The reorganization of Palestinian resistance: the decline of AL-Fatah

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By MURILO AMADIO CIPOLLONE* is LUCAS OLIVEIRA MENDITI DO AMARAL**

The Palestinian people find themselves constrained by their own frictions and sectarianisms of a sociologically complex people

Introduction

In this article, we intend to focus on the reorganization of the post-Nakba (post-1948) Palestinian resistance, following, more precisely, the path of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its main party, Al-Fatah. However, talking about reorganization it presupposes the existence of a previous resistance that had been suffocated and destroyed, thus needing to be reorganized. Let us start, then, from the height of Palestinian resistance before its disorganization: the 1936 Uprising.

Faced with the growing Zionist threat and the inaction of the British Empire, Palestinians begin to carry out uprisings against the Jewish occupation. However, it was with the great Arab Revolt of 1936 that armed Palestinian resistance began. The Palestinians, driven by the assassination of an important leader on November 12, 1935, Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Quassam, revolted against the British Empire hoping to achieve their national independence and demonstrate their aversion to the establishment of a “national home Jew” in Palestine[I]. The movement escaped the Arab leadership itself, and the peasants gave the revolt the form of an armed insurrection, in the so-called sacred Jihad of the countryside.[ii].

The English brutally crushed the revolt in a fight that lasted 3 years. British troops blew up houses, hunted and killed all Palestinian leaders; many villagers were arrested, injured or killed and all Palestinian military units were scrapped[iii]. With this, the colonial empire was successful in disorganizing armed Palestinian resistance; that is, the leaders were killed, the few weapons taken and the possible combatants killed, in such a way that in the NakbaIn 1948, Palestinian forces were exhausted and would need to be reorganized to fight against the Zionist colonialist enterprise.

Now, even if the object of this article is different, it is worth noting that the Palestinian resistance began at the same moment that the Zionist attacks on Palestine appeared in history. In this sense, much of the anti-colonial struggle of the Palestinian people in the first decades of colonization, before the Nakba, therefore, sought not only to resist the seizure of their lands, but also to affirm their own existence as an ethnic group, in order to confront one of the foundations of the entire era of colonialism: the land without people. In the case of Israeli colonization, the founding myth of the land without people was constructed for the people without land, of the ultra-technological Jewish nation in the backward desert of the Middle East. Hence the use of the Palestinian flag and the kufiya in the organized struggle of the Palestinian people and in international solidarity movements.

Already without possession of 78% of their own lands, Palestinian resistance had to structure itself not only to promote the process of protecting the remaining territory, but, firstly, of returning to the entirety of historic Palestine. Take care of reorganizing your resistance.

Being Palestinian post-1948

According to Edward Said[iv], being Palestinian after Nakba It's living in a place that doesn't exist in reality, in other words, it's living in a utopia. This utopian factor is revealed in Israel's own policies, which, when it is not decimating or expelling the Palestinian people, treats the Palestinians as if they were not there, as if they did not exist. Being Palestinian means fighting for a place that no longer exists.

Therefore, since they were expelled from their lands, the Palestinians have been deprived of perfecting themselves as a people and as individuals. However, the Palestinian people painfully insist on paving their way back to the space that completes and determines them as subjects and as people. This struggle takes place with the perennial objective of conquering an ancestral territory that, at the same time, is also a new territory.

The lands of historical Palestine, thus, reveal themselves as a place of return – return to their land, their heritage, their culture, etc. – but they also reveal themselves as that place that will allow the creation of a new historical experience. It is interesting to note, therefore, that every experience of resistance reflects, in some way, this duality of aspirations. This is what Edward Said records[v]:

A refugee from Galilee or Jaffa living in Lebanon or Kuwait thinks first of all about what he lost when he left in 1948 or later; he wants to be taken back or fight his way back to Palestine. He wants to return. On the other hand, the Palestinian who lives in Gaza, Nazareth or Nablus faces or, in a certain way, bumps into every day with an occupation power, with its symbols of authority, with its uncontrolled domination; he wants that power removed […] He wants the new. One Palestinian wants to change, the other wants to stay, but both want radical change.

Of all post-1948 Palestinian resistance experiences, perhaps the PLO is the most prominent in history (with the constant dominance of the Al-Fatah), so let's move on to examining this experience.

Palestine Liberation Organization PLO)

The PLO has an undeniable role in organizing the Palestinian resistance. Its importance comes from its fundamental role not only for Palestinians who still reside in Palestine, but also for exiles. After Nakba, Palestinian leaders were exiled and began to try to reorganize themselves from exile in countries such as Egypt and Lebanon, and in 1964 the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, was created by the Arab League, based on legitimate resistance against the occupation of Historic Palestine by a foreign military force.

