On December 11th the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine commemorated its 55th anniversary. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine celebrated the 55th anniversary of it’s founding with a large parade in the streets of the besieged Gaza Strip. The PFLP is a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist organization founded in 1967 by Dr. George Habash. Its creation is a landmark in history of people’s liberation and Palestine people in particular. Inspite of being hounded in the gravest possible methods, it has heroically resurrected from the most dire straits.
The Popular Front believes that Israel is an integral part of the global Zionist movement, and in fact is manufactured by it. Therefore, the battle is not waged confronting Israel alone, but rather an Israel that is objectively based on the strength of the Zionist movement. The Zionist movement, as a racist religious movement, is trying to organize and recruit 14 million Jews around the world to support Israel, protect its aggressive existence, and consolidate and expand this presence. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine considers national unity essential to mobilize all the forces of the revolution to confront the opponent’s camp, in which all layers of the revolution are represented by the peasants, the workers and the petty bourgeoisie. At the very core it rejects concept of 2 state solution, which would result in part of Palestine remaining occupied and colonized by the Zionists. The PFLP is resolute in supporting one single Palestinian state where all can live with dignity, where apartheid against Palestinians ends, the fascistic Zionist entity is abolished and those forced out of their homes by the Zionist colonizers can return.
The military wing of the PFLP, known as the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, played a key role in the Resistance movement in Gaza in recent years.
The Front has been been tormented in recent years to “a merciless Israeli campaign of repression that suppressed all its members, male and female, and at all organizational levels, including the octogenarian Bashir al-Khairi, who recently got out of administrative detention.”
Arrest of student activists in universities. is a routine feature. The front’s organizational structures are also being ripped apart, similar to the rest of the resistance movements, and human rights associations and institutions have been prosecuted for their links to the front.
The Popular Front is exposed to continuous bombardment from the Palestinian political system, and is possibly vitiated by the “approach to seizing power and functional exclusion,” even though it is part of the Palestine Liberation Organization. It confronts hurdles of the Front’s cadres training a public job or promotions.
The front plays no role in political participation in decision-making, in which it is supposed to participate, like all the factions affiliated within the framework of the PLO. The front has been subjected to sanctions from the Palestinian leadership, including freezing its financial allocations to the PLO because of its political stances.
On the other hand, on the level of the relationship with the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), al-Sharabati talks about common understanding in important aspects, despite the ideological differences. He says, “It is clear that there are major political points of convergence and coordination between them in the actions of the resistance, especially in Gaza.”
However, it adds , “the ideological aspect maintains the discrepancy, especially in the view of the two factions regarding the social aspects.” Despite this, “union alliances between them exist in more than one place,” and it is not excluded that these alliances are one of the factors of estrangement between the Front and the Palestinian Authority.
Although the Popular Front is the largest left-wing movement in the Palestinian situation, yet it faces challenges that hinder its vitality within Palestinian society.
On August 27, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces assassinated Abu Ali Mustafa, to succeed him, Ahmed Saadat, who was arrested by the Palestinian Authority on January 15, 2002.
On March 14, 2006, Israel arrested the perpetrators of the assassination, among the activists of the Popular Front, in addition to Secretary-General Saadat, from the Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho, and sentenced him to 30 years in prison on charges of “heading a banned political organization.” This was one of the factors of tension with the Palestinian Authority.
Intellectual Al-Rimawi analyses that this is due to the fact that the front “did not re-read its intellectual scene, but rather kept the ideology based on Marxism as a real motivation for formation, which is a factor that made the Palestinian situation recede from left-wing political movements in general.”
He added, “The front has traditionally reconsidered the issue of alliances that are based on communist or populist movements, even though these movements have lost their attractiveness in the world.” while “now siding with the relationship with the revolutionary Islamic movements, or Iran as a state.”
He points out that the Popular Front “categorizes itself as an opposition movement, but it has not succeeded in creating a situation in the opposition.”
Two currents flowed antagonistically to one another, one that struggled to establish power, and another that saw itself as closer to the resistance movement, but the balance was tilted in favour of the forces in pursuit of the resistance movement.”
The front experienced two major splits, the first was led by Nayef Hawatmeh in February 1969, and the nascent movement was called the “Revolutionary Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” then changed to the “Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” As for the second, it was led by Ahmed Jibril, and he called it the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – the General Command.”
“Fatah, the organization’s largest faction, did not succeed in negotiating and allying with the Popular Front on the basis of national partnership, but rather established an opportunist alliance to impose command.
A very illustrative interview was taken of a PFLP leader by Libyajamahiriya on May 13th earlier this year, which I recommend for all readers. It encompasses the specific program of the PFLP,what separates the PFLP from other Palestinian factions, the historical background of the formation of PFLP, the ebb and flow in development of the PFLP, the various co-relations of factors influencing it’s development and the death defying courage it has exhibited in confronting encirclement of it’s enemies to give optimism to its supporters.
