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When one has spent three quarters of one’s life chanting the word ‘solidarity’, one is authorized in questioning this “moral obligation of mutual assistance”. And the nth murderous episode in the colonization in Palestine brings me precisely to opening up on such reflections.
The initial reflex leads to siding with “victims”.
It is humanitarian reflex, moral, ethical, lawful, opposed to torturers. It proceeds from a binary reaction, from a humanism opposed to barbarism, and requires no definition. It is legitimate. Is it an acquired reflex or is it part of the human species’ survival instinct, inherited from a tribal past? I couldn’t say.
Digging further in that direction brings up qualifiers and words that stand classically in opposition. Selfishness/altruism, indifference/commiseration, are among them. “Alterity”, standing in opposition to “identity”.
Exported into the field of politics, this concern for the other, for his existence suddenly appears ludicrous and one is reminded of the words “you don’t hold a monopoly on the heart” which call out all the scams locating the organ on the left or on the right, while religiosities decline kindness and charity under every dome.
Yes, speaking about solidarity as a humanistic duty sometimes gets mired in those representations, and in many others.
In alterity, there is the notion of the other, and not only of his oppression, but of who he is, his existence here and elsewhere, and of his difference. Yet, in providing political support, what predominates is often the feeling of identity when there is talk of “solidarity”.
You are invited to support the other who resembles you. And we “identify” with causes.
To such an extent that in the case of Palestine, this cause has become over time an “Arab” one, often a “Muslim” one, and not belonging to one or the other of these two communities exposes your presence on this question to suspicions from all sides
In a context of strong islamophobia, expressing solidarity with Palestine, assailing an extreme right-wing political power in Israel, is considered as siding with a religion, logically through islamophobic assimilation, of being “antisemitic”. In the same manner, denouncing the Islamist logic of the Palestinian Hamas leadership, lands us with an accusation of islamophobia. When the identity provides the foundations for solidarity, how can one escape from confrontations such as these that constantly go in circles?
Making pronouncements in favor of peace, in a oecumenical spirit, sending the “belligerents” back to back also leads to emptying solidarity of any meaning whatsoever. Humanism is not the consolation provided to beasts being led to the slaughterhouse, quite the contrary, it is a hymn to life and to how to insure it. There can be no question of standing between the victim and the torturer and asking them to shake hands out of their common humanity.
And, as regards what is currently happening in Palestine, clearly defining the true victims and the torturers may help in clarifying the issue.
Between 1938, 1948, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1994, 2007 and today (studies concerning these dates exist, in droves) both the interventions by imperialist and colonial powers, arabism as a nationalistic identity marker and national identities in confrontation, have considerably modified the picture, from war to colonization, from liberation struggle to internal wars, to the point of rendering impossible the thought of a future peace on a territory in terms that would allow an exit from known dead ends.
For historical purposes, one goes on dating the creation of the State of Israel to 1948, as being at the origin of everything. This certainly allows for reasoning in terms of original sin, just as it does in the case of Turkey and the Kurds, when identifying the Sykes-Picot agreements as the source of the problems since it provided for the dismembering of the Ottoman Empire.
As for Turkey, where the original sin in the creation of the Republic is more likely the Armenian genocide rather that lines drawn on a map, the idea of creating in Palestine a Jewish Nation-State, its implementation, but essentially the “cleansings” “assimilations”, “ethnic displacements” this caused is undoubtedly the root of the problem. Because the root is truly this construction of Nation-States, which always prove murderous and hegemonistic and which push back to the margins, eliminate and colonize Peoples who don’t fit in the mould after one has attempted to wipe them off the map.
The victorious nations of nazism were so certain of keeping, even increasing their colonies as they had partly begun with the 1st World War, that they did not hesitate in establishing this Nation-State in 1947, through the division of Palestine. And it is this vision of two States, reinforced for a while in the so-called Oslo agreements, that still serve as the UN’s framework to this day.
