Monday, November 23, 2009

Memoirs of a Defeatist - Too Many Slaps in the Face!

Couple of years ago, I started blogging, and I decided to blog for change. I decided I needed change from face to face politics. I was writing extensively, almost on daily basis, but then... I lacked the time, there is no time to write. Eventually, I started running out of motivation and stamina. Even on the blogosphere I was losing it.

To be honest, ever since 1997 I have been active on the ground. I used to participate in a lot of demonstrations: freedom of speech, civil marriage, and against Israeli atrocities (to name few). I have been active since then, and in those days, me and the fellow "comrades" dreamt of a left-wing Lebanon free of all those corrupt political parties. We had a dream to demolish sectarianism, free ourselves from Syrian chains of thought control, and proceed to continue struggle against Israeli ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians and Lebanese. We had dreams to shatter the borders between Lebanon and Syria, get rid of the Baathi brutal regime, and establish people's republics away from tyranny. We already were dedicated leftists then: each one of us had the experience to be beaten by political party hooligans, the armies (Syrian or Lebanese), and had the guts to go to South Lebanon and stick up our middle fingers in the face of Israeli cowardly soldiers who occupied Lebanon (and still occupy Palestine). Some friends were even more bold, they were students, and they went in a demonstration and throw those chicken Israeli soldiers from Arnon for 24 hours (Israel brutally returned and almost committed a massacre against those brave university students). We were stalked by Syrian second bureau into our houses, and we demanded social justice. In a nutshell, what our non-political activists used to call us: crazy and insane.

One of our aspirations was to dismantle the Lebanese Communist Party and get rid of the Stalinist features. Of course, some broke out and triggered a chain reaction briefly. These people were saluted for their courageous move; nevertheless, they ended up as the founders of another reactionary movement (even though that movement barely has 150 people in it): the Democratic Leftist Movement (as in the Neo-con "Leftists").

We never knew religion, we thought that religion is an invention, and one day we will bury that feature of Lebanon in the graveyard without return. We used to meet up with all types of university students, go and talk to farmers, the proletariat, and anyone. We used to convert party members into free lancing leftists. We thought the whole world was ours. In 1998-1999, we thought that the revolution will begin. Civil marriage was close to be implemented, yet we were far to get that part alive. We retreated with more heat and excitement to change Lebanon, the Middle East, and even the whole blasted entire world. Breaking ethnicity and uniting the workers of the world was easy then. We did believe it, no matter how much the Syrian army tried to shut us up or demoralize us. We were seculars and against Zionism: how could they get their loyalists to accuse us of treason? Beat us instead. Yet, we stayed active. Heck, we had the chance to go to the Lebanese border, after the Israeli army withdrew like cowards, and we had the chance to stick up our middle fingers straight from the borders, with Palestinian grounds for the first time, appeared before our eyes. Yes! As one comrade said in excitement: We are one step closer to our zillion billion goals. Sadly, nothing good lasts for ever.

Then, slap after slap took place. Our different groups of lefties started to crumble down, one after the other. Part of the reason was power struggle and lust for power. Between the Democratic Leftists' bullshit of scaring people away from the left and the Lebanese Communist Party's crappy salutations to "Comrade" Stalin, we were losing grounds. The main reason of our failures were plenty. I demonstrated for Palestine for unaccountable times, yet nothing was done. It was the capitalist powers that decided everything over there. We demonstrated for Iraq in peace demonstrations that aimed against US Imperialism and the dictator Saddam, and the US – UK coalition by-passed the UN and shattered Iraq into a three way ethnic groups. Suddenly, to a lot of people: what is the use to go into demonstrations? We always had those rotten dinosaurs like Elias Atallah or a free lancing leftist suddenly jumping in front a demonstration and then pause to the cameras in order to appear they were demonstrating. Who invited those dorks (prior to the foundation of Democratic Left Movement)?

Then there were the anti-Syrian demonstrations, we took pride in those demonstrations. We succeeded in transforming several demonstrations from Christian versus Syrian to Lebanese versus Syrian hegemony. Walid Junblatt then was defending Syria for the sake of the "Arab Cause" against Israel. We emphasized that solidarity to our brothers and sisters of the Syrian proletariat is a must! That we should together get rid of all our leaderships. Of course, Syria responded with brutality, or get their allies to gather more of their supporters whereby rallies of praising: "Mother Syria". Yet, we stayed active despite the fact our jobs were threatened and everything. We wanted Syria out, but we demonstrated against Aoun's "Syrian Accountability Act" that was launched in DC. Yet, we were little people. The only time anti-Syrian hegemony kicked off in Lebanon is when the late Prime Minister Harriri was assassinated. Hence, mobilization was sectarian in basis, even though Bahiya el Harriri and the late Samir Qassir (the only decent figurehead in the DLM) tried their best to keep it secular (Elias Attallah by then was more Junblatti or Harriri than Junblatt or Harriri themselves, trust me, I know him in person).

