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

Posts Tagged: palestine

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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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I want to say something deep and insightful that ties all these events together, but after my son went to bed in tears because he is afraid of the next terrorist bombing, and my daughter wonders out loud which area of Lebanon will be next, and under which circumstances would we be forced to flee to England, I can only come up with this quasi-academic synthesis that borrows some concepts from the Realist school of International Relations: Fuck you and your American-backed revolutions. Fuck your collaborator opposition movements. Fuck your freedom. Fuck your priorities. Fuck your takfiri-Zionist tolerance. Fuck your abandonment of Palestine. Fuck your destruction of Syria and now Lebanon. You servile, opportunistic, unprincipled, colonized Arabs have destroyed the region and my homeland. Fuck you motherfuckers. I hope that was Realist [with a capital R] enough for you.

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My translation of Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s live speech yesterday:

"First of all, we must emphasize that when we talk about Palestine, we mean all of Palestine, which extends from the sea to the river, and which must be retrieved in its entirety by its rightful owners. And nobody in this world, no king, or prince, or president, or leader, or sheikh, or Seyyid, or state or government, or organization can relinquish or give up one grain of Palestinian land, or one drop of its water or oil.  

Second, Imam Khomeini described Israel in very accurate and realistic terms when he called it a cancerous growth. This is a cancerous existence, and we all know that it is the nature of cancer to spread in the body and to disintegrate it, and that the only cure for cancer is to eradicate it and refuse to surrender to it…Israel poses a grave and permanent danger to the region. And we must be careful to note here that it isn’t merely a threat to Palestine and its people,  [ or to maintain that]  we have nothing to do with it, and that Lebanon is secure, as are Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, the Gulf states and North Africa, and other Arab states…. This is an illusion; it is a misleading and ignorant notion. Israel poses a grave and permanent threat to all the states and peoples of this region….Therefore, it isn’t merely an existential threat to Palestine and the Palestinian people, but an existential threat to all states, governments, peoples and civilizations in the region.

Third, some believe that the removal of this cancerous growth and this usurper entity is a Palestinian interest. But it isn’t only Palestinian, it is in the interest of the entire Islamic world, and in the interest of the entire Arab world when we say it is an Arab nationalist interest, and it is also a national interest for every country in the region. In this sense, we cannot extricate the Arab nationalist [qawmi] from the national [watani] interest. Israel is a danger to Jordan, and its eradication is a Jordanian national interest; Israel is a danger to Egypt and its eradication is an Egyptian national interest; Israel is a danger to Syria and its eradication is a Syrian national interest; Israel is a danger to Lebanon and its eradication is a Lebanese national interest.

Fifth, Palestine and al-Quds are the responsibility of every Palestinian and also, of every Arab, whether Muslim or Christian, and of every Muslim in the world and every human in this world because it is a righteous cause. It is above all else the responsibility of the Palestinian people…But there is a minimum responsibility that falls on everyone and nobody can shirk this minimum responsibility. Political position is a minimum responsibility, as is the media’s position, popular solidarity and financial aid to the Palestinians. And the minimum [responsibility] which we will be held to account for on Judgment Day is the non- recognition of Israel….

Sixth, confirming the priority of this struggle and confrontation against the Zionist scheme occupying Palestine….From the start, even as the Zionist scheme was occupying Palestine, states, governments and calls in the Arab world were saying: “the priority is confronting the Communist expansion; the danger to Islam lies in the Communist expansion,” and as such, Palestine was forgotten. And for the purpose of confronting the Communist expansion, billions of dollars were spent, television and media were established, books and conferences were held, and wars were waged, over the past decades. Fighters from all over the world even joined the war in Afghanistan; fighters from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and even Palestine, which was an occupied land itself. Why did you leave Palestine for decades and go to fight in Afghanistan? I am not debating here the shari’iya [religious legal] aspects of fighting in Afghanistan, but I am talking about the logic of priorities.

Well, the Soviet Union fell and was defeated in Afghanistan, and the Islamic Revolution in Iran triumphed which constituted an additional strategic element in the struggle with the Israeli enemy.  They immediately manufactured a new priority for us—they manufactured a war and invented a new enemy called the Iranian expansion and the Majoosi [Magi/Zoroastrian] danger. At first, they didn’t refer to it as “Shia” [threat]. Today I want to call things by their name; they didn’t say Shia, they used to say the Iranians or the Majoos or the Persians, were attacking the eastern gate of the Arab umma. They waged an 8 year long war against Iran, and Arab states spent hundreds of billions of dollars on this war. If just one quarter or one fifth or one tenth of this was spent to liberate Palestine, the Palestinian people wouldn’t be enduring all these hardships today.

