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.
Given Arab outrage at Israel’s latest round of aggression against the Palestinian people, some Arab leftists and Palestine solidarity activists have been attacking Hizbullah for fighting jihadis in Syria while abstaining from intervening militarily in Palestine. Aside from ignoring the existential nature of the far less manageable conflict with the takfiris (who are accountable to no one), such accusations ignore the fact that Hizbullah has never directly intervened in Palestine. In 2009, I wrote this piece explaining why Hizbullah couldn’t militarily intervene in the 2008/2009 war on Gaza. I think the excerpts below are even more relevant now, considering Hizbullah is currently fighting on 2 other fronts, over and above its deterrent strategy vis-a-vis Israel: "While Israel fervently attempts to terrorize the Palestinians into submission in Gaza, many observers have started to wonder why Hizballah has refrained from stepping in militarily to assist its brothers-in-arms, Hamas. Such musings fail to take account of the constraints on Hizballah’s room for action, as well as the circumstances under which Hizballah would ignore such constraints. The question that should be posed is not so much if Hizballah will act, but when. As things currently stand, Hizballah is not in a position to directly help Hamas militarily by opening a new front with Israel. In the first place, Hizballah and its supporters have only recently recovered from the devastating impact of Israel’s war against them in July 2006. A Hizballah offensive against northern Israel would surely be met with “disproportionate” force on Israel’s part, which Israel has been threatening as much for several months now. Mass destruction and devastation aside, Hizballah would once again be faced with intense domestic pressures to disarm, and possibly, more externally manufactured, locally-executed conspiracies hatched against it that could drag it into the kind of civil warfare that the movement found itself in during May 2008. Armed action by Hizballah would not only hurt the movement but would also harm Hamas whose status as a nationalist resistance movement, capable of defending its own people, would be greatly undermined and its raison d’etre called into question. Furthermore, since Hamas has thus far managed to withstand the Israeli onslaught on its own without suffering any significant damage to its organizational hierarchy or military infrastructure, Hizballah does not regard an intervention on its part as an exigent need….. Hamas’ fighting style also seems to bear the hallmarks of the military tactics Hizballah used during the July War such as its use of underground bunkers and tunnel networks, as well as adopting similar rocket tactics, all of which suggest Hizballah’s extensive training of Hamas’ military forces. Nasrallah came close to admitting as much when he claimed on 31 December that “the resistance in Gaza benefitted more from these lessons [from the July War] than the Israelis.” More than simply receiving military training, Hamas’s military strategy appears to conform to the “new school of fighting” founded by Hizballah’s assassinated military leader, Imad Mughniyeh (himself rumored to have personally trained and equipped several Palestinian groups over the years), which combines conventional and non-conventional, guerilla warfare that functions not only to liberate occupied territory, but to defend it from aggression.”
We do not regard this uprising/ insurrection to be a Zionist one solely on account of Israeli and Syrian opposition figures’ open love for one another. Nor is it solely on account of the Zionist state’s official support for this opposition and their shared interests in toppling the Assad government and destroying the Syrian Arab Republic.. What really makes this a Zionist uprising is the fact that in just two years it has achieved the same strategic objectives that Israel sought hard, yet failed to affect in over 60 years of its existence. And it has succeeded in achieving Israel’s goals almost exclusively with sectarianism, which has effectively become the new Israel in our midst. No Israeli invasion, attack, occupation, annexation, settlement construction, humiliating peace, or hasbara [Israeli PR] campaign, was ever able to force resistance movements like HAMAS to change their priorities and abandon their erstwhile allies; or to persuade the Arab people that the Assad government, Iran and Hizbullah are their primary enemies as opposed to Israel; or to reduce anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism to the politically incorrect “old school” politics of a bygone era; or to elevate the statuses of once despised Arab monarchs to regional liberators; or to render Shi’ism as the cancerous cell in the region rather than the Zionist entity. An uprising which not only collaborates with Israel but serves its strategic interests can only be a Zionist uprising. And the worst part is, that we have reached a point where such labeling is no longer taken as an insult or seen an accusation.
AFP reports that a PFLP rally held in Gaza, protesting Israel’s strikes on Syria, was violently dispersed today by Hamas’ police force. Hamas’ security forces beat the protesters with batons after ordering them to disperse the rally within 2 minutes. 3 protesters were injured and taken to hospital. So this is the new Hamas—solidarity with the Syrian people in the face of Zionist aggression is subject to repression. Enjoy your Syrian revolution and your [House] Arab Spring.
