A letter to God


A letter to God

 

Dear Most Loving

Here I am

Wandering in the
wilderness

Cold… soaking… frightened…
lonely… lost

Dribbling pain and
sorrow

 

Arriving

Knocking at your
door

Humbly kneeling down

My hands upraised

My face wet with
tears

 

Requesting of your
generosity

Appealing of your
kindness

Pleading of your
mercy

 

Shroud me with your bliss

Wrap me up with your
pleasure

Shower me with your
blessings

 

Make no desire in my
heart

Greater than being
with you

 

No aspiration dearer

Than the bounty of
your love

 

Make me a mouthpiece
of Your truth

A fingerprint of Your
creativity

An ambassador of Your
reality

 

Make me a pathway of
your certainty

 A sign of your authenticity

A whisper of your
inspiration

 

Make me a fountain
of kindness

A lantern of
guidance

A waterfall of
honesty

A cascade of delight

 

 Make me a footstep

Leading to Your
splendour

 

 

Make me a pail

Pouring love out

Watching all content

 

Make me a lamp

Glowing with
tenderness and warmth

Until none is lost
in darkness or despair

 

Make me a cloud

Full of goodness

Raining joy

Planting affection

Flowering passion

Blooming compassion

Fruiting closeness

Picking intimacy

Feeding ecstasy and
reunion

 

Watching all
fulfilled

Living whole… and satisfied

 

Dear Most Loving

It’s only through
knowing you

Can distressed hearts

Find tranquillity
and peace

 

The wise have said:
if you love a thing so much, it will reveal its secrets to you

 

Dear Most Loving

Here I am

An empty vessel

Fill me… use me

My will is nothing

But Yours

 

Dear Most Loving

I am walking towards
you

 

Your promise is true

 

Come running towards
me

 Hold me… embrace me

Am all Yours

17-04-2006


 © Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

.

The Israel Project’s Secret Hasbara Handbook Exposed


The Israel Project’s Secret Hasbara Handbook Exposed

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article23044.htm

By: Richard Silverstein

July 13, 2009 "FDL" — 
I
magine
for a moment you’re a general about to embark on a decisive military
campaign and your intelligence service secures a copy of your
opponent’s entire campaign strategy. You open it and you see his battle
plans laid out before you, key forces, weaponry, lines of attack,
points of weaknesses, etc. You suddenly understand just how weak his
forces are and precisely how to mercilessly attack and eviscerate him.
The plan makes you understand that his forces are largely based on
artifice and sham. It gives you confidence that you are entirely on the
right course and tells you how to stay on that course. Victory is
assured, your enemy’s defeat certain.

Douglas Bloomfield and Newsweek have done pretty close to that against the Israel lobby. Specifically, they’ve exposed a secret hasbara handbook written for The Israel Project by star Republican marketer, Frank Luntz.

The oddly-named Global Language Dictionary
(pdf) is a veritable goldmine of arguments, strategy, tactics. At 116
pages, it’s not for the faint of heart. But anyone who wants to get
inside the head of the Israel lobby must read this document. I know my
enthusiasm will mark me as a real I-P wonk, but this is the real deal
and worth spending some time parsing and deconstructing.

The
first thing to say is that the entire document is a pathetic piece of
propaganda. While it ostensibly is addressed to TIP’s leaders and
advises them how to shape a pro-Israel message when they lobby
Congress, the media and other critical power brokers, the entire thing
reeks of desperation and a lost cause.

It
goes without saying that the arguments offered are not only devoid of
truth, they’re devoid of rigor or credibility. There is literally no
substance to the claims offered on Israel’s behalf. It’s an empty
exercise in every sense of the word. Reading this makes you realize
that the entire Israel lobby edifice is a house of cards.

Perhaps
I’m letting my shock at the shabbiness of the Dictionary get the better
of me and overstating the case it reveals against the Lobby. After all,
any political network that exists for six decades and achieves as much
as this one has doesn’t topple overnight. But I’ll just have to let you
be the judge.

