Dutch IS and Islamism

Submitted by AWL on 15 June, 2004 - 9:53

Two articles from the Dutch anarchist/anti-racist publication De Fabel van de illegaal.
De Fabel van de illegaal 64, May/June 2004

Authors: Eric Krebbers and Roel Nagel
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IS and AEL organize remembrance of religious fascist Yassin

On March 27, 2004, the Internationale Socialisten (IS, colleagues of the British SWP) and the Arab-nationalist organization AEL together organized a remembrance manifestation for the Palestinian sheikh Ahmed Yassin on the Dam in Amsterdam. The founder and ideologue of the Muslim fundamentalist organization Hamas was liquidated 5 days before by the Israeli army.

"Just like sheikh Ahmed Yassin is a hero to us, all Hamas fighters are heroes to us", AEL chairman Nabil Marmouch said to the crowd of some 100 people attending. "And not only Hamas! There are more people and organizations struggling in that area, Al-Aqsa, Hamas, Jihad, Hizbollah and more, and also in Iraq. This resistance we also have to support!" And for those who consider the blowing up of random citizens a fascist strategy, Marmouch added: "Who really supports the resistance, supports all of the resistance and not just a part of it." According to him "our brothers and sisters in Palestine" will decide for themselves "how to resist", and "the Palestine people" is not interested in "paternalism from the Netherlands".

Mujama

Nationalists always deny the sharp conflicts which exist within all so called "peoples", and so did Marmouch when talking about "our brothers and sisters in Palestine". Since 1980 the Mujama al-Islami, Hamas' precursor and also lead by Yassin, has violently established itself in the Gaza strip. Restaurants, cafes, cinemas, alcohol shops and libraries were burned down or forced to close. Palestinian men and women were beaten and sometimes even killed when dressed "unislamic". Especially targeted were the Left and nationalists, who were then still at the core of the Palestinian liberation movement.

After the start of the Intifada in 1987 Yassin - "an example for many of us", according to the AEL - and his followers rebuilt Mujama into Hamas. Between 1987 and 1993 these religious fascists, according to moderate estimates, murdered 942 Palestinians, more than the Israeli occupation forces killed in the same period.(1) To left and feminist Palestinians the Hamas is an occupation force in its own right. Like all other "peoples" AEL's so called "Palestinian people" is not a unity, and can there for not choose as "a people" "how to resist", whatever Marmouch thinks. In reality, those who support "a people", only support the powerful and not the resistance from below by workers and women.

Coalition

"Resistance against the occupation is legitimate and deserves all possible support from the Netherlands", Miriyam Aouragh of the IS said. In her speech she pleaded for "a broad coalition of immigrants, autochthones, women, men, Muslims, Christians and socialists". Jews were not invited. The socialist did not mention the fascist ideology and methods of Hamas. The charter in which Yassin explained the ideology of Hamas can, however, easily be found on the internet.(2)

The central issue in the charter is "the struggle against the Jews", which will go on, according to Hamas, "until the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, which will call: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!" Israel will only exist "until the Islam eliminates it", Yassin wrote. And according to him "the Jews" were behind the French, the communist and all other revolutions. Even more so, "no war ever started anywhere without their fingerprints on it", is says in the charter. The anti-Semite fantasy "The protocols of the elders of Zion" would prove the existence of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. "The Jews" would even be behind feminism, which lures Muslim women away from their real duties: housekeeping and baring and raising Muslim children.

Anti-fascism

In some Leftwing circles people seem to have difficulties dealing with the Hamas charter. On the Indymedia.nl website, for instance, several AEL and IS texts on the remembrance were allowed, but because of still unclear reasons links to Yassins charter were removed. Maybe it was considered not done to confront activists with the reality of Yassins fascist ideology.

To Ed Hollants of the Amsterdam based action group Autonoom Centrum the anti-fascist struggle against Hamas is something of the past, and talks have to start with the religious fascists. In reaction to the liquidation he wrote: "In the last decade Hamas has developed into one of the most important political organizations of the Palestinians. Even if you are against their ideology and methods, you still cannot deny this fact. It is therefore unthinkable that there can be a solution in the Israeli Palestinian conflict without Hamas being a part of it."(3) But how can fascists be a part of any solution? How can there be peace when the Left, feminists and Jews are remain being attacked? Furthermore, Hollants called the murder of Yassin "an attack on Islam". Like many opinion makers from the Right he seems to think the whole of Islam is fundamentalist.

Land Day

The protest on the Dam was originally organized as part of the Land Day. That is a yearly protest against the outrageous Israeli politics of confiscation of Palestinian held lands. After the liquidation the AEL decided to make the protest into a Yassin remembrance. For that reason the Dutch Palestine Committee decided to quit and organize their own separate small manifestation behind the palace on the Dam. The speeches on the remembrance would not do their struggle for Palestine much good, they knew.

In some extreme Right circles the liquidation was also followed by furious reactions. "With this "Israel" has opened the gates of hell, and Hamas revenge will be sweet!", warned the "Werewolf Netherlands" website of neo-Nazi party NVU member Eite Homan. Werewolf enthusiastically mentioned a neo-Nazi protest demonstration in Germany against "the bloodthirsty Jews" who have murdered Yassin. Werewolf will probably be very happy with new Hamas leader Aziz al-Rantisi. For he talks about "the myth of the gas chambers" and calls upon revisionists like Garaudy and Irving. He also says that national socialism was a conspiracy of "Zionist banks".(4) According to Rantisi there are "no innocent Israelis" and they may therefore all be blown to pieces. Recently the government of war criminal Sharon has decided to eliminate the entire Hamas leadership. The 'ordinary' men and women in Israel, Palestine and the occupied territories do not have a great future to forward to.

Notes

* 1. "Djihad und Judenhass", Matthias Küntzel, 2002.
* 2. "Charter", Hamas, 1988. See for instance on the Palestine Center website.
* 3. "Moord op Yassin, aanval op islam", Ed Hollants. On: Autonoom Centrum website.
* 4. "Eine reife Leistung", Matthias Küntzel. On: Jungle World-website.

De Fabel van de illegaal 64, May/June 2004

Author: Eric Krebbers
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"Internationale Socialisten" against cultural racism

In their latest brochure the Internationale Socialisten (IS, colleagues of the British SWP) give their view on racism. The party strongly criticizes the nationalist "integration debate" in the Netherlands and the emerging cultural racism. But immigrant nationalists should nevertheless be supported, the party strangely concludes.

The way people nowadays think of racism is dominated by the concepts ngo's promote. These organizations usually only speak of "discrimination" and numbers of "incidents". Unfortunately the Left seldom comes up with better analyses of racism anymore. A positive exception is the booklet "Stop de hetze. Argumenten tegen racisme" ("Stop the agitation. Arguments against racism") by IS member Peyman Jafari which the party brought out in February 2004. Jafari is not afraid to use the word racism. ""There's no racism", now that's the real taboo which has to be broken. Racism doesn't occur only incidentally and not only with the extreme Right, as people often think. It is a structural problem in the Netherlands", Jafari writes. He wrote a powerful booklet, with a choice in themes and analysis which closely matches the IS anti-racist campaigns. In 2001 the party consequently spoke out against extreme right politician Fortuyn - which unfortunately was not self-evident in the action movement -, and is one of the few organizations of the radical Left in the Netherlands with relatively many immigrant and refugee members.

Capitalism

"In the course of history racism has taken different shapes which are directly connected to the development of capitalism", Jafari justly argues. He accurately describes how racism evolved alongside slavery, colonialism and later on modern capitalism. He pays much attention to racist violence against immigrants. Jafari: "People often think that this violence is the work of organized fascists. But that is true in only some 20 percent of all cases." He also writes about police violence and racism by top policemen who have argued that criminality by immigrants should be punished heavier.

The IS is also not very fond of the Dutch "integration debate". That immigrants are more often jobless, is not caused by their supposed "lack of willingness" to integrate, Jafari writes. "The largest problem that keeps them from improving their position is racism." And when immigrant unemployment goes down, that is caused by economic developments. "Unemployment sank from 26 percent in 1994 to 10 percent in 2001, not because immigrants had replaced their 'backward cultures' for 'Dutch values and norms', but because the demand for labor increased together with the economic growth. Any cultural explanation is nothing but blaming the victim." Well argued, but it is unfortunate that in this context Jafari doesn't mention the role of migration control in regulating the labor market.

Spreading

The internationalism of the IS is a relief, when nowadays the Left threatens to suffocate in the Dutch nationalist atmosphere of the Socialistische Partij (SP, formerly Maoist party). Jafari criticizes the SP because this party didn't speak out against "the enormous racist agitation" during the past two Dutch elections. Jafari: "The SP chose not to react and even pleaded for a policy to spread immigrants". And the IS is of course strongly against that, because "spreading people based on the color of their skin is racist. The problems in poor neighborhoods have nothing to do with culture."

