Sunday, August 10, 2014

Terror from the Middle East

Let us recap up to 1967 for a sec...

1.) Colonialism is in decline, but not exactly history yet

2.)  Britain tries to recede from the ME, but is still caught up in colonial treasures like the Suez Canal in Egypt and oil interests all over the ME.

3.)  Israels Zionist movement has succeeded in creating a Jewish state, and in 1950 claimed Jerusalem as their capital against the will of other ME actors, and without any diplomatic finessing of the Palestinians who owned and lived on the land. 

4.) Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced, many were massacred, and by 1967 all were in refugee, occupation camps or under the discriminating eye of Israeli leaders in the the state of Israel.

Now let us define terrorism:  

"the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives."

Why use terrorism as a tactic?

When people have no way to address grievances, when people are threatened by a larger force that they cannot legitimately fight back against, the only tool is terrorism.

Groups in the ME had no way to protect themselves from a new aggressive neighbor.  Military strengths were not matched, there was no sympathetic ear in the international community, and for Palestinians no legitimate path to address their grievances---this is why they chose terror.

Also, as a people without a state, any violence they create is considered an act of terror.  If the Palestinians would have had a state they could have legally fought against Israeli occupation and defense issues. 

20 years after a Jewish state is established by the international community and  
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced without representation.  

The first legitimate organization of the Palestinians is created.  The PLO, or Palestinian Liberation Organization vows to fight Israel and purports that Israel is not a legal nation state.

Excerpts from The Palestinian National Charter 1968...

" The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations; particularly the right to self-determination."
"Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland."
 "The phase in their history, through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national (watani) struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Thus the conflicts among the Palestinian national forces are secondary, and should be ended for the sake of the basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other. On this basis the Palestinian masses, regardless of whether they are residing in the national homeland or in diaspora (mahajir) constitute - both their organizations and the individuals - one national front working for the retrieval of Palestine and its liberation through armed struggle."
"The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country's religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support."
 "The liberation of Palestine, from a human point of view, will restore to the Palestinian individual his dignity, pride, and freedom. Accordingly the Palestinian Arab people look forward to the support of all those who believe in the dignity of man and his freedom in the world.
5 years after Israeli's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights
22 years after Israel declared Jerusalem their own capital- against 
     international agreement and opinion. 
24 years since the state of Israel was declared by the UN
54 years after the Zionist National Congress starting emigrating to Palestine

The terrorist group, Black September, took and killed 11 Israeli hostages at the Munich Olympics.  The act was named 'Iqrit Bir'im' after two Christian villages taken and destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948.

The month of the Black September: The PLO and its factions vs. Jordon 

The group Black September was named after the month of conflict between the PLO, Palestinian factions and Jordon.  The number Palestinian refugees in Jordon was comparable to the number of proper Jordon citizens, and the refugee camps were, in effect, a state within a state.  The PLO was based out of their refugee camps in Jordon.

PLO military operations with Israel threatened Jordan's security (they could not defend themselves against Israeli retaliation), the leadership in Jordan became an enemy of the PLO.

September of 1970 was rife with fighting and death for Jordan and the Palestinians.  Jordon ousted the PLO that year, and they moved to Lebanon.

The presence of Palestinians in Lebanon added to tensions between Christians and non-Christians in the Lebanese civil war and later in 1978 led to conflict between Lebanon and Israel.

In 1981 Egypt's Anwar Sadat, who was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for peace negotiations with Israel, was assassinated.   

Assassinations between Syria and Lebanon have been riddled with tension between support for terrorist organizations that vow to protect the Palestinian  cause (Syria) and those who are moving forward, looking toward the West and ignoring the 'Palestinian refugee problem' (Lebanon). 

Why were Palestinians targeting other ME leaders?

The PLO was created by the Arab League for the purpose of defending Palestine and defeating Zionism.  According the Arab Leagues founding documents all Arab nations including, TransJordon, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria were supposed to back each other against outside interests that threaten independence and sovereignty in the newly created ME states. ME states quickly came to find that fighting with Israel was against their interests, not just because they would have to engage in war with Israel, but because the US, in particular, pressured nations to favor the West instead of their own agreements.

Cowing to extra-national interests outside of the Arab League was against the League's agreement   Many wars, assassinations and terrorist activities can be traced back to this issue of Israel and Palestine.

Such actions whittled away at what could have been a strong economic and cultural alliance.

Reflecting on now and the future

I can't help but wonder what fruits we would have from the Middle East if the specter of colonialism had not continued into the 20th and 21st centuries with the Israel/Palestine conflict.  

The zeal of the forces loyal to the defense of Palestine are at once rooted in a sense of justice and terror.

The road has been long, and the past has been muddied.  As acts of violence are stacked upon acts of violence, it is almost impossible to see a just impetus for the hatred that gushes out of Arab lands for the West and western allies.

Yet we must see.  If we want to tackle the ubiquitous threat of terrorism in the ME, we must see that there has been a grave injustice done to a people- the people of Palestine.

If the Palestinians had garnered support from religious and freedom seeking allies, as they had expected, in the beginning of their struggle, the Palestinian's grievance would have been clear.

However, the persistent ignorance and ignoring of the 'Palestinian problem' has led a people who were prepared to fight for a just cause to a mixture of people who: want to fight for justice; people who can manipulate the cause for power and use violence as a mean of intimidation and coercion; and people who simply kill out of a sense of desperation, helplessness and vengeance.  

The further we get from the truth, the more impossible it is to sort out the trouble with just causes and solutions... once the Palestinians are 'gone', as in, completely subdued into second class citizenship in other countries or killed- the Palestinians will have nothing to gain but vengeance.  They will keep fighting, as the sore that has been ripped in their histories, their families, their dignity and their souls burns and burns for generations to come.

If the world cannot address the 'Palestinian problem' while there is still a just solution (recognition of crimes, reparations, an international Jerusalem and sovereign Palestinian state) will we quell the system of terrorism the 'Palestinian problem' has spawned? 

As bad, the example we set in not condemning the illiberal actions of our greatest ally, Israel, is....well, an illiberal in we give credence to militarism, might makes right, and the subjugation of 'others' for the special privileges of the elite.

Also, we have followed suit in violating international law, with our unilateral, pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 2003, and the surge of illiberal policies (especially the Patriot Act) and attitudes (anti-civil rights/theocratic) that flowed from US government and progressive movement of conservatives to the right after 9-11.

Is there a point of no return on the ME and the US?  When will it be too late to change course onto a new path of reflection and mediation of  future civic and civil disasters?

Next week:  On being a Republic

Make a great day.

Interesting articles I came across:

Interview with Saudi ambassador Bandar Bin Sultan about Bin Laden and 9-11

Story of Iqrit and Bi'rim citizens still looking forward to returning home.