One aspect of this I find extraordinary and entirely dubious is the choice of the Republican campaign pollster Frank Luntz
to write this report. This indicates, as I’ve always maintained, that
the Lobby is totally tone deaf to the political environment. We have a
democratic president and two Houses of Congress under Democratic
control for the first time in a few decades. Pragmatic liberalism is
ascendant. Neo-conservatism and Bushian Republicanism are in retreat.
And who does TIP chose to make the case for Israel? A right-wing
Republican spinmeister. Remarkable. But one thing I must say is that
this is a good sign for our side. If our opponents are as wooden as
they appear, then they will topple themselves without needing much help
from us. The first chapter, 25 Rules for Effective Communication opens with:

The
first step to winning trust and friends for Israel is showing that you
care about peace for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians and, in particular,
a better future for every child. Indeed, the sequence of your
conversation is critical and you must start with empathy for BOTH sides
first. Open your conversation with strong proven messages such as:

“Israel
is committed to a better future for everyone – Israelis and
Palestinians alike. Israel wants the pain and suffering to end, and is
committed to working with the Palestinians toward a peaceful,
diplomatic solution where both sides can have a better future. Let this
be a time of hope and opportunity for both the Israeli and the
Palestinian people.”

The
first thing we learn is that this passage, as with everything else
printed in the handbook, is empty meaningless drivel. It’s a perfect
example of political three-card monty in which there appears to be a
card which isn’t there at all. It’s all a sham. There is no substance.
The rhetoric here is even worse than that offered by spokespeople like
Mark Regev on behalf of the Israeli government.

In
the following passage, we can see that Luntz has lifted shamelessly
lifted arguments from MEMRI and former Mossad officer, Itamar Marcus’
Palestine Media Watch. Others before me have demolished these tawdry
arguments, but it’s instructive to read the lies and distortions that
TIP instructs its representatives to parrot. Throughout, the document
drips noblesse oblige and fake concern for Palestinian children:

“As
a matter of principle, we believe that it is a basic right of children
to be raised without hate. We ask the Palestinian leadership to end the
culture of hate in Palestinian schools, 300 of which are named for
suicide bombers. Palestinian leaders should take textbooks out of
classrooms that show maps of the Middle East without Israel and that
glorify terrorism.”

As a matter
of principle, children should not be raised to want to kill others or
themselves. Yet, day after day, Palestinian leadership pushes a culture
of hate that encourages even small children to become suicide bombers.

Iran-backed
Hamas’s public television in Gaza uses Sesame Street–type programming
to glorify suicide bombers. As a matter of principle, no child should
be abused in such a way. Palestinian children deserve better.”

As
a matter of principle I believe that no child (Israeli or Palestinian)
should be raised in fear that their mother, father, sister, brother,
grandmother or grandfather could be killed for no other reason than
they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and a
frightened, trigger hungry 18 year army recruit decides to make an
example of them.

As
for maps, before Frank Luntz or Itamar Marcus make their specious
claims about Palestinian textbooks, I’d like them to show me a single
Israeli textbook that features a map of Palestine. You will certainly
find Judea and Samaria. But will you find any acknowledgment of the
millions of Palestinians who live in the Territories?

Further,
the arguments are entirely dated. Suicide bombings were a serious
phenomenon in years past. But Palestinian militants have largely
abandoned this tactic, at least in part due to its unpopularity among
average Palestinians. You certainly wouldn’t know this from Frank
Luntz’s agitprop. It’s like he’s living in a time warp and its still
the first Intifada (circa 2000).

Clearly
differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There is an
immediate and clear distinction between the empathy Americans feel for
the Palestinians and the scorn they direct at Palestinian leadership.
Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if
it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support.

Another
characteristic of the Dictionary is the dubious distinctions it draws,
as in this example. There is no way to distinguish between the
Palestinian people and their leadership. In effect, the passage
concedes the illogic of its argument with this phrase: "even though
they elected Hamas." Of course they elected Hamas. That’s precisely the
point. They had an election and chose who they wanted to represent
them. So for the lobby to say they sympathize with Palestinians, but
not with the leaders they chose is an empty statement.

Yet another example of noblesse oblige (and it’s entirely dubious to claim that these words "work"):


WORDS THAT WORK

We
know that the Palestinians deserve leaders who will care about the well
being of their people, and who do not simply take hundreds of millions
of dollars in assistance from America and Europe, put them in Swiss
bank accounts, and use them to support terror instead of peace. The
Palestinians need books, not bombs. They want roads, not rockets.”

