I’ve always held a particular fascination for the stomach-churning US foreign policy concept of “moderation”. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of equivocal and ironic expressions like when my son was 5 and professed to hate someone “a little”, or when one is praised for being “rather brilliant” or when a man tells a woman he is “a little bit” in love with her. But when it comes to the US’ foreign policy-mainstream media-think tank complex’s promotion of “moderate” rebels in Syria, I have far less tolerance for such equivocations. In the not too distant past, the Bush administration used the term “arc of moderation” to label the US’ Sunni Arab allies in the region which was pitted against the “arc of extremism”, aka, the “Resistance axis”. Then as now, moderation basically meant being moderate on Israel and imperialism, rather than any secular liberal ideals related to democracy, women’s rights, the treatment of minorities and openness to other religions. And even when US policy wonks called for engagement with “moderate Islamists” like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, this had far less to do with their participation in democratic elections and inherent liberalism than their “nonviolence” vis-à-vis the West and of course, Israel, which explains why a progressive movement like Hizbullah has consistently been labeled “terrorist” and “extremist”. In the Syrian context, when Obama talks about arming “moderate rebels” to confront ISIS, he isn’t referring to non-takfiri groups whose sectarianism is less doctrinal than it is socio-political, or which have been making local cease-fire deals with the Syrian government in a number of regions and are hence capable of engaging in dialogue with Syrian government to end the war. We can be certain that this isn’t the case when the only significant fighting forces worth backing are Jihadi groups, when Wahhabi Saudi Arabia is enlisted in the war on Wahhabi ISIS, and when the media has unabashedly been trying to promote Jabhit al-Nusra /al-Qaeda as more moderate than ISIS (only yesterday for example corporate media was awash with reports about how JaN pleaded with ISIS to spare Alan Henning’s life). When the US refers to “moderate rebels” it doesn’t even allude to oxymorons like moderately genocidal groups who execute in moderate numbers, are only moderately ideologically sectarian, and pursue a transnational Caliphate in moderation, but rather, groups which the US hopes are more co-optable and cooperative with its grander strategic aims than ISIS has proven to be. The bottom line is this: unless you’re a cute 5 year old who hasn’t quite mastered the love-hate dichotomy, or a teacher who likes to make her intellectual praise more credible by subtly qualifying it, or a goofy but charming guy who disarms women with understatements, you’re neither adorable nor endearing when you make gross understatements, least of all about takfiri-jihadis who pose an existential threat to everyone in the region.
My interview on ISIS on RT’s “In the Now” show earlier this evening where I argue that strikes against ISIS could transform it from a global jihadi group into a resistance movement in the public Muslim imagination.
The insistence on denying victory to the heroic Palestinian resistance and people is reminiscient of Arab state media and western mainstream media coverage of the 2006 July War. In both wars, the casualty toll and mass destruction supposedly denied victory to resistance forces. But this is a very flawed and superficial understanding of what constitutes military victory, particularly in asymmetric warfare. It does not matter if israel made “no significant concessions” beyond a pledge to ease the blockade (i.e. no talk of releasing Palestinian prisoners) or that Hamas was unable to ensure all of its conditions were met. All of this is moot when we recall that this war was not launched by Hamas but was waged by Israel with the declared aim of halting the resistance’s rockets and demilitarizing Gaza. The fact that the Palestinians were able to deny Israel the ability to secure either of these military goals means that the resistance won and Israel lost. Over and above this, the resistance scored moral victories that were less pronounced in 2012, namely exposing Israeli barbarity to the western world, and the overwhelming popular support Hamas and other resistance groups rallied behind them. The biggest victor in all this is the logic of resistance— the strategic rationality of armed struggle has triumphed over the [il]logic of “peace” and submission.
