Neither Israeli oppression nor possible exploitation under Arab rulers can be considered good things for the people of Palestine, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Executive Council Member Duran Kalkan said in an interview.
“A non-state solution that is democratic confederalism is most necessary there, and would be the most important salvation for the Palestinian people,” Kalkan said.
While being difficult to achieve due to historic hostilities, Palestinian-Israeli democratic confederalism on the basis of democratic autonomy could “gradually give birth to the democratic confederal unity of the peoples of the Middle East”, he added.
Many PKK members, including Kalkan himself, received their first guerrilla training in Palestine Liberation Organisation camps in the 1980s, as did many other organisations in Turkey at the time, and the organisation believes that the alliance and fraternity formed between the Kurdish and Palestinian peoples since then will “play a core role”, Kalkan said.
“Jewish people are also a historical part of the social reality of the Middle East, they are creative and advanced in intellectual and economic production and have made significant contributions to the development of socialist ideology,” the top PKK cadre continued.
Kalkan cited PKK’s founding leader Abdullah Öcalan as saying that if Zionist influence were to give way to democratic measures, the Jewish community would make important contributions to the unity of a democratic Middle East. “In our opinion, this is the correct approach, that will lead to a solution. A narrow approach focusing on the nation-state and monopolies will only result in further conflict.”
The Turkish republic, established in 1923, was considered a “proto-Israel” by Britain, Kalkan said. “Three years after World War I, Turkey was established, through which the capitalist imperialist system attempted to dominate the Middle East. Three years after World War II, Israel was established, again under the lead of Britain, and Israel was included in the hegemony war waged in the region.”
Israel and Turkey cooperate “on the basis of a racist, chauvinist and genocidal understanding and policies”, Kalkan said. “The fact is, sometimes it looks like there is contradiction and conflict between the Israeli and Turkish states, but this is a game they play to mask the reality and deceive the people.”
According to Kalkan, Öcalan’s capture in 1999 was also orchestrated by the United States, Britain and Israel.
Israel plays an active role in the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, “because Jewish nationalism considers Kurdistan to be Israeli territory”, Kalkan said. But, he added, there is “not the slightest trace of anti-Semitism among the Kurds”, and if the Kurdish right to live in freedom is recognised, “the situation so far may change”.
Öcalan’s democratic confederalism theory was developed as he wrote his defence for the Turkish courts, and maintains that a democratic nation can be achieved by “breaking away from the ideology of the nation-state, that does not produce solutions”. The theory “resolves a contradiction between the goal and means of socialist revolutions”, he added.
As an organisation that is against capitalist exploitation as well as industrialism and the nation-state, the PKK has fought against colonialism and genocide for half a century, Kalkan said. “Since we have experienced imperialism and colonialism at the level of genocide, we believe we recognise them very well.”
“As a people coming from the depths of history, living in the centre of the Middle East and under genocidal attack for a century, we believe that we have a more accurate and deeper understanding of both the Jewish tragedy from history and the struggle of the Palestinian people against imperialism, Zionism and religious extremism,” he said.
Kalkan concluded with a call for worldwide democratic confederalism.
The interview, published by Kurdistan América Latina on Tuesday, was conducted on 24 September, before the deadly 7 October Hamas attacks and the start of Israel’s current war on Gaza.