Clearly
passages like this are designed to score debate points but are entirely
devoid of accuracy. The claims of embezzlement, of course, go back to
the days when Yasir Arafat ran things and tolerated rampant Fatah
corruption. But Arafat has been dead for lo these many years. Someone
ought to roll over and tell Tchaichovsky and Frank Luntz the news.

As
for Palestinians wanting roads, they do. They’d like some of those
wonderful Israeli bypass roads that run directly through former
Palestinian farmland and whisk settlers from their settlement homes to
their jobs inside Israel proper. The same apartheid roads which are
off-limits to Palestinians.

One thing you’ve got to give Luntz, he’s not above stealing ideas from anyone, even Israeli peace activists (see italics):


MORE WORDS THAT WORK

“The obstacles on the road to a peaceful and prosperous Middle East are many. Israel recognizes that peace is made with one’s adversaries, not with one’s friends. But
peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with
you. Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and
Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful co-existence, and
determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate
with those who want you dead?”

There
is an amazing insularity in the arguments presented here, with
absolutely no conception that Palestinians feel precisely the same
emotions as Israelis. In other words, they too ask how and why they
should negotiate with a state of Israel that would just as soon kill
them as live with them in peace.

More obliviousness, with no awareness of the dark irony of this statement:

“We
may disagree about politics…But there is one fundamental principle
that all peoples from all parts of the globe will agree on: civilized
people do not target innocent women and children for death.”

Do
I hear any concern here for the "innocent women and children" of Gaza
who were slaughtered in their hundreds during the Gaza war? No, of
course not.

Of course, there is unintentionally comic discourse:


Don’t pretend that Israel is without mistakes or fault.
It’s not true and no one believes it. Pretending Israel is free from
errors does not pass the smell test. It will only make your listeners
question the veracity of everything else you say.

Admit
Israel make mistakes. Don’t specify them. Change the subject as quickly
as possible and hope no one notices what you’ve just conceded. And then
point out how much more guilty the Palestinians are than the Israelis
for the conflict.

Use humility.
“I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from
terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know
it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If
America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for
launching rockets at America, what would America do?

Use
fake humility. Pretend that Israel is the U.S. and that there has been
no Occupation and no injustice perpetrated against Palestinians.
Pretend their lands have not been stolen. Pretend they have not been
turned into refugees in the hundreds of thousands. Pretend that Israel
has a right to expect Palestinians to behave like Canadians or
Mexicans, who have not had a border dispute with the U.S. in 150 years.

Here
is more fakery in the guise of concern. And note the conflation of
American Jews with Israelis as if we are them (a little identity
confusion?):


WORDS THAT WORK

“Are Israelis perfect? No. Do we make mistakes? Yes. But we want a better future, and we are working towards it.

And
we want Palestinians to have a better future as well. They deserve a
government that will eliminate the terror not only because it will make
my children safer—but also because it will make their children more
prosperous. When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have
challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror
ends we will no longer need a security fence.”

There is virtually no terror on the West Bank, yet 500 checkpoints remain there. Why? Tell me why, Mr. Luntz.

If there is a money quote in this document that reveals that the lobby is now running scared it is this:

We’re at a time in history when Jews in general (and Israelis in particular) are no longer perceived as the persecuted people. In fact, among American and European audiences—sophisticated, educated, opinionated, non-Jewish audiences—Israelis are often seen as the occupiers and the aggressors.
With that kind of baggage, it is critical that messages from the
pro-Israel spokespeople not come across as supercilious or
condescending.

More unintended irony:


WORDS THAT DON’T WORK

“We are prepared to allow them to build……”

If the Palestinians are to be seen as a trusted partner on the path to peace, they must not be subordinated, in perception or in practice, by the Israelis.

What is the Occupation if not "subordination" personified??

Here’s right back at ya, buddy:


WORDS THAT DO WORK

“Achieving
peaceful relationships requires the leadership…of both sides. And so
we ask the Palestinians … Stop using the language of incitement. Stop
using the language of violence. Stop using the language of threats. You
won’t achieve peace if your military leadership talks about war. You
won’t achieve peace if people talk about pushing others to the sea or
to the desert.”

Israel’s
military and political leaders speak the language of violence,
incitement and war virtually every day. No acknowledgment of that, of
course, by Luntz. As for "pushing Jews into the sea," I haven’t read a
real live Palestinian resident of the Occupied Territories make such a
statement in several decades. So this argument is circa 1970 or so.
Nice try though, Frank.

