If there is any consolation to raising one’s kids in a country which is perpetually on the brink of civil war, is constantly subject to Israeli invasion and aggression, suffers from periodic terrorist attacks, FSA rocket fire and continuous power cuts, it’s the ability to urge your dentist’s assistant to not to laugh at you because you wish to reschedule your daughter’s appointment tomorrow as “Seyyid Hassan will be giving a speech at the same time as the appointment” and have her reply from the posh Beirut clinic: “are you kidding me? Why would i find that funny? I fully understand you”. Long live the culture of resistance.
I was watching some old clips of Chavez supporters discussing why they were going to vote for him in the October elections. Aside from their expected responses about social justice and equality, the underlying theme which resonated widely was how he was “the only one” who cared for their plight and how this was “the first time” any leader did so. In other words, there was a general awareness of injustice and oppression which provided the backdrop for their gratitude. This illustrates the very flawed and shortsighted nature of the dominant western liberal view of Chavez’s popular support— and by extension, the support all oppressed people lend their revolutionary or resistant leaders— as resulting from material “bribery” or fealty paid to a strongman who has enough charisma to captivate an impressionable and ultimately, politically naïve, audience.
Another good example of this is corporate media’s portrayal of the relationship between Nasrallah and Hizbullah’s supporters. In both cases, the mediating role played by political consciousness is completely neglected. Whether it is socio-economic programs and services these leaders provide or charismatic authority, the consequent popular support is mediated by a political identity and consciousness that is driven by a strong sense of justice. Without this political consciousness, social and economic benefits would be seen as just that—largesse bestowed by one leader among many to be traded for votes. Without this political consciousness, charismatic authority would be stripped of all political meaning and find no mass resonance. Neither economic rewards nor leadership skills would translate into “Chavez vive y la lucha sigue” or to “Labyaka ya Nasrallah”. Without political consciousness, neither economic rewards nor leadership skills would instill in people a commitment to the Bolivirian Revolution that Chavez launched or the resistance project that Nasrallah leads.
And it is this political consciousness rather than any material benefit which has forged global solidarity among the oppressed of the world; Hizbullah’s supporters mourn Chavez just as Chavistas identify with Nasrallah. And it is for this reason too that alliances between anti-imperialist states and actors extend to their peoples too, making them acts of genuine political solidarity rather than mere national interests.
An op-ed today in al-Akhbar referred to Israel as “the enemy” in Arabic. Although use of this term to describe Israel was once very common in Arab popular parlance and in local media, its use in this context has significantly decreased since the Syrian uprising. Once a term reserved almost exclusively to Israel, the concept of the enemy from without has been fast replaced by the enemy from within in both pro-government and opposition circles. While government supporters can hardly be faulted for depicting the Zionist-normalizing, NATO-loving FSA as an “enemy” force, especially given its proxy status and military links with Syria’s strategic enemies, as well as its intent to destroy Syria as a state, it is both morally inexcusable and intellectually indefensible for Syrians and Arabs who profess enmity towards Israel, to use this term to describe the Assad government or Hizbullah or Iran, all of whom have paid a high price for confronting the Israeli enemy both politically and militarily.
The danger of such labeling can hardly be overstated in this case; the link between power and language has been well documented by the likes of Michel Foucault and Edward Said. As these thinkers have noted, language creates not only knowledge, but reality itself. The resulting discourse, which becomes internalized by its subjects shapes their assumptions, values and cultural habits. In short, it changes and re-fashions their political identity and beliefs.
To be more accurate, this discursive onslaught began in 2005 when the Lebanese became divided over whether Syria or Israel was their real enemy, with some March 14 politicians referring to the Zionist entity as “our neighbor”. But irrespective of this semantic divide and March 14’s collaboration with Israel during the July war as Wikileaks documents later revealed, not once did Hizbullah refer to the opposing camp as “the enemy”,” and settled on terms like “ our opponents/rivals” and “the other camp”. Compare this to the Syrian opposition camp today, whose leading “intellectuals” and activists in the Arab world have no qualms about speaking of the “Shia enemy” or the “Iranian enemy”, or cheering on the FSA who issue empty threats to attack Hizbullah and assassinate Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah.