The establishment of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was linked to two pivotal ideological positions. A line that tries to preserve the general program of the movement, and a line that calls for the adoption of Marxism-Leninism, and the second position is to replace the central bodies of the Arab Nationalist Movement with a coordination office between the regions of the movement and its branches throughout the Arab region.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine sprung up as a revolt to the June 1967 defeat, and the theoretical, political and organizational lessons that resulted in and crystallized the defeat. The establishment of the Front is also related to the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) and its Palestinian organization and its struggle experience since the Nakba in 1948 AD, and the lessons it acquired since the beginning of the sixties to prepare for the start of the armed struggle, at this founding stage.
Right wing religious trends representing parasitic capitalism dependent on external backing hindered the crystallisation of progress., by adopting in some way or practicing liberal utilitarian thought (Qatari-National-Islamist) Historical developments turned the Palestinian cause, the struggle of the Palestinian people, and Arab and international solidarity into mere differences between the two prominent Palestinian right-wing factions. Fatah and Hamas movements and reconciliation between them. It put all the left factions and other forces on the sidelines of the national and militant struggle; this is the most prominent real crisis experienced by the Palestinian left with all its forces, including of course the Popular Front. Assigning task of the leadership of the alliances organized in the name of the Liberation Organization or the National Council or by popular representation in unions and federations to the forces of the right encouraged them to dictate terms, weaken the left in general, and marginalize it.
The PFLP negates the concept of pan Arabism or United Arabic Republic assessing that “Those peoples failed in the democratic transition after the revolutions of the Arab Spring, and were returned to the fold of obedience, and with the growth of the phenomenon of terrorism, and as the issue of Jerusalem remained stuck, it was proven day after day that it is not a national issue at all, and the slogans raised by the Arab rulers are only to consolidate their dictatorial power and give it a colour that gives it prestige and makes the ruler — the tyrant — the defender of the alleged cause, the Palestinian cause in its national form remained present in the mind of the Arab nation, but with the slogan “Where is the Arab people, where is the Arab blood?” As an intellectual framework, it appears as a system that carries a clear contradiction in its folds represented by the adoption of something and its opposition at the same time, as it recognizes the rights of the Palestinian people and its capital is Jerusalem, denies the rights of its people, raises a national Arab slogan and ally with non-Arabs over Arabs, and then expresses Jerusalem, while the importance of Jerusalem as a city it comes mainly with the holy places you own, whether Islamic or Christian.”
Quoting a leader f the PFLP “The more years pass on the Palestinian cause, the more polarizations, stakes, interventions, and pressures accumulate, and with them the circumstances become difficult and the issues and tasks that are affected by time, role, action, initiative and insistence on achievement and mastery become more complex. This brings us back to the historical stage and the tasks required, and the specificity of it, for an issue like the Palestinian issue, in subjective and objective circumstances, internal and external, local, regional and international, together and together. It starts from an overlap between the two sides of the two terms, left and right, and does not end with their class and social structure and the cooperation of their bases, which was necessary to express them; Theoretical and practical. While all of these are mixed in periods of liberation struggle and meet at the interim goals or the overall strategy, at the same time, they remain important and essential issues in decision-making, leadership, setting programs and interim steps on which the strategy of national liberation and historical victory is built.
“The main conflict in the Palestinian cause is the same for all Palestinian forces and factions since the issue arose and since the factions’ inception, such as movements, political parties and their military wings. its limited area; Another reason to explain the external interference, and to weaken the united whole at the expense of the self-interests of all of Palestine, and the contradiction in the stakes and the parties or the party that is affiliated with it, any faction and supports it in various ways or in various forms. This matter added to the internal fissures, splits, and external penetrations, dilemmas for all forces and factions, but it was more severe on the left, or in other words weaker than the position of the left in general, and practically marginalized its role on the Palestinian arena and even outside it, and of course, most importantly, in its connection with its Palestinian social base, inside Palestine. And in the diaspora that has spread a lot with the passage of time and the intertwining of hostile and liquidating schemes for the whole issue, and not for the issues of asylum, return and actual representation.”
“Despite this general course of Palestinian political action, the Popular Front considers current circumstances to be in its favour. Despite all these obstacles, the amount support for the PFLP enjoys from the Palestinian masses is healthy and continues to grow. Its line must be consolidated and influenced by the components of the left side, in order to reach an advanced stage of coordination and joint action to be the leading and effective alternative in the existing political conflict. Among these are the renewal of leaders and the acceptance of young leaders; Thought, spirit and practical intertwined field activity, institutionalization of organizational, political and popular work and acceptance of change in its composition and expression of the real interests of the sectors it represents.”
The PFLP strived to constructively and creatively apply Marxism-Leninism to its National struggle .We need to probe why it was unable to synthesize the Chinese line of protracted peoples War , endorse the Chinese Cultural Revolution or support Marxism-Leninsm Mao Thought in the 1970’s and why it endorsed Che Guevarism.and adopted a neutral stand in the Sino-Soviet conflict.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has studied National Liberation Movements