Nobody has any delusions about Abbas’ Zionist- collaborator status, but we have a reached a point in the struggle with imperialism/Zionism whereby traitors like him don’t even try to sugar-coat a policy of surrender with euphemisms like “hudna” any more, but boldly declare “Armed resistance is banned,” and that Hamas has signed on to this policy in Gaza too. Nobody can deny that peaceful intifada/ popular resistance is an invaluable tool for the oppressed, but when it becomes a substitute for rather than a complement to armed resistance, the notion of popular resistance becomes tantamount to disempowering the people. Excerpts from the Jerusalem Post story here: "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that he was in favor of a peaceful and popular resistance and that he and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have reached agreement on the need for a peaceful intifada. “Armed resistance is banned,” he stressed. “This is a law and it is forbidden. It is also forbidden in the Gaza Strip.” The PA president said that the PA security forces in the West Bank have been arresting Palestinians who smuggle weapons from Israel. “They smuggle weapons from Israel, including M-16 rifles and explosives,” he claimed. “These weapons could destroy my country. What am I going to do with all these Israeli weapons?”
I will allow myself to say this now that the war on Gaza is over: So Israel allows Khaled Mishaal entry into Gaza but bans the Islamic Jihad leader, Ramadan Shallah, from entering, threatening to break the cease-fire if he does. That is the real yardstick of one’s resistance credentials. The day Israel allows you entry anywhere, while banning your more principled comrades, is the day you are no longer a representative of the Moqawama. So easy to wish for “martyrdom” when you are luxuriating in your Doha villa. Al-Qassem will break off soon from Hamas’ external leadership inshallah.
There was once a time, not very long ago, when prioritizing the Palestinian cause above all else was a socially and politically constructed self-evident truth in the Arab world. Explaining to outsiders who asked why we loved Palestine was as impossible as explaining why we loved someone. Because it’s Palestine, would have been the natural answer. Regrettably, we have now entered a new phase whereby we need to respond to this question—asked from within our own ranks no less— with more compelling reasons. We now need to persuade supporters of the Syrian opposition who have always supported Palestine in the past, that liberating Palestine takes precedence over overthrowing the Syrian “regime”, or why imperialism and settler colonialism is a graver threat than internal repression.
But the imperialism versus authoritarianism debate is itself rooted in a deeper divide over the meaning of Palestine for Arab activists and intellectuals. As I wrote previously, Syrian oppositionists and some Third Wayers (assuming they still exist) “misunderstand the extent of Israel’s iniquity by locating it solely in Zionist aggression, human rights violations or in the circumstances of the occupation. The resistance camp conceives of Israel as the greatest injustice because of its very existence and the unprecedented nature of its oppression, which renders it not merely a human rights cause, but humanity’s cause.”
Rather than fetishising “statehood”, the BDS campaign focuses on rights and realities: it calls for an end to Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands conquered in 1967; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respect for and implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees.
Although I am a huge supporter of the BDS movement and see it as a necessary complement to the armed struggle, and although I agree with the movement’s refusal to “fetishize” statehood, I take issue with its priorities as well as its willingness to settle for a truncated state with 1967 borders . Yes, Palestinian rights are of utmost importance and the Palestinian people are indeed subject to the grossest form of oppression and injustice which requires our collective efforts, but my unit of analysis is Palestine, not only the Palestinians.
When I think of Palestine, the people are of course a leading component but not the only component of this concept. Palestine is, as Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah alludes to it, “not just the blood of a man, the fate of a woman, the crushed bones of a child, or a piece of bread stolen from the mouth of a poor or hungry person. It is the issue of a people, a nation, a fate, holy places, history, and the future.” Palestine is the land and the people, past, present and future generations. If we are to limit our understanding of Palestine to Palestinians then we would be forced to relinquish the Palestinian cause and to betray future generations of Palestinians, if the their elected representatives chose to abandon armed struggle and satisfy themselves with a Bantustan comprised of 22% of historic Palestine.
