A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: palestine

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Full op-ed here

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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.

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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.

Full Arabic interview with Hamdan in As-Safir here: http://www.assafir.com/Article/360865/Archive

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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.”

Full article here

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"It will always be Palestine first for me, not because Mohammed Abu Khudair’s or Mohammed al-Durrah’s blood is worth more than Syrian or Lebanese or Iraqi blood, but because without their blood, without Palestine, I would never have known justice."

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Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah introduced a new strategic and political motivation behind Hizbullah’s involvement in the war on Syria, which goes beyond its defense of Syria’s territorial integrity and the Syrian state’s support for resistance movements, and even beyond the existential threat takfiri-jihadis pose to Syria and Lebanon; Hizbullah’s defense of the Syrian Arab Republic today aims at preventing a repetition of the imperialists’ creation of Israel, only this time in Syria and the region as a whole: “the spectre of Palestine’s usurpation is being repeated today”. By arming and supporting takfiri groups (Nasrallah even drew parallels between their deployment and mobilization throughout the region and the mass migration of Jews to historic Palestine) the imperialists seek to fragment Syria and destroy the Resistance Axis, and in so doing, protect Israel. Basically, Hizbullah will never allow Syria to become a second Israel or a neo-colonialist outpost in the region designed to protect the first Israel.

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Here is my response to Ibrahim Al-Amin’s piece on Yarmouk in which he argues that all Palestinians, refugees in particular, are “100 percent” responsible for their own starvation and deaths. I know many supporters of the Resistance Axis will be disappointed in my position on this issue, especially since I have seen quite a few praise his commentary on social media, but I urge you to read my piece carefully before rushing to judgement, and hopefully reassess your position. Excerpts:
" While Amin is correct in calling on Palestinians to “conduct an overall review," we, too, in the Resistance camp must also engage in a similar process of self-reflection, especially now that we are in a militarily and diplomatically stronger position than we have been in the past. While it remains even truer today that the real litmus test of our commitment to the Palestinian cause is supporting the Syrian Arab Republic in its struggle against the imperialist-Zionist-takfiri onslaught against the Resistance project, this does not absolve our Resistance camp from its responsibility toward the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights.
What Amin and others who identify with the Resistance Axis should be doing today, is to call on the Syrian authorities, who are much more likely to listen to us than our enemy is, to designate the Yarmouk camp and its inhabitants as a “red line,” just as the al-Qaeda-infested Nahr al-Bared camp was for Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah when he declared it as such in 2007.”

Full piece here

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I can’t look at another comment, tweet, status or commentary that blames the Palestinian people for the sins of their leaders, or worse, that “look how they bit the hand that fed them” logic. Even if Hamas, Fatah and every other Palestinian betrayed the Resistance and Palestine itself this should change nothing in our support for Palestine. Hizbullah, revolutionary Iran and the Syrian government all derive their popular legitimacy and political identity from Palestine. Without Palestine, our axis would be a nationalist Shia front. Let us never forget that.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am all for celebrating the death of Sharon, but so long as we remain mindful of mainstream media’s attempt to draw a false distinction between good and bad (using the euphemism “controversial” as an epithet to Sharon for example) Zionist leaders. Yes Sharon was responsible for heinous crimes against humanity, but as a “soldier-politican” and a war criminal, he embodied the very ethos of that military-state project we call Israel whose very existence is an act of aggression in itself. Nor should we forget the countless massacres and invasions into Palestinian and Lebanese territories which Labour “doves” like Barak can take credit for. Every Zionist official and every Zionist occupier is an Ariel Sharon, who in turn, was nothing but a personification of the evils of the Zionist regime, aka “Israel”.

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As the name and description of this blog reveals, its main focus is to expose intellectual and discursive imperialism, i.e. the language imperialists use to distort our reality which we then internalize. If we are to successfully resist these attempts, we must devise a counter-hegemonic discourse of our own. In this ongoing effort, I propose the glossary below containing 20 key terms which anti-imperialists and supporters of the Resistance project should avoid or use with caution. For each widely used concept, I have suggested alternatives that we should adopt and normalize in its place. This is of course just a small sample of the discursive imperialism we are subjected to daily. I urge readers to send me suggestions for other important terms I have omitted or forgotten, especially those that relate to the war on the Resistance Axis. Once I have enough suggestions, I will update this post with a longer glossary.

