Italy, february 2002


We met a Palestinian Left comrade who has accepted to answer some questions. What follows is a wide extract from his interview.

Can you shortly describe the present situation in Palestine?

The present situation in Palestine is comparable with the long agony of a patient who seems oldest than his age.
This agony did not start, as many would like to say, with the second Intifada's beginning, on 28th September 2000: we can say that on that day, after Sharon's "walk" at the Mosques, the situation has exploded, even if this only consideration would be superficial.
The origin of this revolt dates back, I think, to many time before, to the end of the first Intifada and to the beginning of the process which brought to Oslo agreements in 1993, and they have to be connected with the worsening that these agreements brought, during these years, to the situation into Palestinian territories, and with some fundamental promises not applied for all Palestinian people as, for example, the right of return for the refugees, the right of self-determination, the right to declare an independent state with Jerusalem East as capital, and the liberation of all political prisoners.
The process which brought to Oslo agreements was born from an international agreement among many Arabian countries and Israel, with, at the beginning, two "masters" (USA and Russia), in a situation of great crisis for the OLP, especially after the Gulf war.
Palestinian Right tried to convince its people and the whole world that those agreements were the only possible way, and despite many organizations did not agree (11 of 13 parties which form the OLP)and thought that many points of those agreements were since the beginning a release to part of historic claims of liberation movement, it prevailed a common choice.
With the crisis the Palestinian Left and the Arab world were passing through, and with the affirmation of American imperialism, after the Berlin's wall falling, we too thought that we had to try.
And since that moment our agony begun.
An agony of continuous attempts to divide Arabian world and that area's countries, with "separate" agreements, while we were asking for a right peace in the whole area.
An agony made by the progressive and generalized worsening of economic condition in all Palestine. We saw the attempt by all forces put into the field for agreements (Israel, USA, European Union, Palestinian middle class itself ) to exploit the situation to pursue their interests, while Palestinian people is only hungry and it is obliged to live widely under the middle threshold of poverty.
An agony which, during this process, has continued independently from the political trend of Israeli governments alternated during these years.
But this is not amazing for us : we believe that political Israeli project is the same. And if Labour Israeli Left was trying to impose its supremacy especially towards public opinion and the international community, the Right's victory and the ascent to power of its most impudent and criminal delegates, has shown what are real interests, what are Israel's real aims: hitting any hand which can rise against its absolute power on our land.
This is to say that the problem is not Sharon or the Likud as themselves, as someone "progressive" wants us to believe on mass-media, but the problem is a clear political strategy which during these years brought not only to the preservation of the present situation, but to its progressive degeneration.
But responsibilities are not only Israeli. Instead of having a state, instead of reaching the aim agreed with Oslo's agreements, yet mediated, the political leadership, with at its head Arafat (the Al-Fatah party) who represents substantially the Palestinian middle class, instead of founding a state, he founded an authority. Palestinian people, after 50 years of occupation, extermination, tragedies and massacres, instead of having a state, it had another Authority, which has also the pretension to define itself "National".
It is not an institution which recognizes its people the right to live as individuals, as Palestinian, even formally, with an identity paper, a passport, with the concrete acknowledgement of its history of struggle, made of many martyrs and many comrades still in jail or still refugee.
Unfortunately the Palestinian Authority tried instead to do the policeman of Israeli government on Palestinian people. What is incredible is that Israel during 50 years did not succeed in bending our resistance : and now how can some Palestinian be thought to be able to do it!
This is what many militants think, young and old, from many organizations as Hamas, Jihad, Democratic Front, Popular Front; this is what many, even in the Left itself of Al-Fatah as Fatah Intifada, think: we have never been bended by someone, we can't tolerate to be subjected by some Palestinian.
When I speak about agony I speak about this. And these, shortly, are real preambles which brought to 28th September 2000, at the beginning of the second Intifada.
We believe that the Intifada is the only way to come out of this agony, to show that we didn't bow down, and to continue and to affirm the right to our land , to our identity, to our culture.
The Intifada, before to be a "nationalist" struggle, is the instrument to affirm our existence, to unmask the real nature of the Israeli terrorist state.
During the first Intifada people said that even not having bread, it had the pride to affirm to the world that we were still present, that we could fight, that we could defend ourselves.
After the beginning of the Intifada many of Palestinian workers which went to work in Israeli territory preferred to remain workless instead of sustaining continuous humiliations at Israeli roadblock , to be exploited as a slave by some Israeli master.
One of conquests of the first Intifada was surely the consolidation of a solidarity and an international acknowledgement that we were not able to utilize. Instead of reaping the harvest of our struggle, we isolated ourselves around a negotiation table that ruined us.