“Israelis know what it is like to live their lives with the daily threat of terrorism.

As do Palestinians.


Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace. Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace—if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of “Family Feud”—Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their President’s clout on helping Israel.

Bingo.
Here Luntz inadvertently speaks the truth. Israel wants peace in the
same vague way that a 13 year-old girl may want to be whoever the teen
idol of the moment happens to be. Israel has no plan. No means of
getting to peace. So to say that Israel wants peace is, once again,
meaningless. And the fear lurking in the hearts of the lobby is that
some day Israel will be exposed and Americans will abandon it because
they will come to understand that whatever Israel may claim it wants,
there will never be peace under terms acceptable to Israel. That will
be a day of reckoning that the lobby wants to avoid at all costs.

The Hasbara Booklet: Just lie.


The Hasbara Booklet: Just lie.

http://palestinethinktank.com/2009/07/15/the-hasbara-booklet-just-lie/

By Guest Post • Jul 15th, 2009 at 7:17 • Category: Analysis, Counter-terrorism, No thanks!, Education, Hasbara Deconstruction Site, Israel, Newswire, Palestine, Religion, Zionism

WRITTEN BY IBRAHIM IBN YUSUF
(photo from The Israel Project Photo Contest)
The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary
is a Hasbara booklet written by a Dr. Frank Luntz that adds on to a
rich but unsuccessful literature existing in the field. Why
unsuccessful? Let’s quote from the author’s introduction:

I wrote my first Language
Dictionary for The Israel Project in 2003. Since that time, Israel has
had three Prime Ministers, several stalled peace initiatives, found
itself the victim of attack from its northern and southern borders, and
has suffered greatly in the court of public opinion.

Memo to him: the problem is not with his previous booklets, it’s with Israel.

Anyway, here’s the full text (CLICK ON FULL SCREEN TO ENLARGE, THEN ON CLOSE TO RETURN TO THIS BLOG):

The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary

I see favorably the publication of these hasbara materials inasmuch
as they prove that Zionists don’t actually believe that the world’s
negative view of Israel has anything to do with irrational antisemitism
(otherwise they wouldn’t waste their time trying to convince anyone).
Other than that, I expect them to be professionally made and factually
accurate. So that I did two searches on subjects the "hasbarization" of
which I was curious about.

First, I typed in LOYALTY OATH on the search box. I was surprised to
find no result. Mr. Liberman’s initiative that Israeli Arabs should
take a loyalty oath or be stripped of their citizenship is something an
Israel advocate would be asked about, but this booklet offers no
recipee to fend the questioner off.

Next, I typed in SETTLEMENTS. I did get a full chapter devoted to
them. After listing a few somewhat dated arguments, on p. 63 we get the
formula that summarizes it all:

WORDS THAT WORK
Israel does not talk about dismantling Arab settlements within Israel.
In a democratic society, Jews and Arabs should be able to live
side-by-side in peace. Nobody ever says Israeli territory has to be
free from Arabs. One should ask the Palestinian leadership why they
always demand land that is free from Jews.

Note the terminology shift currently under way. Just like a few
years ago the Jewish immigrants to Israel were suddenly turned into
refugees, and voilà, the
Palestinian refugees were wiped out from the debate, because they
cancelled out with the Jewish refugees, the Arab towns of Israel are
now being termed settlements, and voilà,
there’s no injustice at all: Jewish settlements in the West Bank cancel
out with Arab settlements in Israel. I denounce the Israeli checkpoints
between Jericho and Ramallah, but why do I say nothing about the
checkpoints set up by Arab falafel vendors on the roads of Tel Aviv?

That aside, the Words That Work include something that is not
terminological at all, but which is simply a bare-faced lie, namely
that the Palestinian leadership "always demand land that is free from
Jews."

Up to a very recent time, no one talked about Jews remaining in the
West Bank under a two-state solution. Everyone understood that Israeli
Jews are deeply and unabashedly racist,
and, in order to avoid living under Arab rule, they would be prepared
to accept the unthinkable: higher taxes in Israel proper. Only very
recently has the Hasbara community begun to claim the human right not
to be uprooted from where you went to grab someone else’s land in the
first place. So that the Palestinian leadership had had nothing to say
on the issue, because it was not a subject of debate.