1.  Arab street : This term should be avoided at all costs given its negative connotations. It alludes to an angry and unruly mob lacking organization, discipline and independent thought, and has violent and irrational connotations. The term is used exclusively to describe Arabs; all other peoples and nationalities are considered publics or people by western media. Moreover, since the Syrian crisis began, the concept of the “Street” is now used selectively by western media when referring to anti-western or anti-Zionist protests, while the concept of “people” i.e. the “Syrian people” is reserved for those representing the West’s allies. i.e. the Syrian opposition. The concept of Arab public should be used instead as it implies a politically aware and rational political culture which has democratic aspirations, and hence, is on an equal footing with western and other publics. 

2. International Community: Used mainly by US and Western officials, this essentially particularistic concept has now entered the Arab popular vernacular. It attempts to universalize the small elite club of UN Security Council members and NATO member states to imply the whole world, hence the concept of “international”. As such, any decision or stand taken by this small group of states, who make up less than 1/3 of the world’s nations, is construed as a universal decision or position taken by the whole world which stands united (the concept of “community” alludes to agreement and unity) in the face of a specific threat.  The term is therefore used as a tool for isolating states and political actors which defy imperialist powers. The concept of NATO powers or “some members of the UN Security Council” or the US and EU or US/EU/Arab Gulf alliance , depending on the context, should be used instead to downsize the alliance as one consisting of a few imperialist states and their regional proxies.

3. Regime: The concept in English has very different, and much more negative, connotations than its Arabic translation ( نظام ). Given that a regime is an authoritarian form of government, western media and public officials routinely use the term to demonize the US’ enemies, even if those governments are popularly elected i.e. the “Iranian regime”.  By the same token, US allies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain etc. which are not merely undemocractic but openly anti-democratic, are bestowed with popular legitimacy by western officials who refer to them as “governments”. Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies should be uniformly called monarchies or regimes, while members of the Resistance Axis should be referred to as governments. This should also apply to the Syria government, which admittedly, has not historically enjoyed free and fair elections, but still enjoys a large degree of popular support and hence, has a considerable extent of popular legitimacy which regimes lack. Since repression of dissidents is not peculiar to authoritarian regimes, but also typifies some liberal democracies like the US, this criterion alone should not preclude the designation of a political system as a  government.

4. Israel:  As per the policy of Resistance media, “Israel” should never be granted legal recognition and referred to as such. Common substitutes include “Zionist entity” though it is preferable to use the term “Israeli regime” or “Zionist regime” as the latter reduces Israel to a tyranny that can be subject to “regime change” and overthrow like any other authoritarian regime, as opposed to an invincible power or permanent fixture in the region. It is also preferable to “entity” in that calling for an entity’s eradication could be construed as mass genocide, whereas a regime’s eradication is merely revolutionary overthrow of a political order.

Other synonyms that should be popularized are “Occupied Palestine” with reference to territories outside of the ’67 borders. Jerusalem should always be referred to as “Occupied Quds”. Moreover, the “illegal settlements” should be called “settler colonies” as that is a more accurate historical description, and will strike a deeper chord with Arab and Muslim viewers, as well as anti-imperialist non-Arabs and non-Muslims, and liberals who reject all forms of racism.  

5. Democracy: This concept has become less of a scientific description of political systems than a moral value or label that western powers use to undermine and isolate nations who refuse to submit to their hegemony. Moreover, the term is almost invariably used to denote one specific form of democracy—liberal democracy—which typifies European and North American democracies that focus on procedural aspects of democracy like elections and constitutional legitimacy. This excludes many other forms of democracy found in other parts of the world which emphasize substantive aspects of democracy like popular participation, national self-determination, economic equality etc.   In order to break the Western liberal monopoly on the term, we should refer to western democracies as liberal democracies to be distinguished from other types such as “Islamic democracy”, “Socialist democracy” etc.

