elected Hamas and there is no mention of the role of the American General Keith Dayton; gone is historical materialism, and anti-imperialist discourse. Empty rhetoric has turned out to be the weapon not only of “Arab reactionary regimes;” it has been adopted by the Left itself. Stalin would have been happy to see his disciples at work in Palestine.

Palestinian feminist Majda Hasan calls it “Osloization.” That is, a combination of corruption, a selling-out of revolutionary principles and sloganeering. The ultimate goal of the current river of blood has become the establishment of a Palestinian state in any dimension, i.e. the two-state solution. The one state solution, as in the South African example, is, for the Palestinian Left, Utopia! They fail to explain how 5 million Palestinian refugees will return to the Israeli State of the Jews and an independent Palestinian state will be created at the same time. Nor do they outline how the PLO will be reformed to include the most popular organizations, i.e. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, while it is being hijacked by the same people who have been controlling it for more than 40 years and who are the allies of the left. They offer no proposal to end the current schism between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank other than a “return to the pre-June 2007 reality.” Nor do they show any resistance to the security coordination between the PA and the IOF in the West Bank.

If the Palestinian Left is unable to develop an alternative revolutionary program, and divorce itself from the fiction of the two-state solution, we will have to deal with the Fatah-Hamas dichotomy for a long time to come. The signs are not encouraging.

We seem to be moving towards the end of the Palestinian Left, if it is not already dead.

– Haidar Eid is an independent political analyst.

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