Until now. But on Saturday, 4 July 2009, at the Aspen Institute’s
Aspen Ideas Festival, in, of all places, Aspen, Colorado, Palestinian
primer minister Saleem Fayyad was for the first time ever asked about
his views on the subject. His answer:

“In fact the kind of state that we want to have, that we
aspire to have, is one that would definitely espouse high values of
tolerance, co-existence, mutual respect and deference to all cultures,
religions. No discrimination whatsoever, on any basis whatsoever.

“Jews to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of
Palestine will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less
rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel.”

The Zionists went immediately ballistic. They took to the cyberspace
to say, zillions of times "if you believe this I have a bridge in
Brooklyn to sell to you." Others were more straightforward:

don’t listen to them! DO NOT BELIEVE THEM!! the arabs
are very capable of lying and then making life miserable for the
Israelis. and than it might be too late..and they can make horrible
laws too. they have ruled Jews before.

Why were they so furious? Because finally Fayyad had learned the
Israeli technique of making offers that the other side can’t take, so
as to appear as very generous when the offer is actually meaningless.

But the Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary chose to ignore this Palestinian display of smartness, and instead instructed the Hasbara gang to lie about it.

Not that the Hasbara gang didn’t know that lying is the approach to take when apologizing for Israel, mind you.

Thinking Outside of the Secular Box


The Left and Islam

Thinking Outside of the Secular Box

By GILAD ATZMON

http://counterpunch.org/atzmon07102009.html


“Religion
is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world,
and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

Karl Marx 1843

Before
I launch into a disclosure of liberal and leftist delusional treatment
of religions, Islam and Palestine in particular, I would like to share
with you a bad racist joke. Beware; you may not want to share this
short tale with your feminist friends.

An
American female activist who visited Afghanistan in the late 1990s was
devastated to find out that women were marching 15 ft behind their men.
She soon learned from her local translator that this was due to some
religious guidelines that ruled [this is the way we show] respect for
the ‘head of the family’. Once back in America the devastated
activist launched campaigns after campaigns for women’s rights in
Afghanistan. As it happened, the same devoted activist visited Kabul
last month. This time she was amazed to find a totally different
reality. Women were actually marching 30 ft ahead of their husbands.
The activist was quick to report to her headquarters in America: “The
Women rights revolution is a great success here in Afghanistan. While
in the past it was the man who marched in the front, now it is the
women who takes the lead.” Her Afghani translator, who overheard her
report, took the activist aside and advised her that her interpretation
was totally wrong. “The women” he said,  “are walking in front because
of the landmines.…”

As
tragic as it may sound to some, we are not as free as we believe
ourselves to be.  We are not exactly the author of most of our thoughts
and realizations. Our human conditions are imposed on us; we are a
product of our culture, language ideological indoctrination and in many
cases, victims of our intellectual laziness. Like the semi-fictional
American female activist above, in most cases we are trapped within our
preconceived ideas and that stops us from seeing things for what they
really are. Accordingly, we tend to interpret and in most cases
misinterpret remote cultures employing our own value system and moral
code.

This
tendency has some grave consequences. For some reason ‘we’ (the
Westerners) tend to believe that ‘our’ technological superiority
together with our beloved ‘enlightenment’ equips us with a ‘rational
secularist anthropocentric, absolutist ethical system’ of the very
highest moral stand.

The Lib-Left

In
the West we can detect two ideological components that compete for our
hearts and minds; Both claim to know what is ‘wrong’ and who is
‘right’. The Liberal would insist on praising individual liberty and
civil equality; the Leftist would tend to believe to possess a ‘social
scientific’ tool helping to identify who is ‘progressive’ and who is 
‘reactionary’.

As
things stand, it is these two modernist secularist precepts that act as
our Western political ethical guard. But in fact, they have achieved
the opposite.  Each ideology in its own peculiar way has led us to a
state of moral blindness. It is these two so-called ‘humanist’ calls,
that either consciously prepare the ground for criminal
interventionalist colonial wars (the Liberal), or failed to oppose them
while employing wrong ideologies and faulty arguments (the Left).