The purported logic behind the #ISISMediablackout hashtag trending on Twitter is that we should deprive a media-whore like ISIS of attention. But the refusal to publish the obviously very disturbing imagery of Foley’s beheading belies an even more disturbing consequence, which is the sanitization and normalization of Israeli genocidal violence and terrorism. It is nothing less than an attempt to aestheticize Israeli terrorism as high culture violence to be contradisintguished from low culture violence. The mainstream media’s depiction of ISIS violence as “grisly”, “gruesome” and “barbaric” against the backdrop of Israel’s daily terrorism against women and children, euphemistically labelled “killing” and “collateral damage” is intellectually and morally indefensible. One only need compare media coverage of Israel’s assassination of Hamas commander Mohammad al Deif’s wife and 7 month old child with headlines on Foley’s execution. It isn’t merely racist in so far as single white victims clearly elicit more international sympathy and their corpses greater revulsion than the mass deaths of poor darker skinned people whose greying corpses and frozen expressions of terror are met with desensitization on the part of media consumers. More than this, the logic of boycotting ISIS’ terror signals that killing is acceptable so long as it is conducted in a “civilized”, high tech manner as in targeted killings, drone strikes and precision-guided bombs. Axes and machetes NO, but OK to munitions. This completely distorts the definition of terrorism, which while far from universal, has customarily centered on the targets of the violence, rather than the specific means of violence employed. Terrorism is the deliberate [politically motivated] killing of civilians, irrespective of how squemish it makes us feel. And while I denounce the execution of journalists or anyone for that matter, I am not going to get worse nighmares than i do from recalling those fleeing Palestinian children on that Gaza beach playground. Please spare us your white liberal moral imperialism. Both your governments which arm Israel and ISIS are our enemies, whether they use machetes or F16s.
Here is a very important analysis by Radwan Mortada on ISIS’ silence on Gaza. From the excerpts below and based on my own reading of other jihadi literature, it appears (and this is my personal interpretation) that Palestine is only considered a just cause insofar as its is deemed to be Islamic territory, and not because of the inherently unjust and aggressive nature of Zionism; likewise, the US is the enemy not because it spearheads imperialism and capitalism, but because it stands in the way of an Islamic Caliphate. As such, we shouldn’t confuse jihadi anti-Americanism with anti-imperialism, which clearly does not provide the takfiris with an intellectual and ideological framework for action as it does for Hizbullah and the Palestinian resistance movement. Mortada writes: " In effect, the leader of global jihadism Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri had an interesting position, approaching the issue from the angle of priorities on the basis of “Dar al-Kufr and Dar al-Islam,” or the abode of disbelief and the abode of belief in jihadi lore. Zawahiri argues that fighting in Palestine should be on the basis that it is an abode of Islam, and that therefore, liberating it is a duty for every Muslim, as stated in his speech “truths about the conflict between Islam and infidelity” in 2007. But despite this, Palestine remains at the bottom of the list of priorities for most jihadis. In form, most adherents of Salafi-Jihadism believe that “Shias are more dangerous than Jews.” In substance, they believe that liberating Palestine is irrelevant without the establishment of the caliphate in the countries surrounding Palestine first.The sources, who are based in the Raqqa province of Syria, enumerate these necessary stages, saying, “The priority is to liberate Baghdad, then head to Damascus and liberate all of the Levant, before liberating Palestine.” This is the principle that IS soldiers follow: “Fighting nearby apostates is more important than fighting faraway infidels.”
Some preliminary observations—similarities and contrasts between Israel and the Resistance :
(1) Israel shares some important similarities with the Resistance movement in Lebanon and Palestine in that (a) the Zionist political-military apparatus enjoys organic popular support, between 86-91% to be exact (identical figures to Shia support for Hizbullah and, given numerous reports, I would assume similiarly high figures in Palestine for Hamas). Just as a culture of resistance characterizes Lebanese and Palestinians, a culture of aggression and occupation typifies the overwhelming majority of Israelis whose views both reflect and reinforce the actions of their military and political leaders. This is not a cultural over-generalization but an observation based on the shocking moral depravity Israeli teenagers, youths and other social media users are displaying on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram vis-a-vis Palestinian civilians. The examples are too numerous to list here but are now well documented in alternative media.
