The Palestinian general strike of May 18 fits into a much longer history of mobilization by Palestinian workers. From the British colonial years to the present, those struggles have faced harsh repression, but kept a spirit of resistance alive.
Joel Beinin is the Donald J. McLachlan professor of history and professor of Middle East history at Stanford University. His latest book is Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2016).
Fifty years after his death, the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser still casts a long shadow over Arab politics. A symbol of defiance in the age of decolonization, Nasser transformed his country but never gave its people control of the system that ruled them.
Since 2011, Arab labor organizations and left parties have been central to movements for democracy and social justice in the Middle East. Frequently overlooked in Western media coverage, from Egypt and Tunisia to Algeria and Sudan, they’ve carried on this fight against tremendous odds.
Egypt’s current crisis highlights the flawed foundations of its post-revolutionary state. But liberal nostalgia for the days of the monarchy is equally misplaced.