taking the struggle into our own hands

ann’s recent post on pulse media reminded me of the beirut-based “never before campaign,” which is one of the most inspirational collectives i’ve seen recently. their videos are amazing and remind us of why resistance is so necessary. they have one new video and two more that must have slipped passed me in the last month or so. here are all three (and here are the others which i blogged about when they were first uploaded on to youtube click here and here).

these videos do such an excellent job of exposing zionist propaganda and revealing the reality on the ground for palestinians. they are really brilliant. and this is the sort of energy that beirut and the people i love there feed my soul. one of my dear friends, rami, often keeps me grounded when we talk about the anti-colonial struggle in this region. these are some words he sent me a few months ago that i return to when i want to be reminded of this struggle in larger terms:

1. We know we are right because we read the facts objectively and dispassionately

2. We also know that the road is long and arduous and that the struggle is difficult

3. We also know that we-I mean our class- are irrelevant, and that the real struggle is between the rulers and the ruled

4. We know which side we are on.

And this is what gives us the desire to wake up, what makes our souls tremble, what replaces food and water and sleep. As for the others, the Mitchells, the Obamas, we should NEVER expect anything from them. NEVER.

exactly. and this goes for those who support or put their faith in such people, too. because those people are part of the colonial/imperial regional problem in the first place. and this goes for those who continue to think that normalization with zionist colonist terrorists will somehow benefit palestinians. as the above videos make clear: there is no partner for so-called “peace.” even the other day when there was a so-called protest against the law criminalizing the commemoration of an nakba, only about 40 zionist colonists showed up. there was an equally abysmal number of americans protesting the “israel day parade” in new york city the other day as mondoweiss reported. in any case, i choose not to put my energy into collaborating with such people, i think there are bigger fish to fry.

but there are others who we can expect to continue this struggle and who are doing just that: palestinian refugees. rami almeghari recently published an interview in electronic intifada with abdullah al-hourani and here is what he had to say about continuing the struggle:

RA: As a veteran Palestinian politician and a refugee, what do you say to upcoming refugee generations?

AH: I would like to apologize to these generations because we failed to achieve any results after these prolonged years of the Nakba [catastrophe], but I would like to emphasize that we have succeeded to keep our people steadfast on their lands and persistent in seeking their inalienable rights. Also, we have succeeded in maintaining the Palestinian identity and convincing the international community that there is a Palestinian people and there are rights for this people, and we succeeded in gaining the recognition of more than 100 countries for our rights. Even though we have not achieved those rights we kept those rights alive. The next generations should continue the struggle and achieve what we have failed to realize.

of course, the struggle is not just about palestine. it is regional. and in iraq dahr jamail has been reporting on increasing iraqi resistance to american imperialism and occupation of their land, which is, tellingly, connected to the salaries of the sahwa, the u.s. method of coopting iraqis away from resistance:

At least 20 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq in May, the most since last September, along with more than 50 wounded. Iraqi casualties are, as usual – and in both categories – at least ten times that number.

Attacks against US forces are once again on the rise in places like Baghdad and Fallujah, where the Iraqi resistance was fiercest before so many of them joined the Sahwa (Sons of Iraq, also referred to as Awakening Councils), and began taking payments from the US military in exchange for halting attacks against the occupiers and agreeing to join the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq. In early April I wrote a column for this website that illustrated how ongoing Iraqi government and US military attacks against the Sahwa, coupled with broken promises of the Sahwa being incorporated into the government security apparatus or given civilian jobs, would likely lead to an exodus from the Sahwa and a return to the resistance.

Slowly, but surely, we are seeing that occur. While US liaison Col. Jeffrey Kulmayer has called this idea, along with the ongoing controversy from the Iraqi government – led by US-pawn Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – not paying most of the Sahwa members, while continuing government arrests of and attacks on Sahwa members “overblown,” this does not change reality. Let us recall the telling words of the reporter Caud Cockburn, father of journalist Patrick Cockburn, “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied.”

Not surprisingly, in direct contradiction to Kulmayer’s comment, the Sahwa have warned the Iraqi government not to disregard its commitments to the fighters as far as providing them jobs and payment. On May 28, the independent Saudi-owned United Kingdom-based newspaper, al-Hayat, reported:

“A number of the leaders of the awakening councils called on the Iraqi government to honor its commitments towards the members of the awakening councils by paying their salaries which are three months late. They warned that their fighters might rebel against the government if their demands for their financial rights continue to be disregarded which might have an adverse effect on the security situation. Sheikh Masari al-Dulaymi, one of the leaders of the council in Falahat al-Taji to the north of Baghdad, announced that the committee supervising the national reconciliation process warned the leaders of the councils in and around Baghdad that their salaries would be paid and that a form of cooperation will be agreed upon with the tribes to preserve the security in Baghdad.”

The paper added that al-Dulaymi also pointed out that many council fighters abandoned their duties in protecting their areas because of the delays in receiving their salaries, and “we don’t want the crisis to grow any worse because the council members already distrust government promises.” Al-Hayat also reported that Sheikh Khaled Yassine al-Janabi, a leader of the council in al-Latifiyah in southern Baghdad, warned that the “government’s disregard for the issue of the councils and their demands will have an adverse effect on the security situation.”

