Friday, September 8, 2006

Lessons from Lebanon: Rethinking national liberation movements


By Hamid Dabashi
Al-Ahram Weekly

"ON THE EVIDENCE of the facts on the ground, the death and destruction and the rubble and ruin that this wild European beast has left behind in Lebanon, it is quite evident that the purpose of this latest criminal atrocity was to destroy the very possibility of any kind of cosmopolitan culture in Lebanon. The failed launch of "Israel" as a mini empire, modeling itself clumsily on the pattern of the neocon artist in Washington DC (as AIPAC tries to prove to Washington that it can be useful in Bush's war on "terrorism"), has an evident agenda far beyond Palestine and Lebanon--and the fact that it has miserably failed to achieve it must not blind us to the projected agenda that this mutated stage of Zionism is projecting. The mutation of the Zionist settlement into a mini-empire wannabe means that all the positive and hopeful developments in both Palestine and Lebanon, that both Hamas and Hizbullah were now part and parcel of a more embracing political process, were in fact inimical to the Israeli imperial aping of the US in the region. In that respect, all the hogwash of European and American so-called liberals that the Israeli response to Hizbullah was "disproportionate" is sheer nonsense. Israeli's war crimes in Lebanon were perfectly proportionate to what it wanted to do--to bomb Lebanon back to sectarian warfare, to reduce the cosmopolitan character of Lebanon to Muslims and Christians fighting against each other in order to make the Jewish state look normal and at home in the neighbourhood. That Israel miserably failed to achieve that malicious objective speaks volumes both to the medieval tribalism that is at the heart of the Jewish state and the cosmopolitan character of the Lebanese national resistance.

Too much emphasis on Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Mahdi's Army as three political organizations confuses a subaltern political reality (the poor and the disenfranchised in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq) with its accidental organizational manifestation. Israel can kill Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon and Khaled Mashaal in Palestine, as the US might Muqtada Sadr in Iraq, tomorrow (if they only could) and ten more Nasrallahs and Mashaals and Muqtada Sadrs will emerge from the Dahiya neighbourhood in Beirut and from Gaza in Palestine and from Najaf in Iraq. Hizbullah and Hamas and Mahdi's Army are three accidental expressions of three essential and deeply rooted political and demographic realities. The poor of the southern Lebanon (who happen to be Shias) have historically been denied their fair share in Lebanese politics; as have the poor and the disenfranchised among the Palestinians (who happen to be Muslims), and the poor and the disenfranchised among the Iraqis (who too happen to be Shias). Hizbullah, Hamas, and Mahdi's Army are not manufactured banalities and militant adventurers like al-Qaeda, created and crafted by the US-Pakistan-Saudi alliance to fight the Russians and prevent the spread of the Iranian Islamic revolution eastward. Hizbullah, Hamas, and Mahdi's Army are grassroots movements--the shame of the national liberation movements in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq that had historically failed to include the most disenfranchised subaltern communities in their emancipatory projects."

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