What is the Intifada today?

I don't want to speak here about single facts which characterize the Intifada: I want only to define it as a continuous protest into which the people wants to hope again. Yet since the beginning we understood that it should be an hard struggle, made by many sacrifices and victims, but at the moment it's the only way practicable to preserve what we conquered during these years and that will bring us to reach a better situation than that we could reach with the continuation of Oslo agreements or with the experience of the Palestinian Authority.
At the beginning the Intifada was born as an sudden reaction.
Then, it has been supported by many organizations, above all belonging to Palestinian opposition, both inside and outside of Palestine.
At the beginning Palestinian Authority didn't agree with these manifestations, it tried to stop or to limit them.
Then, not to lose the square and not to be isolate, themselves have gone into manifestations.
But obviously Palestinian bourgeois who has come back from Tunisia has not gone in the street throwing stones. He was surely happy that there was someone defending him and its interest, allowing him to have an economic relationship even with Israel. He had got his police, he had his project, and, as good entrepreneur, he doesn't care about who demonstrates because he has got nothing to lose.
Instead during these seven years they had built an Authority, a structure which had above all the task to defend them and their interest.
We accept, in spite of all, Arafat's authority, but we want to preserve our basic politic rights. No one can represent the whole Palestinian people without thinking about what it expresses, and no one, neither Israel nor the USA, can choose what interlocutor to favour and what to hit.
We really believe in the unity of Palestinian people's struggle.
Only its unity can create the force necessary to obtain our self - determination.
We want peace, we are fighting for peace, but for an equal peace, and an equal peace cannot be reached by only one part of people.
So, despite of differences, we want to keep unity, we want to fight united, Islamicist and laical, of "Left" or "Right".
We don't want richness, we don't want to go with a Limousine!
We want that Palestinian worker, teacher, woman, child, refugee in every country of the world, has got a better future, a state, an identity. This is our politic aim.
European Community wanted to support a Marshall project, an entrepreneurial international political project behind that zone's peoples. But obviously, every entrepreneur who invests his capital, looks for political and military steadiness to develop these projects.
So they want that Palestinian people stop to create unsteadiness…
But in front of us we have an enemy who is using terrorism to massacre a people, to kill the dream in a child's mind, to kill the dream in a woman's tear. They don't understand that this is the real aim of Israel: to cancel our will to fight. They don't understand that it is not the military humiliation to hit us: now we are so "accustomed" to resisting, to seeing our houses falling under tanks, to seeing our children under the continuous aim of a soldier. This cannot limit us, cannot stop our path, our Intifada, that is the only passable way, that is the only way to sustain, to defend, to help.

On mass-media they are speaking only about the dead, as it was a clash between two armies. Often it seems to be forgotten that they are an occupation and a liberation struggle…
There are many organizations and groups which are fighting with Palestinian people. No one of them has got an army comparable to the Israeli army, that is the most trained and militarised of the world. It is an army not only made of weapons but it has got an advanced technology which allows them to control and hit people, executives, militants, in an exact and "intelligent" way, as they have done to Abu Ali Mustafa, PFLP's secretary, killed into his office on 28th august 2001. An office where he did not go very soon, where, answering the phone, he has been hit by two missiles shoot by an helicopter . Abu Ali Mustafa has been a right executive, laic, progressive, a symbol of democracy, with a political project addressed the whole Palestinian people and the Arab world.
And like him they have eliminated executives and militants of other organizations, of Hamas, of Hezbollah, while they were into their cars, or when they were going by motorcycle, in the street. The existing forces cannot be put in comparison.
Despite this, there have been also very strong answers and actions. Let's speak, for example, about "Kamikaze actions": it's very difficult to explain these actions' meaning to who doesn't live our situation. And even if many of us don't agree with this kind of actions, and they never did them, especially into the laic Palestinian Left, we have to respect those actions and we can't read them only as some "desperate" acts because it is love for life to make one choose the Death. It is not love for only one person, but love for the life of a whole people.
There are also actions defined kamikaze only to create confusion, as the recent action made by two comrades against a bar where only Israeli soldiers meet, near a barracks. These militants are not kamikaze, but they have been strongly hit during the action, in a fire clash.
And there are also many significant actions, very studied, very intelligent.
The action against the minister Ze'evi, for example, has given the shivers to the safety system and the whole Israeli state. To hit a minister, a criminal like Ze'evi, one of the generals responsible of many massacres, one of those that have signed the condemnation to Abu Ali Mustafa,has had the meaning , I think, to make them understand that we are present, that they can eliminate only someone, but despite this we can develop. We have the love for life, for the sun, we are very deep as an oak, with our head up. This pride is a force which allows us resisting and continuing despite psychological, economic and military pressures.