Both
Liberal and Left, in their apparent banal Western forms suggest that
secularism is the answer for the world’s ailments. Without a doubt,
Western secularism may be a remedy for some Western social malaise.
However, Western Liberal and Left ideologies, in most cases, fail to
understand that secularism is in itself a natural outcome of Christian
culture, i.e., a direct product of Christian tradition and openness
towards an independent civic existence. In the West, the spiritual and
the civil sphere are largely separated .
It is this very division that enabled the rise of secularity and the
discourse of rationality. It is this very division that also led to the
birth of a secular ethical value system in the spirit of enlightenment
and modernism. 

But
this very division led also to the rise of some blunt forms of
fundamental-secularism that matured into crude anti religious
worldviews that are no different from bigotry. It is actually that
very misleading fundamental secularism that brought the West to a total
dismissal of a billion human beings out there just because they wear
the wrong scarf or happen to believe in something we fail to grasp.  

Progressive vs Regressive

Islam
and Judaism, unlike Christianity, are tribally orientated belief
systems. Rather than ‘enlightened individualism’ it is actually the
survival of the extended family that is at the core interest of those
two belief systems. The Taliban that is regarded by most Westerners as
the ultimate possible darkest political setting, is simply not
concerned at all with issues to do with personal liberties or personal
rights. It is the safety of the tribe together with the maintenance of
family values in the light of the Qur’an  that stands at its core.
Rabbinical Judaism is not different at all. It is basically there to
preserve the Jewish tribe by maintaining Judaism as a ‘way of life’.   

In
both Islam and Judaism there is hardly a separation between the
spiritual and the civil. Both religions stand as systems that provide
thorough answers in terms of spiritual, civil, cultural and day to day
matters. Jewish enlightenment (Haskalah) was largely a process of
Jewish assimilation through secularization and emancipation, and
spawning various modern forms of Jewish identities, Zionism included.
Yet Enlightenment values of universalism have never been incorporated
into the body of Jewish orthodoxy. Like in the case of Rabbinical
Judaism, that is totally foreign to the spirit of Enlightenment, Islam
is largely estranged to those values of Euro centric Modernism and
rationality. If anything, due to the interpretation of the Scriptures
(hermeneutic), both Islam and Judaism are actually closer to the spirit
of post modernity.  

Neither
the Left ideology nor Liberalism engage intellectually or politically
with these two religions. This fact is disastrous, for the biggest
current threat to world peace is posed by the Israeli-Arab conflict; a
conflict rapidly becoming a war between a Jewish expansionist state and
Islamic resistance. And yet, both the Liberal and the Left ideologies
are lacking the necessary theoretical means to understand the
complexities of Islam and Judaism.

The
Liberal would dismiss Islam as sinister for its take on human rights
and women in particular. The Left would fall into the trap of
denouncing religion in general as ‘reactionary’. Maybe without
realizing it, both Lib and Left are falling here into a clear
supremacist argument. Since both Islam and Judaism are more than just
religions, they convey a ‘way of life’ and stand as a totally thorough
answer to questions regarding being in the world, the Western Lib-Left
are at  danger of a complete dismissal of a large chunk of humanity.

I
have recently accused a genuine Leftist and good activist of being an
Islamophobe for blaming Hamas for being ‘reactionary’. The activist,
who is evidently a true supporter of Palestinian resistance was quick
to defend himself claiming that it wasn’t only ‘Islamism’  that he
didn’t like, he actually equally hated Christianity and Judaism. For
some reason he was sure that hating every religion equally was a proper
humanist qualification. Accordingly, the fact that an Islamophobe is
also a Judeophobe and Christiano-phobe is not necessarily a sign of a
humanist commitment. I kept challenging that good man; he then argued
that it was actually Islamism (i.e., political Islam) which he didn’t
approve of. I challenged him again and brought to his attention the
fact that in Islam there is no real separation between the spiritual
and the political. The notion of political Islam (Islamism) may as well
be a Western delusional reading of Islam. I pointed out that Political
Islam, and even the rare implementation of ‘armed jihad’, are merely
Islam in practice. Sadly enough, this was more or less the end of the
discussion. The Palestinian solidarity campaigner found it too
difficult to cope with the Islamic unity of body and soul. The Left in
general is doomed to fail here unless it elaborates by means of
listening to the organic Islamic bond between the ‘material’ and the so
called ‘opium of the masses’. For the Leftist to do so, it is no less
than a major intellectual shift.

