[DEBATE] : Surmounting Sectarianism in the Middle East and the West
critical.montages at gmail.com
Sun Nov 4 18:05:13 GMT 2007
Engaging Hamas and Hizballah
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 29 October 2007
Nothing could be easier in the present atmosphere than to accuse
anyone who calls for recognition of and dialogue with Hamas, Hizballah
and other Islamist movements of being closet supporters of reactionary
"extremism" or naive fellow travelers of "terrorists." This tactic is
not surprising coming from neoconservatives and Zionists. What is
novel is to see it expressed in supposedly progressive quarters.
Arun Kundnani has written about a "new breed of liberal" whose outlook
"regards Muslims as uniquely problematic and in need of forceful
integration into what it views as the inherently superior values of
the West." The target of these former leftists, Kundnani argues, "is
not so much Islamism as the appeasing attitudes they detect among
[other] liberals." 
Such views are now creeping into the Palestinian solidarity movement.
Surmounting Sectarianism in the Middle East:
An Interview with Hisham Bustani
by As'ad al-Azzouni
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Islamists who see themselves on the side of political clarity must
comprehend the impossibility of attaching a liberation program to a
subordinate authority structure, and they must decide on their options
by removing themselves from a so-called pragmatic approach that
enables containment and manipulation by international and regional
powers. Islamists must open up internally to other non-religious
forces (Marxist and nationalist) and espouse a civil, secular
liberation program; and they must learn from the experiences in
Lebanon and Iraq, where the religious and sectarian element was the
basis for the game of hegemony and the foundation for fragmentation
setting people against each other instead of being united against
their common enemy.
This is not to say that Islamists are opportunists while secular
forces are not. My concentration on Islamists is because they are the
only real political force on the Arab scene today. There are two
trends in the Islamic movement, one opportunist and the other
principled. And the principled Islamists should pay heed, because in
the light of this analysis they will be the first to be sacrificed by
their opportunist brethren in faith and struggle.
Of course, there are also opportunist leftists (NGO beneficiaries and
Marxists-turned-liberals) and xenophobic nationalists (with fascist
tendencies against Iranians, Kurds, and Turks), but these phenomena
are only trivial, since their currents are too weak to take the
streets and challenge existing power.
Overall and as a prime desideratum, there is a huge and pressing
imperative today for Left unity, of all its currents: the left of the
Islamic movement, the left of the nationalist movement, and the left
of the leftist progressive and revolutionary movement, on the basis of
a program of resistance, liberation, and political clarity. The
opposing Right of all those currents is already united and taking
Hisham Bustani is the Secretary of the Socialist Thought Forum in
Jordan, and a member of the Coordination Committee of the Resistant
Arab People's Alliance. The original Arabic version of this interview
is available online at raya.com. The English version, slightly
revised, is published here for the first time.
(It is now also available in French:
Monday, October 29, 2007
Responding to Left-Liberal Islamophobia
There are two recent articles that are worth a critical read because,
while from the secularist-left, they both provide a response to
left-liberal Islamophobia. Both articles provide a more complex view
of Islamic movements, than some of the other outright Islamophobic
The first is by Ali Abunimah, titled Engaging Hamas and Hizballah, and
the second is an interview of a Jordanian Marxist, Hisham Bustani.
I'll first comment on some of the assertions made by Hisham Bustani
and then, in another post later this week, address some of the issues
raised by Ali Abunimah.
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