The PLO achieved a great feat in this sense, because, in a scenario of immense fragmentation of the Palestinian people, it won the support and solidarity of broad layers of the world population and was, from 1964 to 1988, the most prominent and officially Palestinian resistance organization. recognized both in the Arab world and internationally[vi]. Furthermore, the PLO is considered as the spokesperson and representative of the Palestinian people, therefore, the PLO is mainly responsible for making Palestine and its people reappear on the international scene and in public opinion, as a resistant people. Said[vii] summarizes the issue:

In short, the role of the PLO is to represent the Palestinians as no other organization could (and here too, the PLO makes room for any Palestinian anywhere; this is its most important achievement); and, furthermore, despite the deficiencies of its policies or leadership, its role is to keep the Palestinian cause alive, something greater than provisional organizations or policies.

More than that, the PLO was also responsible for making a change of axis in the resistance's focus of action; Under these terms, the struggle also began to take place within the occupied territories, and not just in the border countries of the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel. Furthermore, with the leadership of Al-Fatah, the PLO began to organize itself in several countries where there were Palestinian camps – sometimes even constituting itself as a parallel power and acting much more like a State itself than as a national movement of liberation and resistance.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the structure of the PLO. Thus, in addition to the leadership of Fatah, the PLO encompasses the Palestinian National Liberation Army (EPLN) and parties of the Palestinian left, such as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FDLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestinian People's Party (PPP), formerly the Palestinian Communist Party (PCP)2. The work must now turn, since this is its focus, to Al-Fatah, which for a long time occupied the hegemonic portion and, therefore, the leadership of the PLO [viii]. Let's see.

Al-Fatah: leader of the PLO

Al-Fatah emerged in 1965 with a small attack on Israel, since then, until the mid-1980s (in which Fatah and the other nationalist organizations of the PLO went into decline, giving way to political Islam), the party was the largest Palestinian resistance group, led by Yasser Arafat[ix].

Fatah is structured and composed by a military and political framework that involved the majority of Palestinian refugees and those living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In other words, Fatah was present among almost all of the Palestinian people, in exile or in the territories.

It is a Nasserist organization, that is, just as Gamal Abdel Nasser did in Egypt, Fatah did not intend to be reduced to a visible symbol of authority, but, above all, to represent and organize the grammar of a national philosophy centralization that should guide the entire Palestinian resistance movement. In this way, Fatah aspired to constitute and establish a totalizing narrative of the struggle; In short, the movement demonstrates the intention of setting the terms by which the entire struggle of the Palestinian people unfolds.[X].

According to Said, Fatah, in its theoretical elaboration, which legitimizes its social practice, does not develop class issues or other analyzes for the movement. For the organization, it is only necessary to be Palestinian and oppressed to stand up against Zionist colonization. In other words, sociologically, Fatah is organized as a secular and non-Marxist movement, and not necessarily to the left of the political spectrum of resistance. As discussed in the previous topic, Fatah over practically two decades managed to occupy the opposite of a hegemonic force within the PLO, and, in fact, structured the grammar of political philosophy.

Even more so, Fatah, especially Yasser Arafat, was quite pragmatic for much of its history, adopting a political line that was very consistent with the objectives of liberation and the return of Palestinians to their homeland. However, the movement abandoned the principles of the PLO itself in several positions, the biggest of which was, precisely, the recognition of the State of Israel over 78% of historic Palestine in 1988.[xi].

Fatah remained in a kind of comfort zone on several issues, which enabled the formation of a parasitic and enriched state bureaucracy, which meant that the party received a lot of criticism from other Palestinian political groups and fell, from the 1980s onwards. XNUMX, in the discredit of the Palestinian people[xii]. About this, Said laments[xiii]:

Above all, how long will Palestinian politicians led by Fatah be content with a little here, a little there, with one leader saying X, another saying Y, with bureaucracies and slogans fulfilling the function of revolutionary organization and awareness, with condescension instead of doing the job, with blind obedience to leaders instead of serious responsibility?

History has shown that Fatah was unable to bring about the liberation of the Palestinian people. His policies, once radical and pragmatic, gave way to consensus with the colonizer, and, of course, to his capitulation. To the extent that it was unable to meet the Palestinians' desire for freedom and justice, Fatah lost its importance in terms of representation within the Palestinian people, to the detriment of political Islam.

Decline of the PLO

In a 1988 session of the Palestinian National Council in Algeria, the PLO, led by Al-Fatah, approved the Declaration of Palestinian Independence, in which it proclaims the “establishment of the State of Palestine in our Palestinian land, with Jerusalem as its capital”. At the same time, the PLO recognized the right of the State of Israel to exist alongside a Palestinian State. In other words, there was recognition of the UN Partition of Palestine plan, “previously presented by the organization [OLP] as being an instrument of the alliance between Zionism and imperialism to expand its influence and exercise territorial domination of a strategic part of the Middle East ”[xiv]. In short, under the leadership of Al-Fatah, the PLO abandons its principles of resistance.

This movement resulted, above all, from the signing of the Oslo Accords. However, non-compliance with several clauses of the signed agreements helped to erode the credibility that part of the Palestinian people placed in the PLO and, firstly, in Fatah.