6. Arab Spring: Despite the pervasiveness of this term in both Arab and Western media, it should be avoided on account of its origins and connotations. The concept of a revolutionary “spring” was previously associated with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. The American political journal Foreign Policy later used it in the Arab context as a catchall phrase for uprisings in the Arab world. The term quickly caught on in American policy-making circles and was subsequently wedded to US foreign policy objectives in the Arab world to steer the uprisings towards liberal democracy and US-friendly governments. This was mirrored on the political and intellectual levels by a reprioritization of objectives whereby confronting imperialism and Zionism became secondary to domestic political struggles. Owing to these considerations, and the fact that the term has now become synonymous with Islamist takeovers, civil wars, and US/NATO invasions, it is preferable to adopt the less optimistic and less controversial concept of “Arab Uprisings”

7. Revolution: This term should be used very sparingly as no Arab uprising has come anywhere close to a full-fledged “revolution” in the scientific sense of the term. The most they have achieved is regime change, and in some cases, i.e. Egypt, not even that. Moreover, considering how all of these uprisings have been hijacked by reactionary and conservative Islamist forces, they have effectively become “counter-revolutionary”, if we are to adopt a Marxist or liberal understanding of revolution. Far more appropriate and accurate substitutes are revolt, “rebellion” , “uprising” and “insurgency”.

8. Middle East: The universalized concept of “the Middle East”, which has even found its way into our Arabic vocabulary, needs to be de-naturalized and removed from our lexicon. The problem with this term is its British colonial origins. Seeing itself as the center of the universe or the self-styled geographic “zero-point”, Great Britain referred to countries to its east as the “Near East” or “Middle East”. We are not “Middle Easterners”; we are Arabs. When we start referring to our region as the “Arab world”, we not only normalize a new anti-imperialist discourse, but an anti-Zionist one as well; for while Israel can, in theory at least, be considered part of the Middle East, it can never be part of our Arab world. Alternative terms include “Arab and Islamic world[s]” which covers non-Arab, Islamic countries as well.

9. “Moderation/Moderate” This term should not be adopted in any context as it was coined by the Bush administration to designate regional allies including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and UAE who were juxtaposed with “extremists” like Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Palestinian resistance groups. The term was later used to distinguish US-friendly branches of the Muslim Brotherhood from more “extremist” Salafi and jihadi Islamists. Even sectarian Islamists are labeled “moderates” by the West (Sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi was once dubbed a “moderate” by many western observers) if they serve the Empire’s agenda. As such, we should use the term “mainstream” Muslims/Islamists if the aim is to distinguish between groups or movements, while avoiding the concept of “moderation” altogether.

10. Tolerance:  Although this term is used frequently by western liberals to highlight positive qualities like pluralism and diversity which characterize liberal multiculturalism, it actually has hidden discriminatory undertones. To “tolerate” someone or something suggests that it is somehow inferior, deviant or bad, and is being graciously endured by those practicing this tolerance. It s therefore preferable to boast the “openness” of a state or movement vis-à-vis others, or its pursuit of communal, religious, or any other type of  “coexistence” between equals, rather than its mere “toleration” of them.  This is especially the case when discussing coexistence under the Assad government, or in Iran and Lebanon. People in these countries don’t merely “tolerate” Christians, Sunnis etc. they coexist with them and are open to others.

11. Religious minorities: While this seems to be a neutral term devoid of any hidden meanings, in the context of the civil war in Syria and the wider anti-Shia regional campaign, it would be preferable not to highlight the minority/majority binary. Not only does this binary invite accusations of a Shia power grab in Syria and Lebanon etc.,(i.e. minorities usurping majority rights)  the concept of minority denotes identity politics, group exclusivity and  sectarianism overall. The concept of religious community is better suited to describe religious minorities and sects as it doesn’t invoke numerical comparisons and has more harmonious inter-religious overtones.

12. Human rights: There is nothing inherently wrong with invoking arguments of human rights violations, especially when it serves our political agenda, but we should also naturalize a discourse of “people’s rights” which is an entirely different concept of rights. The difference is an important one: “human rights” refer mainly to “negative” individualrights (freedom fromstate interference) and belongs to the western liberal tradition. The West then succeeded in enshrining these rights as a universal value shared by all cultures, even ones which do not share, let alone, prioritize, such values.  “People’s rights” is a concept which arose in the Third World as a reaction to this ethnocentric rights discourse, and called attention to the collective or communal rights that groups, communities and nations are entitled to, such as sovereignty, independence, self-determination and autonomy, which, for anti-imperialist nations, take precedence over individual rights.

