During times of rapid changes in the Arab world, with new political constellations in the landscape and open prospects for future changes in the region, we need to thoroughly understand political actors, programs, and options. However, when we consider the contemporary Arab Left, critical knowledge that goes beyond the level of stereotypes and slogans is difficult to find and rather scattered, especially outside the Arabic speaking milieu. It becomes even more relevant against the background of the increasing influence of neoliberal policies on the one hand and the critical role of political religion in the region on the other hand to reduce this gap, to gain a clearer understanding of compositions, constituencies, tasks, demands, goals, influences, and challenges faced by the Left.
While the socio-economic and political requirements in the countries considered in this book (Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian-Arab Community in Israel) call clearly for changes and alternatives based on a genuine understanding of social justice, freedom, and equality, the Left seems currently unprepared to take on the challenge. Even more, the contemporary Arab Left is still more fragmented than unified, more often criticizing the status quo than proposing effective alternatives, a situation not much different from the status of other leftist actors, e.g. European Leftist actors.
The goal of this mapping of leftist actors is to not only support debate of the Left in the Arab world but to also encourage alternative action. It is self-evident that any kind of “mapping” can only be a beginning, a very first step of a longer journey to be shared by many. However, hopefully this project will feed in and contribute to a larger process of re-considering and re-strengthening leftist understandings in and outside of the Arab East. In order to have a fruitful process of transnational exchange and cooperation, one must understand the similarities and differences experienced by various actors in order to properly move forward.
As part of the process for understanding and presenting the Arab Left, it was necessary for RLS to reach out to local Arab scholars and experts to put together pieces on varying topics impacting the Left in the Arab world. Listening to voices from the Arab East invites the reader not only to learn more about political discourse in the region, but also avoids the standard Eurocentric perspective most are subjected to. To reconnect the discourse of the Left in the Arab East to the international community, and in particular to non-Arabic speaking people, the book is bilingual and presents all essays in both Arabic and English. The content of the book, including the political
language of the papers, is the sole responsibility of the authors and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Regional Office Palestine.
Katja Hermann, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Regional Office Palestine
Ramallah, December 2013
Table of contents:
- Introduction: On the Self-definition of the Left in the Arab East
- The Palestinian Left: Realities and Challenges
- The Jordanian Left: Today’s Realities and Future Prospects
- The Lebanese Left: The Possibility of the Impossible
- An Analysis of the Realities of the Syrian Left
- The Palestinian Left in Israel
- The Iraqi Left: Between the Shadows of the Past and New Alliances for a Secular Civic State
Also available: Download original arabic version