Jafari also makes a sharp analysis of the new "cultural racism", made famous by Bolkestein (former leader of the conservative liberal party VVD, now a member of the European Commission), opinion maker Paul Scheffer and of course the late Pim Fortuyn. "In the new or cultural racism the concept of "race" is replaced by "ethnicity"", Jafari explains. And "culture is characterized just like the concept of race was before. The label has changed, but the racist contents remains the same." According to Jafari that can be clearly seen in the Dutch "integration debate". "If one scratches off the intellectual upper layer, only the new racism remains. And often it's not that difficult to get this layer off."

Imagined communities

According to Jafari, while discussing "integration" opinion leaders and politicians from the Right base their arguments on nationalist preconceptions like for instance: "Separate 'ethnic' groups exist, which differ because of their cultural identity", and: "National or 'ethnic' identity is the most important binding force between individuals from which they derive the feeling of solidarity". But such preconceptions "cannot be maintained", Jafari justly argues. "Essential cultural characteristics which define a nation or 'ethnical' group do not exist." And "the idea that members of a national or 'ethnic' group have the same culture is also a myth." Jafari: "'Ethnicity' or nationality are not in our genes. It is about imagined communities, which are created by giving certain characteristics - which can be anything - a special meaning." In short, the IS is strongly against nationalism.

Or not? Because elsewhere in his booklet Jafari writes: "Immigrants who organize themselves based on their 'cultural identity' and who demand their rights - like the Arab European League (AEL) - deserve support." Does the IS consider "national identity" suddenly "the most important binding force between individuals" when it's about Arabs? Are Arab communities not "imagined"? Do the Arabs of the AEL have "ethnicity" in their genes? Of course not. But how can supporting the AEL then be reconciled with anti-nationalism?

Workers

The problem is that the IS - however much energy it puts into anti-racism - sees the capitalist oppression and exploitation of workers as the main issue. Racism is considered a byproduct at best. "Racist ideas are recreated and upheld every day because they root in the circumstances of modern capitalism", Jafari argues. However, to most radical anti-racists is has by now become very clear that racism is indeed closely interconnected with capitalism, but that it also has a life of its own and is certainly not a byproduct. Racism is also not only a top down product, as Jafari argues when describing how "immigrant workers" continually get "to swallow racist ideas". Racism also comes from below and can also work against capitalist interests. For example, even the capitalist elite started to protest against racism when "the investment climate" quickly deteriorated in Germany in the beginning in the nineties as a result of racist attacks on refugees and immigrants.

Back to the AEL. According to the booklet immigrants are almost by definition part of the working class and should as such be support with their struggles. It doesn't seem to matter to the IS whether the immigrants themselves spread racist or anti-Semite propaganda, like the AEL does. In short, their racism from below is considered less important than their supposedly all being workers. Supporting nationalist movements is as a matter of fact an old anti-imperialist strategy, which some parts of the Left use hoping that the nationalists help weakening the capitalist elite.

Anti-Semitism

It seems that in order not to endanger "unity in the workers struggle" the IS tries to avoid the problem of anti-Semitic racism. The question remains whether this strategy will in time lead to the inability to even recognize anti-Semitism. In his booklet Jafari spends only a single paragraph on anti-Semitism, writing about it as if it is something from the past. In the April 2004 issue of the IS newspaper "De Socialist" the anti-Semite movie "The Passion of the Christ" was reviewed, mentioning not once anti-Semitism and blaming the picture to promote Islam bashing!

This same one sided emphasis on the workers struggle also makes Jafari argue that the powerful workers movement in the seventies created space for immigrants, women, gays and lesbians to also demand their rights. The workers movement as a central source of power and self confidence. In reality all these movements did indeed strengthen another, but also all too often opposed each other. Immigrants, women, gays and lesbians often had to fight long and hard to get accepted within the Left movements.

Fantasy

Too often the IS fantasizes about such an unfortunately hardly existing political unity between all kinds of Left movements. The conviction of struggling shoulder to shoulder with everyone can in itself be very motivating, but one also risks actually believing in it and ending up extremely disappointed when the envisioned political success doesn't come. Some projects of political cooperation can furthermore be very dangerous. Let's hope that the cooperation of the IS with the nationalist, anti-Semite, sexist and heterosexist AEL will never lead to any power. Such political ties would in fact quickly belong to the past when the IS would start taking their own anti-nationalism and anti-racism serious and consequently argue along these lines when organizing. Granted, cooperation and building up power will not get easier when doing so. That is a problem which the radical Left cannot avoid. But in the end it will certainly be far more productive to cooperate on the basis of analytical agreements, than on the basis of presumed 'objective' belonging to the working class.

The booklet costs 3 euro and can be ordered on the IS website.

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