'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

very bad Hamas 

A must read blog entry by Max Ajl at Jewbonics, who just returned from spending the last 6 months or so in Gaza. In Palestine, the left, it seems, finds itself caught between the Zionist hammer and the Islamic fundamentalist anvil. As with Iran, leftists should resist the temptation to ignore the repressive domestic practices of fundamentalists just because they oppose US and Israeli imperialism. Iran is a good example of how such behaviour merely serves to evade serious socioeconomic questions that cannot be suppressed.

Navigating between the militarism of the US and Israel and the fundamentalist autocracy of Iran and Gaza may be difficult, but it is essential if the left is to retain any credibility. As Ajl concludes:

There is some romanticization of Hamas, sure, as a resistance movement that plays hardball with the Israeli government. That’s understandable. What’s less understandable is any sort of solidarity between the left and the Hamas government (see: George Galloway). There are better people to support, people loosely linked with leftist parties, NGOs engaged in local capacity building and educational work, groups with anti-authoritarian pedagogies, groups that aren’t misogynistic. Hamas is unpopular because it has been systematically starved of resources, and was never given a chance to govern by Israel and the West. But no one forces it to repress leftist rallies. It executes that screw-up all by itself.

As elsewhere, the left primarily exists outside of the institutions of the state. The prospect of any left parties gaining power in the Middle East in the near future is slight (leaving aside the question as to whether left aspirations can be achieved in liberal democratic social systems). Accordingly, leftists should, as suggested by Ajl, align themselves with people and organizations in anti-authoritarian, community oriented activities. By doing so, they should also, as the content of his post indicates, anticipate finding themselves in conflict with those in positions of power within Israel and the occupied territories.

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