One cannot accuse successive Israeli political leaders of not having attempted solutions, in their own way and in terms of the sole interests. They followed the ground rules, zealously. Somewhere, the Israeli Nation-State is a model of its kind: assimilationist or discriminatory, colonial on its borders. And if, in recent periods, it has authorized itself to engrave in its laws the difference in citizenship it practiced already, it can both navigate between an electoral democracy and the partial hold of political fascism on the State apparatus. Here again, analogies could be made with the democratic store-front displays in Turkey.
So, who is the other, the one we seek to be with in solidarity, the other in whom we recognize the desire, whether expressed politically or not, for another future than that provided by nationalisms heavily laden with religiosity warring against one another for predominance?
Concerning another part of the Middle and Near-East, Kedistan is in solidarity with the Kurdish movement’s struggle, as you well know. Over there, the other has had his tongue cut off.
We are often berated for expressing solidarity with the Kurds, since several of us are non-natives, and even of “Turkish origin”. Interesting to note how Kedistan can get hit upon by two opposing nationalisms. The one, exacerbating Kurdicity, the other, Turcity.
And yet, we support and are “in solidarity” with Kurds and if you are also, we invite you to participate in the ongoing solidarity campaigns and more, even if you are not Kurdish yourself.
We are in solidarity with the Kurds when they put forward their concept of confederalism, when they allocate a major role to women in practical terms, including in the context of war in Rojava. We are in solidarity with Kurds when they are struggling, politically speaking, not for the establishment of a nth Nation-State in the region, but proposing and bringing alive a democracy in which all peoples without exception would have their place, whether a minority or not.
That really sounds like an anarchist utopia, true enough, and the notion of communalism put forward by the non-nationalistic Kurdish movement, does come from somewhere.
And when my reflection goes further, I also ask myself if this political thought, partly built in a war environment, could not provide some ideas for Palestine, beginning with a solid critical appraisal of the Nation-State. I’m then reminded of a small group of intellectuals of Trotskyist inspiration, yes, who professed in Israel in the early 1970s what Murray Bookchin still wrote while he lived in the United States. Those ideas then echoed through the anti-war movements inside Israel. The 1967 offensive put an end to it, and young Palestinians who were also lending an ear, even from within PLO groups, also disappeared.
This is why I’m surprised by a certain silence emanating from the Kurdish movement concerning Palestine. They have so many things in common and, precisely, so many political solutions to discuss together.
Is the Kurdish movement constrained by the situation in which the Palestinian people find themselves between the hammer and the anvil, when this movement is today one of the rare ones leading a struggle for self-determination which rejects the policies of nationalism and of the Nation-State, offering confederalist political solutions it promotes in Rojava? On the contrary, while inside Israel itself, certain Jews and Arabs, in the rare still-existing movements in favor of peace, are thinking out loud about a confederalist solution, in contradiction with the Oslo agreements, could not the Kurdish movement contact Palestinian youth who want both to rid themselves of corrupt secular leaderships and of Hamas. Of course, this discourse is seldom heard, having mostly a domestic Jewish and Palestinian presence, but it does exist and still shows up. The fake Islamist solidarity of the Turkish regime should not be an impediment from standing outside the confusion of ideas, quite the contrary. And even if an HDP deputy recently spoke up in Parliament to draw a most illustrative parallel, the diaspora still remains voiceless.
So, could solidarity be the common sharing of utopias so that Peoples may govern themselves together while sharing their differences? A form of creolization of the world, to use a term that is resurfacing? This would be my preferred definition.
Being in solidarity in humanity only makes sense if this solidarity sheds light on solutions for living together, here and over there. It is not only a matter of crying over the victims, exacerbating tomorrow’s revenge, or practicing a self-interested form of orientalism.
I cannot close off without mentioning that a number of ‘little hands” have been laboring for years, outside politicking identities, and I do mean “politicking”, in order to keep these solidarities alive. They are often active in the cultural field. I will only mention Al Kamandjati as as example, since I know it a bit.
This practice of solidarity that puts forward not the the victims around which to build an identitarian, nationalist or religious discourse but practices, ideas, persons who represent them and are subjected to violence for this reason, this is the type of solidarity Kedistan has attempted to develop since 2014. It is of a political nature, and humanism is a part of it when it feeds on the spirit of the Commune.
Illustration: Image of the campaign form the France Palestine Association
Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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