(b) Just as it’s a misnomer to call Hizbullah or Hamas/IJ etc. political movements with military wings, when in fact they are military/ resistance movements with political wings, it’s erroneous to call Israel a state with an army, when it is more akin to a military base with political and civilian wings, as Nasrallah has described it on numerous occasions. The sole purpose of the Israeli state is to serve Israel’s expansionist aims; similarly, the political parties formed by Hizbullah and Hamas are in the service of the resistance priority, as exemplified by the alliances and unity governments they are often compelled to make.
(2) In contrast to the policy of Israel’s genocidal war machine which is used as a means to pressure Hamas into submission and to undermine popular support for the resistance, the military strategy of the Izzedin al -Qassam Brigades is to pressure Israel by exclusively targeting IDF forces and neutralizing civilians, as asserted by its commander, Mohammad Deif who is quoted as saying that the movement chooses “to confront and kill Israel’s military and elite soldiers rather than attack civilians in neighboring villages.” This is evidenced by the casualty toll (2 civilians killed vs. between 60 and 80 Israeli soldiers) and is further corroborated by several reports on Iron Dome’s failure to intercept weapons. As reported by Reuters, “only about 5 percent of Iron Dome engagements result in the targeted rocket being destroyed or even sufficiently damaged to disable its explosive warhead. In the other 95 percent of cases, the interceptor either misses entirely or just lightly damages the enemy munition, allowing the rocket’s intact warhead to continue arcing toward the ground.” This means that large numbers of Israeli civilians are escaping death not because of the much vaunted defense shield, but because Hamas’ rockets are not intended to inflict mass civilian casualties, but merely function as a form of psychological warfare by forcing civilians into shelters, paralyzing the economy, laying siege to the airport etc. In a similar vein, and as acknowledged by an Israeli intelligence source to the Times of Israel, the attack tunnels target soldiers and not civilian communities: of the nine cross-border tunnels detected, none actually stretches into the grounds of a civilian community: “They could have gone 500 meters more, into the kibbutz,” he said. “Why didn’t they do that?” asks the source.
Israeli media quotes Moussa Abou Marzouk, Meshaal’s deputy, as telling Ria Novosti “We hope the Lebanese front will open and together we will fight against this formation [Israel]…There’s no arguing that Lebanese resistance could mean a lot”.
Given the warming of relations between Hamas and Hizbullah, and the latter’s ongoing military assistance and coordination with Hamas (recently acknowledged by Osama Hamdan) and other Palestinian factions, it is unlikely that Moussa Abou Marzouk’s comment was meant to be divisive or intended to shame Hizbullah which has never actually intervened militarily in Palestine. A more likely explanation for his quote is that it is psychological warfare against Israel whch would surely be threatened by the prospect of its northern front, and possibly Golan front, being activated. This seems all the more likely when one closely reads Nasrallah’s declaration on on Quds Day: “We tell our brothers in Gaza we are with you and beside you and WE WILL DO ANYTHING THAT WE PERCEIVE IS A DUTY on all fronts. We tell the Zionists, you are in the circle of the frail spider web, do not move further to approach the circle of suicide.” Nasrallah’s words were clearly a pledge to the Palestinians to militarily intervene if and when the need arose, and a threat to Israel, that if they “moved further”, i.e. escalated beyond a predetermined threshold, then this would draw Hizbullah into the battle, hence Israel’s imminent “suicide”. Back in 2009 I wrote that Hizbullah would militarily intervene if Hamas’ military capacity were considerably weakened, the resistance emasculated and the Palestinian people left without protection. It doesn’t seem as though we are anywhere near that stage yet, but, if Hamas fails to secure a lifting of the siege and the Sisi regime and its Saudi backers make it impossible for the resistance to replenish its rocket supply, then I think Hizbullah would be forced to step in. Hamas cannot be left without an ongoing flow of weapons; if they dry up then we are faced with the specter of a wider regional war, where Hizbullah will have to fight on 3 fronts simultaneously, especially considering ISIS and Jabhit al Nusra will indirectly collaborate with the Zionists by striking the Resistance and its supporters. But liberating Palestine, rather than Lebanon, is not just Hizbullah’s priority, it is its raison d’etre….
