Arab writers denounce celebration of Israel at Mexican Fair

[Recently received:  "Below is a statement issued by Arab writers and intellectuals protesting having Israel as the guest of honor at the Guadalajara International Book Fair – Mexico, which opened on Saturday November 30......The main signatories are: Idriss Allouch (Poet) from Morocco, Abdul-Razzaq Bukubba (Novelist and Storywriter) from Algeria, Naela al-Wardi (Plastic Artist and Translator) from Tunisia, Najwan Darwish (Poet) and Rasha Hilweh (Writer) from Palestine, Mohammad Dibo (Poet) from Syria, Samah Idriss (Writer and Publisher) from Lebanon, and Jamal Naji (Novelist), Ilias Farkouh (Novelist), Fakhri Saleh (Literary Critic), Ghazi al-Theibeh (Poet), Basma al-Nsour (Storywriter), Mahmoud al-Rimawi (Storywriter and Novelist), and Hisham Bustani (Storywriter) from Jordan." -- Frontlines ed.]
Guadalajara International Book Fair
“Israel” should be boycotted and condemned, not celebrated and honored
 
We write to you from a region that suffers from daily oppression, oppression that is the direct result of the establishment of the Zionist movement in Europe during the late nineteenth century, its campaign to found a settler colonialist state in Palestine with the assistance of imperialist powers, and its declaration the “State of Israel” in 1948 – an event that marked a catastrophe for Palestinians, for Arabs and for humanity. This event was accompanied by massacres and ethnic cleansing, atrocities that the “State of Israel” – built on fabricated religious myths and values of isolationism, aggression, expansionism and hegemony – continues to commit until this day.
 
We are living in the twenty-first century and “Israel” continues to exist as a settler colonialist state. It continues to exist as a state built on imprisoning people in Bantustans and ghettos behind high cement walls. “Israel” is one of very few states in the world today that is openly based on religion, in an age that scorns isolationism, denounces religious discrimination and mocks those who claim to have a mandate from God … that is, except “Israel”.
 
Justice, freedom and openness are fundamental values in the creative world. They are values that cannot be realized in a settler colonial state – a state that on a daily basis commits murders and massacres, shells people, assaults them and confiscates their land. Any person – especially one from the region of Latin America, which has suffered from such colonialism in the past – knows that such a regime can only survive through complete hegemony and the systematic destruction of indigenous people, their society and culture, and by falsifying history – with the catastrophic implications this has for humanity as a whole. Continue reading

West Bank protesters rally for release of deteriorating prisoners

19 February, 2013

Palestinians throw stones towards Israeli troops during clashes that broke out after a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron to show solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails February 18, 2013. (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

[Palestinians throw stones towards Israeli troops during clashes that broke out after a rally in the West Bank city of Hebron to show solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails February 18, 2013. (Reuters / Ammar Awad)]

Thousands demonstrated in Palestine’s two largest cities in support of hunger strikers in Israeli jails. Protesters called on the EU to take action to demand better treatment of the weakening prisoners and back their release.

­More than 1,000 people rioted in the West Bank’s two largest cities on Monday to collectively demonstrate their support for the four long-term hunger strikers imprisoned in Israel’s jails. Public anger has heightened over the uncertainty of the prisoners’ fates, and people took to the streets to both show their support and demand that the international community step in.

The protests flared in both Nablus in the north and Hebron in the south, prompting clashes with the army. Over 1,000 people gathered in Nablus, with a further 1,500 demonstrating in central Hebron. Palestinian youths also blocked the entrance to the UN offices in Ramallah, 10km north of Jerusalem. However, Palestinian police prevented them from entering the building, according to AFP correspondents. Continue reading

Why Does a Revolt Fail? On Reexamining “Who are you fighting? Is your force and vision capable of victory?”

[If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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Jordan – a failed uprising and a re-emerging regime

“Up to now, the regime has been successful in absorbing the movement and fragmenting it”

by Hisham Bustani, Your Middle East, January 8, 2013

There is no doubt that the November 2012 events in Jordan dubbed Habbet Tishreen by many activists in recollection of its 1989 counterpart, the April Uprising, or Habbet Neesan, are unprecedented. Although both were triggered by an increase in the prices of oil derivatives, the 2012 version seems to have been much more radicalized in its approach to the ruling regime, especially the Hashemite monarchs/family and the king himself.

Before 2012, it was the virtue of the ultra-brave to publicly criticize the king and the royal family: they usually spoke with evident hints and innuendo, but without going the full route to directly uttering the name of the king. Criticizing the king and the royal family was simply not tolerated under Jordanian law, and it is still punishable by one to three years in prison. The law incriminating this sort of criticism has perhaps the world’s most absurd name for any legislation: literally, the ‘Law on elongating one’s tongue about the monarch’!

I was not one of the brave ones, but while others directed their criticism to ‘the government’, I have always referred to “the political authority” in my articles, making a point that governments do not rule in Jordan, they are mere executives, and the decision-making lies somewhere else, in spaces on a higher level: The Royal Court and the General Intelligence Agency (Mukhabarat).

Continue reading

One dead in Jordan riots, more protests planned

Thu Nov 15, 2012

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters

AMMAN, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Rioting in Jordan after the government raised fuel prices left one protester dead, the first fatality of violence sweeping impoverished towns in the kingdom, and Islamists called for more protests on Friday.