More than this, Palestine not only needs us, but we need Palestine: it is the identity that once united us, the direction that guides our moral compass, the cornerstone of our political principles, the lens required for our awareness and understanding of imperialism, and a strategic necessity for the freedom and self-determination not only of Palestine, but of the entire region.
When I confine my understanding of Palestine to Palestinian individuals, I am effectively renouncing my need for Palestine. When Palestine is relegated to a human rights’ cause I open myself to the argument made by the Syrian opposition camp, that Palestinian blood is no worthier than any other Arab blood (itself a flawed argument). When individual Palestinians are my unit of analysis rather than the trans-historical concept of Palestine, I also open myself to the charge—made by some supporters of the Syrian government who withheld support from Hamas in the recent Gaza war — that Palestine is no longer a priority given Syria’s higher death toll and Hamas’ abandonment of Assad.
The only way we can ensure the Arab and Islamic world’s ongoing commitment to the Palestinian people is by making Palestine our unit of analysis and point of departure. And while we should never fetishize a truncated statehood, we should fetishize resistance and liberation for there is no other way to free the Palestinian people or the people of the region from the plague of Zionism.
There can be no denying that the PA’s attainment of UN non-member observer status for a Palestinian micro-state is a public relations victory which successfully capitalized on the Palestinian resistance’s recent military victory . Moreover, Israeli and US officials’ hysterical responses, particularly Livni’s depiction of this victory as a “strategic terrorist attack”, also makes it something of a political defeat and a source of humiliation for the Zionist entity.
More confusing still, is how divided Israeli media has been over the danger this development represents, with some belittling the significance of the statehood bid’s success and others decrying it. Most illuminating is the op/ed below written by Sever Plocker for the November 30 edition of Yedioth Ahronoth, entitled “THE VOTE IS ALSO GOOD FOR US”. The implications of this piece are more disturbing still when one recalls Khaled Mishaal’s recent [and considering Hamas’ military success, completely uneccesary] concession to Christian Amanpour on CNN ” I accept a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital, with the right to return.” Mishaal also implied in the interview that he would be willing to recognize Israel once this Palestinian mini-state [22% of historic Palestine] was established: “I want my state. After this state is established, it — besides its standing toward Israel, don’t ask me when I’m in prison and under pressure, under Israeli pressure. You cannot ask me, as a victim, what is my stand toward Israel. I have mentioned my stand when there is a Palestinian state…”
Excerpts from the Yedioth Ahronoth piece:
"The nations of the world did just vote in favor of the Palestinians last night. They also voted in favor of Israel. In favor of a sovereign, independent Israel, separate from Palestine, separate from the Palestinians. By giving recognition to the Palestinian state, the UN gave, for the second time since the end of World War II, its repeated recognition of the Jewish state.
The PA delegation formulated its request in diplomatic language that left no room for doubt: the Palestinian people request to establish for itself a state in West Bank and the Gaza Strip based on the 1967 borders that will live in peace alongside Israel. The sensitive issue of Jerusalem was not mentioned in the operative section of the request and remains open to negotiations between the sides. The same for the issue of the final borders and the settlements.
The resolution passed by the UN is not anti-Israel. It is only seen as such by Israelis who are opposed to the idea of two states. In practice, this could serve as the jumping-off point for pulling the peace process out of the mud. True, unilateral steps are never the best solution, but the recognition that the world conferred last night on the Palestinian state does not constitute a major injury to Israel’s vital interests. We can live with it and even derive benefit from it. The benefit—including to Israel —is in setting a new opening point for negotiations: between two nation-states and not between an occupying nation and a national entity living under occupation. The gaps have been reduced in a non-violent way. That, in and of itself, is positive.
In the last few years, the Israeli government in general, and the foreign minister in particular, waged an intimidation campaign against the idea of UN recognition of the Palestinian state. We scared ourselves good, at least up until last week, when official spokespersons began to mightily spin the propaganda wheel backwards in a desperate attempt to explain that the devil wasn’t all that bad. And indeed it isn’t: the only concrete danger that the intimidators can mention is the hypothetical appeal of the PA to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”
The author neglected to mention that the ICC issue is no longer even hypothetical considering that the Palestinian Authority has given assurances, that in exchange for recognition of a tiny sliver of Palestine, it will not hold Israel accountable for its war crimes by means of legal instruments like the ICC. As the Guardian reports:
"Palestinian officials said Britain and the US had pressed Abbas to sign a confidential side letter, which would not be presented to the UN general assembly, committing the Palestinian Authority not to accede to the ICC."
