Quite often our collective histories are subconsciously daubed by grandiose metanarratives that more often than not paint a simple and naïve picture of the last 500 odd years. The narration of the last 500 years of our history is significant in the sense that the allegedly universal construction of the “other” lies at the bottom of the balance sheet of European Enlightenment which has evolved into the present day political paradigms and power equations. The Western ideas that the vilified and dehumanised “other” is in need of constant reform and guidance and is eternally associated with extreme violence have always been imposed upon Muslims and Jews in medieval Europe but since the last century predominantly Muslims, with the Zionist project hijacking the Jewish identity and crossing over to the colonial dark side by essentialising itself as the epitome of settler colonialism.To seemingly visualise this “other Muslim”, we have to move beyond understanding the modern world, especially the Arab world solely in terms of division of labour and the tireless accumulation of global capital. We have to, according to Professor Ramon Grosfoguel, “shift the geopolitics of knowledge and the body-politics of knowledge from the North oriented gaze of the world system towards a South oriented view to get a different picture of the cartography.” Furthermore, Professor Grosfoguel adds that such a view which diverges from a Marxist narrative “leads to a more complex, non-reductive structural-historical analysis in which Islamophobia as a form of racism against Muslim people is not an epiphenomenon but constitutive of the international division of labour.” It is the failure to recognise these complexities which reflect a colonial matrix of control woven through layers of hierarchical power structures that result in branding any Islamic resistance narratives, including Hamas or its affiliate the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigade, as either terrorists or militants. Now this narrative is highly problematic for a myriad of reasons; primarily, because it refuses to acknowledge or accept Muslim subjectivity or in this instance Palestinian subjectivity. This lack of acceptance and acknowledgement in turn presents Israel to be viewed largely as a democratic and liberal state that unfortunately suffers from violent short bouts of resorting to savagery, which after a round of serious deliberations by the international community only requires a sort of mild admonishment. Although loaded and charged accusations like racial exclusion, ethnic cleansing and genocide have been levied against Israel for decades now by a host of internationally reputed personalities, we still refuse to digest this fact for the sole reason that our subconscious intellects are mired in mist by the “whiteness” of the Israeli state. We dance to the pied piper’s tune of “the white man does not commit genocide…they are only accidents”!!
Dr Salman Sayyid in his classic A Fundamental Fear points out that one of the casualties of the demise of the Soviet Union and the communist political project in the early 1990s has been the extinction of the category called the “freedom fighter”. In a bipolar world, there existed a duality of the superpowers as opposing forces and a recognition of the freedom fighter in postcolonial societies by either the American or the Soviet bloc depending on who opposed whom, but this category as a genuine reality did exist. However, following the dawn of the American century, the freedom fighter ceased to exist. This was primarily because since then all known dictators, tyrants, repressive regimes and sheikhdoms had and continue to have a symbiotic relationship with the United States and hence the “freedom fighter”, meaning anybody who opposed the current global order, was relegated to the category of terrorist. This international Westoxified hegemonic discourse has de-legitimised all resistance to any repressive regime and if that particular repressive regime is in the garb of a neoliberal democratic state, the de-legitimisation and dehumanisation becomes complete. Indigenous Islamic resurgence movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas which saw success taking their chances via the electoral route were also violently dethroned without a flutter from the international community because democracy too was assumed to be a white only prerogative. Now, despite the unceremonious exit of the Soviet Union from the global scenario, Marxism still thrives as a metanarrative and the “leftist” discourse, although diametrically opposed to the American neoliberal project, unfortunately shares with their adversary the same myopic view of indigenous Islamocentric resurgence movements or polities. In this camp, the resistance against imperialism was only genuine as far as it had a left/socialist root. Any other resistance narrative, especially those based on an Islamic worldview, was similarly viewed derisively and pushed into the realms of purposeful obscurity. This pejorative attitude which is ingrained in contemporary liberal discourse helps immensely in spawning an Islamophobic narrative and cementing this racist power matrix.
