Israeli Communist Party’s double-talk on Assad regime

Even now, the secretary general of the CPI and other apparatchiks still seem to support the Syrian dictator

A few months back I wrote about the fact that the communists are at it again: Saying one thing in Hebrew and another in Arabic. The specific case was Syria and the fact that the secretary general of the CPI, Muhammad Naffa, defended the Assad regime. There was a minor storm, and MK Dov Henin made a point of telling me that the official position of the CPI is resistance to the Assad regime and the massacre it commits.

That was more than three months ago. Since that time, the number of victims of the regime has increased significantly, and Yossef Elgazi (a former long-time CPI activist who left the party in 1990 and has since diligently documented its deviations) stayed on the beat. He found (Hebrew) that Naffa kept expressing his support of the Assad regime and blaming its opponents for being agents of American imperialism. The CPI Arabic site published several articles supporting the regime, and even one supporting the Gadaffi regime, which is unusually bizarre.

Elgazi’s most interesting finding is that a quiet demonstration (it must have been particularly quiet, because the Israeli media missed it) took place in mid-September in Haifa, in front of the French consulate. The demonstration was reported in the Arabic media, and among the people present was Naffa, former MK ‘Issam Makhoul, MK Said Naffa (who was kicked out of BALAD) and other senior CPI apparatchiks. According to the demonstration’s manifest, it was intended “to show solidarity with Syria and its national leadership against the plots of imperialism, Zionism, and Arab reactionary forces.” In  description of the demonstration on Hadash’s Arabic site, Naffa was quoted as saying that “Arab reactionary forces, particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Emirate of Qatar, support every action intended to destroy any progressive action in the Arab world, whether we speak of the brave Lebanese resistance movement, the Palestinian resistance movement, the strong position of Iran, the strong position of Syria against the imperialistic plans of the US for the creation of a New Middle East.” I’m certain American right-wing nutjobs would be overjoyed to hear the leader of the CPI shares their fears of a “new Middle East.” Needless to say, none of this made an appearance in Hadash’s Hebrew sites and publications. Maybe it was too embarrassing.

So who represents the position of Hadash-CPI? Its official proclamations, or its SG’s statements? Communist parties are famous for their strict ideological purity, which made split time and time again, like amoebas on PCP. A famous story, which may be apocryphal but makes the point, tells of an American communist who left the party and founded a Trotskist faction, left it in order to found a more pure one, and finally suffered from multiple personalities and split from himself. If the CPI wants us to take it seriously come elections day – and the options do look bleak – it can’t allow itself to keep Naffa as SG and keep his faction as part of the party. It can’t keep on writing, time and time again, one thing in Arabic and another in Hebrew.

I mean, it obviously can – but then it has to take into account that what happened to the communist parties in Europe after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia will happen to it. No Israeli of conscience may support a party strongly suspected its heart is with the Assad regime. After all, had Naffa showed up in a demonstration supporting not Assad but, say, Thatcher, or – heavens forbid – Netanyahu, he would have been kicked out of office faster than he could utter the words “false consciousness.” If Hadash wants to be taken seriously, and not be suspected of being an agent of influence for the Assad regime or even (Flying Spaghetti Monster save and protect us) for the Gaddafi regime, then it needs to be purged.

And if it can’t, or won’t, then we have a problem.