Hundreds took to the streets this week after the government decided to raise gasoline, cooking gas and heating fuel prices. They blocked roads, set government buildings alight and trashed shops in the towns of Maan, Tafila, Salt and Karak.

The protester was killed and scores were injured during an attack on a police station overnight in Jordan’s second-largest city of Irbid, witnesses said. Police said they used tear gas to disperse masked youths who attacked government property.

Some protesters torched part of Irbid’s municipal headquarters later on Thursday to vent their anger at officials who said the dead young man had been armed, the witnesses said.

“The country has risen up from north to south and this state of popular tension is unprecedented,” said Murad Adailah, a senior member of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Front called for more protests after Friday prayers in the centre of the capital Amman and in mosques across the country. Continue reading

The Islamist Complex: Will the Left Rise to the Challenge?

“So why fear the Islamist rise? Let the Islamists rule, and fail. Let the Islamists expose their opportunist positions on imperialism and Israel. Let the Islamists contradict their double speech on liberties by suppressing social freedoms, arts and literature. Let the Islamists maintain the capitalist model which will leave impoverished Arab populations with no hope. Exposing the Islamist shortcomings will aid the formation of a true unashamed secular, leftist, and anti-capitalist current, which will be forced to present theoretical arguments, confront reality and deliver answers and programs.”
This is Part Three of a series by Hisham Bustani, “One Year After the Arab Uprisings.”
Part One, titled “The Failure of the Arab ‘State’ and Its Opposition” was posted on revolutionary frontlines at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/the-failure-of-the-arab-state-and-its-opposition
Part Two, titled “Arab Uprisings: Progress, But Not Yet a Revolution”, was posted at http://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/arab-uprisings-progress-but-not-yet-a-revolution/

A young boy waves a black flag inscribed with Islamic verses at a rally of Tunisian Salafi Islamists in the central town of Kairouan 20 May 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Anis Mili)

By: Hisham Bustani

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Since the Arab uprisings were not class-based, have no philosophical backbone, and lack a leading revolutionary party to drive the movement towards defined socio-economic and political change, the ground was set for the rise of institutionalized currents that already had a substantial presence, chiefly the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist factions.

Historically, political Islam served as a close ally to Arab despotic regimes, especially in the 1950s and 1960s when it was used as a tool to confront the expansion of nationalist and leftist currents. In Jordan, for example, the Islamists were allowed to stay legally active during the period of martial law (1957-1989) while all other parties were banned. They were permitted to establish institutions, associations, banks, hospitals, schools, universities, and a huge network of social support organizations, in addition to their leading of Friday prayers and their activities in key government institutions like the Ministry of Education. The Salafi movement was completely nurtured and backed by the US and its subservient ally Saudi Arabia during the Cold War. It was used primarily in Afghanistan against the Soviets and later spread throughout the world.

It was only when Islamist groups grew too strong for government manipulation and became a possible threat that the regimes unsuccessfully tried to move against them. It was too late. The Islamists had already opened channels with the US administration, and began to present themselves as a possible, more efficient and more popular replacement for the Arab regimes.

The Failure of the Arab “State” and Its Opposition

Tribal fighters loyal to Sadiq al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashed tribe, walk in front of a bullet-riddled building in Sanaa 10 April 2012. (Photo: REUTERS – Mohamed al-Sayaghi)

By: Hisham Bustani, writing in al Akhbar English

Thursday, April 19, 2012

After one year of the Arab uprisings that initially exploded in Tunisia and swept like wildfire throughout the Arab world, it became very clear that the spark, which has resulted in the removal of three oppressors so far, was spontaneous. That does not mean that the explosion had no preludes. On the contrary, the people were squeezed with each passing day, but those uprisings clearly showed that even in the absence of an organized catalyzing formation (revolutionary party, revolutionary class), an explosion takes place when a certain threshold is reached, a critical mass.

Uprisings in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet-bloc states came about through the work of organized opposition groups and parties (like Solidarity in Poland), and by decades of calm covert undermining, infiltration, and propaganda undertaken by the West. By contrast, the Arab uprising was not led by an organized opposition. Instead, it came as a surprise to the imperialist circles that historically backed their client oppressor regimes.

The Failure of the Post-Colonial Arab “State”

Following the British-French-Italian colonialism of the Arab region, the Europeans left behind an area that they deliberately divided into “states”. These were designed so as to leave no possibility for their becoming truly independent and sovereign. They also left a watchdog and an easy solution to assuage their anti-Semitic-burdened consciousness: “Israel,” a colonial-settler state that would maintain the imperialist design in the wake of the physical withdrawal of its patrons.

The post-colonial states were subordinate by design, by their innate nature of being divided and incomplete, and by the ruling class that followed colonialism. Continue reading

Police bar Jordan Nakba activists from reaching Israeli border

[As this article points out, "The... treaty which (Jordan and Israel) concluded in 1994 commits Jordan to prevent using its territory to stage activity against Israeli targets." -- Frontlines ed.]

May 14, 2011

Amman – Jordanian security authorities on Saturday turned back buses carrying scores of activists hoping to get to the Israel-controlled border with the West Bank to mark the 63th anniversary of the founding of Israel, or Nakba (catastrophe), as the Palestinians call it.

Protestors attempting to reach Gaza from Egypt were similarly stopped in Sinai by Egyptian police Saturday.

The group, calling itself the ‘May 15 Youth’, was intercepted by police about five kilometres from the King Hussein crossing point on River Jordan, where activists had planned to spend the night. Continue reading