Now in the latest phase of the conflict 1,875 Palestinians were murdered including 420 children, nearly 8,000 wounded and half a million people displaced; but unlike before, there has been mass global outrage from all quarters backed by a few heroic countries from the South American block. When we try to place this massive show of solidarity with the Palestinian people in its proper perspective, we come across a few racist hurdles. Benjamin Netanyahu in a press conference in Jerusalem stated Israel was not the enemy of the people of Gaza, rather Israel was the enemy of Hamas and he also added that all civilian casualties was a ‘tragedy of Hamas’s own making’. Keeping in tow with Netanyahu’s statements we see scores of liberals reiterate almost an identical viewpoint in that “We support the Palestinian people” and in some cases explicitly are seen messages of ‘we don’t support Hamas’. Why is it that many of us who are sympathetic towards and are staunch supporters of the Palestinian struggle have a problem digesting Hamas? The question begs to be asked; are our expressions just outward temporary sympathy at the sight of murdered and disfigured children or are our protests a political extension of Palestinian political ambitions in their fight against racist settler colonialism, imperialistic designs and genocide?
This hypocrisy is in stark contrast to the attitude we show when we express similar demonstrations of solidarity to other struggles all around the globe. Our slogans and writings just do not blandly state that the Venezuelans defied the US empire or our posters are not just showing any common Venezuelan, nor did we triumphantly just bluntly declare that the South Africans ended apartheid after a long drawn out struggle and have imagery of just any common South African; rather, we with immense pride personified and celebrated Hugo Chavez as representing and leading the Venezuelan defiance of empire and even so with Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) against the white racist supremacists. There always was and is an agency for people’s aspirations and struggles. There is always a structure, a movement and a leadership for resistance and these movements and leaders are representative of the marginalised populace and all expressions of solidarity and support must also support the aspirations and leadership of the people. Moreover, these movements and heroes are romanticised, poetised and idolised, and this has always been so in all theatres of anti-imperial resistance be it Vietnam, Latin America, South America, Africa and South Asia, but surprisingly in only very limited instances in the Arab-Muslim world.
When support for the Palestinian people is expressed against the murderous onslaught of a racist regime, the same tinge of racism clouds us into supporting only the Palestinian people as an entity devoid of any political manifestations. Sweeping statements like “Israeli bombings and Hamas firing rockets are both war crimes”, “both sides should put down their weapons” and crass suggestions like “Israeli-Palestinian hugging chains” and “Gaza’s women and children to offer roses to Israeli soldiers” and whatnot, in fact, betray the underlying corollary that we only support you as long as you remain passive victims and we deny you your right to resist. In colonial discourse which privileges a Eurocentric cosmology, the oppressed is robbed of any subjectivity, in short WE, the liberal, Western educated, civilised male masters dictate terms on how the Palestinians must resist, whom they should vote for and what they should negotiate subconsciously abetting ontological imperial subjugation. This condescending paternalism, this erasure of Muslim subjectivity, is also evident in classical Marxism with Marx himself being no exception to this rule.
