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 →
BEIRUT: A dozen pro-Palestinian activists held a demonstration Monday in front of the European Union building, after a flotilla heading to Gaza was prevented from leaving Greece and other activists were banned from entering Israel over the weekend.
“We’re protesting EU governments’ complicity in perpetuating the siege of Gaza and indirectly supporting the illegal blockage,” said a protest organizer, Rana Boukarim.
The aid flotilla, trying to break the blockade on Gaza, was prevented from departing Greece by local authorities on July 8, while many activists who had planned to fly to Israel for peaceful protests in the Occupied Territories, part of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign – dubbed a flytilla – were banned from traveling or detained at Tel-Aviv’s airport. Continue reading →
In front of the Syrian embassy, two women hold signs condemning violence, repression and extremism, demonstrating in solidarity with Syrian protesters, while a crowd of supporters of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, gathers behind them [Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera]
On a May evening in a crowded Beirut theatre, a large white sheet hanging from the ceiling displayed the projected video of Syrian filmmaker Hala Abdullah reading a letter, written in Arabic, to the audience:
At the start of the Lebanese civil war when the Lebanese right asked the Syrian regime to interfere, fearing the extension of the Lebanese democratic left and its control over Lebanon, the regime responded and intervened militarily because it was worried that a democratic and liberal leftist regime would develop and take root. We were still young and determined then and we acted against the Syrian intervention by protests that were repressed, and we wrote statements and we were put in prison.
“The fear then is not different from the fear today,” Abdullah continued in her letter – delivered as part of a Syrian film screening event organised by Lebanese activists in “support of the Syrian revolution”. The rare event was hosted at the Sunflower Theatre in southern Beirut, one of the only venues that allowed it, and highlighted both the closeness and complexities between progressive communities in the two countries.
More than 35 years after the rise of the Lebanese left and the start of the civil war, people across Syria have risen up against decades of oppressive Baath party rule in their own country. Since demonstrations began in March, rights groups estimate that security forces have killed more than 1,000 protesters, and rights abuses are believed to be widespread.
President Bashar al-Assad and his Baathist regime have drawn global condemnation for the brutal crackdown on demonstrators. However, Beirut-based activists, many who have worked together against issues like sectarianism and in support of Palestinian and other Arab revolts, now find themselves split over their positions on the protests in Syria. Continue reading →
Palestinian women wearing traditional dresses salute as they sing the national anthem during a festival to commemorate Nakba in Beirut yesterday. Palestinians will mark “Nakba” on May 15 to commemorate the expulsion or fleeing of some 700, 000 Palestinians from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948.
An Israeli patrol crossed into Lebanese territory on Wednesday and captured a Lebanese shepherd near the border, the Lebanese army said in a statement.
“In a flagrant assault on residents of southern Lebanon… Enemy troops crossed the technical fence south of the village of Rmeish and kidnapped a Lebanese man, whom they took back into the occupied territories,” or Israel, it said.
The statement said the army was in contact with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is tasked with monitoring the Lebanon-Israel border, in order to “free the citizen.” Continue reading →
“Palestinians who were expelled from any part of Palestine including the West Bank or Gaza Strip, along with those of their descendants who have maintained links with the area, can exercise their right to return. Meanwhile, granting interim basic civil rights to help them live in dignity in Lebanon will in no way interfere with their Return, but will likely expedite it as the refugees in Lebanon gain the wherewithal to press their claim more effectively in the international arena.”
As of mid-April 2010 there are no fewer than six draft laws, half of them ’embargoed for now’ being circulated and debated in Lebanon, any one of which if adopted by Parliament, would grant Lebanon’s Palestinians, for the first time since their 1948 expulsion from Palestine, some elementary civil rights including the right to work, to have an ID, and to own a home.
In a future report I will reveal publicly for the first time, with the permission of the various drafting committees, the changes in Lebanon’s laws each one advocates. Despite the fact that bookies and odd makers at Lebanon’s main Casino in Jounieh decline to give odds on any of the drafts actually being enacted by Parliament, Lebanon’s political leaders are talking sweet.
“If it were up to me, I would give the Palestinians the right to work tomorrow!” Prime Minister Saad Hariri exclaimed during a Future TV channel interview recently and to various visiting delegations who are increasingly inquiring about the subject of basic civil rights for Palestine refugees as awareness spreads in Lebanon and internationally about camp conditions in Lebanon. The PM’s polite interviewer demurred from asking him why the Prime Minister thought it was not up to him and indeed not up to all members of Parliament to correct this shameful and dangerous injustice. Continue reading →