Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Great Arab Spring and Its Implications

A wave has been sweeping over the Arab world, and US Foreign Policy journal wondered that who would be the next Arab dictator to go down.

I would like to dissect the latest events and their broader implications for the long run:

The Revolutions themselves

Several Westerners considered the revolutions as sparked by a man who set himself on fire in Tunisia. This is a reductionist approach where US intelligence misread (probably on purpose given the available wrath of your average Arab “Joe” or “Omar”) with the hope that stability would prevail over the wishes of the average Arab citizen.

I have to admit, I did anticipate that Tunis would eventually go head to head with its dictator, but like many, I thought that the first spark would be in Egypt. Moubarak’s regime has bled dry his society and the Egyptian revolution informally started since 2000 against the regime. By revolution; I define people going down the streets and demanding a simple request under the threat of the gun: “Freedom of Expression.”

General Petreus warned last year that the Arab-Israeli conflict (well I would like to define it these days as Palestinian/Lebanese conflict with Israel) has serious impact on the US interests. The brutality of the Israeli conflict on different fronts and the fact Israel on daily basis is criticized for its on-going settlements, destroying the prospects of peace, and a regional bully. The fact that the US Administration blindly supports Israel; US troops are under constant threat and furthermore US interests in the region are under threat.

General Petreus’s comments came 9 years late (if not at least four decades late). As the Second Intifada exploded; its spill-over hit Egypt. Protestors hit the streets in solidarity with the Palestinian civilians while Hosni Mubarak’s apparatus simply crushed the demonstrators with an Iron Fist. Since then, solidarity with the Palestinians became the symbol of resisting Hosni Mubarak.

For those who have no clue about Palestine’s symbolism on the Arab world (and by Arab I do not mean Muslim only). Palestine proper (which includes currently Israel) has been regarded as the last of European colonialism by the Arabs; especially the Western support it harvested. The fact dictators of the Arab world (excluding Syria even though Syria and the US always flirted with each other) shook hands with the following agreement: “Pro-West alliances at the expense of the average citizen.” The Arab citizen has been oppressed by dictators who seek to renew their mandate indefinitely and the West who seek “stable Middle East” (a synonym for oil and imposing normalization with Israel on the people without Israel itself coming into terms on how it was founded on genocidal base).
In my opinion, pride as humans, economic repressions, Orientalism, and ongoing colonialism played its role. The Arab-Israeli conflict is included within all of them. The Palestinian question, as Arabs (Christians and Muslims) regard that the Palestinians historically have been most wronged among the Arabs. The fact the UN has been (till recently Libya) has been regarded a muscle show forum among the regional and international powers). They remained crippled against on-going atrocities (especially due to the veto power) and the very fact that the US-UK coalition simply by-passed the UN and invaded Iraq for securing the oils.

In a way, the average citizen lost voice; their dictators are praised as democratic or “friend of the West”. The Arab citizen has been depicted as stupid, Islamist conservative, and a hopeless case for evolving towards Western standards (as if your American average Joe as a clue at least about the geography of the world or Israel itself is really Western). There was no greater irony than Obama giving the greatest speech on Human Rights in Cairo in 2009 amidst mass demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak. Whether Obama was aloof (on purpose or not), but he did not mention the dictator of over 80,000,000 people.

Some people argued that faceook created those revolutions., I doubt that at all. In my opinion, online means of communications and reporting (in Egypt people read blogs to know what is going on and not puppy like official newspapers). If anything, the facebook phenomenon became a catalyst for the forthcoming rage of citizens oppressed for decades.

What are the implications due to the rise of the Arab spring?

For starters, there is no longer media blackout. The world became too small to cover the incidents across the Arab world. Just as the revolution resurrected on new levels in Egypt, the Western media (most of it) tried to marginalize the revolution as another factory rebellion and stressed on the peace process. Despite the fact that Tunis was the first to shoot down its dictator in the most heroic manner, Egypt was on the spotlight due to the peace treaty. Israel informed all its embassies across the world that they should pressure governments globally to support Mubarak. The US administration itself fluctuated its speeches depending whether the revolution appeared at its final breath or not. When it looked like Mubarak was about to reassert his iron grip, Clinton insisted that Mubarak should “lead” the democratic wave. When Mubarak finally fell down, Merkel appeared as ignorant as it can gets: “New Egypt should respect the peace treaty with Israel.” Israeli officials were pushing support to Hosni Mubarak without realizing that this accelerated his downfall.

The selfishness of Israel in imposing Hosni Mubarak on the Egyptian people for its own interest will have (hopefully) repercussions in the near future. Israel disregarded the beautiful images of demonstrators’ heroics because that entity expects a special treatment from the world. Even if we believe that Israel represents the interests of the Jews across the world (which we all know it is false), the number of Egyptians outnumbers the Jews globally).

Due to the dense coverage of al-Jazeera English in Tunis and Egypt forced other media outlets to follow pace with the Arab media. As a matter of fact, even US officials were depending on al-Jazeera to issue statements. With al-Jazeera proving its superiority against Western outlets, more and more non-Arabs will be exposed to the real situation in the Arab world, and actually hear Arab opinions on whatever happens anywhere (the next war on the Palestinian or Lebanese, I bet plenty of Westerns will be shocked to see the brutality of the Israeli army and its fascistic elements).

Just as Hosni Mubarak was promoted as a true friend of the West, it changed in a week as the horrible dictator. The same can be applied on Israel. It takes only a week of objective reporting to change the US mainstream towards Israel. Already the Palestinian papers showed that it was the Palestinians who were the true partners of “peace” (whatever that peace Fatah thought of) and they declined it. Pro Human Rights groups, Palestinian solidarity groups, Jewish and Arab organizations, American NGOs, the stupidity of the current Israeli leadership in not hiding its on-going genocidal policies, and other factors exerts more pressure on AIPAC to maintain its iron grip in the main hubs (DC, New York, Chicago, others).

The final question goes: “ok, what about Syria?”. Syria as I mentioned earlier as always flirted with the US Administration. The US regarded al-Assad regime as the lesser evil in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. From such a view, al-Assad is a darling angel. When the tyrant Saddam hid, Bush declared that the Syrian Baathi Party shall follow the Iraqi Baathi, Tony Blair in less than an hour went on TV and gave a detailed speech why al-Assad is different than Saddam. Al-Assad regime has been brutal on its people; the difference is al-Assad gambled on a heavy security apparatus, provide the minimum of welfare (when available) to his people, and relied on the Arab-Israeli conflict to marginalize his opponents. I still find it amusing how he dubs the Syrian opposition as American or Israeli agents even though the ones accused are loud and clear Marxists.

The current situation teaches us that anything can happen in the Arab world. Just as CNN, despite AIPAC’s iron grip on the US media, tried the impossible to blackout the incidents of Egypt, started reporting the incidents as they were happening. CNN only reported objectively (despite blaming the victims themselves) was during the Qana massacres of 1996 and 2006 in Lebanon, where the CNN were present on site. Despite the challenges, Israel’s true face will one day be exposed and the US mainstream media will change its opinion (a growing fear for the past five years in Lebanon).

The current countries that have been affected by the Arab spring as follows: Tunis, Egypt, Libya, Yaman, and Bahrain. To a lesser extent, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. You never know where the Arab spring will explode.

Now when looking at the bigger picture, a different set of lessons are prevalent

1) The Arabs are not waiting for Western blessings to proceed and seek their freedom
2) The Revolutions are completely sparked from the inside.
3) Once the revolution picks up, the Arabs are willing to go seek their freedom or just die trying, as the case of Libya taught us. The Libyans from day 1 warned al-Qazzafi to step down or go ahead and kill the people; if the latter had happened, the Libyans were proud that Qazzafi would just rule empty buildings.
4) (This is my favorite part) The Arabs are teaching the whole world about freedom, human rights, and even democracy; something the average citizen has forgot about in the West or 3rd World due to media alienation and class struggle.

The other dimension to focus on is the decline of the West

Almost all the leaders facing protests and revolutions have been the friends of the West. AL-Saleh of Yamen or lunatic Qazzafi (Tony Blair’s best friend) were regarded as tyrants installed by the West. The West’s interests fluctuates and it is apparent on how they react. A dense media blackout was imposed on Bahrain (easiest way to call the Bahrain incidents as Iran led revolution, reminds us of Lebanon in 2006) as Bahrain is in the direct sphere of influence that is owned by Saudi Arabia. Bahrain in specific is a new battleground where the revolution in Al-Jazeera itself has been blacked out. Bahrain is a monarchy , and the only Arab state where the Arab spring has threatened a monarchy. While most gulf states are monarchies, they have to support militarily the Bahraini monarchy in order to maintain their own rule. Last thing the Monarchs of the Arab gulf want a domino effect spreading in their own turf (although factory strikes did start briefly in Saudi Arabia).

The other dimension to focus on is the stupidity of the US foreign Administration in approaching the Arab world historically. Their blatant arrogance of dictating terms on the dictators in returns of arms (Egypt’s entire aid from the US went to the pockets of Husni Mubarak who turned out to have more money than the Hariri family itself) cost it several allies. Whether Tunis’s Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, or excommunicating Qazzafi served as a lesson for the rest of the Arab dictators. They can be replaced. Tunis was swift and ended up in the downfall of its dictator. Egypt was a greater battle arena as Mubarak tried to contain the situation by draining the protestors’ energy, and stepped down just as the evening before the protestors started to become more militants and started to form a siege across governmental locations. Libya is the most brutal of all; because the nature of its dictator= insane with enough militias across the African continent. Anther blow for the US came when its primary ally, Saad el Hariri was ousted from the government (even though that is not related to the Arab Spring, but fits the picture of the different slaps the US administration has been facing).

As for Lebanon, the leftist youth tried to ride the wave and now are pushing for the abolition of the sectarian system. On weekly basis there has been the most beautiful demonstrations against the system. Sadly, we cannot go against our own leaders (for now) because Lebanon does not have one Hosni, one Qazzafi, or one Ben Ali. Each of Lebanon’s sects has three or four Hosni style of dictators and the battle in Lebanon is yet to rage on. In one of my greatest wishes and hopes to see the Left in Lebanon unified as the heroics of the proletariat across the Arab world inspired us.

As for the Palestinians, as hopeless as it is, especially for those in Palestine proper, their leaderships turned out to have one thing in common with the Israeli fascist government: they did their best to block demonstrators express solidarity with the Arab freedom lovers. Hamas, Fatah, and Israel are the biggest bad news for their people, with a bigger highlight on the fact that Israel is the biggest bad news for the global Jewish world as the latter bargains on the racism of the West to renew their legitimacy.

Finally , I would like to add the last lesson acquired from the Arab Spring. Several bourgeoisies in the Arab world and the West stressed that the civil society is the best option to reform the Arab world and make it democratic (for my readers’ information US AID was promoting in Tunis Ben Ali as the man for democracy). Some NGOs may achieve a tiny (irrelevant) progress but without impacting the structure of the state. In the end of the day, a class awareness is needed to demolish those dictators in power, with or without the approval of the West. The entire hopes on the civil society should be understood by now that it is false. Some NGOs are good in reporting and documenting violations or propose some changes (as long as it is not a free market or neocon logic).

The day of the proletariat in the Arab world has come. Decades of boiling wrath can no longer be subdued.

I apologize for not writing as often for different reasons that I will explain thoroughly one day.

No war but class war

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Natanyyaho's Optimism

Find it amusing!
He hopes that the Palestinians will continue with the peace talks despite the fact that crazy settlers are building in an insane matter on a land that is not their own; on a claim that is based 2000 years ago. Fascists.

Besides what is his optimism based on? It is more like: "We are stealing your land and hopefully you will want to reach peace with us?"

Or the fact Leiberman's lineage proposal involves race values to decide borders (instead of 'democracy'), on what is Jewish or not, hence what is race or not, hence Leiberman is a racist, Nazi style of racism that focuses on race and lineage (the fact a person can come from a Jewish Father but non-Jewish Mother means that their offspring has almost zero rights, due to lineage). Now that is fascism.

I find it even more amusing to see apologists justifying all that genocide... those supporters carry the blood of the dead children of the Palestinians on their hands... whatever they think... that is how history will remember it.... just as they tried to delete Palestine pre-1948 and failed.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Irene Ship Irony

Taken from the comment section in Haaretz about the Holocaust survivor being attacked by the IDF: this man who survived the NAZIs now have to face IDF

Link: Jewish Gaza Bound Activists: IDF Used Excessive Force in Naval Raid

I find it ironic that in less than a week, a nobel prize winner, a former IAF, and a Holocaust survivor suffered IDF brutality. They were also lucky, imagine if they were Palestinians...

Also, I love seeing how Israel got slapped in the face after the activists shattered the image of IDF boarding a Jewish Ship "peacefully". Even Jews are not safe from Zionism...


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finkelstein: Crocodile Tears

Reflects my sentiments exactly!
We are fed up of those crocodile tears every time we talk about apartheid or ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Israel and the US

"It isnt Israeli terrortists that are trying to bomb us. Can we befreind those who wish to destroy us" - Haaretz commentator

The recent condemnation of Clinton to the Bibi government doesn't express much except how much the US is expected to serve Israeli interests.

To the Haaretz commentator, it is about Israeli ongoing terrorism. It is not about Palestinian terrorism, rather it is about who destroyed Palestine in the first place, with records of British archives that the Zionists owned by 1948 only 6% of Palestine proper (with 50% of that 6% being owned by the Jewish Agency and its accessories). You cannot build an argument that "Israel had been occupied by the Arabs for 2000 years. As far as we know, the current Palestinians probably are the direct descendants of those 'biblical' Jews while the Jewish diaspora which is supposed to return has no means to prove anything. Probably the Arab Jews can prove to be descendants, but that is it. Jerusalem was never Jewish, it had been rather a mixed city for all. Since Zionists love to go back to the past, the place where Jews enjoyed best treatment in the past was during the Ottoman Empire, and even before. Shlomo Sands argued that during the Islamic conquests of the Arab peninsula, they played their cards right: Imagine that the Caliphate empire suddenly in the 21st century arrived to USA and promised everyone exemption from the IRS taxes if they converted, would they?

So who destroyed who? That is the question to always refer to back to 1948. That year is not that old for us, since the same genocidal messages continue to carry on:

1) Same logos used by the terrorists (later awarded prime ministers) of the Irgun/Stern/others. As far as I am concerned, there is no difference between the Haganah or Stern

2) An entity that is based on genocide, bans the remaining natives from practicing their identity. The co-director of the Award nominated Ajami is the biggest example of crying racism against his people. He reinforced his Palestinian identity while denounced Israel as an entity that doesn't represent him or his rights. Someone will say: "if he hates it, he should leave", I argue that this is a real native, and has the right to pin-point racism. It is like saying to a native of Latin American or North America (with the latter denied identity and dubbed Indian) to leave the Americas if not happy.

3) Someone will highlight the post 1948 massacres of Jews in the Arab world. I agree, those were horrible brutality, and Arab leaders need to recognize those massacres. Nevertheless, given the temporal framework, Zionism brought racism to the Jews in the Arab World due to its behavior with the Palestinians.

4) Even if someone would tell me: there was never Palestinians, if that holds true, is it justified to murder all those "Arabs" and ethnically cleanse them, and demolish their towns?

Clinton's latest statements are nothing new. AIPAC's fury http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1156467.html from heavens. Even that tiny chunk of land which is designated for the Palestinians is being ethnically cleansed. Gaza is under a worst siege in modern times (yes, I would bluntly argue worse than Sarajevo because no one is denouncing the siege). The West Bank is gradually losing to more settlements, while East Jerusalem is gradually being eliminated from natives, due to fascistic biblical claims (or let us call it superstition).

Had Clinton been serious about those negotiations, Biden wouldn't have had pledged the "We die for Israel's security" logic. I am certain the people in the White House are having headaches from Israel. Nevertheless, due to AIPAC, condemnations have been only words. Obama's administration's problem, to AIPAC, is that it is not giving the Israeli administration any greenlight enjoyed under the war-criminal Bush Jr.

Of all the countries in the world, Israel in theory should be the easiest country to pull all strings. Without the US, in terms of financial, military, and political aids (VETO POWER among other things in the UN), the US can simply cut down on these aids and twist Israel's arms. If the almighty US is facing all those political blockades, what did you leave for the Palestinians.

The saying goes: "Takes one to know one". The US, instead of highlighting how Palestinians are victims of past and present genocide, decided to go for the Armenian genocide. I agree, it is important to highlight that fact. Yet, the method of recognizing the Armenian Genocide is not logical at all, after all, the US itself committed genocide. If the US condemns Israel's current actions and links it to the past, I am certain, the Zionists will reply the same to the US, forgetting that the USA is the lifeline of Israel's survival.

The Cold war had been over, and Israel played its role. This doesn't mean that "War on Islam" as Israeli fanatics has been there. The US has almost allies in all the Arab world, except for Syria. Israel's role is diminishing, yet, the US congressmen cannot commit political suicide by denouncing activities. Clinton, whom we all hate, suddenly became a Muslim lover and anti-semite, due to the picture posted with Arafat's wife. Allow me to remember one thing, wasn't Moshe Dayan's wife, Ruth, in touch till this very day with Arafat's wife? Does that make Moshe Dayan a self hating Jew? The Jews are fed up from Zionism, and apparently so is the world (except for the countries that committed genocide during WWII).

If Israel expects the whole world to remember the Holocaust as Jewish (which wasn't just Jewish as far as I remember), the Palestinians have the right to exist and remember the on-going genocide (the attempt to build those new house units in East Jerusalem, although for the record, there are plenty more settlements). The US probably would have turned their eye on that issue had it not receive a slap in the face in the eyes of the world: Tiny Israel insulted the great United States of America. Of course, now the Zionist sympathizers, they argue that Obama is a Muslim in disguise. This also brings the African Americans (the religious ones) to hate Zionism as well. This is not anti-semitism.

With the situation of the "Israeli Arabs" whom we call heroic Palestinians who are surviving genocide under harsh conditions are reaching new poverty lines, the collisions between the Palestinians and the Zionists is evolving to become a new class struggle.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Jews of the world: denounce Zionism!

MFL notes: An excellent piece of Class Struggle on Zionism and the Jews, taken from www.marxist.com, the link is here and was written by an Israeli Communist. Having said Israeli Communist, it means that the comrade doesn't believe in identities, rather, simply the struggle of the working class. Due to the on-going blunders of the Zionists in Israel, along with their religious die-hards and Torah based fanatics, I was forgeting the ABC of Marxist thought towards the case of Palestine. Of course, coming from the other side of the borders, I have more to say on the issue, but it is always great to see our comrades fighting for the working class wherever they go. I am certain that this author is also under persecution in Israel because those religious fanatics cannot swallow what he said.

The crimes of the Zionist ruling class in Israel against the Palestinian people have been rightly condemned by all progressive and left people around the world. However, there are reactionary right-wing elements that try to exploit this to push an anti-Semitic agenda. Genuine socialists reject both Zionism and anti-Semitism. The solution to ethnic and national conflicts is to be found in the class struggle and socialism. We publish this contribution on the question from a Jewish Marxist living in Israel.

During and after the Israeli massacre in Gaza, the world was flooded by an overwhelming wave of resistance to the Zionist crimes. How could anyone not protest at such a grotesque crime against a whole people, a people that has been without a genuine homeland ever since Israel was created?

However, there is also another side to this situation, an attempt by small Fascist and neo-Nazi groups in Europe to exploit this wonderful display of international solidarity to their own advantage. These forces take advantage of Zionist crimes, such as the bombing and invasion of Gaza a few months back, to promote their own anti-Semitic propaganda. They claim that these crimes and the refusal of the bourgeois governments throughout the world to intervene against them are "proof" of an inherent evil nature of Jews in general. They also use this to spread filth about the supposed desire for “world domination” on the part of the Jews. This is all reminiscent of anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda.

This attempt to divert a progressive and justified struggle along racist lines has produced its effects. Anti-Semitic crimes have risen substantially recently, particularly in Europe. The Gaza massacre gave rise to anti-Semitic incidents, not seen in Europe for quite some time. Surprisingly, the reactionary forces behind these attacks are being aided by the Jewish leaders throughout the world: they were mostly silent in taking a stand against the Zionist massacre. Mostly they collaborated with the Zionist and anti-Semitic lie that portrays Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Zionism as the national movement and sole representative of the Jewish "nation".

The truth is, that ordinary Jews from within, and particularly from without Israel have nothing to do with the massacre. They have nothing to do with Zionism altogether. But as long as they continue to support the Israeli state and the Zionist movement that gave birth to it and its crimes, the anti-Semitism fuelled by the fallacious associations made between Zionist barbarism and the Jewish people as a whole is likely to continue, putting many innocent Jews in jeopardy.

(Zionism cynically regards any criticism, as sounded and justified as it may be, against its crimes, as anti-Semitism. Drawing by Latuff.)

Zionism and anti-Semitism

Zionism cynically regards any criticism, as sounded and justified as it may be, against its crimes, as anti-Semitism. This, in turn, helps to confuse the progressive struggle against Zionism with the reactionary forces behind anti-Semitism. Both Zionism and anti-Semitism benefit from that confusion. It would not be the first time that Zionism and anti-Semitism have collaborated against Jews and other people.

Contrary to Zionist propaganda, Zionism is not the answer to anti-Semitism. It is a form of anti-Semitism itself. Zionism began with the fear of West European petty-bourgeois Jews of a flood of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. They collaborated with anti-Semites on more than one occasion for a common goal: to cleanse Europe from its Jewish inhabitants (mostly poor workers) and keep them away from collaborating with the growing workers' movement, and particularly with Bolshevism.

Similar to anti-Semitism, Zionism claims that Jews are inherently different from their non-Jewish neighbours and that they cannot and should not integrate with them. So Zionism gives the anti-Semitic answer to the Jewish question: the Jews should be evacuated from Europe to a place far away.

Zionism and imperialism

Zionism in practice meant two things in the past. First of all, it promoted "Jewish" colonialism in Palestine, starting with a group of adventurers who took over Palestinian land in order to build a kind of "White settler" colony on it, and then they imported ordinary Jews as workers and soldiers to be exploited on that same stolen land. Secondly, it also embodies the practice of keeping the local workforce divided along ethnic lines, with “Jews versus Arabs”, fighting each other constantly rather than uniting against their common oppressors. This situation produced a unique opportunity for imperialism, which is the main reason why it survives until today.

After the Israeli state was created, it eventually received recognition and support from imperialism. As the Cold War developed, the Soviet Union (which had originally supported the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel) threw its weight behind the Arab states, while American imperialism, in particular, came to understand the significance of such a state as Israel for its interests in the Middle East. Such an artificial state, which causes such antagonism amongst its neighbours will be forever dependent on imperialism, and will always need to depend heavily on the supply of arms for its survival. It thus serves as a garrison state in the service of global imperialism against the struggle of the Arab masses. This is the reason why Israel is so supported by the imperialist states. It is not because of some secretive "Jewish domination" over international capital as the anti-Semites claim. It is international capital itself, by its own logic, regardless of who "controls" it, which dictates the need for an artificial, disintegrated, hysterically violent and heavily armed state in the heart of the Arab world.

Why do Jews support Zionism?

How was it that Jews, who had always been at the forefront of the revolutionary forces in Europe, found themselves entangled in the most reactionary and barbaric forces in the world?

Initially, most Jews disregarded Zionism. Many of them loathed it. Only a minority of Jews migrated to Palestine. It took the rise of Nazi-fascism in Europe to radically change the picture. Jews that were being persecuted in Europe, their attempts to seek shelter in other countries being turned down, would go anywhere they could in search of refuge. Most of them still saw Palestine only as a last resort. They mostly fled to Latin America, North Africa, Russia, North America and other places. Only a minority found itself, not always willingly, moving to Palestine. In spite of this, an influx of Jews into Palestine did take place and it was sufficient to provide a solid base for the future Israeli state. After the Holocaust, many of the survivors were also evacuated to Palestine. The European bourgeoisie did not want to deal with the Jewish refugees and preferred their relocation to Palestine. Zionist delegations collaborated with that trend and persuaded the confused survivors to migrate to Palestine.

Today, it can be understood why the Jews who live in Israel support Zionism whether their ancestors wanted to migrate to Palestine or not. It is not just that they are constantly bombarded with Zionist propaganda from early childhood onwards. It is also because of the antagonism that Zionist colonialism has provoked in the surrounding Arab world, which pushes them to support the Zionist state as the only means for their protection.

It is less clear why Jews outside of Israel support Zionism. First of all, they do it to a far lesser extent than the Jews inside Israel. Many of the sharpest critics of Zionism are in fact Jews, and that is hardly surprising. Secondly, those who do support Zionism are doing it out for two reasons.

The first reason is that conservative Jews have come to understand that over time Jews will eventually integrate into the societies they live in. In this sense, Israel is regarded as the only place where Jews are incapable of “integrating” as there cannot be anything else but Jews.

The second reason and the more alarming one, is the vicious circle caused by the fear of anti-Semitism. Jews support Israel because they regard it as a shelter from a possible anti-Semitic resurgence, but that very support fuels anti-Semitism. This vicious circle must be broken if we want to rid the world of anti-Semitism. Zionism is not and cannot be a shelter for persecuted Jews. On the contrary, it is exactly what makes Jews easy victims of persecution. It is a convenient mechanism for keeping them apart from the societies they live in, and as long as they do not denounce this fact, loudly and clearly, it will be much easier for anti-Semitism to taint them with the crimes of Zionism.

There is no Jewish nation

Many Zionists raise what seems to be a legitimate question: don't the Jews deserve the right of self-determination like other nations? The answer to this should be unequivocal: whilst we support the right of Israeli Jews, who after all have been living in Palestine for 60 years now, to self-determination, this self-determination (based on the right of Israeli Jews to their own language and culture in the regions they inhabit) cannot be used as a justification for Zionist expansionism and occupation of another people. Nor can it be a substitute for the struggles of Jews living outside Israel, alongside their class brothers and sisters, against capitalism and racism. The answer to the plight of the Jews should not be sought in national grounds, but on social ones.

Contrary to Zionist propaganda, the Jews around the world have not been a ‘nation’ like the English, the Russian or the German nations for millennia. Jews share no common territory, they do not speak the same language, and they have different histories and different cultures. A Jew that lives in Argentina will have much more in common with his Argentine neighbours than he would have with another Jew, living in France or in Turkey. We reject unequivocally this ‘solution’ to the Jewish question proposed by the Zionists.

This is why any attempt to solve the "Jewish question" on national lines will be fallacious and harmful. The answer to the problems of anti-Semitism should be a social answer, and particularly a class answer. The struggle against anti-Semitism was always intertwined with the class struggles of society. It took the bourgeois revolutions to revoke the anti-Semitic laws and restrictions set up against the Jews in feudal times. It was also the class struggle of the proletariat that involved the fighting together of Jews and non-Jews against their common oppressors, particularly against the fascist elements who tried to no avail to separate the working class via nationalistic and anti-Semitic propaganda. Jews should not be coerced or encouraged to escape to Palestine, because there they will only be protected by the broken reed of the Zionist state, which makes the Jews under its rule more hated and vulnerable than in any other place. The labour movement should encourage Jews to stay in their respective countries, joining forces with the progressive and proletarian elements there, fighting together against any form of reaction.

Denounce Zionism, Move on to socialism!

Concentrating the Jews of the world in a small bracketed and violent state, at the expense of the native population, hated by everyone around them, is a very strange way to fight anti-Semitism. Nowadays it proves to be the main fuel for anti-Semitism in a time where such a phenomenon should have been eradicated long ago. Those Jews, in Israel or outside it, who support Zionism, end up unintentionally supporting the anti-Semitic forces which feed on this situation.

The answer to anti-Semitism is socialism. There is no way to evade that fact. Bourgeois society will always seek to divide the workers, and to lull them with reactionary fairy tails about a "glorious", "eternal" and "united" nation which can only be in conflict with other nations, never within itself. There will always be room for anti-Semitism in such an environment, and the Zionist crimes falsely associated with the Jews as a whole will make sure that this room will be ever larger. This is why we must urge anyone who regards him or herself as Jewish, to stand up against Zionism and to join forces with the progressive and revolutionary elements in his or her society. There is no other way if we desire a world without racism.

That said, socialists recognise that because Israeli Jews have lived in Palestine for over 60 years, and have developed something of a common language and culture, we reject reactionary calls (sadly sometimes seen also on the left) for them to be either ‘thrown into the sea’ or forced to live as second-class citizens in an Arab Palestine. Both the Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian peoples have the right to national, cultural and linguistic autonomy, but this is not something that can be granted by the imperialists and their ‘two-state’ solution (which in practice would mean a small, weak and divided Palestinian state under the iron heel of Israel). Only a single workers’ state of Israel/Palestine, with autonomy for both peoples but with free movement between them, and as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East, can provide these two peoples with what they desperately crave.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Reality Behind Isreal's War of Words

Again, today, another Syrian official reminded Israel of the disadvantages of war, its results would be catastrophic. Apparently Israel, with maximum under-estimation of its historic enemy, doesn't care.

The whole issue started with the arrival of Lieberman, an ultra-Zionist nutcase, and his clown, Ayalon. Displaying Israeli superiority complex, Ayalon insulted the Turkish ambassador in Israel. Ayalon argued that it was vengeance on what Turkey's spearhead, Mr. Tayeb Ordogan said in the World Economic Forum. The Turkish official simply highlighted the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defense Forces on Gaza. This was approved by the United Nation's Human Rights Committee, and voted on with a majority in the UN. Of course, the USA shut it down.

As Gaza's war left Israel militarily victorious, Israel hoped to boast its confidence in overcoming the defeat they suffered in 2006 by Hezbollah and the various civilian resistance movements (which included refugee relief, media wars, and exposing Israel for its real face: a Fascist state).

The plans of Israel backfired drastically. Ever since 2009, the majority of the world was disgusted by Israel's brutality. Another problem Israel faced is its arrogance, the majority of the world no longer looks at Israel as a victim, definitely, those World War II images were wiped out finally by its brutality on Gaza. As a matter of fact, a think tank in Israel argued that the entire world is hateful of Israel, and the last frontier was the United States. Even in the United States, according to the think tank, various informational hubs, university activists, left-wing activists, and others are exposing Israel for its reality, a fascist state that was based on ethnic cleansing. The think tank predicted that if Israel doesn't do anything drastic, Israel's final bastion for protecting its reputation (along where the real veto power lays) will collapse. Such a collapse is not any collapse, it is Israel's life-line supplier, the United States of America.

The Goldstone Affair played a role in exposing Israel's disgusting thoughts. Goldstone, a Zionist Jew himself, was traumatized to see what has happened in Gaza. A Zionist bashed Israel's Zionist regime for its inhumane activities. Israel accused its supporter of anti-semitism, which of course, remains the name of the game of shutting out critics. This reflected badly on Israel. As a matter of fact, 2009/2010 as two chronological years, appear as the breakdown of Israel's "anti-semitism" technique. Of course, Israel acknowledged that it used banned phosphoric bombs, and "persecuted" two high ranking officers. This accusation was launched during the July War on Lebanon as well as evidence of Israel's usage of banned weaponry. The world is fed up of Israel breaking International Law.

The blame of this hate, according to Lieberman and Ayalon, was directed on little Mahmoud Abbass, a clown that is selling everything in his power in the name of the Palestinians, and in the name of the 4.2 million Palestinian refugee (estimates on that number go as far as 7.2 million). Abbass, and the current form of Fatah, have been holding peace talks that was supposed to include 22% of historic Palestine. Earlier officials cut down the talks to 80% of the 22% of Palestine proper (preserving major settlements of the Zionists). Eventually, Sharon and his goons (special thanks to the Apartheid Wall and expanding settlements) cut down the negotiations to 42% of the 80%, which rotated around Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The last corner, as a matter of fact, had been gradually undergoing Palestinian expulsions while being replaced illegally by Zionist settlers. If anything, the Palestinians, according to Jonathan Cook (Disappearing Palestine), the Palestinians are left to negotiate for 42% of the 80% of the 22% of the 100% of their national homes. What a deal to the real natives of the land. It is not Abbass's fault, it is the fault of the world finally waking up to Israel's fascist mask.

The stubbornness of Israel to block settlements and give peace negotiations a chance angered the United States as well. Well, the United States, under AIPAC dominion, cannot react much. A group of congressmen in the US submitted a petition to the US Administration, that the United States should be more aggressive with Israel, the Israeli readers wondered how did AIPAC allow that to happen. Israel's non-democratic acts have reflected too long on US affairs. The United States' democracy itself is under threat because AIPAC should approve of congressmen.

Of course, Natanyaho and his goons were hoping for a face save. Hence, Haiti as a disaster took place, and Israeli media made sure to provide coverage for the 200 IDF units. This actually put Israel in trouble. Gaza remains shattered, burnt to the ashes, as Israel still inflicts a siege on it (well now Moubarak is helping Israel too).A lot argued that this was low blow to cover up for Gaza. In my opinion, I agree. When some Natanyaho officials bragged that they were the only ones to help Haiti, he didn't notice the billions of dollars coming from his Arab neighbors. Of course, some IDF soldiers may have the intent to help; however, these are the soldiers of an institution that is accused of war crimes against humanity.

The IDF as a matter of fact is facing another front, a rebellion from its veterans, those who were forced to serve in that fascist disgusting army, and decided to go in the open exposing Israel's "glorious brave army" for looting, humiliating, insulting, degrading, torturing, and even killing Palestinian citizens. The movement, Breaking The Silence, currently is touring the United States, again, the stronghold of Israel's propaganda centers, and I sure hope they can have listening ears.

The on-going attempted arrests which made Levni herself, another war criminal, a temprary fugitive in Britain also sored relations between Israel and the UK. Israel attempted to change the British law to make its war crimes an exception. The British audience were angered by Israeli arrogance while the leadership of Brown was totally embarassed. The law will not change.

Another damaging effect was the assassination of a Hamas figurehead in Dubai. That alone also got Israel alienated with France, England, Ireland, and other countries. This again goes down to the blunderous acts of Ayalon and Lieberman. As a matter of fact, these two clowns are soring relations between Israel and United States to the extent Israel's Peretz is negotiating with the United States, instead the foreign minister.

Israel also is irritating the United States as well, it depends on US funds and weapons, but Israel also has its own military trade, which ends up selling arms to China. AIPAC cannot justify that as well.

Such attempts have pushed the ruling elites of Israel to go and push for media war with Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon is always under threat from Israel, and Nasrallah pledged that if they go to war, it will not be a joy ride for their armies. This goes into Israeli calculations that Hezbollah had upgraded its missiles to repay Israel with "eye for eye, ear for ear", hence Nasrallah's famous speech, Ben Gurion's Airport for Beirut's Rafiq Harriri Airport. Syria pledged to rush for the aid of Lebanon, but not morally, rather militarily this time. The Lebanese are fed up of Syria's moral support then harvest victories on their backs. This also means if Israel targets Syria, it will rain rockets from Lebanon as well. Two fronts that I am certain Israel will be left in total loss. The Israeli Air Force is not that comfortable also, Nasrallah last year announced it that Hezbollah "has the capacities to shoot down Israeli Airplanes". If that is a fact, then, not just Israel is in trouble, but other regimes as well, specially the "peaceful" countries that surround Israel: Egypt and Jordan. Of course, this collission doesn't exclude the future confronation between Iran and Israel. Russia, which recieved a pleasant visit from the Israeli government, disregarded "Israeli favors" and sold Iran its latest state of the art Defense System.

The entire regimes of Jordan and Egypt are standing on the fact that "nothing can be done with Israel". The superior airforce of Israel allowed these two countries, among others, that nothing can be done to face the Israeli army. If Hezbollah accomplishes greater victories against Israel, specially by hindering Israeli Air Force, the regimes might not be able to justify to their people why the peace treaty stands. Of course, The Israeli Lobby Book, argues how Egypt and Jordan are the second and third most funded countries in the US agenda, after Israel. The two flanks of Israel will face rough time in controlling their people's wrath, who all are not happy with the peace treaty. Hence, if Hezbollah proves a real victory in a war against Israel, Moubarak in specific may be overthrown in the end of the day. Of course, I won't feel any sorrow towards his son not taking over "the presidential throne".

This leads to the question, how desperate is Natanyaho. Is he willing to make the blunders of Olmert and open two fronts? The Gaza front in the past was easy, but the Lebanese Front was devestative. Can Israel easily go to war with Syria and Lebanon? Is Israel going to destabilize its two allies, Egypt and Jordan? Natanyahou's blunders already pushed Syria and Turkey to reconcile. As a matter of fact, now Turkish citizens do not need VISA to go and visit Lebanon or Syria, and vice versa.

My Question is: For How long the United States is willing to allow Israel go on a rampage of racism, fascism, terrorism, and acts of war against humanity. Obviously the Iranian dilemma, Haiti bravery, escalation of political tensions in the Middle East didn't cover up anything.

Actually, I do have one more remark, while the Israeli movie, Ajami, is reeping awards on a global scale. Israel attempted to promote the film as an Israeli product done by the Israeli Arabs, the same Arabs who regard themselves as Palestinians, but under gunpoint, they are suffering cultural genocide. The actor in the film, who was then nominated for an Oscar, was brutally beaten up by the Israeli Army, and arrested. Another slap in the face, and another bullet in Israel's supposed democracy.

The final embarassment is the fanatic religious surges within Israel that are becoming more and more public. The gender division of women and men on buses, the attempts to ban internet, and the non-protected Palestinian Christians of Jerusalem who were threatened not to celebrate Christmas, reflects badly on Israel. For how long those idiots of the Neo-Christians want to support Israel?