So, in this global background of Islamophobia, the first words that rush into our consciousness when encountering Islamic manifestations are medieval, barbaric, terrorist, violent, militant, illiterate and a host of other negative connotations; what is it that we find so reprehensible about Hamas or any other section of the Palestinian resistance? For starters, visual imagery plays an important role in the formulation of a prejudiced mindset. The familiar image of a balaclava clad “militant” with “foreign” alphabets in the background is cited by many as pointing to the uncivilised and barbaric nature of the Palestinian resistance, which is in serious need of reformative transition in “our” image. When the exact same imagery which is more frequently employed by Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista movement in Mexico, the liberal left mind suddenly loses all assumptions of negative connotations, and revolutionary terminologies and a sense of euphoria soon follow and we have romantic narrations, poetry and a series of biographies on this postmodern armed balaclava clad leader and his “militant” movement. Internationally renowned leftist thinkers and anti-globalisation activists sing hymns of praise and are always on the lookout for condemning any action of the Mexican government against the Zapatistas. Why this inability to recognise Hamas in the same imagery? The fact that their faith, Islam, plays a pivotal role and is central to Hamas’s ideology, as well as their resistance, has something to do with this skewed narrative. The sad reality is that our brains are firmly wired into this ubiquitous narrative and it is clearly discernible in that we are more at ease and only slightly pricked at watching the chief spokesperson for the prime minister of Israel, the Australian-Israeli Mark Regev, propagate mass murder, genocide and ethnic cleansing while our sensitivities are perturbed on listening to the balaclava clad leader of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam brigade state that they will not target civilians. Maybe the image of a three-piece suit wearing, clean shaven, English speaking white male is more representative of the person we want to be deep inside ourselves and what we desire to be vis-à-vis a non-English speaking masked freedom fighter, no matter what muck oozes out from the former.
The other most unsettling aspect for most “black skinned, white-masked” Palestine supporters is the so called inherent violence associated with Islamic resurgent groups, including Hamas, are the repeated calls for a Palestinian Gandhi. Palestinians abhor violence as much as anybody and they “teach life” as they have been suffering the brunt of genocidal violence for the better part of a century. It is only materialistic nation states built on racist class structures by constructing the “other” that have unperturbedly normalised and institutionalised violence for either plundering and looting or reforming and democraticising the “other”. It was never seen as a temporary departure from civilised conduct; but it is what Western civilisation is constitutive of and their mission oriented scorched earth policy was undertaken as per a divine calling. Now the conundrum we face is this: when we hypocritically condemn Al-Qassam brigade of indulging in warfare (despite it being defensive), we at the same time compose ballads for Fidel Castro, who fought not only in Cuba but also in Columbia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. We print tee-shirts of Che, an Argentinean who fought in Cuba and then later left Cuba to fight in the Congo and in Bolivia, where he was martyred and he actually authored a book on guerrilla tactics. We name institutes and centres of learning after Nelson Mandela, whose ANC had a fierce armed wing – the Umkhonto we Sizwe – and Madiba himself, while President, conducted military intervention in Lesotho to restore calm and democracy. (It is worthy to note that Nelson Mandela is still considered a terrorist by the state of Israel and it was only in 2008 that he was taken off the terror watch list of the US and even more interesting is the fact that leftist transnational revolutionary efforts are holier than grail in contrast to Islamic transnational resistance movements, which are terrible and labelled as “foreign jihadists”). These giants among men and legends, including the Zapatista and all other indigenous anti-imperial resistance fighters, command our utmost respect, deserve our adulations and much more, but the lingering issue is the exclusion of Hamas from this narrative, who only resort to violence to defend their land and their lives, but who are unanimously tabooed in turn, providing fodder for the often repeated “Muslims are prone to violence” racist propaganda.