Then afterwards, sectarianism entered our private lives. Several comrades started to argue that "we shall demonstrate for civil marriage, but we shall get married in a religious marriage" or "we shall not marry a person non-Christian or non-Muslim". Heck, I was told by several comrades: "if only you were of sect X or Y". Now, tell me dear reader, how does that make you feel?! Nevertheless, I thought we can get it through.

People were involved with jobs, they preferred to stay away from activism instead risking their jobs.

Each 10 lefties built a group, they proclaimed themselves: the real and only leftists fit to "rule" or "guide" other leftists.

Of course, that doesn't exclude other factors as well: the sudden birthrate of NGOs. Those took out a lot of activists from the arena, and suddenly they believe that "lobbying" is the only way to reform the Lebanese government. That is a different topic on its own, as I collected about 90 statements from fellow comrades who were active in NGOs. Nevertheless, these NGOs are business traders, get a part of whatever funding this or that NGO receives. The fact that Ziad Baroud made it as Minister on the behalf of the NGOs, gives them some sense to celebrate; however, Ziad Baroud, is not the NGOs, and Baroud is not involved in the power struggle of these NGOs that scavenge for funds and try to recruit people as "volunteers" (or the NGO term: free labor). Yet so far, these freaks of new capitalism had done better results than others (as much as I hate to admit it), even though at a very very slow pace whereby several top NGOs had scandals being leaked out.

Then 14th of March and 8th of March came out. The remainder of my friends were scattered between those two blocks. My "comrades" of each side accused me of treason for the Lebanese cause because I refused to join them. They accused me of treason for betraying the Palestinian cause. As far as I remembered: Being revolutionary Marxist doesn't mean I was a die-hard nationalist like the latter two. Each of the comrades of each block cut their connections with the other, after they had their blood mixed on the floor from beatings during demonstrations. Of course, they both boycotted the "non-nationalist camp" like me on a social level. By die hard nationalism, this is what I mean: half of the Lebanese are racists to the other half and vice versa (at least party affiliated people). Hence, at a one point, there was no difference between the stands of the Lebanese Communist Party and crazy Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement or the Democratic Left and Saad el Harriri (ultimate symbol of capitalism). That bogged me down.

Then the July war broke out, and I was involved extensively with relief activities in the war. There, I forgot all those lefty bureaucracies, treacheries, and other things. I poured my heart out in activity. I was convinced my activities were breaking the media black-out imposed by Israel on the world. I did great even. I saw the war join some friends, but the great divide remained between the comrades. Heck, some comrades enjoyed how Israel bombed Dahhieh with the hope that Hezbollah learnt a "valuable lesson". Others turned relief work into business (Does Lebanon Aid ring a bell to anyone?). As for our group of relief activists and media warriors, the movement became short-lived as the power-struggle came into existence. At that point, I lost hope, I was shattered.

It was around early 2006 that I started to blog, I decided to start reconstructing the history of Lebanon, Palestine, or anywhere as they happened. I thought that was the way. Then I started to meet other bloggers, some of them to this day do not know who I am. Others were wonderful, and blogging became a means to express my frustration. Yet, even blogging, what can it do on day to day basis except fuel the anger, and feel helpless against everything. I no longer crave for a demonstration. When Nahr el Bared bombardment took place, I spent it quarreling with other friends who were bravely active there (although to do a mini-save, I did announce their campaign). The quarrels were based on the fact I wasn’t participating. To be honest, the 2006 war took out my energy, and the disappointments kept slapping me on the face; work wise or activism wise. I couldn't tolerate another crap from anyone. I was totally drained. By then 11 years of activism was too much for me. We used to take one step forward, and three back.

Then I started to look elsewhere, where in the world the left is doing great? The man we hailed as a hero ended up turning as a dickhead, yes I am referring to Hugo Chavez. Of course, I love it every time he threw the Israeli ambassador out and cut ties with Israel; yet his blind support to anyone that opposes the United States got me punched in the stomach. How could he support Iran then while a lot of comrades were rotting in prison, our feminist sisters' lives are under threat. That didn't click in my head (and not to forget the more recently renewal of his mandate). The Trotskyites of Great Britain are fighting each other, and the only articles I enjoyed to read are the To be more exact, I adored their theoretical articles.