Simultaneously, the Iraqi Resistance, whose ranks are growing with disenfranchised Sahwa along with other Iraqis joining for the usual reasons: their countrymen and women being detained, tortured, and raped by occupation forces and their Iraqi collaborators, the destroyed infrastructure and the suffering that accompanies this, among a myriad of other reasons (like the fact that one in four Iraqis lives in poverty), are, at least verbally, preparing to resume full operations.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a commander in the Iraqi Resistance, who is also a member of the currently besieged Sahwa, said, “If we hear from the Americans they are not capable of supporting us … within six hours we are going to establish our groups to fight against the corrupt government. There will be a war in Baghdad.”

indeed there is a lot to resist in iraq as jeremy scahill reports given the rise on mercenaries in iraq and in afghanistan:

According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which “correlates to the build up of forces” in the country. These numbers relate explicitly to DoD security contractors. Companies like Blackwater and its successor Triple Canopy work on State Department contracts and it is unclear if these contractors are included in the over-all statistics. This means, the number of individual “security” contractors could be quite higher, as could the scope of their expansion.

Overall, contractors (armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of the “total force in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility].” This means there are a whopping 242,657 contractors working on these two US wars. These statistics come from two reports just released by Gary J. Motsek, the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Program Support): “Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR, IRAQ, and Afghanistan and “Operational Contract Support, ‘State of the Union.’”

a parallel american imperial project in the region is right here in the west bank of palestine under the command of american lieutenant general keith dayton who recently delivered a lecture at the washington institute in which he laid out the so-called security apparatus he is building in palestine:

The U.S. administration and Congress provided an additional $75 million last year, bringing to $161 million that the USSC has been able to invest in the future of peace between Israel and Palestinians through improved security. So what have we done? At the risk of boring you, we did it in four major areas. First: Train and equip. Although we work closely with the Presidential Guard even now, we have focused on transforming the Palestinian national security forces into a Palestinian gendarmerie—an organized police force or police units, as it were— to reinforce the work being done by the civilian police advised by the European Union.

The training is a four-month program at the Jordan International Police Training Center—we abbreviate it as JIPTC for short—outside of Amman. It features a U.S.-Jordanian police training cadre and a U.S.-developed curriculum that is heavy on human rights, proper use of force, riot control, and how to handle civil disturbances. The training is also focused on unit cohesion and leadership.

Now, you might ask, why Jordan? The answer is pretty simple. The Palestinians wanted to train in the region, but they wanted to be away from clan, family, and political influences. The Israelis trust the Jordanians, and the Jordanians were anxious to help. Our equipping is all nonlethal and it is fully coordinated with both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Make sure you understand that. We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the state of Israel and they agree to it. Sometimes this process drives me crazy—I had a lot more hair when I started—but nevertheless, we make it work.

We don’t give out any guns or bullets. The equipment ranges from vehicles to socks. We have also graduated, now, three battalions—an average of five hundred men each—from JIPTC and another battalion is currently in training.The graduates have also been extensively schooled by the Jordanians, who have really stepped up to this task, on loyalty to the Palestinian flag and the Palestinian people.

of course, it is clear from recent events in qalqilia this week that the palestinian police do have bullets. but dayton must remind us that only zionist terrorists are allowed to be supplied not just with bullets, but with cluster bombs, apache helicopters, f16s, and lots of other material to aid them in their massacres. but palestinians get socks. not bullets.

mel frykberg reported for ips on the incident of the american-zionist-palestinian collaborationist authority’s attack on two palestinian men in qalqilia, which, of course, can be considered the work of dayton’s so-called “training”:

A bloody gun battle broke out Sunday morning in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilia between a group of Hamas gunmen and security forces from the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority (PA).

The PA had tried to arrest and flush out a group of Hamas gunmen who were hiding in a building in the northern city, just over an hour’s drive north-west of Ramallah.

The exchange of gunfire left two Hamas members and three PA police officers dead. The owner of the building where the Hamas fighters had taken refuge also succumbed to his wounds.

The PA placed Qalqilia under curfew as they searched for additional gunmen in the areas surrounding the building where the clash had taken place.

Palestinian security forces were put on a state of high alert with throngs of soldiers and jeeps surrounding PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s government compound, the Muqata, in Ramallah.

Each side blamed the other for instigating the violence. According to the PA, the Hamas men had refused to surrender or identify themselves, and had opened fire on PA forces first.

However, Hamas spokesmen said the cornered men only returned fire after the PA men refused to back off.

indeed the palestinian information center rightly views this incident as a collaborationist one and highlights the severe, criminal problems of american military involvement in palestine:

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated Sunday that the assassination of two Qassam fighters in Qalqiliya is a translation of earlier remarks made by former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Washington about his commitment to the roadmap plan that criminalizes the resistance against the Israeli occupation.

In a statement to the Aqsa satellite channel, spokesman Abu Zuhri charged that Abbas’s security apparatuses try to repeat the Gaza experience in the West Bank, highlighting that his Movement would study its options for dealing with this crime.

For its part, the Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya held Abbas fully responsible for the consequences of the Qalqiliya crime, considering that the assassination of Qassam fighters Mohamed Al-Samman and Mohamed Yassin is natural extension of the crimes committed by the PA security apparatuses against the Palestinian resistance in Al-Khalil.

The PLC’s presidency also held Abbas as well as his unconstitutional government and security leaders responsible for the repercussions of this “heinous crime”, stressing that it is high treason against the Palestinian people and a stab at the back of the Arab and Muslim nation.

In a statement received by the PIC, the PLC warned that this crime which was committed at the behest of Abbas and US officer Keith Dayton cannot be tolerated or goes without punishment.

it is this collaborationist regime that is leading some palestinians to call for dual resistance against the zionist entity and its collaborating palestinian authority partners:

A Palestinian civilian and five security officials – three from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority security services and two from Hamas’ military wing – were killed in clashes between the two groups in this West Bank city Sunday, as Damascus-based Hamas spokesman Talal Nasser called on Palestinians to fight the PA as though they were fighting the Israeli occupation.

Ismail Radwan, a top Hamas official in Gaza, called on members of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank not to surrender to PA forces and to defend themselves against the aggression of the security services.

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