13. Terrorism: This is probably the most problematic term for any media as there is no universal definition of what constitutes terrorism. Although policy-makers and officials use the term very selectively to designate their enemies, western media has become much more cautious in its use of the term and often puts quotation marks around it. That is not to say that Resistance media should shun the term, only that it should be careful in its use, especially concerning takfiri groups. A sound approach would be to refer to “terrorist attacks/bombings”, when speaking of violent activities, but to refrain from calling the bombers “terrorists” as this type of labeling has a very strong association with Bush’s “War on Terror”— which essentially targeted the Resistance Axis—and will appear to many as reminiscent of the post- 9/11 Islamophobic political culture which enraged Muslims. Moreover, for the sake of ideological and intellectual consistency, if the term “terrorism” is used with reference to takfiri violence, it should also be used to describe all instances of violence which deliberately target innocent civilians such as US drone strikes and Israeli attacks on Palestinians, so as to avoid conforming to US-Eurocentric definitions of terrorism.

14. Assad: All too often in western media one reads of “Assad’s Alawite sect”, “Assad forces”, “Assad’s army”, the “Assad regime”, or simply to Assad alone as though he were synonymous with Syrian the state, i.e. “Hezbollah has helped turn the tide of the war in Assad’s favour this year.” Whether in the case of the Alawite sect, the Syrian Arab Army, or the Syrian state or government, the purpose behind this practice is to personalize the conflict and reduce all of the above to mere instruments of a “dictator” thereby denying them any sense of agency or institutional role in a post-conflict Syria. Making Bashar al-Assad synonymous with the above, also serves to legitimize violence against Alawites, Syrian soldiers, Syrian government and state infrastructure etc. as they come to be perceived as various incarnations of a single leader. It is therefore imperative that the term “Assad” is not used to preface any other word or to betoken any other idea. Assad should only be used when referring to the person of the Syrian president.

15. Stronghold/heartland: Another widespread practice in western mainstream media is to name Alawite areas in Syria as “Assad’s heartland” or areas controlled by the Syrian government as a “regime stronghold”. This is also the standard norm when describing any Shi’a area of Lebanon as “Hizbullah’s stronghold”.The very sinister usage of this term is evident when areas in Dahyeh or in Syria have been subjected to terrorist bombing, and they are  depicted as “strongholds” of Hizbullah or Assad. Such [mis]labeling conceals the fact that these are heavily populated, residential areas and renders them legitimate objects of violence and destruction.  It also has the effect of sanctioning the punishment of the inhabitants of these areas for supporting Hizbullah/Syrian government. We should therefore shun such terms and restrict ourselves to describing the religious composition of an area if this factor was a principal motive for the bombing, i.e. “Takfiris targeted the predominantly Shia area of Bir Hassan”.

16. Foreign backed: In order to offset western and Arab media’s pervasive use of epithets such as “Iran-backed” or “Syria-backed” when referring to Hizbullah or other movements, we should refer to the Syrian opposition, the March 14 camp in Lebanon, and others in that category as “Saudi-backed”  (in the case of the al-Qaeda affiliates and takfiris in Syria, as well as March 14) and “NATO/US backed” (in the case of other armed factions in Syria and March 14). This will not only undermine the autonomy these groups like to project, but will also tarnish their image in the region as the majority of Arabs are still ardently anti-American, and very few have favorable perceptions of Saudi Arabia. Wherever possible, the strategic alliances these groups have with the US, Israel, NATO and Gulf monarchies, should be mentioned. While it may be tempting to also dub these groups —especially March 14—as “pro-western” as western media customarily does, it is preferable not to as this alliance is not based on any shared cultural values (some of which are positive) with the West but on a patron-client relationship and political expediency.

17. Hizbullah: We should avoid any of the adjectives and terms used to describe Hizbullah in western media. The gravest of these errors is to refer to its allies as sponsors or backers as this reduces it to a proxy and obscures the fact that it is a significant regional force which has an interdependent relationship with regional allies . Moreover, it should never be introduced as a “Shi’a” movement as this will only further undermine its support among Sunnis, especially given the general sectarian climate in the region which has caused Hizbullah to lose of some of its popular appeal. Finally, Hizbullah should not be referred to as a “party” unless one is discussing its political participation in Lebanese state institutions. Nor should it be downsized to a mere “group” or worse, a “militia” for obvious reasons. The most accurate description is “resistance movement”, “political movement” and “grass-roots movement,” all of which reflect its composition, the scale of its support and its political priorities. 

