(A version of this was published at The Electronic Intifada)
Hamas isn’t Hizbullah, and Gaza isn’t Lebanon. The resistance in Gaza – which includes leftist and nationalist as well as Islamist forces – doesn’t have mountains to fight in. It has no strategic depth. It doesn’t have Syria behind it to keep supply lines open; instead it has Mubarak’s goons and Israel’s wall. Lebanese civilians can flee north and east; the repeat-refugees of Gaza have no escape. The Lebanese have their farms, and supplies from outside; Gaza has been under total siege for years. What else? Hizbullah has remarkable discipline. It is surely the best-trained, best-organised army in the region, perhaps in the world (I’m not talking of weapons, but of men and women). Hamas, on the other hand, though it has made great strides, is still undisciplined. Crucially, Hizbullah has air-tight intelligence control in Lebanon, while Gaza contains collaborators like maggots in a corpse.
But Hamas is still standing. On the rare occasions when Israel actually fought – rather than just called in air strikes – its soldiers reported “ferocious” resistance. Hamas withstood 22 days of the most barbaric bombing Zionism has yet stooped to, and did not surrender, and continues to fire rockets.
Let’s put this in context. In 1947 and 48 Zionists drove out over 800, 000 Palestinians without too much trouble. In 1967 it took Israel six days to destroy the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian armies, and to capture the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. In 1982 it took Israel a week to reach Beirut. That was Zionism’s last victory, if it was a victory.
The long and bloody occupation of Lebanon gave birth to new forms of resistance. Where Arab states and armies had failed, popular resistance removed American and French forces from Beirut, and then steadily rolled back the Israelis. The first suicide bomber of the conflict was a Marxist woman of Christian background. The human bomb was a tactic to which Israeli troops had no answer. Hizbullah formed, and developed into the power that would drive Israel from almost all of Lebanon by 2000. In 2006 Israel returned, in an effort to finish the resistance once and for all. What happened was a historic turnaround: for five weeks Israeli troops bled in the border villages, and failed to move beyond them. For the first time, the hi-tech, first-world savagery of the Zionist army, supposedly the fourth strongest army in the world, was kept at bay. Israel of course killed far more civilians than Hizbullah did, and performed its usual rampage against civilian infrastructure, but in terms of the soldiers in battle, casualties were roughly equal. A lot of rubbish is talked, especially by Arab collaborators, about Hizbullah being an Iranian proxy. While Iran does, to its great honour, assist Hizbullah with weapons and funds, the Lebanese resistance is Lebanese, the creation of the villagers of the south and the families of the Dahiyyeh. It was the people themselves who turned Zionism back.
One reason given for this latest massacre in Gaza (it’s by no means the first) was Israel’s desire to restore its deterrence after the 2006 debacle. Certainly the Arabs now know (as if they didn’t know before) that any whisper of resistance will be met by the most fanatical violence. Certainly Hamas and others will have to factor this into their tactical decisions. But in strategic terms the Israeli deterrent looks even shoddier than it did a month ago. The Arabs are no longer scared of Israel, whatever Israel throws at them. A psychological tipping point has been passed, and this, in the long term, counts for more than nuclear bombs.
I have already written a little about the incredible devastation unleashed on Gaza. The siege continues, even as Western and Zionist officials grin and hug, and the people in Gaza are now facing starvation. I don’t intend to belittle this suffering, or to pretend to know the political ramifications it will eventually have for the resistance. Thus far, however, the suffering seems to have strengthened the resistance, as you would expect. The communities of south Lebanon and south Beirut, those which suffered most in 2006, have redoubled their loyalty to Hizbullah. Our friend who lost 42 family members in Aita ash-Shaab adores Shaikh Nasrallah with a burning passion.
According to Angry Arab, ‘from a very reliable source in Beirut’, Hamas has lost only 5% of its military capacity. In Palestine, and throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds, Hamas and the resistance option it represents is immeasurably stronger. The ridiculous no-longer-president-of-anything Abbas, and the Dahlan gangs, are much weaker. It wasn’t Abbas but Khaled Misha’al who represented Palestine at the Doha summit. While the Abbas-Dahlan traitors arrested Hamas activists, and tried (and largely failed) to suppress solidarity demonstrations on the West Bank, the resistance was standing firm against Zionist terror.
In solidarity with the resistance, the so-called ‘Arab-Israelis’ organised the biggest demonstrations in their history. There is no doubt to which nation these Palestinians belong, especially in the eyes of the main Israeli political parties – which sought to ban Arab parties from standing in the approaching elections on the grounds of ‘disloyalty’ to the apartheid state.
