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.
When the same resistance that fought and defeated the Zionist enemy in 2006 becomes militarily engaged in Syria, this only confirms the fact that this is not a “revolution” against the Syrian “regime” but a war on the Syrian Arab Republic and the Resistance Axis of which it is part. This war is an extension of the July War, and it is no coincidence that it is backed by the same Arab and Western powers which backed Israel’s onslaught against Lebanon. Just as Hizbullah was accused of neglecting its resistance priority in May 2008 when it was dragged into clashes with Lebanese Sunnis, it is being similarly accused today of turning its guns against fellow Muslims. What many fail to understand however, is that as in 2008 when March 14 tried to dismantle Hizbullah’s telecom network and drag it into a civil war, the movement’s involvement in Syria today IS a defense of its resistance and not merely a defense of its Syrian ally. Protecting Lebanese and Syrians in neighbouring villages, assisting the Syrian army in liberating areas occupied by takfiri jihadis which border Lebanese villages — and hence pose a strategic threat to its resistance— and training the government backed Popular Committees in guerilla warfare are all part and parcel of Hizbullah’s defense of the resistance which will be the first casualty of any regime change in Syria, as opposition forces have been promising for two years now. While this may seem distasteful to many Arabs who pay lip service to supporting Palestine, such are the sacrifices that must be made for the liberation of Palestine and the region from the Zionist entity. It is also the price that must be paid for preserving Syria’s territorial intergrity and holding in check those who seek to annihilate Christians, Shias and mainstream Sunnis. To prevent a regional sectarian war, Hizbullah has no choice but to help defend Syria from those whose primary agenda is precisely that. And for those who believe western and Arab media’s exaggerated reports about the scope of Hizbullah’s military activity in Syria, one need only point to the limited number of martyrs Hizbullah has lost (around 35) and remind them that if Hizbullah did indeed deploy large numbers of fighters to Syria, much of Syria would have been liberated by now.
Mother’s Day got me thinking how it is no accident that the Arabic and Latin based languages refer to the nation as a she, and depict it in maternal terms such as the “motherland” and “mother country”, due to the very obvious association with birth, origins and blood ties. But their there is also a psychosocial explanation for this: even as adults, individuals continue to need the same love, security, rootedness (often symbolized by kissing the ground of one’s nation), sense of belonging and identity they obtained from their mothers, so they often turn to the nation to fulfill those needs. When we view the concept of nation in this context, it becomes easy to understand what the loss of Palestine, Iraq and now Syria, means to Arabs. The Empire isn’t merely oppressing our land and people, but is separating us from other motherland, uprooting us from our identities, destroying our heritage as the cradle of civilization and effacing our past, present and future. With this in mind, today, we not only wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the brave, struggling mothers of our region, but we wish a happy Mother[land]’s Day to our beloved Syria, Palestine and Iraq. We will never stop turning to them for love and identity for they are our roots.
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 was chatting with an old student the other day who is currently doing his MA thesis. He described his thesis supervisor as someone who is “great politically,” though “only in private.” Nothing insults my intelligence more than this oxymoronic phrase. So often I have heard how much Third Way intellectuals, who oppose the opposition but call for Assad’s overthrow, secretly support the Assad government’s struggle— views which they only dare utter in private. Or academics who privately support the resistance yet insist on sounding “balanced” when writing or speaking publicly about Hizbullah. Let’s get one thing straight, whether we are talking about Syria, Palestine, Hizbullah, resistance, or any other controversial political cause: your privately held, publicly unexpressed thoughts and feelings count for nothing. A political position is an activity, not a state of being; it entails an active and substantive role, not a passive point of view, otherwise we would call it an opinion and not a stand or position. Either keep it real or keep your deepest, darkest, radical views you are too ashamed or afraid of declaring, to yourself. If you are too scared to get out of your comfort zone by articulating a controversial anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist position, then do us all a favour and stop trying to market your undeclared opinions as a principled stand in your private conversations with a trusted few. It is not. If every intellectual behaved as you did, the truth would remain forever hidden and there would be no anti-imperialist movement to begin with.
I really like the “Palestine’s Day” (playing on Valentine’s Day) meme circulating on social media, but it does give some pause for thought: all too many Arabs and western leftists have come to *love* Palestine in the same capitalist-driven, commodified, Hollywood-ized and ultimately meaningless way that people *love* other people. This has become all too apparent in the wake of the counter-revolution in Syria whereby those who call for the overthrow of the “Assad regime” and attack Hizbullah for supporting it, audaciously (and somewhat schizophrenically) profess a deep love and commitment to Palestine, no less stomach-churning and empty than the concept of Valentine’s itself. For these Arabs, and many western pseudo-leftists like them, Palestine has been reduced to a popular brand image and hence, a tool of self-legitimation, in much the same way that people seek romantic love for self-validation; if I love Palestine then I am politically correct, and if I am politically correct then I belong [to the post-Arab Spring regional order]. As with physical attraction that is often mistaken for love, Intifada Chic is often confused with a deep emotional connection and strong commitment to Palestine by the #IlovePalestine consumers.
