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Other translations from the Turkish opposition press on Israel’s offensive against Gaza

Other sample press translations from Turkish to English

The following article appeared in Evrensel on 3 February 2024. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

Original article:

Hamas: from one extreme portrayal to another

Cihan Tušal

There are various reasons for the left’s poor performance in the Hamas examination.

Following the Iranian Revolution, the position among the vast majority of the left was: “There can be no alliance with Islamists”. The fusion of Islamists in Turkey within first neoliberalism and NATO, and then Turkist-fascist traditions, reinforced this position.

However, what is really needed is a deep engagement with the Islamic (and other religious/spiritual) traditions of Turkey and its region that transcends an alliance with Islamists. A relocalization of the global left’s accomplishments informed (also) by these traditions. Alliance with Islamists will only be meaningful as part of such a restructuring.

When this is not done, there may arise, indeed there does arise, an unpreparedness and naivety vis-ą-vis Islamism’s multifarious side effects, as much as kneejerk opposition to Islam.

Idle glorification of Hamas and the “Axis of Resistance” is the latest example of this naivety.

On the one hand, the bulk of the Turkish left has succumbed to a facile anti-Hamas sentiment under the influence of the Iranian Revolution and the Turkish passive revolution. On the other, a reflex affinity for Hamas has embedded itself among the most radical segments of the left in the West, as if nothing has been learnt from the mistakes during the Iranian Revolution. And there are projections of this into the Turkish left, too.

So, what is Hamas? We should continue to ask and discuss this. Put in a highly summarized form, Hamas is the expression of a certain strand of Islamism that has metamorphized and filled the gap that had appeared in the national resistance. To make this more comprehensible, a number of issues must be addressed in terms of diachronic depth. Chiefly, these are:

1) The place of the Muslim Brotherhood in the history of Islamism. While armed struggle is not at the heart of the Brotherhood tradition, arms becoming a decisive element in Palestinian Islamism on Hamas’s rupture from the main body of the Brotherhood.

2) Both the purging from the national movement of first the communists and then the left-nationalists, as well as the self-purging of those that remained.

3) Hamas as a “welfare” instrument. And the position of this welfarism in the overall course of the Islamic movement.

4) Long-standing anti-Semitism and its assumption of a fresh face in the 20th Century.

5) The combination and coalescing under one roof of all these features (armed struggle, national mission, welfare implementations, anti-Semitism).

6) Also, the varying weightings these features have in different wings of Hamas.

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood refused to adopt armed struggle as a basic method in the liberation of Palestine. With progressives leaving this space empty and Israel’s cruelty rising to the extreme, when it took up this avenue it did so most brutally.

To what extent do the horrific spectacles on 7 October emanate from this organizational family tree, to what extent from a mind-numbingly savage occupation and to what extent from a patriarchal revanchism that is spreading throughout, not just the Middle East, but the world? Due to the severe intelligence and media manipulation around that day, we cannot fully know the extent to which the savagery emanated from Hamas. Other resistance organizations and Israel itself were also involved in the civilian deaths. But the extent of their participation is unclear. There were also allegedly even opponents of certain methods within Hamas during the 7 October operation. Whatever the answer to all these questions, the methods used and their effect on the struggle, just as much as their reasons, must be subjected to discussion.

The manner in which this discussion is conducted is also important. It is one thing to approach the facts and processes I have itemized above analytically, and quite another to turn them into an instrument for smearing the Palestinian struggle.

Let us not pass over the role of the regional and global hegemonic forces in these discussions, either. The US, Israel and regional countries (including Turkey) have for decades eradicated communists and progressives and supported certain Islamist groups. Ruling classes and the media have been involved in this process, too. For them to now get up and call their own fruits barbaric, terroristic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic etc. and tar all resistance with this brush is more than hypocrisy, it is charlatanism. Such prejudices most certainly do not originate from the left, but a significant segment of the left is unquestionably under the influence of this hegemonic attack on Palestine.

Given that we are in the midst of ethnic cleansing, our priority must be to rebut this charlatanic criticism directed at the Palestinian resistance. However, if we discuss why resistance forces in the region and the world are like this and fail to reinvent ourselves through a serious process of self-criticism, we, too, will become part of the problem and not the solution. Idle glorification of Hamas should not be the alternative to the nonsensical criticism being directed at the Palestinian resistance.

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton