i had forgotten why i wanted to come to lebanon for my semester break. of course, i wanted to see my friends and i have research to do (because israeli terrorists keep palestinian historical archives locked inside the orient house in al quds, i have better access to historical materials here at the institute for palestine studies than i do in palestine). but once the assault on gaza began i felt like i didn’t want to leave. i didn’t want to be in a space where i would be confronted with people going out, having fun, partying while palestinians in gaza are besieged by american-israeli terrorism 24-7. but in my first 24 hours i remembered why i came back. it’s been useful to be pulled away from the television and internet, to talk to friends, to gain some perspective. and that is precisely what i got.
the first reminder of waking up in a different space, though, came with waking up to some much needed, much welcome news–that resistance to israeli terrorism was coming from south lebanon:
Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said the Katyusha rockets fell around the town of Nahariya, about 8km south of the Lebanese border, early on Thursday.
The Israeli military fired mortars into southern Lebanon in response to the missile barrage.
Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said there had been no immediate claim of responsibility, but Lebanese security forces were confirming that “one or two rockets” had been fired across the border.
At least one Israeli was slightly injured in the attacks, media reports said.
there were some early reports that the source was pflp, but later reports changed and now no one knows who did it. the only thing that seems to be clear is that all parties are claiming hezbollah had nothing to do with the firing of these rockets. i had been waiting for this moment for the last week and a half. hoping for it. and today a friend asked me why are you expecting and wanting resistance to come from lebanon? why aren’t palestinians in the west bank taking up arms against israeli terrorism? since the invasion of gaza there actually have been a few minor incidents of palestinians going into illegal israeli settlements and stabbing israeli terrorists. small acts like this. and, of course, tons of stone throwing all over the west bank. but no large-scale resistance. and contrary to israeli terrorist claims: it is not because of the apartheid wall. i would argue that the real problem is the palestinian authority police (which i later found out that the guns that opened fire on us at the protest in nablus last week came from the pa police and the journalist who filmed it was arrested because he caught that on film). i have seen the pa police so many times prevent palestinians from all forms of resistance and protest and also clear out of the way when israeli terrorists want to invade places like bethlehem or nablus in order to kidnap and murder palestinians. and i know far too many friends who have spent time in these jails (which, by the way, are all jails that israeli terrorists used to run and the older ones are those that the british used to run). this, i believe, is the real problem. anyone who saw the attempt of birzeit university students last week marching to the checkpoint near their school and the pa police’s response to them will know what i’m talking about:
Others angrily point out that all attempts to demonstrate at Israeli checkpoints have been curtailed by PA forces, while yesterday a student protest at Bir Zeit university resulted in several injuries after stringent policing.
this is more of the divide and rule that has come to palestine courtesy of the cia and israeli terrorists working in cahoots to divide palestinian people. to dismantle the resistance. there are so many forces working against palestinian resistance that it becomes overwhelmingly difficult to fight against all the various forces that are keeping people from their right to resist foreign colonial rule.
so the question is what to do? the question is always what to do? how to resist? how to fight the sixty-one years of foreign colonial occupying terrorist rulers in palestine? when this latest siege began rania and i worked night and day, writing op-eds together, sending them off to various mainstream american newspapers, toning down our language, our outrage in an effort to get people to wake up, to listen. this is something we’ve done far too many times before. we were spinning our wheels. yet again. no one published our articles. and i’m starting to think it doesn’t matter. i’m starting to see things in a different frame of reference again. appealing to american newspapers, to the american government, to the united nations is a futile effort. not only have things not improved in the u.s. over the last sixty-one years in relation to palestine, but with each president and congress things have worsened. i expect that tradition to continue with obama. my breakdown yesterday was, in part, related to my despair over the world not caring. not doing anything. when i know for a fact that if these were jews being massacred, if these were synagogues being bombed the u.s. would have sent its airforce in baghdad or saudi arabia to bomb the hell out of some decided upon target within the first 24 hours. this is the reality and i don’t think this can be changed. and even if it can i am not the person to do it. and i don’t want to do it. these attempts at appealing to the european union or the united states or united nations is like begging the white man to rescue palestinians. and i don’t think this is the answer. and i also think that its very premise is racist.