By redefining the concept of the “enemy”, both the Syrian uprising and to a lesser extent, its US- engineered counterpart in Lebanon, have succeeded in reversing decades of Arab political socialization, whereby those who prioritize resistance to Israel and the US are mocked and dismissed as old-school anti-imperialists, or more disparagingly by Third Wayers like Bassam Haddad, as “Fumigating Anti-Imperialists”.
The Arab Spring may not be a revolution in the economic or political sense of the term, but it has achieved a semantic revolution which, if left unchecked by counter-hegemonic forces, will lead to the full intellectual and political colonization of the Arab mind and the Arab identity.
I have noticed a disturbing tendency among all too many Arabs and Arab pundits to reduce the war in Syria to an internal and/or external power struggle involving the Syrian state and other parties. This is not merely an analytic flaw but a moral one as it overlooks the extent to which Syria has become a NATIONAL cause in its own right. Given that unified and cohesive nations are the socially and politically constructed outgrowths of strong centralized states, the destruction of the Syrian state necessarily entails the destruction of the Syrian nation both as a physically real community and as an imagined community and identity. As has become readily apparent, the ultimate objective of the Empire and its Arab and Zionist tools in the region, is not merely the overthrow of the Syrian “regime” but the destruction of the Syrian state. Considering Empire’s inability to exercise direct colonization as was the case in Palestine, or political control as is the case in the Gulf and Arab monarchies and the low-intensity democracies governed by House-Islamists, the only means of dominating recalcitrant nations like Syria, is to fragment the state and destroy “the “only remaining strong Arab army”, to borrow Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s phrase, and replace it with the “tribes with flags” template; or more specifically, the sects with [colonial and black al-Qaeda] flags template. The result that is sought is the eradication of the Syrian Arab Republic, and with it the erasure of the Syrian nation and the political identity that characterized it. And that is why Syria is not merely a state in crisis or a bloody civil war but a national cause that we must all fight to defend as we do with Palestine, for without Syria there can be no Palestine and no Lebanon and no nation, Syrian or otherwise.
Excerpts from interviews with the martyred Tunisian opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, who exposes the role of the ruling Nahda party in the war on Syria and in sowing strife: ” these American and Zionist criminals enter our mosques and militarize our youths and send our children to die in Syria to defend a project that isn’t theirs…” The courageous Belaid accuses a Nahda official of collaboration with Israel in one of his interviews “you are a collaborator, a collaborator for the Zionists and Americans!”
But there is no room for the anti-imperialism of heroes like Belaid in the Arab Spring’s democratic-regimes, which are dominated by the most sinister form of colonized Arab—the House Islamists.
It is instructive to recall here Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s warning about this phenomenon in December 2008 and in later speeches:
“Neither America nor Israel cares about our prayers or fasting. Fast as you want, pray as you want, or perform pilgrimage as you want, but leave things, sovereignty, and the major political interests for America and Israel…In principle, the Americans do not mind if the ruler is Islamist, Communist, Marxist, Leninist, Maoist, or nationalist. This is not important for them. You can have whatever ideology or thought you want. What matters is what is your political program? What is your position on Israel? What is your position on the United States?”
"The gloves are off. The Syrian Information Minister says Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel are responsible for today’s events. This is the first time a Syrian official singles out the conspirators by name since the start of the conflict. Indeed, this is a new stage in the war.
The same Arab traitors rejoicing the killings are also mocking Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah on twitter now. It is sickening to the core to know that if Israel invaded Syria or Lebanon today they would most likely be cheering it, if not publicly (because they still pay lip service to Palestine) in private just as March 14 collaborators did in 2006 as revealed by Wikileaks State Department cables ."
"Remember when they assassinated Hizbullah’s military commander and security chief, the martyr Imad Mughnieh? Remember how they said this was the end of the Resistance? Incidentally, they are the same powers and states who are either directly or indirectly behind the killings in Syria today and who are now wagering on the collapse of the Army and security forces. These killings are a war on Syria as a whole not merely its regime or security apparatus, just as the assassination of Mughnieh was not only a war on Hizbullah only but on the resistance project in the region."