What now? Enough nonsensical talk of peace processes. Peace might be nice, but it isn’t, and never has been, on the agenda. It is time to build a new PLO, as elected as possible, to represent all Palestinians, both Islamist and secular, from the lands stolen in 48, the lands stolen in 67, and outside. The PA should be abolished; and the Oslo/Road Map farce officially abandoned. Then Palestinians have to decide what their aims and strategies will be. I suggest that the two state solution is no solution, but I’ll write more about that at a later time. There is a huge amount of work to do. All Palestinians should agitate for the new organisation.
This massacre was never about Hamas rockets. The rockets were a minimal, if growing, threat, and the rockets stopped during the ceasefire. Israel broke the ceasefire by entering Gaza and killing six people, and by besieging the prison territory. If Israel had wanted to stop rockets it could have stopped besieging Gaza. The real aim of the massacre was to destroy the will and political identity of the Palestinian people. Beyond that, Zionism intends to make of Gaza an international basket case, run by gangs, begging for aid from Europe. This is why over 50% of agricultural land in the prison territory was blasted beyond repair.
The fact that a sheepish Jewish-Israeli public swallows the rockets propaganda, that even when a hundred caged Palestinians are killed for each Israeli, they still feel like the victim, that the Zionist leadership is only now beginning to realise, with shock and surprise, how much this massacre has turned world public opinion against them, points to a deep psychosis. Most Israeli Jews are mentally, morally and spiritually sick. It is to be hoped that one day they will find health. Until then, talk of peace with them is as absurd as talk of peace with the Nazi party or al-Qa’ida.
Why the psychosis? One reason is their need to repress knowledge of the truth: that the land is not theirs, that they have stolen their homes from the people who now live in refugee camps in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere. When the whining inhabitants of Sderot complain about the occasional projectile, they know somewhere in their dark hearts that the man who fired the projectile himself comes from Sderot, or more properly, from the bulldozed village upon which Sderot is built. The settlers and cleansers must shout ever louder of their victimhood and righteousness, precisely because they know their own guilt. This is the way white Americans used to behave, all of a righteous fury, when the remnants of the native tribes fired an occasional arrow their way.
Another reason for the madness is the sad story of European Jewish history. The Holocaust, specifically. “The place of the non-Jew in the Jewish imagination is a complex affair growing out of generations of Jewish fear,” the Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld told Philip Roth. The endless comparisons of Arab or Muslim leaders – Abdul Nasser, Arafat, Saddam Hussain, Ahmedinejad – to Hitler, and calling the victims of genocide genocidal, is not merely propaganda to dazzle the Western world. Many Israeli Jews actually believe this delusional nonsense, as a result of Holocaust trauma. Trauma freezes the psyche in the moment of pain; many Jews are frozen in the 1940s. Of course, most actual Holocaust survivors have died by now, and over half of Israel’s Jews are Arabs. But Zionist education creates new generations of Zionists by erasing distance from the Holocaust. It’s happening today! screams Israeli culture. The Arab is the German! The Muslim is the fascist! That impoverished refugee in his breezeblock hovel is a Gestapo man pointing to the gas chamber!
European oppression of the Jews generated Jewish fear, and also Jewish envy of the Gentile. Zionists accuse anti-Zionist Jews of self-hatred, but it’s the other way round. In Israel’s early years, Aharon Appelfeld said, “ ‘Never again like sheep to the slaughter’ thundered from loudspeakers at every corner.”
Not like sheep. Rather, like the slaughterer. We’ve gone wild, gone mad! they exult, overjoyed at their own violence, living the image of the fat-fisted anti-Semite.
And Jewish anti-Semitism found in raped Palestine a newly externalised target: the Palestinians. The Palestinians are, after all, Semitic descendants of the ancient Israelites and Judeans. The Palestinian is religious, bound to tradition, obedient to dietary prohibitions, dark-eyed, bearded, heavily-nebbed. The Palestinian is, most of all, weak – the very picture of the ghetto Jew.
The best part of it is that European Jews and European Gentiles could now agree on a target. This is how they ‘healed’ the wounds of the Holocaust, in a brotherhood of oppression directed at the filthy hook-nosed irrational Arab, whose women wear headscarves, who breed too much.
According to opinion polls, over 90% of Israeli Jews supported the Gaza massacre. The Israelis are so convinced of their righteousness they can’t believe that anyone reasonable would consider them wrong, in anything. Zionist education has produced a generation which is not only wrong, but now profoundly irrational. What they’ve just done is like a man humiliated by a smaller man in a bar (Hizbullah, 2006) who goes out into the street and finds a small child to beat to a pulp. When he’s finished, he feels strong again. He can’t understand why passers-by give him funny looks (of course, none of them stop him). This is psychodrama, not strategy. It’s as insane as Abu Musab az-Zarqawi. And, in a very very sad and frightening way, it’s encouraging. Zionism is now in its insane age, its mind broken by its own insane contradictions, and it is slowly but surely dying.