J-Street was targeted last week by Ayalon as he refused to meet with J-Street Affiliated US Congressmen, which also triggered another fiasco between USA and Israel. J-Street is attempting to counter AIPAC, and in a short period of time had been assembling a lot of Jews there. Of course, Israel considered them "the enemy" because there is one color of Judaism, that is, Zionism. The Jews should be liberated from Zionism, because Zionism is holding every Jew in the world its hostage. If they disagree, just like Pape and Goldstone, they are traitors, self-hating Jews, and Muslim Lovers, in the eyes of the Israeli government. The latest escalations of the Israeli government will not shed its reality. Zionist Israel is losing its legitimacy.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Ironies and Lebanon's Democracy

One of the biggest contradictions about Lebanon is the symbolism it represents.
For starters, Lebanon represents co-existence and the symbol of peace, where 18 sects co-exist with each other. The Lebanese President even praised the Lebanese model as "a model of coexistence". The other face of Lebanon is the fact it is the next of sectarianism. Sectarian wars that exploded in 1958, 1975 – 1990, 2008, are a proof also that Lebanon is a model for war. I am certain that a lot of Lebanese abroad spend a lot of their time explaining to the world that Lebanon is divided according to sectarian lines, but all Lebanese love each other. Personally, I agree with the former position, sectarianism is imposed from above, and was legitimated since the French mandate. Like all 19th and early 20th century colonial empires, the French mandate imposed a political body that was aimed to divide the communities in order to renew their mandate. The French are gone, but that type of a regime, that suits the traditional family leaders, remained. Few politicians are exceptions to the norm, they bulldozed their way and became integrated into the system. Coexistence also includes the abolishment of sectarianism towards the Palestinian refugees, seek common solutions with them, and the obliteration of racism towards foreign labor (unless they come from the West, then they are treated with royalty).

Lebanon is "Modern and European" but also "Backward". Sure, wherever the Lebanese go, everyone calls Beirut as the "Paris of the East", or dub Lebanon "Switzerland of the East". Of course the difference is, Paris with all its historic glory, is the symbol of academic discussions on racism exploding there: what it means to be a real French. Switzerland is famous for its historic breakthroughs in patching up its communities and enjoy a prosperous peace. Lebanon on the other hand, enjoys a unique night life that is undisputed by any capital in the world. Dubai, Tel Aviv, Istambul, and others tried to recreate that "rich night life" in Lebanon, but so far it didn't reach Beirut's standards. Nevertheless, Beirut, was the city that demolished on daily basis. Theodor Hanf highlights the remarkable phenomenon, during the 1975 – 1990 civil war, how Beirut was rebuilt itself every time there is a seize fire. Nevertheless, it gets demolished again. After the end of the Israeli aggression on Lebanon in 2006, Beirut automatically restored its night life after the Israeli siege of Lebanon was lifted. As a matter of fact, while Israel was bombing Lebanon, nightlife was also booming in Beirut's nightlife. Couple of pub and nightclub managers told me that their profits maxed out to a new level (two in Ras Beirut, two in Gemayzi) during the Israeli aggression. The time when night life plumbed down was during the 2008 mini civil war we experienced, everyone hid in their houses with few peace activists who were trying to build a front for peace. However, nightlife is not a standard measure for modernity. Such a belief makes some people to become backward. Backward is not to have a religious community as well. It is about sectarianism. Backward is not remembering that the politicians need the people, and not as it currently stands, the people need the leaders.

Lebanon is the beacon of "democracy in the Middle East", but Lebanon is ruled by feudal lords. Hence, is it really democratic when the bourgeoisie elites meet up for months and months discussing the layout of the electoral constituencies whereby most of the results are already determined by the borders and alliances? Sure, Lebanon has a democratic competition between two gigantic coalitions, nevertheless, the results of the competitive coalitions appear when only few constituencies determine the real victor. Usually, such constituencies, have the real balance of power. Another side of the coin is how sectarian or political minorities appear to be beaten up by the supporters of the majority. The elections of 2009 showed how even minorities in the same sect are beaten up. Hence, elections in general rotate around how many traditional figureheads will return. The electoral platform of a party or candidate doesn't matter much, it rotates around who is a real Shiite, Christian, Druzi, and Sunni, in the eyes of the voters. Other voters, who are not really that low in number, vote on the premises of choosing between "the lesser evil". In that sense, who will ruin Lebanon's economic statures less than the others. This boils down usually to two coalitions which we already have. Last but not least, Lebanon's "democratic" system is usually hostage for the elites. They spend a lot of time of choosing a government that suits all the tastes of the elites, and that doesn't save the Lebanese from political tensions. As a matter of fact, the stressing-out-of-the-people phenomena contributes in creating sectarian walls.

There is no war but class war

Monday, February 01, 2010

The tree-lined bunkers that could change the face of the Middle East

An Excellent Article by Robert Fisk, taken from here

It looks like a hop, skip and a jump. There's the first electrified fence, then the dirt strip to identify footprints, then the tarmac road, then one more electrified fence, and then acres and acres of trees. Orchards rather than tanks. Galilee spreads beyond, soft and moist and dark green in the winter afternoon - a peaceful Israel, you might think. And a peaceful Lebanon to the north, tobacco plantations amid the stony hills, just an occasional UN armoured vehicle to keep you on your toes. "Major Pardin says you cannot take pictures," a Malaysian UN soldier tells me. Then a second one says the same. Then along comes a Lebanese army intelligence officer and stares at our papers. "OK, you have permission," he declares, and I snap away with my old 36-frame real-film Nikon; the fields, the frontier fence, the high-tech surveillance tower on the horizon. This must be the most photographed border in the world.

Of course, the gentle countryside is an illusion. Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues in the Israeli government have been announcing that the only "army" of Lebanon is the Hizbollah, the Iranian-armed and Syrian-assisted guerrilla force whose bunkers and missiles north of the Litani river might just tip the balance in the next Hizbollah-Israeli war. And Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the chairman of the Hizbollah, has been making some even more interesting threats: that his forces will "change the face of the Middle East region" if there is another war with Israel. No-one is in much doubt about what this means. The newly resurfaced Lebanese roads near the border - courtesy of Hizbollah money - suggest that someone might want to move men at high speed towards the frontier. Perhaps even to cross the border.

That's what the Israelis suspect, too - and it makes sense of Nasrallah's warning last week. The Hizbollah claimed that the 2006 war with Israel was a "divine victory" - it didn't feel that way to us in southern Lebanon at the time - yet even Israel admits it was a near-defeat for its own ill-trained soldiers. But how would Israel react if the Hizbollah managed to enter Israel itself? Israeli army commanders are talking about this in the Israeli press. A fast, dramatic spring across the frontier to the west - in the direction of Naharia, perhaps, or a grab at the settlement of Kiryat Shmona - and Hizbollah would announce it had "liberated" part of historic "Palestine". Israel would have to bomb its own territory to get them out.

This is no game. The Israeli army wants to revenge itself on the Hizbollah, which humiliated it in 2006. Nasrallah - on giant-wide screens, for security reasons - often talks as if he's the Lebanese president. Did the Israelis really think al-Qa'ida or the Hizbollah were behind the attempted killing of two Jordanian diplomats between Amman and the Allenby bridge, Nasrallah asked. No friend of al-Qa'ida, Hizbollah would have succeeded in blowing them up if it had been involved. The crowd roared its agreement.

But the threats continue. The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, says that the Lebanese government will be held responsible for any future war and the Lebanese have had the usual warnings from Israel. Lebanon's infrastructure will be attacked, its bridges and highways destroyed, its villages erased. Israel, Mr Barak has been saying, was restrained in 2006 - when it attacked Lebanon's infrastructure, destroyed its bridges and highways and erased its villages. Plus ça change.

But there's a good deal of "change". Syria is being courted by the Obama administration. Its old allies in Lebanon - Druze leader Walid Jumblatt among them - are uttering honeyed words to Damascus. Indeed, Jumblatt has been meeting both Nasrallah and his old enemy Michel Aoun, and concluding that he is three-quarters of the way down the road to Damascus. And President Assad of Syria has been visiting Tehran again, to assure the Islamic Republic of his ever-loyal support.

You can see the way everyone is thinking. And here's the big question, the camel in the room. If Israel ignores Obama and attacks Iran's nuclear sites - a real aggression if ever there could be - the Hizbollah could fire rockets into Israel, perhaps even revealing its new anti-aircraft missile capacity. Hamas might join in from Gaza. Hamas is a tin-pot outfit; the Hizbollah is not. An Israeli attack on Iran will unleash Iranian military power against America. But part of that power is Hizbollah in Lebanon. This is serious business.

Over Christmas, a parcel "from a foreign country" was delivered to three Hamas officials in Beirut and blew up, killing all of them. Last week, a bomb exploded in a building in southern Lebanon owned by two Hizbollah officials, wounding three children. One of them, 11-year-old Diana Zreik, had her left leg amputated. It looks like a glance at the past, to the 1970s, when Israel posted letter-bombs to its enemies in Lebanon.

The United Nations has been complaining at the increase in Israel's overflights of Lebanese territory. The Lebanese army has been opening fire on Israeli aircraft flying over the border - useless, of course, because the Americans don't give the Lebanese army weapons that can hurt Israel - while US Senator John McCain has dropped by in Beirut to complain about the Hizbollah's weapons which, under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, are supposed to be in the hands of the Lebanese army. This is the same resolution that should prevent Israeli overflights.

And what do those overflights show? "We see Hizbollah expanding inside Lebanon and its growing influence, political and otherwise," Barak said last week. "We again wish to make clear to the Lebanese leadership that we see everything, and we will hold the parties which cause increased tension responsible... the situation can quickly deteriorate." Thank you, Israel. Especially if Israel attacks Iran.