Frantz Fanon, the century’s most compelling theorist of the affects of racism and colonialism, in the opening sentence of his seminal The Wretched of the Earth wrote “National liberation, national renaissance, restoration of nationhood to the people, commonwealth: whatever maybe the headings used of the new formulas introduced, decolonisation is always a violent phenomenon.” This does not entail that all indigenous resistance movements, including the Algerian revolution to which Fanon was alluding to, or Hamas for that matter, are brimming with psychotic fantasies; but rather that this violence was forced upon them as an essential ingredient of their anti-colonial struggle. Nor does it ascertain that these resistance movements have not incorporated peaceful means into their struggle for liberation. Palestinians have been engaging in non-violent resistance for decades now, and the first rocket to be fired against the Zionists was only after 35 years of occupation. Palestinian Gandhis do exist and they are to be found buried six-feet deep in Palestinian graves and tortured and chained in Israeli dungeons. Unlike the American establishment and the British Raj, which greeted Black Americans and Indians walking arm-in-arm demanding justice and freedom with police beatings and arrests, Palestinian demonstrators are usually greeted with Israeli snipers engaged in target practice with the “targets” ranging from age eight to age 70; and even worse, the world does not appear to notice. Every year the Palestinian News Network reports on approximately one hundred major exclusively non-violent peaceful demonstrations and protests, but as usual the international media conveniently remembers to forget this. Non-violence as resistance is only as good as the accompanying media coverage. Also we have to get beyond this illusion of non-violence as a sanctified principle of Gandhi. Dr Irfan Ahmad, in his recently published article “Gandhi, Palestine and Israel”, refers to the time when Gandhi felt all gung-ho about violence when practiced on minorities and it is also worth pointing out that Gandhi occasionally departed from his peaceful overtures, once even citing Spartan militarism as exemplary and another time when describing on how to deal with Hitler and the scourge of Nazism, which is exactly the same quagmire in which the Palestinians find themselves today.
After the Israeli hasbara claim that Hamas is using human shields was debunked and taken apart, the next spin was that Hamas is purposefully endangering the Palestinian civilian population by branding resistance (firing rockets) from within civilian areas as the original sin and this story has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by our liberals sympathetic to Gaza’s women and children. The discussion is not about whether Hamas fires from civilian vicinities or not; that discussion has to do with military strategy and the guerrilla tactics to which I have no right to enter, but the discussion must be about the Israeli PR juggernaut whitewashing their own crimes by trying to delink the resistance from the people and by questioning the legitimacy of resistance, be it the throwing of a rock in the West Bank or the firing of a rocket from Gaza. Our critiquing of the resistance, by pointing out nuances that render us uncomfortable, betrays our lack of understanding of the concept of resistance or freedom struggle. For Palestinians, resistance is existence.
To find parallels we need to only look at the famed Jewish resistance during WWII. The largest single act of Jewish resistance against the Nazi aggression was the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, and this uprising is the stuff of legends. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they had confined nearly 400,000 Jews in a 3.5 square mile area of Warsaw. The area was surrounded by a wall ten feet high and was sealed off on 15 November 1940. Jews were forbidden to go outside the area, on penalty of being shot on sight. No contact with the outside world was allowed. The Nazis refused to allow enough food into the ghetto; only enough to keep them alive. In the next two years, a large majority of the Jews were deported to concentration camps to be brutally exterminated in gas chambers. By 1943, a Jewish Fighting Organisation called the ZOB was formed in the Warsaw ghetto and they were armed by anti-Nazi Poles by smuggling in weapons through hidden tunnels. Initially, the Jewish resistance was able to successfully resist deportation by attacking from rooftops, cellars and attics. On 19 April 1943, during the Jewish feast of Passover, the Nazis launched an all out attack using tanks, heavy artillery and flame throwers. The first attack by the SS was repulsed by the Jews, leaving 12 Germans dead. The Germans renewed the attack, but found it difficult to kill or capture the small battle groups of Jews, who would fight, then retreat through a maze of cellars, sewers and other hidden passageways to escape capture. On the fifth day of the battle, the Nazi forces decided to burn down the entire ghetto, block by block. On 16 May, 1943, amid the relentless German assault, the Jewish resistance finally ended and the triumphant Nazi general in charge of this operation, Jurgen Stroop, sent a battle report stating, “The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large scale action was terminated at 2015 hours by blowing up the Warsaw synagogue…Total number of Jews dealt with: 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved.” The striking similarities in a people being sealed off, their movement being restricted, tunnels being dug, the formation of an armed resistance fighting from rooftops and cellars, mass bombing campaigns coinciding with religious observance rituals, the resistance making tactical use of sewers and hidden passageways and the destruction of entire blocks by the aggressor are self explanatory. Unsurprisingly, the similarity continues when the person who is the most directly responsible for the Holocaust and Hitler’s right hand man, Heinrich Himmler, condemned the Jewish Fighting Force as being responsible for the devastating consequences of the Warsaw fighting. It is easy to discern who today is playing by the Nazi handbook.
