WSM articles on Palestine, religion and the middle east


This is a collection of articles published in Workers Solidarity Movement publications about Palestine over the last decade, articles written by our members for publication elsewhere and material re-published elsewhere in publications our members edited. Together they provide the start of an anarchist analysis of the roots of the conflict and paths out of it.

Gaza: Against passivity in the face of the spectacle of slaughter
We stare numbed at the images of horror while eating our dinner. And then the spokespeople, one after another. Hamas are blaming Israel. Israel and the US are blaming Hamas. Meanwhile bloodied parents stagger through the streets of Gaza bearing the shattered bodies of their children. But what can we do? We can turn our head away, change the channel. We can say that, after all, it's nothing to do with us, that we have enough to worry about whether we're going to still have a job next month. Or we can do something different - refuse.

Israel/Palestine: Roots of the conflict - WS70, 2002
Around the end of the 19th century the area then internationally known as Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. The vast majority of the indigenous population were Muslim with a minority Christian and smaller minority Jewish (around 3%) population. The indigenous Jewish community were not involved in nor supportive of the Zionist movement which began in 1882 with the first wave of European Jewish immigration to Palestine.

Hamas, the left and ‘liberation’ in Palestine - WS105, 2008
Hamas' recent "clampdown" on Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade in Gaza, rather then its ongoing brutal repression against leftist dissent dominated Western coverage of life in the occupied territories.

An Israeli anarchist on Jewish resistance to the Israeli state - WS61, 2000
Media coverage of the murderous pogroms unleashed by the Israeli state against Palestinians leaves out some of the story. The so-called 'peace process' like that of Northern Ireland is based on institutionalising sectarianism rather than overcoming it. There are citizens of Palestine and Israel, from both Jewish and Muslim backgrounds, who seek something other then two rival sectarian states.

About Anarchists Against the Wall - WS92, 2006
A young Israeli anarchist was shot by Israeli forces during a protest against the construction of the the so called ‘Separation Fence’ in Palestine. Matan Cohen, 17, was critically wounded when he was shot in the face with a rubber bullet

An Israeli refusenik on Israel and Israeli activists work against the Occupation of Palestine
Itay, a 22-year-old anarchist and anti-Zionist from Haifa in Israel who visited Ireland late in 2004r is one of the refusers who refuse to be conscripted into the army.

The Kibbutzim - Educational talk
The Kibbutz movement is a social movement with a long history and one that has numerous connections with Anarchism. It is comprised of many different ideologies and philosophies many with contradictory intentions, sometimes present in the same Kibbutz. -also available as an mp3

After the Israeli - Lebanon war: The New Middle East - WS93, 2006
The Israeli offensive has resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 civilians, the wholesale destruction of vital infrastructure and the exodus of nearly a million refugees

Up Against the Wall - An Eyewitness Report from Palestine
Despite the condemnation of the International Court of Justice and human rights groups Israel is currently building a massive wall across Palestinian territory. IThe Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (the ISM) organised a three week long "Freedom March", from Jenin to Jerusalem, along the route of the wall in support of the ongoing campaign of civil disobedience and direct action. Dec McCarthy, a WSM member from Dublin, and two Grassroots activists from Galway travelled to the West Bank to take part in these protests.

An eyewitness report from the West Bank - July 2006
Last year a Belfast anarchist travelled to the West Bank to work with the International Solidarity Movement and Palestinians and wrote this report on his impressions of the Palestinian struggle.

The Palestinian Crisis and the Search for a Road Towards Liberation
Reviewing the events in Palestine in 2007, the possibilities of the liberation struggle ahead and the responsibility of the international solidarity movement.

Israeli Anarchist Speaks in Cork
Leiser Peles, an anarchist from Israel who is active with the Anarchists Against the Wall gives informative talk in Cork.

Book Review - Palestine by Joe Sacco - WS 80, 2004
Recently someone gave me Palestine, by Joe Sacco, as a present. It's a story of the Israeli occupation told using the form of a graphic novel, a form that is used to great effect.

Further reading - writings on religion, the region and Islam

Anarchism and Religion (In Arabic)
Workers Solidarity Movement position paper on Anarchism and Religion as ratified at April 2006 National Conference

Religion & belief WS67, 2001
The devil himself once said "There's enough religion in the world to make everybody hate each other - but not enough to make everybody love each other." Religion has a track record of leading people down the path of intolerance and hatred.

Beyond the Undifferentiated Mass - Diversity in Islam for Absolute Beginners - Against War & Terror 1, 2001
Roughly 1 in 5 of the world's population is muslim - that's over a billion people. Yet for all the talk about a global society with the telecommunication revolution bringing knowledge to the masses, what most westerners from christian backgrounds know about Islam can be written on the back of a small postage stamp. So here then is a crash course

Turkey: Modernisation, authoritarianism & political islam - RBR 13, 2007
Turkey was been under the spotlight in 2007, due to the threats of the Army against the possibility of an Islamist party taking the presidency. This move came to pose a number of questions to the European establishment, as Turkey has been negotiating its entry to the EU. The apparently uneasy two alternatives of government in Turkey are political Islam or the old fashioned authoritarian Kemalist secularism.

The trouble with Islam - RBR 7, 2003
The September 11 attacks, the Afghan war that followed from it and the ongoing war in Israel/Palestine have once again raised the issue of Islam in the minds of many anarchists in Ireland and Britain.

The modern schizophrenia of Islamic integralism - Against War & Terror 2, 2002
Islamic integralists are fighting a war they cannot win in the long run. The last desperate battles before being overtaken by the realities, for better and worse, of the modern world. Overtaken by emancipatory forces on one side and commodification on the other. Lafif Lakhdar was essentially right in stating: "Contrary to what Islamic propaganda claims, and many western leftists believe, today's Iran does not represent the reinvigoration of Islam but its swan-song, except that it lacks any beauty."

Why the Reversion to Islamic Archaism? - Lafif Lakhdar (1981)
In order to gain a critical understanding of the persistence of Islamic archaism and all its paraphernalia, one must approach it through the logic of its own history, as well as that of the Arabo-Muslim bourgeoisie of the 19th and 20th centuries, which is radically different from the process of European history and from the residual folkloric Christianity of the present-day West.

Cartoons and Caricatures: Jllands – Posten cartoons of Islam, WS91, 2006
Published at a time when Denmark is in the process of a debate over immigration the reaction to the cartoons seemed to exemplify the so called ‘clash of Civilisations’ between Islam and the West.

Hijab: lifting the veil WS80, 2004
In France at the moment there is a big controversy about the recommendation by a government commission and by the president, to ban the wearing of religious symbols such as the Islamic headscarf (the hijab) in state schools.

Capitalist terror and madness: George bin Laden & Osama son of Bush incorporated.- Against War & Terror 1, 2001
Towers may blow up and crumble, while fortifying the very social structures they stood as a symbol for. The words You can't blow up a social relation, ring truer than ever.

Israel / Palestine is not a nice place to live in - it is a war zone - Against War & Terror 1, 2001
It developed gradually as a Zionist project supported by the Western empires for more than 120 years. It belongs to the family of settler colonialist projects which tried to build new European-like nations in colonies. In the case of Israel this involved the immigration of Jews from all over the world, mainly from the less developed countries, and the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians.

An interview with AB, an Iranian Dissident in Exile in Ireland WS79, 2004
AB, x years old fled with his brother from Iran after they were arrested and tortured for demonstrating for basic civil liberties. He spent months hiding in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey before he made it to Ireland where he was granted refugee status within 5 months. I met x in his flat in Dublin and asked him about his experiences in Iran and Ireland.