Party of God: Hizbollah and the politics of Islamic resistance

* Hizbollah, which can be translated as Party of God, is a Lebanese, Iranian and Syrian-backed, Shia Islamist political movement with a paramilitary wing known as "Islamic Resistance". It emerged in 1982 as a small militia force with the aim of ending Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon.

The movement is now a major player in Lebanese politics with its own satellite TV network, a radio station, and a vast network of social programmes from housing to agriculture. According to Hizbollah's manifesto, the Lebanese people must be free to choose what form of government they want, but they are strongly encouraged to pick the option of Islamic government. The movement's original goal of turning Lebanon into an Islamic Republic has been abandoned.

* Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah became Hizbollah's Secretary General in 1992. A popular and charismatic figure, his face appears from billboards and hoardings across Beirut and south Lebanon. The deeply religious 49-year-old studied theology in Iran and is noted for his fiery sermons, excerpts of which are sometimes heard on mobile phone ringtones.

* Israel tried to kill Nasrallah during the month-long war it fought against Hizbollah in 2006. The conflict followed a Hizbollah attack on an Israeli army convoy patrolling the border with south Lebanon. Nasrallah now says Hizbollah will defeat Israel in any new conflict. "I promise you that should a new war with the Zionists erupt, we will crush the enemy, come out victorious and change the face of the region," he said last week.

IDF Kidnaps Lebanese Citizen on Lebanese Grounds

A shepherd, leading his flock, was kidnapped by the Israeli Deranged Forces as he was tending his sheep close to Shiba'a Farms. The IDF crossed and "arrested" him. The article is found here

As for the Israeli media, as always, they distorted the news, as Israeli army arrested a Lebanese carrying an army knife. Excuse me, if the poor lad was a shepherd, it is natural to have a knife wondering around. Haaretz, also failed to mention that the citizen was kidnapped on Lebanese grounds, rather claimed that the victim was in Sheba'a farms.

Then, of course, Israel wonders: Why Hezbollah are so damn popular in Southern Lebanon? Need a clue? Their brutality!

Israel Is Becoming as Religious as Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, activists are doing their best to empower women against all odds. Israel on the other hand, is heading exactly towards the opposite direction, becoming as religious as Saudi Arabia fundementalists. Currently, they are half way in legalizing gender seperation on buses and elsewhere, a phenomenon that exists in the Arab Gulf areas. I can arrogantly say that Lebanon is more religious moderate than a country ruled by a fascist organization called Zionism, holding its own Jews as hostages by speaking in their name, and gradually becoming more and more religious zealots. Anyone want to tell me this is democracy (other than the fact non-Jews are also treated as class B or class Z citizens?)

This article below was written in Haaretz's staff

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said on Sunday that Israel would allow the ultra-Orthodox community continue to run their private bus lines segregated by gender, but could not officially recognize the practice on public bus lines.

The minister was responding to a petition sent by the Israel Religious Action Center and a women's rights group to the government and to the Egged and Dan transportation companies.

Katz declared in his response that Israel does not disapprove of buses which separate between men and women to accommodate the Hardi community, but that segregation could not become institutionalized.

The minister added that buses should be permitted to hang signs explaining the ultra-Orthodox community's request to separate seating between men and women, however the request could not be enforced if passengers chose not to adhere to it.

Kats also said that violence and the disruption of order on segregated buses must be stopped, and instructed professional security forces on the matter.

Currently, there are 56 segregated bus lines operating throughout the country, a total of 2,108 buses a day. All the buses will be permitted to remain segregated so long as they choose to, but passengers will not be forced to adhere to the decision, only to respect it at will.

Most of the buses cater to ultra-Orthodox passengers.

"The minister expressed a worthy attitude towards the ultra-Orthodox community and he understands the publics' needs," Rabbi Shimon Stern of the Rabbis Transportation Committee said in praise of the decision.

Segregated buses are a relatively new phenomenon in Israel, with the first one appearing 10 years ago on a line between Jerusalem and neighboring Beit Shemesh

(MFL final note: Religion is the Opium of the Masses)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Business of the Holocaust Memorial

Anyone who objects to Israel's fascism and racism becomes anti-semite. This politics of anti-semitism of attempting to shut down opponents of Israel is losing its touch. Embarassingly, non-Zionist Jews are currently (after the Palestinians) the biggest victims of Zionism. The Zionists should realize that their tactics are no longer working except probably in the United States, and even there, the voices of the Palestinian victims are becoming heard ( when more than 50 congressman petitioned to Obama to be more strict with Israel's on-going fascist settlements, and the commentary of Haaretz wondered: "How did AIPAC allow that to happen"). I never knew that the US representatives have to answer to AIPAC on everything that relates to the Palestinians.

Gideon Levi just trashed the leadership once again over here

Mazen Kerbaj's Cartoon: My day to day life exactly

This exactly what happens to me when I talk to a sectarian person:

Lessons of the Ethiopian Airlines: Chauvinism and Political Points

The tragic horrible death of the Ethiopian airlines led to a shock, and a week of mourning. In what was a stand-off between the different reactionary parties in regards to several reforms, the plane crash bought some time.

There are several shocking events that generated prior and after the terrible crash which left several people of different nationalities mourning.

The first event were the reforms to be discussed in the Parliament.

The first focused on reducing the voting age to 18. The advocator to such change came as a surprise, at least in terms of parliamentary blocs, Nabih Berri and his hooligan AMAL. This of course, provides a trauma for me, since AMAL are notorious to enter fist-to-fist fights with almost anyone (a tend that has been operational since the days of the Lebanese Civil War). Nabih Berri, for the past three months or so has advocated all types of change, supporting Ziad Baroud's proposals, and seems to be trying to bring back the legacy of Imam Moussa Sadre's goals for reform back in the 1970s. Berri was involved in sparking the "Cancelation of Sectarianism" act, protecting the Ta'ef Accords (ironically), the Age Act reform, and giving strength to the Parliament (which was shut down for over two years by Berri himself).

The clash of reforms began with the head of the Reform and Change bloc, with lunatic General Aoun, and the other two Christian parties: Lebanese Forces and Phalange. The fear from the voting age reform scared the Christians that they will be overwhelmed by 'Muslim Votes'. The Christian parties eventually proposed that the Immigrants would have the right to vote under the basis that one reform cannot go without the other. This of course hinders all possibilities to implement the age 18 voting law. Since, the new age of the new parliament began under the banner of "Age of Love and Flirtations" among the elites, it was natural that the two camps in Lebanon bickered each other along the same alliances.

Just like the 14th of March and Opposition collisions, historical insights are highlighted and others forgotten, specially when Berri attacked Aoun that the latter was not present to forge the Ta'ef Accords.

The showdown between these two reached its climax when the infamous Monday parliamentary meeting was supposed to take place. Hezbollah attempted to sooth the situation, and it was anticipated that most of the blocs (pro Harriri or not) were going to avoid the making of such a meeting by making sure that the Parliament's quorum was not met. The different news media reported that meetings between AMAL and the Free Patriotic Movement remained taking place till 4:00 in the morning. The same day, the tragic death of the Ethiopian Airlines took place. This saved the politicians of the embarrassment of shooting down the parliament's meeting to take place.

Naomi Klein dubbed the Haiti disaster as Shock Capitalism, with highlights to Israel's 'humanitarian' activities to cover away its past sins in Gaza which turned world opinion against it. This is exactly what took place in Lebanon. A national mourning day took place, the parliamentary session was postponed.

The Lebanese-Ethiopian tragedy

As the plane collapsed, and all efforts took place in a very remarkable manner to salvage survivors, Lebanese pride rose up. Everyone on facebook, msn, and whatever placed a Lebanese flag with a black strip on their profiles. This is indeed a human tragedy.

All politicians diverted their attention into supporting the Red Cross and the Lebanese Army to save the survivors.

Nevertheless, Lebanese fascism sprang. Several Ethiopian blue collar proletariat in Lebanon were denied entrance to the hospitals in order to identify the bodies of their beloved. That is a typical country of contradiction: Co-existence and racism, tolerance and intolerance, and finally democracy and tyranny.

The incident itself was preceded by a controversial acts of beating activists in front of the Egyptian embassy because the activists there found it unusual to attack the apartheid wall of Israel, while Egypt's Moubarak is building another Iron Wall on the Rafah route, to force "coexistence between Hamas and Fatah".

Back to the plane incident, as much as Lebanon's president attempted to show Lebanon's humanitarian face to the world, the Human Rights Watch group slammed Lebanon for its mistreatment of foreign labor and Palestinians. Ironically that was celebrated by Fascist Israel who never bothered to read the entire report, as well to read the reports on their own country.

The acts of racism towards the foreign proletariat proved yet again, amidst this disaster, that foreign labor needs to be protected. The proletariat across the world, like the Lebanese, need to be protected and treated as humans. Every week we hear a story about a foreign laborer being maltreated, specially those who are abused to work almost for free as maids in households. It comes as a surprise for some Lebanese (those whom I spit on their faces) that labor from Sri Lanka, Syria, Jordan, Palestinians, India, Egypt, Ethiopia, Philippines, others are their own equal: simply humans. If Lebanese culture means superiority, for me, that equates to trash (Zionism is even more terrible by the way). It reminds me of France hailing itself as democratic while it was too busy demolishing Algerian proletariat back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, or Israeli "democracy" which rotates around only Judaism while trashing the rest of non-Jewish (and giving Jews of the world a bad name).