We would be incredibly naïve to assume that indiscriminate Israeli bombings of homes, hospitals and schools are of retaliatory nature in response to these puny rocket attacks. The IDF bombs women and children because its aim is to bomb women and children, rockets or no rockets, and this has been the normal course of action for the last 60 years. The Israeli armed forces have internalised the barbarianisation of Palestinian men, women and children, whom their leaders have branded as “cockroaches”, “crocodiles”, “scourge”; and more recently who should be taught a lesson by “raping their mothers”. A retired Israeli general even stated that there are no civilians in Gaza and all are legitimate military targets, thus depriving them of humanity and human rights.
The fact that we believe in this racist narrative, in which love, affection and caring for the ones near and dear to us is a “white only Anglo-Saxon” quality, whereas Hamas, owing to the fact that they are Muslim-Arab, have no qualms about placing their near and dear ones in the line of fire, thereby bilndly accepts Israeli magnanimity without any context or critical reflection. By repeating this concocted trash that love and family are a white thing, we are complicit in the repugnant dehumanisation of the Palestinian resistance. Ever since the Spanish inquisition, colonial empires have used this practice of the dehumanisation of the indigenous population of the global South and their resistance with astounding success. This success can largely be owed to our muted acknowledgement and acceptance.
These underlying truisms are further obfuscated and muddled by Human Rights Watch, the UN and leading journalists, all calling for investigations into war crimes and violations by both the IDF and Hamas. Their unflinching commitment towards justice, international law and the Geneva Conventions forces them into the “holy unbiased neutral” zone, placing both the oppressor and oppressed at parity because in the end we all swear by international law and the Geneva Conventions. Justice is not a neutral entity and we are ensnared into this so-called neutrality by the hegemonic epistemology inbuilt into these dictums. Providing a more critical context to the nature of these “international” laws, my friend and legal expert Azeezah Kanji observes “…international humanitarian law in general is not well-suited to colonial situations, the laws of war were based on the paradigm of a conflict between two sovereign (read European) states and so laws regarding occupation, for example, were developed to deal with temporary occupation of one European power’s territory by another. Situations of longstanding colonial occupation were excluded from the ambit of this body of international law, with the colonial serving as the ‘other’ against which the European sovereigns were defined.” These exclusionary European laws, sans context and divorcing historical complexities, are incapable to deal with the reality of conflict, and thus cannot mete out justice for the Palestinians or hold Israel accountable.
We must aim to overcome this intellectual rigor mortis and liberate our minds from the shackles of colonial enslavement, and as sincere lovers of justice and freedom we must identify ourselves with Palestinians’ aspirations. Hamas and other sections of the Palestinian resistance are, in essence, in the frontline of the struggle against global imperialism. They have dared to defy an empire backed by international nation states and kingdoms; and this time around the edifice of empire has begun to crack. This Palestinian resistance has enormous geopolitical ramifications, which can alter the currently entrenched power matrix, and it is only by our unconditional commitment to the Palestinian resistance that we can together continue to chip away at colonial structures of domination and control. We have to overcome the suspicion-ridden atmosphere of Islamophobia and view the resistance as an extension of Palestinian aspirations and publicly normalise their image as being essentially constitutive of our larger fight against colonial imperialism. Our honesty will lie in the fact of how you react when I say: “I do wish to see Palestinian resistance and the leadership celebrated in banners, posters and T-shirts.” The feeling of awkwardness in acknowledging and engaging with Islamic liberation theology/narratives must be thwarted and instead be seen as part of OUR collective stand against imperialism. Indigenous anti-colonial resistance movements have always evoked awe and inspired millions, and at this moment of being awestruck and inspired by the Palestinian resistance, I can only recollect the romanticisation of Gaza’s resistance in the poem “The Silence for Gaza”, by the Palestinian hero Mahmoud Darwish, as a fitting tribute:
With dynamite she raps her waist…
It is neither death… nor suicide…
Its Gaza’s style to announce her worthiness of life…
…Tanks they could plant in its children’s chests and women’s bellies
And into the sea
Sand and blood… But
But never lies she repeats or say yes to invaders
Exploding she shall continue
It is neither death nor suicide
It is Gaza’s style in declaring her worthiness of life
And exploding she shall continue
It is Gaza’s style in declaring her worthiness of life.
