Thursday, March 02, 2006


Meeting with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)

This post has been a long time coming. Two weeks ago I had an interview with Nihad Abugosh the Media co-ordinator for the DFLP and Mohammad Salameh the National Co-ordinatior of the Palestinian Democratic Youth Union (PDYU), the youth organisation connected to the DFLP. I wanted to post this a lot sooner but as you can understand from my other recent posts I have been held up. So this is the information I gathered from them.

The DFLP is a split from the Peoples front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They split in 1969. At that time they felt the PFLP weren't socialist and had a Pan Arab ideology (Bathast). At the same time they didn't want to support the Jordanian Communist Party (the precursor of the Palestinian Peoples Party (PPP, see "Initial impressions of the Palestinian Peoples Party and the Israeli Communist Youth." posted Feb 9). The DFLP were critical of the PPP for not supporting the armed struggle and for being too close to the soviet union.

As Abughosh put it "we were the only group to combine the Marxist Lenist tradition with the question of National Liberation." Although Abughosh said later on they developed relations with what he viewed as soviet countries "Cuba, Algeria, etc." In 1973 the DFLP, felt that Israel had formed as a nation an changed its position to a 2 states for 2 nations solution. By 1975 all major political factions adopted the DFLP program. This program called for:
  1. 2 states
  2. The right of return for all Palestinian refugees
  3. Self determination for Palestine. (this point sounds like a repeat of point one but it was actually to highlight conflicts with Jordan

From this position unlike the other Palestinian factions the DFLP decided to limit their armed struggle to the occupied territories rejecting attacks on Israel. Later on when the first intifada began, the DFLP tried to put forward a program for the intifada. In this program the first thing they wanted to do was make sure that people recognised that it was an intifada. Many of the other Palestinian factions just thought it was a number of spontaneous actions and that there was no qualitative change in the movement. The program that they put forward for the movement argued that the intifada needed a leadership and that it be "popular, democratic, civilian based, strikes etc."

Abugosh had high praise for the early years of the intifada but due to a lack of local leadership and Fateh's control of the money etc. Hamas was formed and the intifada became more elite in its focus, more focused on the armed resistance.

The DFLP thought that Oslo wasn't a good thing, not because they didn't support a peace process but because Oslo failed to take up any of the Palestinian concerns "settlements, checkpoints, land, refugees etc." They felt the exiled Fateh leadership didn't represent the interests of the Palestinian people and that local negotiators were more effective.

The DFLP felt that the the Palestinian people need the right to resist the occupation but that the main nature of the resistance needed to be civilian. They saw the reasons why the second intifada were less effective had to so with this change in emphasis away from mass actions in the cities, as well as Israel's immediate response of shooting unarmed demonstrations.

I asked the DFLP about ideology and they said that in the "daily struggle we don't speak much about ideology." I pushed this a bit further and as it turns out that whilst they don't run like Marxist forums they said that it comes out in there strategy and it comes out "in the practical application of their theory." He explained this in terms of confronting the Hamas ideas of "moral corruption," that the problem is people aren't following Islam etc, with the reality of ideas for mass struggle opposing the ideas of individual heroism etc. They like the PPP have summer camps but in these there is actually ideological training, for their activists if no one else. And they are trying to take up various issues of culture, the environment and trying to involve women as activists. One of the websites for their organisation that they showed me had a series of pictures of thinkers who had influenced the party, amongst them Lenin, chi Guevara, Rosa Luxemburg, Mao, Ho Chi Minh and Trotsky (although they did sort of question Trotsky being there)

They talked about how the party organises itself into fractions around areas of work or study. On Campus the DFLP and the PDYU are very weak according to Salameh because the other factions bribe students to vote for them rather then spending student money on organising students. Salameh is in his early 40's but is the co-ordinator of the youth organisation. The PDYU has a maximum age of 35 but Salameh was elected at the age of 34 at their last national congress in 1998, they are trying to organise a new congress this year.

Interestingly Salameh was at the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) meeting in Venezuela last year and met with Chavez (apparently there are still DFLP people over there). They also are maintaining relations with Cuba.

After my interview with the DFLP people I watched a brilliant movie called Matzpen about a split from the Israeli Communist Party that was "anti-capitalist and against the occupation." Apparently this group was doing a lot of work with the DFLP during the 70's. I haven't seen much of the activist work of the DFLP but I hope to be able to maintain links with the DFLP comrades and find out more.

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