Interestingly, the heralds of the Palestinian cause on the Seine were first Middle Eastern Christians, both right-wing and left-wing.
The former implanted the Palestinian cause on the national right in the name of identity, but also to some extent playing on the note of the "second Christ" crucified by Jews in refugee camps. Gilbert Dawed, a Palestinian Christian, was one of the leaders of the Federation of Nationalist Students at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s. He is the reason why French national-revolutionary activists will continue to wear the keffiyeh for many years, shocking with this element of clothing the classic, national and bourgeois right, including those from the National Front, and introducing cognitive dissonance among the political police and political scientists.
SIGN UP TO OUR PAGE
The latter built an interest in the Palestinian cause in extreme Left in the name of anti-colonialism and national liberation struggle. The forerunners of this line were the progressive post-conciliar Christians and their paper "Témoignage chrétien", but it was especially the strong and popular Maoists who saw it as a strategic opportunity to bypass the Communist Party from the left and reach immigrant workers of Arab origin, as well as a way to alternatively penetrate the working class, almost completely controlled at that time by the iron grip of the communist trade union CGT. Yasser Arafat himself, the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964, made two visits to China and gave a pretext for this type of affinity in the political landscape on the Seine.
While the armed struggle as such did not seem to arouse any particular emotions, and posters with Kalashnikov-wielding fedayeen were an inherent element of left-wing propaganda, the terrorism of Palestinian organizations caused some controversy, especially during the attack on Israeli athletes at the Olympics in Munich in 1972. The Palestinians lost the sympathy of part of the French left, but another part of it pressed on. Writer Phillippe Sollers, then a Maoist activist, wrote in the literary quarterly "Tel Quel" that Palestinians have the right to resort to terrorism as victims of torture in Israeli casemates.
On October 15, 1972, Jean-Paul Sartre stated in "The Cause of the People" ("La Causa du Peuple"): "In this war, the only weapon of the Palestinians is terrorism. It is a terrible weapon, but the poor and oppressed have no other.” All in all, it is no wonder that the "suitcase carriers", i.e. left-wing intellectuals who only a decade earlier supported, sometimes actively, the terrorist methods of the Algerian FLN against their own compatriots, were able to find justification for the attacks. We will find a similar pattern two generations later, in 2023, in the form of the affirmation of Hamas and its methods.
After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the French Communist Party, following the Kremlin's instructions, started to more actively support the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Its leader Yasser Arafat became a cult idol of leftist youth, like Che Guevara or Fidel Castro. Israel, as an American aircraft carrier in the Middle East, was designated an enemy, a colonial state of apartheid and oppression, especially since after three decades of political domination of the Left, in 1977 the Israeli government, through democratic elections, was formed by the right-wing Likud.
Already then, a division began to appear on the Left, which today has taken an explosive form. Socialists and François Mitterrand vigorously defended Israel's right to exist and encouraged Yasser Arafat to abandon the PLO charter and recognize Israel, which would ultimately allow two states to coexist. Greens and Communists were generally closer to the Palestinians than to Israel, and the pro-Palestinian far left condemned Israel as a state of, massacres and even "extermination". The anti-Zionism of the French left has begun to approach classic anti-Semitism.
However, while supporting the Palestinian cause back then was a part of classic left-wing paradigm of supporting the "progressive" and national liberation resistance movement, today it suddenly turns out that the Left rhymes with Islamism, Hamas and "Allah Akbar" on the streets. How did this change happen?
A new stage began in the 1980s. Previously, the pro-Palestinian Left supported the progressive PLO, but it reached an agreement with Israel that led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and the East Bank. The remaining Palestinian organizations, the most active in fight against Israel and expressing the "righteous anger of the oppressed", were Islamist, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. It was necessary for them to tactically close eyes to the religious aspect and promptly hide the Enlightenment principles of secularism.
When political sympathies increasingly turned into political strategies, in accordance with the materialist dialectic, quantity turned into quality and a completely new ideological template emerged, which was often called Islamo-leftism (Islamogauchisme).
The term was first used by the sociologist Pierre-André Taguieff in his 2002 book on the "new Judeophobia". The term was initially purely descriptive and referred to political convergence between fundamentalist Muslims and far-left groups, but quickly became an invective. Cursed and disavowed by leftists themselves, who compared it to the phrase "Judeo-Bolshevism" from the Nazi lexicon, it finally entered the public debate when it was used by Emmanuel Macron's ministers after the murder of Samuel Paty, a teacher who illustrated lessons on freedom of speech with caricatures of Muhammad.
What are the profound reasons for this convergence? In his novel "Submission", Michel Houellebecq defined Islamo-leftism in much funnier and more accurate way: "the desperate attempt by decaying and rotting Marxists in a state of clinical death to escape from the dustbin of history by clinging to the growing forces of Islam."
Starting in the 1980s, the Left, accustomed to intellectual and political domination, had to face the phenomenon of the disappearance of the core of its traditional electorate, i.e. the large-industrial working class. On the one hand, the number of workers decreased because of progressive deindustrialization, and on the other, it turned out that they were much more attached to identity issues than it might seem. The era of the "last stand" and internationalism is over: workers in France today vote en masse for Marine Le Pen (68% in the last presidential election).