Thursday, October 5, 2006
A GREAT ARTICLE, AS USUAL
By Azmi Bishara
"The Palestinians have yet to win liberation and a nation state. But they have established an identity, a national movement and a will to fight for liberation. To side with a colonialist blockade is to lend oneself to jettisoning even this small accomplishment, which was achieved through such enormous sacrifices.
You can rub your eyes and open them again and still find it hard to believe. A part of the Palestinian people has decided to demonstrate against another part of the same people, telling them to either accede to the boycotters' three demands or to step aside and let others rule.
What we are seeing in progress is not just the reversion to the period before the coalescence of the liberation movement but also the retrogression to pre-modern politics. It is difficult enough to believe that in this day and age the West and the Arabs would have sunk so low as to use food as a weapon to reverse a democratic choice. It is harder to believe that some of the recipients of this tactic could bring themselves to play along with it when they could just as easily have thwarted it.
A similar process occurred in Lebanon, incidentally. There, too, the reasons for the Israeli aggression were supposed to be taken for granted and those who questioned these reasons were accused of having brought on the Israeli aggression to begin with. Moreover here, not only was the aggressor to be spared blame and the victim censored, when the victim came out ahead, his victory was denied, if only to keep things even.
Indeed, not a single democrat bothered to point out that the boycott struck long after Hamas had agreed to a truce and had halted all suicide bombing operations. Is this what Hamas was being punished for? Sometimes it looks that way. And this fact alone should give some people cause to hold their tongues and stop giving advice to Hamas.
Meanwhile, the Arab ruling elites, recently renamed "moderates," have failed in both their democracy and their patriotism exams. The former was a silly exam that they never wanted to take to begin with, but they were dragged shamefacedly to the testing hall where they proved, indeed, that they were incapable of introducing even the simplest democratic reforms that Washington was blackmailing them into making. Then, when Washington asked them to, they strengthened their ties with Israel in exchange for which Washington agreed to lay off meddling in their domestic affairs.But the boycott of the elected Palestinian government posed a tougher test, because in this case the subjects of democracy and patriotism were combined. Here the "moderate" regimes surpassed themselves for their Western masters. Their answer was that anyone who challenges the position of a colonialist or an occupation authority or others with might to throw around gets what's coming to them and that the only rational course of behaviour is to do what Israel and the US tell you.
In giving rein to such basic hunger and tribal instincts, they are catapulting the region to the predawn of modern politics, democratic or otherwise. They are turning the clock back to that era when there was no such thing as a distinct public sphere, which gave rise to such modern political concepts as the individual, the state, the nation and civil society. Thanks to democratic America and its ally Israel and their friends in the region we are reverting to the scramble over scraps, the law of the jungle and the organic bond as the only way the individual can secure his survival."
Azmi has outdone himself in this article; he is a great writer and thinker.