….For every single tank, warplane, rocket and warship some Arab armies receive, there are guarantees extended to America that this won’t be used against Israel. They made a new enemy and then realized that their language which used the words Persian and Majoos etc. didn’t serve their project. So they gave their invented enemy another name:  the Shia expansion. For God’s sake, where is this Shia expansion?…They invented an enemy and now they have implanted the notion that Iran is the enemy in the minds of many Islamic groups, that the priority is confronting the Shia danger, Shia thought and Shia expansion, and that this Shia danger is a bigger threat to the umma than Israel and the Zionist scheme.

…And the worst part is that they cloaked some of the local political conflicts in sectarian garb.  In Egypt today there is a political conflict, a deep polarization, is this conflict sectarian? It isn’t sectarian but political. In Libya there is a major political conflict and deep polarization. Is it sectarian? In Tunisia there is a major political conflict and in Yemen too. Yes, when we come to countries which are marked by [religious] pluralism and diversity, like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain, the issue becomes a sectarian one when it is, in fact, a political conflict. The discourse becomes sectarian and historical files are opened. This conflict is political, why are you turning it into a sectarian one? They do this intentionally, not out of ignorance. Today, this [sectarianism] is one the most destructive weapons in the region.  

There are those who seek the destruction of this region, the destruction of its states, armies and people, not merely to dismantle states and armies but also, to fragment people, Christians, Muslims, Sunnis. Shia, Druze, Zaidis and Ismailis, Arabs, Persians, Kurds and Turks.   

Whoever sponsors the Takfiri currents and groups across the Islamic world, ideologically, financially, with media and weapons, and encourages them to fight in various arenas in more than one country, is ultimately responsible for all the problems and destruction and has offered the greatest service to Israel and America.  

We in Hizbullah will remain on the side of Palestine and the Palestinian people, and we are committed to the solid and good relationship that we have with all the Palestinian factions and forces. Even though we disagree with them sometimes on issues related to Palestine itself, and to Syria and the region, we continue to meet on common denominators, [so imagine how solid these ties are] when the common denominator is Palestine, when our slogan is “al-Quds unites us”. Al-Quds must unite us regardless of any other disagreement we have, be it ideological or doctrinal or religious or jurisprudential or political—   the commitment to Palestine, the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people must remain.

On al-Quds Day we must extend our deepest gratitude to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to the Syrian Arab Republic for all it has done for Palestine and al-Quds and for what it offered resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine which resulted in more than one Israeli defeat.

…Permit  me now,  I always speak as a Muslim and a nationalist and an Arab nationalist, and whatever else, but permit me now to speak as a Shia.

This language increased with events in Syria. One feels that whoever is behind all this [sectarian agitation] activity aims at making us Shia forget Palestine, and forget al-Quds and forget the Palestinian people, and worse, to hate everything called Palestine and Palestinian.  What is being worked on today is this, for the day to come when these Shia who demonstrate every single al-Quds Day in every place they are present…to be removed from the equation of the Arab-Israeli struggle. And when the Shia leave [the equation] Iran is then required to leave the equation.

Today we tell America, Israel and the English— who excel in these types of games—and states who are their tools in the region, we want to tell every enemy and friend, on al-Quds Day, the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, that we the Shia of Ali bin Abi Taleb will not abandon Palestine or the Palestinian people or the umma’s sanctities in Palestine. Call us rafida [infidels/deserters], call us terrorists, call us criminals, call us whatever you want, and kill us everywhere, we Shia of Ali bin Abi Taleb will not abandon Palestine.

And we Hizbullah amongst these Shia, we who were raised in the spirit of resistance, for us, confronting the Zionist project, defending the umma, defending Palestine and al-Quds and the sanctities, and Lebanon…is something that has become ingrained in our flesh and blood and veins… and we offered thousands of martyrs in this path, from Seyyid Abbas [al-Mousawi] to Sheikh Raghib [Harb] to Hajj Imad [Mughnieh]…We in Hizbullah will bear our responsibilities. And we Hizbullah, the Islamic, Imami, Twelver Shia,  will not abandon Palestine, and will not abandon al-Quds, and will not abandon the Palestinian people.”

 

 

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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.

Full story in Arabic here 

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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. 

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I figured if I am going to be branded politically, I may as well brand myself literally: “Palestine ‘48”. 

I figured if I am going to be branded politically, I may as well brand myself literally: “Palestine ‘48”. 

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