Such a shift was suggested recently by Hisham Bustani, an independent Jordanian Marxist, stating:

“The
European left must make a serious critical assessment of this ‘we know
better’ attitude and the ways it tends to deal with popular forces in
the south as ideologically and politically inferior.”

Palestine

Solidarity
with Palestine is a very good opportunity to review the gravity of the
situation. As it happens, in spite of the murderous Israeli treatment
of the Palestinians, solidarity with Palestinians has yet to become a
mass movement. It may  well never make it as such a movement. Given the
West’s failure to uphold the rights of the oppressed, Palestinians seem
to have learned their lesson, they democratically elected an Islamic
party that promised them resistance.  Interestingly enough, very few
leftists were there to support the Palestinian people and their
democratic choice.

Within
the current template of conditional political solidarity, we are losing
campaigners on each turn of this bumpy road.  The reasons are as
follows.

1.
The Palestinian liberation movement is basically a national liberation
movement. This acknowledgment is where we lose all the
Left cosmopolitans, those who oppose nationalism.

2.
Due to the political rise of Hamas, Palestinian resistance is now
regarded as Islamic resistance.  This is where we are losing the
secularists and rabid atheists who oppose religion, catapulting them to
being PEP (progressive except on Palestine). 

In fact the PEP are divided largely into two groups.

PEP1.
 Those who oppose Hamas for being ‘reactionary’, yet approve Hamas for
their operational success as a Resistance movement. Those activists are
basically waiting for the Palestinians to change their mind and revert
to a secular society. But they are willing to conditionally support the
Palestinians as an oppressed people.

PEP2. 
Those who are against Hamas for being a ‘reactionary’ force; and
dismiss its operational success. These are waiting for the world
revolution. They prefer to let the Palestinians wait for the time
being, as if Gaza were a seashore holiday resort 

With
these rapidly evaporating solidarity forces we are left with a
miniature Palestinian solidarity movement with an embarrassingly
limited (Western) intellectual power and even less positive performance
on the grass roots level. This tragic situation was disclosed recently
by Nadine Rosa-Rosso,
a Brussels-based independent Marxist. She states: "The vast majority of
the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza
against Israeli aggression, but refuses to support its political
expressions such as Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon.” This
leads Rossa-Rosso to wonder “why do the Left and far Left mobilize such
small numbers? And indeed, to be clear, are the Left and far Left still
able to mobilize on these issues?”

Where next?

“If
the left’s support for human rights in Palestine is conditional and
dependent on the Palestinians denouncing their religion and ideological
beliefs, cultural heritage, and social traditions and adopting a new
set of beliefs, alien values and social behaviours that matches what
its culture deems acceptable; that means the world is denying them a
most basic human right, the right to think, and to live within a chosen
ethical code.” Nahida Izzat

The
current left discourse of solidarity is futile. It estranges itself
from its subject, it achieves very little and it seems to go
nowhere. If we want to help the Palestinians, the Iraqis and the other
millions of victims of Western imperialism we really must stop for a
second, take a big breath and start again from scratch.

We must learn to listen. Rather than imposing our belief on others we better learn to listen to what others believe in.

Can
we follow Bustani’s and Rossa-Rosso’s suggestions and revise our entire
notion of Islam, its spiritual roots, its structure, its unified
balance between the civil and the spirit, its vision of itself as a
‘way of living’? Whether we can do so  or not is a good question.

Another
option is to reassess our blindness and to encounter humanist issues
from a humanist perspective (as opposed to political). Rather than
loving ourselves through the suffering of others, which is the ultimate
form of self-loving, we better for the first time, exercise the notion
of real empathy. We put ourselves in the place of the other accepting
that we may never fully understand that very other.

Rather
than loving ourselves through the Palestinians and at their expense, we
need to accept Palestinians for what they are and support them for who
they are regardless of our own views on things. This is the only real
form of solidarity. It aims at ethical rather than ideological
conformity. It puts humanity at its very centre. It reflects on Marx’s
deep understanding of religion as the “sigh of the oppressed”. If we
claim to be compassionate about people we better learn to love them for
what they are rather than what we expect them to be.

Gilad Aztmon is a writer and jazz musician living in London. His latest cd is In Loving Memory of America.

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