For those racist Lebanese, thing of it that Lebanese, Ethiopians, and others died equally as humans on that plane, equals also to the wife of the French Ambassador in Lebanon. May those who mourn find peace again in their hearts.

Again, we see that the whole world is governed by Class War under the banner of different logos: racism, reform, and political points


PS: The fact Berri is proposing all those reforms is still hard for me to digest

R.I.P. Howard Zinn

By Mark Feeney and Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff - Boston News

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as "A People's History of the United States," inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.

His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.

"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."

Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn's writings "simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation. He opened up approaches to history that were novel and highly significant. Both by his actions, and his writings for 50 years, he played a powerful role in helping and in many ways inspiring the Civil rights movement and the anti-war movement."
For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. "A People’s History of the United States" (1980), his best-known book, had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers -- many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out -- but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and union organizers of the 1930s.

As he wrote in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."

Certainly, it was a recipe for rancor between Dr. Zinn and John Silber, former president of Boston University. Dr. Zinn, a leading critic of Silber, twice helped lead faculty votes to oust the BU president, who in turn once accused Dr. Zinn of arson (a charge he quickly retracted) and cited him as a prime example of teachers "who poison the well of academe."

Dr. Zinn was a cochairman of the strike committee when BU professors walked out in 1979. After the strike was settled, he and four colleagues were charged with violating their contract when they refused to cross a picket line of striking secretaries. The charges against "the BU Five" were soon dropped.

In 1997, Dr. Zinn slipped into popular culture when his writing made a cameo appearance in the film "Good Will Hunting." The title character, played by Matt Damon, lauds "A People’s History" and urges Robin Williams’s character to read it. Damon, who co-wrote the script, was a neighbor of the Zinns growing up.

"Howard had a great mind and was one of the great voices in the American political life," Ben Affleck, also a family friend growing up and Damon's co-star in "Good Will Hunting," said in a statement. "He taught me how valuable -- how necessary -- dissent was to democracy and to America itself. He taught that history was made by the everyman, not the elites. I was lucky enough to know him personally and I will carry with me what I learned from him -- and try to impart it to my own children -- in his memory."

Damon was later involved in a television version of the book, "The People Speak," which ran on the History Channel in 2009, and he narrated a 2004 biographical documentary, "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train."

"Howard had a genius for the shape of public morality and for articulating the great alternative vision of peace as more than a dream," said James Carroll a columnist for the Globe's opinion pages whose friendship with Dr. Zinn dates to when Carroll was a Catholic chaplain at BU. "But above all, he had a genius for the practical meaning of love. That is what drew legions of the young to him and what made the wide circle of his friends so constantly amazed and grateful."

Dr. Zinn was born in New York City on Aug. 24, 1922, the son of Jewish immigrants, Edward Zinn, a waiter, and Jennie (Rabinowitz) Zinn, a housewife. He attended New York public schools and was working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard when he met Roslyn Shechter.

"She was working as a secretary," Dr. Zinn said in an interview with the Globe nearly two years ago. "We were both working in the same neighborhood, but we didn't know each other. A mutual friend asked me to deliver something to her. She opened the door, I saw her, and that was it."

He joined the Army Air Corps, and they courted through the mail before marrying in October 1944 while he was on his first furlough. She died in 2008.

During World War II, he served as a bombardier, was awarded the Air Medal, and attained the rank of second lieutenant.

After the war, Dr. Zinn worked at a series of menial jobs until entering New York University on the GI Bill as a 27-year-old freshman. He worked nights in a warehouse loading trucks to support his studies. He received his bachelor’s degree from NYU, followed by master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University.

Dr. Zinn was an instructor at Upsala College and lecturer at Brooklyn College before joining the faculty of Spelman College in Atlanta, in 1956. He served at the historically black women’s institution as chairman of the history department. Among his students were novelist Alice Walker, who called him "the best teacher I ever had," and Marian Wright Edelman, future head of the Children's Defense Fund.

During this time, Dr. Zinn became active in the civil rights movement. He served on the executive committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most aggressive civil rights organization of the time, and participated in numerous demonstrations.

Dr. Zinn became an associate professor of political science at BU in 1964 and was named full professor in 1966.

The focus of his activism became the Vietnam War. Dr. Zinn spoke at many rallies and teach-ins and drew national attention when he and the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, another leading antiwar activist, went to Hanoi in 1968 to receive three prisoners released by the North Vietnamese.

Dr. Zinn’s involvement in the antiwar movement led to his publishing two books: "Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal" (1967) and "Disobedience and Democracy" (1968). He had previously published "LaGuardia in Congress" (1959), which had won the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Prize; "SNCC: The New Abolitionists" (1964); "The Southern Mystique" (1964); and "New Deal Thought" (1966).

He also was the author of "The Politics of History" (1970); "Postwar America" (1973); "Justice in Everyday Life" (1974); and "Declarations of Independence" (1990).

In 1988, Dr. Zinn took early retirement to concentrate on speaking and writing. The latter activity included writing for the stage. Dr. Zinn had two plays produced: "Emma," about the anarchist leader Emma Goldman, and "Daughter of Venus."

On his last day at BU, Dr. Zinn ended class 30 minutes early so he could join a picket line and urged the 500 students attending his lecture to come along. A hundred did.

"Howard was an old and very close friend," Chomsky said. "He was a person of real courage and integrity, warmth and humor. He was just a remarkable person."

Carroll called Dr. Zinn "simply one of the greatest Americans of our time. He will not be replaced -- or soon forgotten. How we loved him back."

In addition to his daughter, Dr. Zinn leaves a son, Jeff of Wellfleet; three granddaughters; and two grandsons.

Funeral plans were not available.

MFL Notes: For the Americans who don't know their own history of war crimes, I highly recommend to read A People's History of American Empire in Comics.

Some photos of the Comics is here

The Book can be found here

Case Point: Robert Weissman: Shed a Tear for Our (U.S.) Democracy

Taken from Corpwatch.org

Yesterday, in the case Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence election outcomes.

Money from Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and the rest of the Fortune 500 is already corroding the policy making process in Washington, state capitals and city halls. Now, the Supreme Court tells these corporate giants that they have a constitutional right to trample our democracy.

In eviscerating longstanding rules prohibiting corporations from using their own monies to influence elections, the court invites giant corporations to open up their treasuries to buy election outcomes. Corporations are sure to accept the invitation.

The predictable result will be corporate money flooding the election process; huge targeted campaigns by corporations and their front groups attacking principled candidates who challenge parochial corporate interests; and a chilling effect on candidates and election officials, who will be deterred from advocating and implementing policies that advance the public interest but injure deep-pocket corporations.

Because the decision is made on First Amendment constitutional grounds, the impact will be felt not only at the federal level, but in the states and localities, including in state judicial elections.

In one sense, the decision was a long time in coming. Over the past 30 years, the Supreme Court has created and steadily expanded the First Amendment protections that it has afforded for-profit corporations.

But in another sense, the decision is a startling break from Supreme Court tradition. Even as it has mistakenly equated money with speech in the political context, the court has long upheld regulations on corporate spending in the electoral context. The Citizens United decision is also an astonishing overreach by the court. No one thought the issue of corporations' purported right to spend money to influence election outcomes was at stake in this case until the Supreme Court so decreed. The case had been argued in lower courts, and was originally argued before the Supreme Court, on narrow grounds related to application of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

The court has invented the idea that corporations have First Amendment rights to influence election outcomes out of whole cloth. There is surely no originalist interpretation to support this outcome, since the court created the rights only in recent decades. Nor can the outcome be justified in light of the underlying purpose and spirit of the First Amendment. Corporations are state-created entities, not real people. They do not have expressive interests like humans; and, unlike humans, they are uniquely motivated by a singular focus on their economic bottom line.

Corporate spending on elections defeats rather than advances the democratic thrust of the First Amendment.

We, the People cannot allow this decision to go unchallenged. We, the People cannot allow corporations to take control of our democracy.

There are some things that can be done to mitigate the damage from today's decision.

First, we must have public financing of elections. Public financing will give independent candidates a base from which they may be able to compete against candidates benefiting from corporate expenditures. We will intensify our efforts to win rapid passage of the Fair Elections Now Act, which would provide congressional candidates with an alternative to corporate-funded campaigns before fundraising for the 2010 election is in full swing. Sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, and Rep. John Larson, D-Connecticut, the bill would encourage unlimited small-dollar donations from individuals and provide candidates with public funding in exchange for refusing corporate contributions or private contributions in amounts of more than $100. The proposal has broad support, including more than 126 co-sponsors in the House.

In the wake of the court's decision, it is also essential that the presidential public financing system be made viable again. Cities and states will also need to enact public financing of elections.

Congress must ensure that corporate CEOs do not use corporate funds for political purposes, against the wishes of shareholders, with legislation requiring an absolute majority of shares to be voted in favor, before any corporate political expenditure is permitted. There are other legislative approaches to limit today's damage, including a range of measures proposed by Representative Alan Grayson, D-Florida.

These mitigating measures will not be enough to offset today's decision, however. The decision itself must be overturned.

We need a constitutional amendment specifying that for-profit corporations are not entitled to First Amendment protections, except for freedom of the press. A constitutional amendment is not a thing to throw around lightly. But today's decision so imperils our democratic well-being, and so severely distorts the rightful purpose of the First Amendment, that a constitutional corrective is demanded.

Winning a constitutional amendment will be a long-term effort. The starting point is for the people to petition their government to demand action. Public Citizen with allies has launched such a petition effort. Got to to sign the petition.

The Supreme Court has lost its way. Democracy is rule of the people -- real, live humans, not artificial entity corporations. Now it's time for the people to reassert their rights.

Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hezbollah's New Political Platform by Fawwaz Traboulsi

Translated By Zmag and Taken from here

[Translator's Introduction: The following article by Fawwaz Traboulsi appeared in the Beirut daily as-Safir of December 2, 2009.

Traboulsi's article is an assessment and left critique of the main themes in Hezbollah's new political platform. The platform was released on November 30 at the conclusion of a general congress that had met intermittently over several months. It was published partially or entirely in several Arabic-language media outlets, inside and outside Lebanon, in early December 2009. The platform now becomes Hezbollah's political manifesto in place of its founding document, its so-called 1985 Open Letter.
Hezbollah has undergone many changes since the mid-1980's. The most significant perhaps, seen from a Western perspective that tends to stress Hezbollah's narrow Islamist focus, is its gradual shift away from the call to establish an Islamic state in Lebanon. This call, as well as the allegiance to the Rule of the Jurisprudent (Wilayat al-Faqih), were explicit in the 1985 Open Letter. The new platform renounces the call for an Islamic state in Lebanon, accepts the diversity of Lebanese society, and makes no mention of the Rule of the Jurisprudent. This is of course a welcome development. But there are other aspects in the new platform that are far less praiseworthy, which Traboulsi addresses in his article. -- Assaf Kfoury]

What stands out in the political platform issued by Hezbollah at the conclusion of its recent general congress is how it assesses its own history and development since its founding in the mid 1980's. This document reviews a quarter of a century of multi-faceted experiences and sacrifices. It reflects a multiplicity of alliances and inspirations, if not splintered identities. At one and the same time, Hezbollah aspires to be a "national liberation" movement among other such movements in the world; a "resistance" movement at the regional level, with all the connotations the latter designation evokes among Arabs in relation to the Palestinian struggle; and increasingly a "force of national defense" for Lebanon. In this third designation, Hezbollah dispenses with any lingering doubt regarding its resolve to become a full partner in Lebanon's confessional system, if not its acceptance of the socio-economic conditions underlying such a system.

In its quest to position itself among national liberation movements worldwide, and to contribute to the regional struggle against colonial domination, Hezbollah's new political platform borrows many formulas and ideas elaborated by leftist traditions. Among these is its realization that imperialism's global reach today calls for a global mobilization in response to it. This becomes evident in the platform's insistence on the links between the struggles of Arab peoples and leftist movements in several countries of Latin America.

The platform offers a global view of the imperialist system led by the United States of which Israel is an integral part. It does not ignore the economic basis of imperialist domination, which it identifies as "savage capitalism" -- assuming it does not harbor any illusion that the alternative of "soft capitalism" will be any less cruel. Although its reference to the "military-industrial complex", rather than financial capitalism, is somewhat outdated as the determining factor shaping US policies, the platform rightly designates the latest stage of imperialism as the globalization of monopolies and military alliances. On this understanding, one would expect Hezbollah to reconsider its positions on the struggle between wealth and poverty and between oppressor and oppressed.

Apart from the rush to announce the imminent demise of the unipolar world and the Zionist project's inevitable downfall, Hezbollah's new platform does not include much that can be attributed to Ali Shariati's revolutionary ideas or to "revolutionary Islam", as some may contend. Instead, the platform reproduces some of the Islamic Republic's slogans under Ali Khamene'i, Iran's current supreme leader. These slogans are less about earlier republican values and revolutionary fervor than they are about the Iranian rulers' current need for security and ideological control.

On regional Arab affairs, the new platform abandons most of this earlier agenda [inspired by Ali Shariati's ideas], of which it mentions only the plundering by imperialism of the region's oil resources. Nonetheless, this emphasis on oil is important and cannot be overstated at a time when there is very little public discussion of it and its role in maintaining the region's despotic subservient regimes. These are a few welcome tokens to pry open a widely-ignored topic and raise important issues that have yet to be examined critically.

Turning to issues of resistance and negotiations in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Hezbollah's new platform completely evades the question of a Palestinian state and contents itself with a call for the total liberation of Palestine and the restoration of all Palestinian rights. Hezbollah reiterates its demand to Arab officialdom to desist from pursuing a negotiated settlement with Israel and offers its own experience of armed resistance as an example to follow and learn from.

On internal Lebanese matters, Hezbollah's new platform proclaims its unequivocal adherence to Lebanon's political system. It is reassuring to read this kind of proclamation from those who paid dearly in defense of the country. Equally satisfying is the platform's unambiguous respect of diversity, even though it extends the scope of this diversity to things other than political, cultural and ideological, to include Lebanon's entrenched confessional politics.

Although Hezbollah's new platform asserts that confessionalism is the bane of Lebanon's system of government and the chief obstacle to the realization of true democracy, it shies away from even issuing a call to supersede it. In the press conference on the day following the platform's publication, Hassan Nasrallah [Hezbollah's secretary general] limited himself to a call for the formation of a national council for the elimination of confessionalism, but quickly added that the formation of such a council does not necessarily mean adoption of its eventual directives. In the meantime, Hezbollah proclaims its respect of consociationalism* as reflecting best the spirit of the constitution. Of course, this ignores the fact that, whatever "spirit of the constitution" means, it cannot be a unilateral definition and must be reached by deliberation with other concerned citizens and groups.

Hezbollah's new platform does not stop at the enunciating of general principles of democracy and good governance, but goes on to spell out a specific blueprint for "building the state". On this issue, the platform contributes to a fraudulent consensus, common to all the branches of Lebanon's ruling establishment, by repeating a long inventory of desirable attributes for the future good state -- from the erection of modern institutions and the rule of law, down to the care of emigrants, and listing in between such things as fair parliamentary representation, end of corruption, independence of the judiciary, devolution of government administration, etc. -- as if the absence of such attributes is the root cause of a defective system rather than its effect.

What is said here about "building the state" is like what is said about "eliminating confessionalism". In both cases, they mix and conflate: the hoped for, the impossible, and the premature -- all in the same breath. It is incumbent on Hezbollah, as it is on all its partners in the ruling establishment, to break this riddle: How do they conceive "building the state" within the limits of a consociational/confessional system which they declare, at one and the same time, to be the fundamental obstacle to the realization of true democracy? How can this be done when the system is the chief stumbling block in the face of the aforementioned attributes of the good state [which Hezbollah and its partners in the government do not tire of mentioning]?

Hezbollah's new platform elicits a similar questioning in matters regarding the economy. It enumerates a long list of wishes -- a balanced development between regions, an economy based on productive sectors, improved means of production and distribution, adequate services in education, health care, and housing, the provision of work opportunities, etc. -- as if they are all within reach and without a need for fundamental structural changes. The platform declares Hezbollah's intention to reduce poverty, for example, but how will this be achieved by abiding by the World Bank's neo-liberal policies [readily accepted by successive Lebanese governments] rather than by reducing income disparities between classes? And what plan is there to reduce emigration and provide employment while Lebanon's educational system has been largely privatized, mostly divorced from the country's local needs, and increasingly directed at supplying university graduates to external economies? This long wish list is compiled without due consideration to the enormous national debt and the need to reconsider the decision-making process necessary to promote investments, protect the productive sectors, and undertake an equitable re-distribution of public resources and services.

It is remarkable how far Hezbollah has moved away from its earlier image as the party of the poor in rural areas and neglected urban suburbs, though it was always within the confines of the Shiite community. Does this reflect the sweeping transformations that this community has witnessed in the last quarter of a century? In recent years, Lebanese Shiites have fueled large waves of emigrants, developed a confident middle-class, produced large numbers of university graduates, and accumulated considerable wealth in distant places of immigration. Or does this changed image correspond to the shifting allegiances that other confessional communities in the Lebanese system have also experienced in the past, whereby the bourgeois section in each community tends to throw its weight behind the dominant power within its own community? Hezbollah is now the unchallenged political party among Lebanese Shiites, and more so since the July-August 2006 war.

It is worth noting that, in anticipation of having to resist future pressures to disarm, Hezbollah's new platform calls for maintaining a popular militia (exemplified by Hezbollah's current guerilla force) alongside a national army, with both involved in the country's defense. It is possible to read Hezbollah's refusal to ever recognize Israel as a prior warning that it will not relinquish its arms, in case of a resumption of negotiations between Israel and Syria possibly leading to a peace agreement that will encompass both Lebanon and Syria.

Lastly, concerning Lebanese-Palestinian relations, Hezbollah's new platform does not share the anti-Palestinian racism of its ally, the Free Patriotic Movement led by General Michel Aoun. The platform insists instead on the respect of the Palestinians' civil rights. It does repeat the worn-out "refusal of a permanent settling" (of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon) -- a catchphrase of all the branches of the Lebanese ruling establishment -- but it couples it with the Palestinian right of return.

In a recent campaign to organize car traffic in the Dahiya (Beirut's sprawling southern suburbs where Shiites are the majority), Hezbollah displayed banners that read "order is from faith". Is this kind of order -- serving and controlled by bankers, traders, and contractors -- derived from faith or is it downright impiety?


* Consociationalism (al-tawafuqiyyah or al tawafuqiyyah al-tawa'iffiyyah) is a current Lebanese euphemism for the more traditional but increasingly disparaged "confessionalism."

Fawwaz Traboulsi has written on history, Arab politics, social movements and popular culture and translated works by Karl Marx, John Reed, Antonio Gramsci, Isaac Deutscher, John Berger, Etel Adnan, Sa`di Yusuf and Edward Said. His most recent book in English is A History of Modern Lebanon (Pluto Press, 2007). The translator, Assaf Kfoury, is Professor of Computer Science at Boston University.