Do you think that these actions belonging to PFLP's military part, are only an answer to suffered attacks or a change of line in comparison with last years?

Regarding to the suffered attack, to the loss of a comrade as Abu Ali Mustafa, many people think that this action, this reaction, has been not enough. I don't think that there has been a change of the politic line of the Front. The Front, as organization, since 28th September has been always present with its men and women in every protest of Palestinian people. It has lost some martyrs in this path, but it continues its strategy of liberation inventing and adapting its forms of struggle to circumstances. The action against Ze'evi has been studied since time, it has not been an "improvised" reaction; an operation studied since months, moved by the will to hit one of guilty of Abu Ali Mustafa's death.
After this action secret services surely trembled, thinking about an organization able to organize and operate, able to hit them, as never done before.
For this reason they are so resolute to find and hit who is guilty of this action. Even because they know that in front of them there are militants not moved by "fanaticism" but that they are people of a certain social-cultural level following a political strategy and that did not commit a simple attack but a real "intelligence" operation, the elimination of one guilty of many crimes.

During this last period the impression is that they wanted to put Arafat (his political component) with his back against the wall. But his leadership seemed "compatible" with the imperialistic project in the area. How can you explain this?

First of all, we have to say that Arafat has not been isolated by Israeli, or by other Palestinian groups, or by the Arab world. The way that Arafat is following, since Oslo, chosen by him and his political group, is a way inducing to self-isolation. If now he is in a bad situation is only Arab world's guilt, or only the result of an Israeli will to isolate him. Instead of reinforcing the protest, trying to create an alliance with other groups (a thing that the front always tried to do, even tolerating many of his settlements done in the name of the national Unity), he threw away these sacrifices.
If he is lonely into his General Quarter it's not our guilt. I'm still supporting him, because despite this, at the moment he is the only one possible interlocutor internationally.
And I think that it is an illusion to think that Israel and the USA want really to eliminate Arafat: they want to enfeeble him, because he grew up too much, but at the same time, it would be too much dangerous for them to lose an interlocutor and an allied as him. The real problem is this: if Europe and USA don't understand that a peace process will be constructive, realistic and right only when at the same table they will be present the representatives of the whole Palestinian people and not only Arafat, and the representatives of Arab countries which have acknowledged or not Israel, every attempt will be an illusion.
I trust the Palestinian people because it has got a will to live and to resist we have to admire, so I'm sure that with the Intifada we are going to obtain something, maybe not the moon but a place to watch it.

What do political Palestinian organizations expect from western movements? And what can we do?

I want to criticize our Italian and European comrades. I think that there is an internal conflict when we face the Palestinian problem, as the Left has not been able to go over inside its own head the tragic history of the holocaust (that was perpetrated not only against the Hebrews but also against black people, communists, gipsies, homosexuals).
I think that the reason is a very strong political manipulation, supported by Hebrew communities into mass-media. This is a thing very hard to fight. I am not anti-Semite, I'm laic, I respect Israeli which recognize Palestinian people's right to come back, the so called pacifists, which are few but they have to be respected.
But the presence of this influence for me is very strong, a real problem that puts a limit on the possibility of a political struggle, and drives towards moderate and reformist positions.
I am amazed at many comrades who say to support the Palestinian struggle, to be against Israeli state terrorism, but, if you analyse thoroughly, the say you that their aim is to help a child not to go in the street and to be killed by Israeli soldiers.