According to the latest news reports, between 7 and 10 Palestinian children have been massacred today by the Zionist enemy with its precision-guided munitions, as they sought to escape Israeli bombardment in 2 seperate incidents which targeted a refugee camp and a hospital. Of course, Israel will argue that Hamas arranged for more “telegenically dead” children to die, while pervesely begrudging the emotional impact these deaths will have on the western public psyche. This “Israel against the whole world” besieged mentality will only increase the proportion of Israelis who support the genocide against the Palestinian people from its current level of 85-87% according to various polls. these numbers will keep rising even though it has now become public knowledge that Hamas was not responsible for the killing of the 3 Israeli settlers. Meanwhile, western media will attempt to whitewash this heinous crime as “collateral damage” and will desperately try to achieve “balance” in its reports by reminding us that “Israelis” have also been killed; as though over 43 IDF soldiers who were killed in combat as they invaded Gaza and 2 civilians who were killed by Hamas’ primitive and hence, imprecise rockets, is somehow quantatively and morally equivalent to over 1000 Palestinian CIVILIAN deaths, including hundreds of children who were deliberately targeted while playing and/or fleeing or hiding from Israeli missiles. In these cases as in others, the concept of “balance” is as methodologically meaningless and morally bankrupt as its sister concept of “neutrality” which maintains that not taking sides in situations of barbaric cruelty is the right thing to do. There is clearly no Israeli “public” we can coexist with, nor an Israeli state we can ever recognize on moral grounds, or accept on strategic, existential grounds. As I have written before, killing is not a mere tactic or strategy for Israel as it is for repressive states, but is a requirement for Israel’s physical security and the security of its identity as an invincible military power. It is for this reason that Palestine can never merely be a human rights cause or a humanitarian cause; its liberation is a strategic and existential necessity for the Arab world. Death to Israel is not a mere slogan, it is the only solution.
Reuters reports that Britain’s Foreign Secretary basically urges Israel to act more like a liberal imperialist than a histrionic Zionist nut-case which is alienating a once sympathetic western public: "I am appealing to my Israeli counterparts, to their Western values, to do everything they can in exercising their legitimate right to self defense to minimize the casualties that are caused….As this campaign goes on and the civilian casualties in Gaza mount, Western public opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel.” Apprently, the daily massacres of women and children holed up inside their homes with nowhere to run, the bombing of hospitals and UNRWA schools, the deliberate targeting of children playing football, the calls for the “extermination” of Gazans by Zionist rabbis, Zionist politicians’ and academics’ calls for the killing and rape of Palestinian mothers, the depiction of Israel’s war crimes as [Palestinian] “self-genocide”, the reference to Palestinian child victims as “telegenically dead”, the Israeli public’s macabre rejoicing over the slaying of Palestinians (AP reports that those who oppose the invasion are a “minority”), the bloodthirsty social media campaigns launched by Israeli teenagers and youths, all this has started to embarass Israel’s western liberal allies. The Zionist regime’s denunciation of the United Nations Human Rights Council as a “kangaroo court” and its portrayal of Brazil as an “irrelevant” “diplomatic dwarf” have only reinforced the world’s growing awareness that Israel is bat-shit crazy.
Try to maintain the outrage you feel when you see images like this. Try not to forget because in cases like this, outrage doesn’t cloud our judgement or reason, but merely functions as an instrument of truth: Israel is a synonym for all that is evil and unjust in this world, and therefore it must be eradicated. And by that I mean the Zionist regime must be overthrown and “Israeli society” which is little more than a collective psychosis shared by unarmed and off-duty combatants masquerading as “civilians” must return to their countries of origin. One Palestinian state is the only just solution.