In the final analysis, the non-member observer status does not appear to be much of a game changer and may even be detrimental to the longer-term objective of a one state solution in ALL of historic Palestine if the fate of Palestine remains in the hands of Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal. The only real guarantee of Palestine’s liberation is a unified resistance movement that does not abandon its raison d’étre or principles. In other words, what is required for real Palestinian statehood is Islamic Jihad’s expansion both in size and military power, and for a break to occur within Hamas’s ranks, specifically between the external Doha-based leadership and the Gaza leadership, or for Hamas’ military wing, al-Qassam, to split from its political wing. As the example of Hizbullah demonstrates, a resistance movement that is effective and capable of scoring strategic victories and retrieving land needs to be a military movement with a political wing and not the reverse.
The somewhat misleading title of this piece— “United by a common threat: Israel, Egypt and Hamas all fear Iran and its Islamic Jihad proxy in Gaza”—from the Times of Israel belies a very interesting analysis about Hamas’ conflicting tendencies and identities :
"The rise of Islamist regimes, such as the one in Egypt, has translated into a greater shared hostility for Israel on the one hand, but an increase in the importance of religion and ethnicity in the region alongside a dwindling emphasis on national interests [important to note here that even Israeli writers acknowledge that unity over Israel served our national interests], as seen in Iraq, Lebanon and especially Syria.
“Once you take Damascus out of the Iran-Syria-Hamas axis, there is no more axis.”
In this Hamas is trapped between its two clashing identities. On the one hand, according to an Israel Radio interview with Kadima MK and former deputy director of the Shin Bet Israel Hasson, Hamas views itself, after shirking the rule of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, as the bellwether of the Arab Spring — the first Arab entity to shake off corrupt, semi-secular control for a devout, Islamist government in the mold of Turkey and Egypt. In other words, a legitimate mainstream Sunni regime. On the other hand, according to Livne, Hamas’s credibility within Gaza is also very much linked to its ability to retain supremacy as the chief agent of “resistance” to Israel.
Livne described the two major players in the region as Egypt and Iran, both vying for supremacy in the Middle East. “In the end, the war for control of the region is between them,” he said. And Hamas – linked by ideology and religion to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt – “does not want to be the marionette of Iran.”
A MUST READ by Ibrahim Alamine on how the US and Israel want to transform Hamas into a Sunni weapon against the Resistance Axis by reducing the latter to a “Shiite Front”. Highlights from this very illuminating piece: "There is also impatience in the US and Israel to push things further – to get the resistance in Palestine to break off its relationship with Iran and, by extension, Syria and Hezbollah. The aim would be to employ Hamas’ popular legitimacy and record of struggle in the confrontation with the opposing camp, seeing as it is the involvement of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis in resisting US and Israeli occupation that gives it sway in the wider Arab and Islamic worlds.
The harsh truth is that there are growing indications that such prospects need to be taken seriously. We need to take into account that Arab attitudes to the Palestinian cause and resistance are changing. It must be noted by the pro-resistance camp, for example, that not one Arab capital witnessed a serious demonstration in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. There was also the accompanying spiteful row between supporters of the two camps, with the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis seeking a public expression of gratitude from the Palestinian resistance, and Hamas leaders deliberately avoiding such mention. This all points to an impasse. Anyone who believed the battle with Israel would unite everyone is mistaken…”
Armed resistance by non-state actors representing the Muqawama in Lebanon and Palestine is undoubtedly the most noble and heroic forms of resistance. But we should never allow discursive and political imperialism to blind us to the resistance practiced by state actors like Iran and Syria. Although neither state is directly engaged in armed resistance against Israel (given that it would be suicidal for weaker conventional forces like Syria’s to do so) they have been arming and funding the Muqawama since its inception in Lebanon and Palestine. And for this they have paid dearly in blood and economic hardship.
If Iran abandoned Palestine and Hizbullah today, its nuclear program would be recognized and all sanctions lifted. Neither the US nor Israel would be threatening it with invasion. If Syria had abandoned the Muqawama when Colin Powell presented Washington’s list of demands in 2003, there would be no war resulting from a foreign backed insurrection against Syria today; the Assad “regime” would have ensured its survival.
