the left in Palestine

John O'Neill johnfergaloneill at
Fri Aug 9 12:42:32 MDT 2002


Had oppurtunity to have more detailed discussions with people here in Al
Fara about the left in Palestine.  Seems the left is more active in the
refugee camps than in the villages and towns, though I havent met anyone
here yet who admits to being a member of one of the left orgganisations,
probably because these are illegal orgs so its not safe to go around telling
foreigners that you are a member.
The Peoples Party (former Communist Party) are legal and dont engage in
armed struggle. It has small membership but is widely respected even by
those from the Islamic organisations. Its members are mostly
professionals...doctors, lawyers etc. including prominent individuals such
as Dr. Mustapha Barghouti who played a key role in getting the ISM up and
running and encouraging foreign volunteers to come to Palestine. Apparently
the PPP did make an unsuccessful effort to unite what Palestinians call the
Third Sector ie the secular left into one movement a few years ago. It seems
that much of the PPPs activity today is concentrated on grassroots
humanitarian activity such as the medical relief committees. These
committees often have a much wider role and I suspect in the camps, which
are controled by UNWRA appointed managers, these committees act as peoples

The PFLP and DFLP are both respected as well. Both organisations have been
weakened by the imprisonment or death of many of their members. The nature
of the second intifada...military, top down activity has meant that they
have been sidelined by both Fatah and Hamas, they simply cannot compete in
attracting the youth who wish to engage in military activity. I may be wrong
but from what Ive heard the PFLP seems to cooperate more closely with the
Islamic organisations and fully supports the suicide bombings as the only
form of resistance left to the Palestinians, while the DFLP is opposed to
the suicide bombings.

Most people say that neither Fatah nor Hamas have any  programme for the
organisation of a future palestinian state ie policies on education, the
economy etc. and there is widespread acknowledgment that the left does have
such a programme which gives hope for the future.

Just a note on social class in the occupied territories...the Palestinian
Authority seems to have effectively been an instrument for a sort of corrupt
class who used its period of existance to ammass wealth and power. Although
the PA  is effectively dead now this class still exists though greatly
weakened. 'Business men" continue to operate and accumulate wealth even in
small towns, despite the total isolation of these towns by the occupation
forces. From what people have said to me this is at least partly due to
explicit or covert collaboration in some cases.

The working class was composed overwhelmingly of labourers working in Israel
and their families, they now faces total impoverishment, dpending on better
off family members or charity.

Its hard to define peoples social class here because many people may be just
surviving with a day job, a piece of land, and even a small shop.


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