If the 2006 July War shattered the myth of Israel’s invincibility, this latest war on Gaza has shattered the myth of Israel’s sustainability. I am not just referring here to the military performance of Hamas, IJ and other groups, or to the demonstrable failure of Iron Dome, but to the ultimately self-destructive nature of Israel’s military strategy of genocide. When a people have been subjected to such relentless barbarity, there is no worst case scenario that the oppressor can threaten them with. They have everything to gain and nothing left to lose from resisting to the end. The more ground troops Israel sends into Gaza, the more opportunities it presents the Resistance with to abduct and kill them. The only thing that is now preventing a cease-fire is Israel’s inability to find a face-saving exit strategy. Israel’s identity as an invicible power and its physical security are entirely dependent on its ability to commit genocide at minimum human and economic cost, and that is no longer possible. Israel is on its death-bed, regardless of what a long miserable death it will be.
The deputy-speaker of the Israeli Knesset calls for the occupation of Gaza and the expulsion of all its inhabitants, using the following measures: 1) Don’t spare any civilian lives: “Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.” 2) Starve and strangulate the Palestinian population: “a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza.” 3) Repeat, don’t spare any civilian lives: “attack with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.” 4) Conquer Gaza with no mercy for civilian lives :”the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations” 5) All supporters of the Resistance should be killed, including children related to Resistance fighters and kids who throw stones: ” ..eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave.” 6) Palestinians will be denied even this open-air prison because every inch of historic Palestine must be usurped: “Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews.” It’s important to bear in mind that this is not a minority view but represents the aspirations of the political mainstream and the majority of Zionist “civilians”, all of whom would be actively pursuing this were it not for the heroic Resistance and the resilient Palestinian people.
Children aside, the concept of “Israeli civilians” is an oxymoron. This meme created by Israelis is circulating on Twitter, depicting Gaza as a woman waiting to be raped by the Zionist army. The meme reads: ” “Bibi, finish inside this time! Signed, citizens in favor of a ground assault”. Well before the dissemination of memes like this, not to mention selfies of Israeli teenage girls calling for the death of Palestinians, and images of Israelis relaxing atop hilltops as they eat popcorn and cheer on their invading army massacre Palestinians, Hizbullah was well aware of the Zionist aggressor identity of Israeli “civilians”. In chapter 7 of my book on Hizbullah (2002) I write: “In principle, the party maintains that it ‘prefers to deem Israeli civilians neutral’….[Sheikh Naim] Qasim admits that this is virtually impossible to maintain in reality…Hizbullah rationalizes that it is not killing innocent Israeli civilians, but hostile militant Zionists…[it] perceives Israeli society as an essentially Zionist and ideological monolith, characterized by an inveterate animosity towards the Arab Muslims….Nasrallah’s reference to dead and wounded Israelis as “Zionist” [casualties] implies that Hizbullah does perceive Israeli civilians as detached from the Zionist project, and therefore ‘innocent’, but as co-conspirators in this malevolent scheme…”
We are not beasts like them, so we do not call for their deaths, only that they leave historic Palestine as all occupying armies are eventually forced to do.
All those who are childishly trashing Hizbullah for not intervening in Gaza on the one hand, and those who are too embittered and petty-minded to forgive Hamas on the other, should read this interview with Osama Hamdan and recall that the Palestinian cause is bigger than us all: "Hamdan also said that there was a “permanent cooperation and coordination on the field” with Hezbollah…. “The ties with Hezbollah and Iran are much better than many people think, and the ties with Hezbollah especially are way better than optimists expect them to be,” Hamdan told As-Safir newspaper. “The relationship with Hezbollah is based on [the fight against] Israel and the endeavor to liberate Palestine. Everybody is keen on preserving it no matter how the circumstances change and the points of view differ,” he added.