to take a different example, another context: millions of people protested around the world before, during, and since the united states invaded, bombed, occupied iraq. but all of the outrage expressed in the streets did nothing. it did not matter except that i’m sure it was important for iraqis to see this and to know that people stood and stand in solidarity with them. in the same way i think protests are important and should continue with respect to gaza: i know for a fact that it makes palestinians in gaza feel less helpless, feel like they have support for their resistance to israeli terrorism. so in that respect it is important, but not in the sense that doing so will create change. it won’t. or if it does it is not the kind of change that will be helpful for palestinians in gaza or elsewhere.
or here is yet another example that rami offered up: naomi klein’s brilliant book the shock doctrine has been a bestseller for a few years now, millions of copies have been sold. in that book she lays out the problem of palestine in one particular chapter quite clearly (as well as many other global, neo-colonial problems created by the u.s.). and yet what was the response? what did people do with that information? the truth is right there in front of them and people either cannot deal with it or they don’t do anything about it. so writing to this mainstream, white liberal audience in the global north gets you nowhere. (for those who haven’t read klein’s book and who want to know about her argument in relation to palestine you can listen to a great interview on my dear friend naji’s podcast that speaks specifically to these issues.)
so instead of using up our energy appealing to the global north, to the white man to come save people here in lebanon or palestine, instead of spending our energy educating these people i am realizing more and more that a better use of our time would be to support all forms of resistance, but especially armed resistance. of course i have supported various modes of resistance, including armed resistance, for a while. but there is limited energy one has and one must make choices about what is the most effective use of our time. this resistance is important on many fronts, for instance whatever bulls*&^ un resolution that will force all palestinian resistance groups, including hamas, to submit to. it will likely be as damaging as un resolution 1701 after the israeli invasion of lebanon in the summer of 2006 or the really f*&^%$ up two-state solution that has forced palestinians to submit to less than 22% of historical palestine rather than the larger, more important goal of liberating all of its historical land.
all of this is so overwhelming. because it is nonstop. it is sixty-one years. of cycles of resistance and submission. of israeli terrorist aggression on palestinians, lebanese, and syrians in particular. but the same methods are used, don’t work, and yet used again. by the same groups. all of these regional political/resistance groups in the region are marginal at best. there is only one leader–indeed in the entire region–who can mobilize and energize half a million people instantly: sayyed hassan nasrallah. he is honest, moral, courageous, and effective. and this is what we need: effective resistance that speaks to a large population. an enormous population. and we need to support that and build on that. but one of the reasons why hezbollah is so effective is that they know how to organize and plan in the midst of a crisis. they use such contexts to learn and plan for the next instance. they are moved by that urgency. this is true of hezbollah and to a lesser extent this is true of hamas.
so the question must be asked: where are we going? are we moving forward like hezbollah or are we spinning our wheels? where do we go from here?
what if we created a movement that emboldens and strengthens hezbollah and helps it to expand locally and regionally not only as a resistance organization, but one that supports the poor and the marginalized like the shi’a in lebanon, like the palestinians? what if we did this to make the region based on justice? based on a paradigm that already works? there are so many little groups trying to make a difference, but these groups are small. they are reinventing the wheel. or they are spinning their wheels. it is a waste of energy, of time.
to make such a strategy more regional, however, there are many challenges. while many people i know in 1948 palestine support hezbollah and its resistance–and one must keep in mind that these are palestinians who are in the line of fire when hezbollah resists israeli terrorism–there are too many palestinians i’ve met in the west bank, many of my students among them, who do not support hezbollah. they have all sorts of racist, anti-shi’a sentiments that keep them from supporting hezbollah. and i believe this has a lot to do with both too much of a wahabi influence as well as american attempts to divide shi’a and sunni muslims in the region more generally. resisting this must be a part of such a movement to increase support for hezbollah. but at the same time i think that hezbollah needs to alter one element of its discourse and its movement. while nasrallah is excellent when he speaks about palestine, there needs to be more of an effort on the part of hezbollah to fight for palestinian equal rights in lebanon. these rights need to be fought for and at the same time the discourse needs to reflect the reality that palestinians’ rights here have nothing to do with tawteen or stopping the fight for the right of return. these elements go together. palestinians who have equal rights, access to education and work for instance, will have a better chance at fighting for their right of return. and this will also lead to an even broader, greater support for hezbollah than there already is among palestinians in lebanon.