A comment on the situation in the Middle East by the Pakistani Marxists

The latest edition of the Asian Marxist Review is coming out. Here we provide the editorial statement that is dedicated to the situation in the Middle East after Hamas took over Gaza.

The insurrectionary take over of Gaza by Hamas marks a new tuning point in the bloody saga of the Palestinian movement - it marks a change that is spreading across a broad swathe of the Middle East. The internecine fighting between the main stream Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas has culminated in what some fear could be a schism in their putative state. The present conflagration has not only proved two-state solution to be a sheer utopia but it also sounds the death knell of bourgeois nationalism in the present epoch.

More than forty years ago, in a discussion in London comrade Ted Grant explained to the representatives of Al-Fatah and other left-wing factions that the only way out for the liberation of Palestine was through a revolutionary movement of the toilers on an irreconcilable class basis. He outlined the repercussions of individual terrorism in the name of armed struggle and emphasized that any negotiations with imperialism or the Zionist state would only reinforce the subjugation of the Palestinian masses and would be used to intensify their oppression.

Forty-four years, two regional wars and three Intifadas later, the plight of the Palestinians has gone from bad to worse. The flame of Palestinian nationalism has flickered and is on the verge of being extinguished. The pathetic state of Palestinian nationalism is reflected in the latest verses of the most celebrated poet of the nationalist movement of this tragic land.

O future: do not ask us: who are you?

And, what do you want from me?

For we too do not know.

The courageous and defiant movement of the masses for the liberation of Palestine with episodes of valour, innumerable sacrifices and dedication to the Palestinian cause by almost five generations has been the hallmark of mass resistance for half a century. Yet the ideology, methods and the character of leadership has brought the oppressed of Palestine to such a traumatic fate and a blind alley. The dreadful decline of Fatah is the cruel ramification of these policies of compromise.

The rise of Hamas is mainly due to the vacuum created by the degeneration and demise of the Stalinist/ nationalist left. Fatah under Mahmood Abbas has stooped so low that it is using Israeli and American supplied weaponry against their Palestinian brethren. Hamas is perhaps the first Islamic fundamentalist organization to take control of any territory in the Middle East. But like religious fundamentalists everywhere their honesty and piety are a mere veneer on the reality of lumpenised hordes drawn into violent and reactionary tendencies through the frustration of unemployment, poverty, misery and socio-political inaction of the leadership.

It is one thing to raise the aspirations and sentiments of an impoverished populace, but to establish order and bring to heel Gaza's tribal warlords, smugglers, criminal gangs and jihadists is beyond the capacity of Hamas. With 70% unemployment; despicable health and other social conditions, the raging poverty and violence cannot be resolved through the mythological dogmas and metaphysical rhetoric of Hamas. It has no scientific analysis, method, perspective or solution to the crisis.

Furthermore, there are such violent convulsions erupting that they are opening up cracks both in the Hamas and Fatah hierarchy. There is now an open split between Khalid Meshaal, the so-called supreme leader of Hamas, and Ismail Haniyah, the Hamas prime minister ousted by Abbas.

The followers of the left-wing Fatah leader Marwan Bargoughti (incarcerated in Israeli jails serving several life terms) are defiant against Abbas. The more he capitulates to imperialism and the more his stoogism is exposed, he will be confronted with an even bigger revolt from within the Fatah and the left organizations within the PLO.

The raging fires in Palestine will not be contained by so-called borders and the huge walls being put up by the Israeli reactionary state. The rulers of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Arab world are terrified. Linked with the ferocious resistance in Iraq, and the new wave of insurgency in Lebanon, the Palestinian inferno will not spare these reactionary, dictatorial Arab regimes.

Ironically this infighting amongst the Palestinians will send a very different and unprecedented message to the Israeli rulers. The demise of Palestinian nationalism will drastically dent the façade of Israeli nationhood.

The present rulers in the Arab world cannot and will not resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They have used this conflict as a source of connivance for their despotic rule for so long. But the rise of violence and contradictions in the Palestinian territories will ignite the seething discontent and anger amongst the Arab masses. As the curtain of Israeli national chauvinism falls, the reactionary, exploitive and brutal reality of the Israeli state and the ruling class shall be exposed to the Israeli proletariat.

The resurgence of the class struggle and revolutionary upheavals around the world, in the present epoch shall have a lightning effect upon the consciousness of the exploited workers and the masses in Palestine, Israel and the rest of the Middle East. The ruling classes have been discredited and exposed. Fundamentalism and nationalism have only brought misery, violence, bloodshed, deprivation and tyranny to the masses. As Hegel once said, "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

Mahmood Darvesh's verses are proclaiming the historical failure and obsoleteness of bourgeoisie nationalism. His pathos of Palestinian misery is painful yet announces the end of an era, an ideology. The only way forward for the genuine liberation of the Palestinian masses is through class struggle. Uniting the workers and the oppressed of all nations, religious, castes and races, this struggle can only succeed by overthrowing capitalism and imperialism through a Socialist Revolution. The Palestinians cannot achieve it on their own. Only through a collective and united class struggle with the Israeli workers and the oppressed masses of other countries of the region can a socialist victory be achieved. This victory is not only possible but the only way out of the wars, destruction, crusades, exploitation, hunger, misery, deprivation and bloodshed into which people of this region have been incarcerated for more than two millennia.

Lahore, July 3rd 2007