It is at this juncture, that is, the abandonment of radical and rigorous resistance to its principles, to which must be added the accusations of corruption by Fatah cadres within the PLO, that political Islam, represented above all by Hamas, created in 1988.

Hamas is, intrinsically, an alternative to Fatah, not in relation to the struggle for liberation, but in terms of the paths to achieve it. While the second wants a Palestinian national state, the first aims to build an Islamic State. The group's political Islam was viewed favorably by Israel, as it weakened the main source of Palestinian resistance at the time. In 2005, Hamas won the municipal elections in Gaza, officially assuming the leading role in the resistance.[xv].

Final considerations

The work sought to explore the history of Palestinian resistance against the Israeli imperialist advance. To this end, we undertook an attempt to understand the need for reorganization, we reflected on what it means to be Palestinian after the Nakba and we highlight the main proposals for political organization created by the Palestinians to achieve this objective of emancipation, with emphasis on the emergence and development of the PLO and Al-Fatah.

The tasks of understanding Palestinian resistance are Herculean tasks, since, in addition to all the complications imposed by the colonizer itself, the Palestinian people find themselves constrained by their own frictions and sectarianisms of a sociologically quite complex people. Ultimately, it is important to occupy the ranks of their resistance, in addition to helping to promote solidarity for consolidation and a free Palestine from the river to the sea. The final word:

Understanding the internal political debates in the national Palestinian resistance movement is always a very difficult task, as the daily reality of the conflict promotes significant changes every day, and many analysts are surprised by important events – often unexpected – that force us to constantly review what we think and write about this concrete situation. We believe that knowing in depth who they are, how they organize themselves and the main challenges facing Marxists and their parties/movements in Palestine is one of the fundamental tasks so that we can strengthen our bonds of solidarity and our commitment to this legitimate cause of a people who have known maintain your dignity and boldness even in the most difficult situations.[xvi]

* Murilo Amadio Cipollone has a bachelor's degree in law from the Faculty of Law of the University of São Paulo and member of the research collective Human Rights, Centrality of Work and Marxism at the same institution.

** Lucas Oliveira Menditi do Amaral He holds a law degree from the Faculty of Law of the University of São Paulo and is a member of the research collective Human Rights, Centrality of Work and Marxism at the same institution.

REFERENCES


BUZETTO, Marcelo. Marxists and the Palestinian Question: challenges from the left. Social Struggles Magazine, São Paulo, n. 28, pp. 130-146, 1st week. 2012.

COGGIOLA, Osvaldo. Sources of Palestinian resistance. the earth is round, 2023. Available at: . Accessed on: 22/12/2023.

KANAFANI, Ghassan. The 1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine. São Paulo: Sundermann, sdp

PAPPÉ, Ilan. Palestine's ethnic cleansing. So Paulo: Sundermann, 2016.

SAID, Edward W. The question of Palestine. Sao Paulo: Ed. Unesp, 2012.

Notes


[I] KANAFANI, Ghassan. The 1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine. São Paulo: Sundermann, sdp, p. 68.

[ii] Ibid., pp. 79-80.

[iii] PAPPÉ, Ilan. Palestine's ethnic cleansing. São Paulo: Sundermann, 2016, pp. 34.

[iv] SAID, Edward W. The question of Palestine. São Paulo: Ed. Unesp, 2012. p. 143.

[v] SAID, Edward W. The question of Palestine. São Paulo: Ed. Unesp, 2012. p. 145.

[vi] BUZETTO, Marcelo. Marxists and the Palestinian Question: challenges from the left. Social Struggles Magazine, São Paulo, n. 28, pp. 130-146, 1st week. 2012. p. 132

[vii] SAID, Edward W. The Question of Palestine. São Paulo: Ed. Unesp, 2012. p. 189.

[viii] BUZETTO, Marcelo. Marxists and the Palestinian Question: challenges from the left. Social Struggles Magazine, São Paulo, n. 28, pp. 130-146, 1st week. 2012. p. 135.

[ix] SAID, Edward W. The Question of Palestine. São Paulo: Ed. Unesp, 2012. pp. 181-182.

[X] Ibid., P. 182.

[xi] Ibid., pp.183-184.

[xii] COGGIOLA, Osvaldo. Sources of Palestinian resistance. the earth is round, 2023. Available at: . Accessed on: 22/12/2023.

[xiii] SAID, Edward W. The question of Palestine. São Paulo: Ed. Unesp, 2012. pp. 185.

[xiv] BUZETTO, Marcelo. Marxists and the Palestinian Question: challenges from the left. Social Struggles Magazine, São Paulo, n. 28, pp. 130-146, 1st sem. 2012. P. 136.

[xv] COGGIOLA, Osvaldo. Sources of Palestinian resistance. the earth is round, 2023. Available at: . Accessed on: 22/12/2023.

[xvi] BUZETTO, Marcelo. Marxists and the Palestinian Question: challenges from the left. Social Struggles Magazine, São Paulo, n. 28, pp. 130-146, 1st sem. 2012. P. 145.


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