The ultimate measure of Resistance is sacrifice and both Iran and Syria have sacrificed their country’s stability and security for the cause of resistance. Resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon would have been quashed years ago were it not for the arms and sacrifices of Iran and Syria.
And this is why I think Islamic Jihad are the new Hizbullah: in a press conference today their armed wing, the Quds Brigade, announced that it had fired 620 rockets into the Zionist entity (which represents around 40% of all rockets fired from Gaza) including Grad missiles and Fajr 5 rockets as well as Fajr 3 rockets. Its fighters also took credit for firing Kornet rockets [at the military jeep], anti-warships missiles and advanced rockets launchers. IJ also announced its successful electronic warfare in penetrating 5000 mobile phones belonging to Zionist officers and soldiers who took part in the invasion. That’s one impressive performance by such a small resistance group.
Regardless of the death and destruction, the Palestinian resistance has forced Israel into acquiescing to all of its conditions and as such, today’s cease-fire agreement constitutes a clear victory for Palestine. After watching the press conference, it has become quite clear that Hamas has not abandoned its resistance role, even if it has shifted regional alliances. In the first place, Mishaal attempted to atone for his previous omission, by thanking Iran for arming and funding Hamas at the very beginning of the press conference. Second, both he and Islamic Jihad’s leader, Ramadan Shallah, repeatedly referred to the pursuit of the “liberation of all of Palestine” and affirmed that the resistance would “continue to arm” itself, with Shallah asserting that the cease-fire had no time frame and as such, would enable the Resistance to recover and rebuild its capacities.
Shallah, whose movement is much closer to Iran and by extension, Hizbullah and Syria, underlined the very positive role Egypt played in brokering the deal and assured all that it did not pressure the resistance in any way to submit to Israel’s demands. This was not merely a quid pro quo for Mishaal’s remarks on Iran, but seemed quite sincere given his emphatic tone. At the end of the day, despite all its flaws and half-hearted measures, Mursi’s government did not CONSPIRE against the resistance as did Mubarak who had advance knowledge of Operation Cast Lead in 2008, as confirmed by Wikileaks cables. If Egypt had applied the type of pressure Israel required, Clinton would not have needed to be whisked into the region.
It is now evident that IJ was reportedly behind the more qualitative strikes such as the Kornet attack on the IOF jeep, the shelling of the Israeli battleship, the first strike on Tel Aviv, and even the downing of the F-16, considering Mishaal redirected the question on this topic to Shallah when asked about it. IJ’s formidable military performance is in large part due to its greater organizational discipline, proximity to Iran, and, considering it is not preoccupied with day to day governance like Hamas, the group has been able to fully devote itself to resistance activity and hence to intense training. IJ is the new Hizbullah, albeit on a much smaller scale. Its military prowess and possibly even its size, can be expected to grow in future, especially after its impressive show.
But despite its formidable performance in this battle, Shallah described Hamas as the “spearhead of the Islamic resistance” and pledged to stand “beside it”. This is due in part to Hamas’ much larger size and greater political weight, but also to IJ’s keenness not to steal the limelight away from Hamas. It is quite clear that there is a very pragmatic division of labour between the two groups whereby the people of Gaza get some [very literal] breathing space while the resistance keeps its arms on standby. Hamas rules and maintains positive relations with neighbouring countries who can help relieve the stranglehold on Gaza and provide a much needed injection of funds while IJ serves as the link with the Resistance Axis, which Hamas will always need for weapons’ supplies. If and when Israel attacks, retaliation will most likely be IJ’s prerogative as it has been recently, with Hamas only stepping in when its cadres are targeted or a larger scale attack ensues.
In short, Hamas will have one foot in the world of Muslim Brotherhood politics and one foot in the resistance, reflecting its hybrid identity and mixed origins. Whether or not it will be able to sustain this delicate balance between these two, often competing roles, remains to be seen.
I wonder how it feels to have this filthy subhuman Syrian opposition figure, Sheikh al-Arour (who once threatened to “Mince the Alawites in meat grinders”) represent Syrian opposition supporters when he says “if Hamas did indeed fire rockets on Israel then this is a huge mistake and even a betrayal of the Syrian people.” Nice. Enjoy your Zionist-enabling uprising while shedding crocodile tears over Gaza.