For who does not understand the need or concept of resistance of Palestine, recommended read:
The History of Resistance – The Eagle of Palestine
- Special Topic – All Israeli Massacres on Palestinians
- iRemember… – Confirmed Names of Martyrs Occupation (*)
- Special Topic – Ethnic Cleansing
- Israeli escalation in Gaza – A cover-up for settlement activity
- “Slow Death” -International report: Collective punishment of Gaza has reached critical stage – Incl Full Report PDF
- A “Leaflet” to the World about it’s own “forgotten” Extermination Camp called Gaza
- Gaza Siege Harshness Continues. Israel’s committing slow-motion genocide ~ by Stephen Lendman
THE LEGAL RIGHT OF RESISTANCE
81 Notre Dame Law Review1275(2006). Conducting an in-depth study of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and also discussing other genocides, this article details the inadequacy of many of the international community’s response to genocides, such as “targeted sanctions” or international peacekeeping forces. Examining international legal authorities such as the Genocide Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Court of Justice, the article demonstrates that groups which are being subjected to genocide have a legal right of self-defense. International treaties, Security Council arms embargoes, or national gun control laws cannot lawfully be enforced in a manner which prevents self-defense resistance to a genocide in progress, because under international law, the prohibition against any form of complicity in genocide takes legal precedence over lesser laws. With Paul Gallant & Joanne D. Eisen. In PDF.
- The Palestinian Right of Self Defense
- Brayer: The Absolute Right of Palestinian Resistance – Source
- No. Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory – Source
- If Jews in WWII Warsaw would have had rockets: They would have fired them too – by occpal
MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT THE ROCKETS FROM GAZA
- The “Rocket” from Gaza Myth – Photography
- More facts about the Rocket from Gaza Myths – Storify
- Half the story: What @IDFSpokesperson leaves out about #Gaza ~ by @yousefmunayyer
- Israel and #Gaza: Context Behind Projectile Fire ~ by @yousefmunayyer
- Truths and lies behind Israel’s attacks on Gaza and its whining about rockets ~ by @AliAbunimah
- Israel is not looking for peace. Nor talks. But: This
* The list of shuhada does not display, the numerous victims of the zionist occupation which are undocumented by media. Nor it displays the victims of the “silent onslaught” due to restrictions of movement, ability to go to hospitals for treatment or life saving surgery, due to lack of medication because of the blockades and so on. For example: The Slow Motion Genocide by the Siege on Gaza only, killed 600 patients since Gaza got under Israeli Siege.
Neither does this list, display the avoidable mortality. A clear and statistical factual evidence, about the number of deaths due to indecent ruling by occupation forces. For even an occupier has obligations under International Laws, Geneva Convention and the Hague regulations, which it is neglecting. These circumstances, together with deliberate policies of the occupier to neglect and even deny every basic human right, severes avoidable mortality which is totally silenced by media or reporting organisations. While in the Holocaust, 1 on 6 Jewish people directly died of deliberate neglect, so if we believe the facts over 1 million due to avoidable mortality, neither should these same circumstances be ignores which are ongoing in Palestine. For this report displays a avoidable morality of at least 0,5 million Palestinians.
How many more dead corpses of Palestinians does the international community need to see in order to act? How many more cruelties and violations of Human Rights, Regulations and International Law will be needed to intervene so this ongoing warcrime is being stopped once and for all.