Breaking Colonial Chains:
Interview with Palestinian activist
Greek libertarian journal Aftoleksi interviews Palestinian activist Musaàb Bashir (translator, journalist and former political prisoner) on the current situation in Gaza, the causes that led to it, as well as on the perspective for a unified common future.
In this interview, Musaàb Bashir described the current situation in Gaza as “the worst round of aggression” since 1948. He highlighted the difficulties faced by Gazans, including psychological trauma, poverty, and high youth unemployment. Bashir also elaborated on internal struggles against corruption within the Hamas regime and the lack of a representative working-class organization. He advocated for a democratic socialist state to solve the Palestinian issue, emphasizing the necessity of a representative body that protects the interests of the working class.
Aftoleksi: We hear and watch daily the massacre that is taking place especially in Gaza. What can you like to tell us about the situation in Palestine right now?
Musaàb Bashir: It is the worst round of aggression taking place in Palestine since the 1948 Nakba (Calamity/disaster) or the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Zionist terrorist organizations to establish the Zionist regime called “State of Israel”.
It is an inevitable explosion caused by long years of hermetic siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. 70% of the people in Gaza are refugees from the land that was ethnically cleansed by Israel, 90% of the children have different psychological traumas. 80% of the people live in alimentary insecurity due to poverty caused principally by the siege, needless to say that the unemployment rate among youth reached this year 65%. It was inevitable that the people explode. Hamas, an Islamist bourgeois organization, who is governing Gaza saw it coming and wanted to direct the explosion outside, but one shouldn’t understand that the main reason is not the Israeli colonialism and politic of blockade.
Aftoleksi: We know that before October 7, Israel was shaken by large demonstrations against Netanyahu. But what is less known is that Gaza itself has also had a lot of tensions within. We know about strikes by Palestinian workers and mass protests against the Hamas regime. Tell us a few words about the struggles that Palestinians have waged from below. And to what extend, do you think, the Hamas policies were ultimately representative of Palestinian people (something they are c, often, collectively accused of by the mainstream medias)?
Musaàb Bashir: Definitely October 7th is a consequence, not a cause. The demonstrations against Netanyahu were to keep the Zionist regime viable, not for sake of equality with the native Palestinians.
As for the struggles against Hamas, frankly there is no representative working-class organization yet. I say yet, because there were demonstrations against Hamas’ corruption, repression and parasitic bourgeois sub-contractor role were taking place. The most massive ones took place in 2019 when young people, mostly unemployed went out in the street under the slogan “We want to live”. The response of Hamas was brutal, cracking down violently everywhere, Hamas in one week arrested about 3,000 people in its training camps, tortured and illtreated them. This year another smaller wave of protest took place. The absence of an organization was basically behind the fruitless end of these protests. The so called leftist parties in Palestine, are not the ones people think, the ones who were leading the struggle in the 1970s and 1980s; these parties are led by a parasitic bourgeoisie that needs to keeps its interests via its network of NGOs financed by the European Union and some US donors.
To understand how Hamas reached the power in Gaza Strip we must have glance at the Palestinian political system. In a nutshell: The “Palestinian Parliament” which represent all the Palestinian people, wherever they are, is called: “The National Council”. The national council is the main organ of the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO. This organ did never hold any elections, so Yasser Arafat and now Mahmud Abbas are illegal in terms of Palestinian law. PLO without consulting the Palestinian people signed the Oslo agreement, recognizing Israel, giving up more than 70% of Palestine and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees (about 70% of the whole Palestinian people). Pursuant to Oslo agreement a local administration was created by PLO to manage the live of Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza Strip -2 areas of Palestine where the most of the Palestinians left after the 1948 Nakba are living. The rest are outside the country in refugee camps.
This administration is called “Palestinian Authority” PA. The PA has an assembly called “Legislative council”. Only the residents of Gaza Strip and West Bank can vote to elect the members of the legislative council, which means less than 30% of all the Palestinians in the world. Hamas won the election of the legislative council in 2006 by 56%. It was mainly a reaction against the corruption of the party of Yasser Arafat and Mahmud Abbas, even Palestinian Christians and Jews voted Hamas! Such thigs happened in many countries, as a punishing vote. So, Hamas and the party of Abbas are not eligible to represent the whole Palestinian people in the first place. Besides, the next elections of the legislative council had to take place in 2010. This means that Hamas and Abbas party are illegal even inside Gaza Strip and West bank. Both do not really want to hold elections, neither of the National Council, nor the Legislative Council, because they are fine with the actual shares of the cake. The Palestinian parasitic bourgeoisie style.
Aftoleksi: In your intervention in an event, organized by the Greek publishing house “International Forum”, you mentioned that you yourself have been persecuted for your ideas in the past. Do you want to tell us something more about that and what you and your comrades had fought for?
Musaàb Bashir: I was a political prisoner in Israel jails. I was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. PFLP, a Marxist pan Arabic party and one of the components of the PLO. PLO is a political umbrella that contains many factions. I quit PFLP 10 years ago because it is a bourgeois-led party, a satellite of the PA.
Aftoleksi: Nationalisms and conservatism have unfortunately taken over at the moment in the region – parallelly, we see the spread of this phenomenon globally. We fear that this is setting back the efforts for a solution even further. But we would like to put forward the other side of things! For example, you have talked about your activity in one of the Kibbutz that were attacked on 7 October. Can you tell us more about this effort and what you had achieved there? It was, as far as we understand, an important effort of fraternity and co-existence between the 2 peoples, which should always be highlighted.
Musaàb Bashir: It is a project with friends and comrades who work in “De-colonizer” it is a research and art laboratory that aims to finding ways to decolonize Israel. It is founded by antizionist Israeli Jews. It has native Palestinians and Jewish immigrant members and collaborators. They wrote the first book in Hebrew about the Palestinian Nakba in the Israeli collective consciousness’ that I translated into Arabic.
With decolonizer we brought maps, asked the refugees who are still alive to locate on them what they remember, houses, schools … etc. Then the Israeli colleagues pinned the places on the ground. A video and pictures were taken from both sides. After that an exhibition was organized in the only building that was not destroyed in the Nakba. A debate took place, a good part of the people of the kibbutz was with the unconditional right of return of the Palestinian refugees, although many of them were infested by Zionism and objected vehemently. There are other “struggles”. Microscopic like ours, but for sure after this tremendous round of violence many serious questions will surge, which the first step towards taking action by the oppressed people. This will take time of course.
Aftoleksi: What is your vision for a universal resolution to the Palestinian issue and the freedom of the Palestinians? You expressed a secular and democratic vision for the region, which surprised us very positively and we would like to develop further this perspective. What form it must take, a federal one?
Musaàb Bashir: Not federal. The actual division of land is colonialist and apartheidist. We need a secular democratic socialist state, where people regardless the religion or language govern by democratic elections, where freedoms are guaranteed by a socialist constitution. Socialism is a saving buoy, because the re-organization of the space, the return of refugees to the land that was disfigured or exploited in a capitalist way, the rehousing, the building of new houses, solving the issues of property in a just way, the protection of environment, the accountability of war criminals and transitional justice and more, need a representative body/state that works for the new society’s interest, for the interest of the working and exploited people, to avoid the disaster that happened in South Africa post-apartheid, where the segregation became socio-economic.
Aftoleksi: Are there forces in Palestine or Israel that are aligned with this – or just ordinary people- in the past, if not now? If so, which groups, even small ones, do you think can be the hope for the future?
Musaàb Bashir: No. this is the idea of a small number of people, yet growing. It is a matter of awareness for now.