While we are all hegemonized by the neo-liberal, consumerist concept of *love*, we have no excuses for being colonized on the question of Palestine. We can fake-love all the people we want, but Palestine is sacred and requires risks, sacrifice, deep and unwavering commitment, lack of ego, being unpopular and generally being uncomfortable. To love Palestine one has to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is love.
See guys, Third Wayers and oppositionists were right. Israel wants Assad to remain in power. Threats of intervention and attacks on Syrian targets are just decoys, duh. And Third Wayers were so on point about Assad’s uselessness to the anti-Zionist struggle in the region. Fears of Hizbullah procuring more advanced conventional weapons from the Syrian Arab Republic are just a red herring thrown in by Israel which secretly hearts Assad and needs him to maintain peace with Israel. Hizbullah actually gets its weapons from the US-Zionist friendly Syrian opposition. But by all means, Palestine solidarity activists like Angry Arab and Ali Abu Nimah should simply dismiss this latest Israeli attack and latest round of threats and continue calling for Assad’s overthrow. Because lets face it, nothing but Intifada chic will free the region from the Zionist cancer planted in our midst. Now be sure to wear those kuffiehs the next time Israel strikes.
“On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his cabinet ministers of the risk that chemical weapons from Syria could be falling into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.”It is necessary to look at our surroundings, both at what is happening with Iran and its proxies, and what is happening in other arenas - lethal weaponry in Syria, which is steadily breaking up,” Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Israeli sources said on Tuesday that Syria’s advanced conventional weapons would represent as much of a threat to Israel as its chemical arms should they fall into the hands of Syrian rebel forces or Hezbollah guerrillas based in Lebanon.”
So according to founder of Electronic Intifada, Palestinian solidarity activist, Ali Abunimah, it is inconceivable for the Syrian opposition and the FSA, to be engaging in sectarian agitation. Sectarian hate speech and incitement to crime on Twitter can’t possibly be the work of the sundry salafi takfiri and secular sectarian factions who celebrate the rape and execution of Alawites and Christians, as well as Sunnis who support the government. No, it must be that brutal regime which is inciting people to kill Alawites so it can become more popular. Makes total sense. Anything to sanitize the sectarian FSA. I wrote about this before and was widely attacked for saying it but I will gladly repeat it again: “While the third-way camp is anti-Zionist and pro-Palestine in orientation, this hardly constitutes a political position. The Palestinian cause has become deeply etched in the Arab collective subconscious and has even become an increasingly pervasive slogan in western liberal activist discourse. Now the real litmus of Arab intellectuals’ and activists’ commitment to the Palestinian cause is no longer their support for Palestinian rights, but rather, their support for the Assad leadership’s struggle against the imperialist-Zionist-Arab moderate axis’ onslaught against it.
Supporting Assad’s struggle against this multi-pronged assault is supporting Palestine today because Syria has become the new front line of the war between Empire and those resisting it.” I say this as someone who has written for EI in the past and who has met Electronic Ali and once held him in high esteem:#EpicFail
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.”
“Gazans offered very public thanks to Iran on Tuesday for helping them in this month’s fight against Israel, when Iranian-made missiles were fired out of the Palestinian enclave towards Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“Thank you Iran”, said large billboards on three major road junctions in the Gaza Strip - the first time there has been such public acknowledgement of Iran’s role in the arming of Islamic terrorists in the tiny territory.
The message was written in Arabic, English, Hebrew and Farsi. The posters also depicted the Iranian Fajr 5 rockets that were used for the first time to target Israel’s two largest population centers.
The billboards were not signed, but a senior official with the Islamic Jihad, Khader Habib, said it was only natural to show gratitude for Iran’s role in the conflict.
“Iranian rockets struck at Tel Aviv. They reached out to Jerusalem. Therefore it was our duty to thank those who helped our people,” he told Reuters.”
Not that we ever needed further proof after Libya and Syria, but as Mursi’s power grab demonstrates today, neither individual rights nor real participatory democracy can be attained when imperialism still holds a firm grip over our region. There can be no freedom from (individual rights) or freedom to (social and economic rights) without the national right to self-determination.There can be no freedom or dignity of any kind so long as there is US domination.There can be no freedom for any Arab so long as Palestine is not free.