Hence, every time I believed we can do change, I was slapped. The unity of the Christians, Muslims, and Jews of Palestine/Israel was shattered as more Jews are becoming zealot fanatics and actually believe that God has chosen them and the great divide is growing as Hamas is gaining more popularity (because Fatah are bunch of sell-outs and leave the Palestinian proletariat with no option).

The Lebanese politicians are still there, and corrupt as ever. Heck we have new ones (in addition to the old) after the Syrians withdrew. Nothing can be done so far, and last year's mini-civil war became part of the amnesia within the people: a new "history" that will be distorted to suit the needs of the Politicians.

Zionist monopoly of the media keeps the US citizens away from knowing the truth in the middle east. Heck, alienation there is worse than here. To my laughter though, a lot of US citizens that I chatted with (or met) actually believe that the BBC is "Pro-Islam" because it reports all events (now how can that be?!)

What ought to be done? I am experiencing what Marx exactly warned... alienation from the cause due to the brutality of capitalism and its offspring (actually this part of the sentence is Lenin's): nationalism/sectarianism.

I still believe in the class struggle and the Marxist doctrines, but currently, the upper class are standing victorious over the divided alienated proletariat.


PS: Did you know that several "comrades" thing China is the real People's forthcoming Union? (Shoot me please!)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

America, stop sucking up to Israel - Gideon Levy

Taken from Haaretz

Barack Obama has been busy - offering the Jewish People blessings for Rosh Hashanah, and recording a flattering video for the President's Conference in Jerusalem and another for Yitzhak Rabin's memorial rally. Only Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah surpasses him in terms of sheer output of recorded remarks.

In all the videos, Obama heaps sticky-sweet praise on Israel, even though he has spent nearly a year fruitlessly lobbying for Israel to be so kind as to do something, anything - even just a temporary freeze on settlement building - to advance the peace process.

The president's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, has also been busy, shuttling between a funeral (for IDF soldier Asaf Ramon, the son of Israel's first astronaut Ilan Ramon) and a memorial (for Rabin, though it was postponed until next week due to rain), in order to find favor with Israelis. Polls have shown that Obama is increasingly unpopular here, with an approval rating of only 6 to 10 percent

He decided to address Israelis by video, but a persuasive speech won't persuade anyone to end the occupation. He simply should have told the Israeli people the truth. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived here last night, will certainly express similar sentiments: "commitment to Israel's security," "strategic alliance," "the need for peace," and so on .

Before no other country on the planet does the United States kneel and plead like this. In other trouble spots, America takes a different tone. It bombs in Afghanistan, invades Iraq and threatens sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Did anyone in Washington consider begging Saddam Hussein to withdraw from occupied territory in Kuwait?

But Israel the occupier, the stubborn contrarian that continues to mock America and the world by building settlements and abusing the Palestinians, receives different treatment. Another massage to the national ego in one video, more embarrassing praise in another.

Now is the time to say to the United States: Enough flattery. If you don't change the tone, nothing will change. As long as Israel feels the United States is in its pocket, and that America's automatic veto will save it from condemnations and sanctions, that it will receive massive aid unconditionally, and that it can continue waging punitive, lethal campaigns without a word from Washington, killing, destroying and imprisoning without the world's policeman making a sound, it will continue in its ways.

Illegal acts like the occupation and settlement expansion, and offensives that may have involved war crimes, as in Gaza, deserve a different approach. If America and the world had issued condemnations after Operation Summer Rains in 2006 - which left 400 Palestinians dead and severe infrastructure damage in the first major operation in Gaza since the disengagement - then Operation Cast Lead never would have been launched.

It is true that unlike all the world's other troublemakers, Israel is viewed as a Western democracy, but Israel of 2009 is a country whose language is force. Anwar Sadat may have been the last leader to win our hearts with optimistic, hope-igniting speeches. If he were to visit Israel today, he would be jeered off the stage. The Syrian president pleads for peace and Israel callously dismisses him, the United States begs for a settlement free ze and Israel turns up its nose. This is what happens when there are no consequences for Israel's inaction.

When Clinton returns to Washington, she should advocate a sharp policy change toward Israel. Israeli hearts can no longer be won with hope, promises of a better future or sweet talk, for this is no longer Israel's language. For something to change, Israel must understand that perpetuating the status quo will exact a painful price.

Israel of 2009 is a spoiled country, arrogant and condescending, convinced that it deserves everything and that it has the power to make a fool of America and the world. The United States has engendered this situation, which endangers the entire Mideast and Israel itself. That is why there needs to be a turning point in the coming year - Washington needs to finally say no to Israel and the occupation. An unambiguous, presidential no.