18. Activist: This is another problematic concept that is mainly used in mainstream western media but which has also found its way into Arab media. The word is a peculiarly western concept as it refers to individuals and groups who belong to civil society and work independently in pursuit of political, social, economic and environmental causes. The activities they engage in are supposed to be non-violent and they are theoretically independent of state control as more often than not, their grievances emanate from government policies or lack thereof. This definition confers activists with an automatic sense of legitimacy, non-partisanship and other positive democratic attributes. However, given the absence of civil society and independent political actors in the Arab context, usage of the term is often misleading particularly when used in the Syrian and Lebanese contexts where the overwhelming majority of “activists” are financially supported by western governments and western NGOs which also rely on political funding. In short, they are hardly independent and often unwittingly serve foreign agendas.

The term is all the more problematic when mainstream western media refers to Syrian opposition supporters as “anti-regime activists”, while calling their counterparts “regime supporters”. This labeling misrepresents the much broader political ambitions of the “regime supporters” who may or may not support the government per se, but are united by a fear for their lives, the territorial integrity of their country, communal coexistence and the state’s secular character, among other concerns . By referring to them to as “regime supporters” they are stripped of agency and a political cause and reduced to sectarian Assad groupies.

The solution is either to refer to supporters from both camps (this applies to Lebanon too) as “activists”, i.e. Syrian government activists, Resistance activists in Lebanon etc. or, to drop the term altogether and label them “opposition supporters”. The term “activist” can then be reserved exclusively for individuals and groups advocating non-partisan goals like civil marriage, environmental causes etc. even if they receive foreign funding.

19. War in Syria: While there can be no denying that there is a war is taking place in Syria and it does possess characteristics of a civil war, referring to it as such suggests that there are two independent sides who have some political or moral parity between them. This terminology distracts the reader or viewer from the proxy nature of this war and obscures the broader imperialist /Gulf Arab onslaught against the Syrian state using local and foreign tools. As such, it remains a war ON Syria and not one between two sides in Syria.

20.  “Spillover” effect, this phrase has become very popular since the crisis began in Syria and is used almost exclusively to refer to violence in Lebanon. The problem with Resistance media’s adoption of this term is that it tacitly acknowledges that the violence is a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria, which is a distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory. Usage of this term is a huge misnomer which downplays what is essentially an external plot to eliminate political and military resistance forces in the region by replicating the sectarian dynamic in Lebanon. It should therefore not be used in the context of Lebanese violence.

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Western and Third World leftists, as well as some of us here in the region, often romanticize governments, movements and individuals in the Resistance Axis. The truth is that our side which represents politically just causes can be grossly unjust on the interpersonal and social levels, in professional settings, in the domestic political arena, and in the economy to name but a few. Our camp is not immune to corruption, crime, violence or even treachery as Hamas has demonstrated all too well. Sometimes it is greed and opportunism which drives some Arabs to sell out to the imperialists and their cronies, but often-times it is disillusionment with our camp for all of the above. In times of such disillusionment and outright disgust with such injustices I remind myself that I am not supporting the Resistance Axis or its constituents per se, but its struggle against imperialism and Zionism. And if Iran, Hizbullah, Syria, and Palestinian groups were to abandon this struggle, then we should abandon them. This is beyond partisanship and ideology; it is identity and being.

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Many are concerned that Iran’s nuclear deal in Geneva will lead to a wider regional agreement whereby Iran will be forced to relinquish the Palestinian cause and support for Hizbullah’s resistance. There is no room here for a response that refers to political identity, ideology and historical precedents, nor to the implications of the deal on Iran’s foes and allies, which I will leave for another time. For now I just want to highlight one fact: had it not been for Iran’s resistance-driven foreign policy and its regional alliances—in short, Iran’s supposed liabilities—the US would not have been compelled to recognize Iran as a nuclear power, and more importantly, as THE leading  regional power. Only an irrational and suicidal state would relinquish the very forces and alignments which were responsible for its ascendance on the world stage. If anything, the Geneva agreement has proven that the path of dependency and Arab “moderation” will earn its members little more than a regional spoiler role. This deal only confirms the logic of  independence and resistance as the soundest path to national security and power.  

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