"Should all armed actions by Hamas be defended uncritically because it speaks in the name of the oppressed?" asks Geoff Mirelowitz. Not so long ago the Militant characterized Hamas as right-wing, he says.
Washington's propaganda campaign portrays many young Palestinian fighters as unthinking fanatics motivated by reactionary ideas. But the reality is different: hundreds of thousands of Palestinians continue to resist the Israeli government's savagery and terror - with whatever methods of struggle they can find. Those fighters are engaged in a progressive struggle that working people around the world rightly identify with.
For a brief period a few years ago the Militant did erroneously describe Hamas as a right-wing organization. Hamas however, is a bourgeois nationalist organization that has won growing support among workers and youth in the struggle for Palestinian national rights. Members of the organization participated in the intifada (uprising) that began in December 1987. Hamas has a pro-capitalist outlook and leadership. But by staking out a position of unyielding opposition to Israeli rule it attracts many workers and youth who have a healthy hatred of their oppressors and are seeking ways to fight.
Communists in Palestine would work with and try to recruit to a revolutionary program and organization members and supporters of Hamas, as well as activists in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). That would not be true if Hamas was a rightist organization.
Hamas's surge in popularity is partly a reflection of the resistance against the Zionist occupiers, who are the real terrorists. But support for Hamas also stems from the political retreat and growing bourgeoisification of the PLO with the recoiling of its central leadership from the revolutionary course in the struggle for national self-determination the organization had charted earlier.
The March 13 imperialist-inspired "antiterrorist summit" showed Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat playing a central role in giving that gathering of world terrorists a facade of Arab representation.
The Zionist regime has demolished Arabs homes as collective punishment for struggling against the occupation force on and off since 1968, the year after it seized the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war. Scores of Palestinians have angrily watched their homes bulldozed or dynamited by Israeli soldiers. Children have been shot down like animals by Israeli troops simply for throwing stones while protesting these atrocities.
In the absence of revolutionary leadership, the crisis produced the conditions where Hamas has increased its following. Its radical tactic of suicide bombing missions attracts young activists searching for ways to fight their bloodthirsty oppressors in Tel Aviv.
The spark of resistance has not been extinguished from the Palestinian people despite all the brutal measures inflicted on them. And the fighting Irish republicans continue to resist the British occupiers in Northern Ireland as the Canary Wharf attack reveals.
Both in Ireland and Palestine communist organizations lack presence, or size and political weight, and therefore cannot directly affect the relationship of class forces or the calculations of the respective ruling classes. That can and will change in the future.
Until then, however, Irish and Palestinian fighters will look out for themselves with the methods they've used for decades. Those methods have problems. But if fighters pledged to stop using them before having better methods and qualitatively stronger allies then the outcome would be unconditional surrender and defeat.
In 1965, 10 days before his assassination, Malcolm X told a packed audience in London, "When the Afro-Americans reacted against the brutal measures that were executed against them by the police, the press all over the world projected them as rioters." The revolutionary leader continued, "This doesn't say it's intelligent, but whoever heard of a sociological explosion that was done intelligently and politely? And this is what you're trying to make the Black man do. You're trying to drive him into a ghetto and make him the victim of every kind of unjust condition imaginable. Then when he explodes, you want him to explode politely!"
Mirelowitz notes that Nelson Mandela insisted on "minimizing the loss of human life" when he led the armed wing of the African National Congress. It certainly would be fantastic if the Palestinians or the Irish freedom struggle had a leadership of the caliber of Malcolm X, Mandela, or Fidel Castro. But should they stop fighting until leadership of that caliber develops?
The key task for communists is not to criticize those who are resisting oppression but search them out, fight shoulder to shoulder with them, learn from them, and in the process arm them with the lessons of past struggles. The campaign to sell the Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War, for example, is targeted at fighters like the Palestinian suicide bombers who are among the oppressed masses of the world who cry out for action against a common oppressor.
- MAURICE WILLIAMS
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home