From the new November-December 2012 issue of News & Letters
Nov. 14, 2012–Israel’s current onslaught against the Gaza Palestinians, beginning with the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, are more than a response to Hamas’ recent round of rocket attacks. Syrian rebels have begun to take over land around the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, bringing revolution to its borders. As with the recent bombing of the Yarmouk factory in Sudan, allegedly supplying Iranian-built missiles to Hamas, Israel’s war moves are driven by fear of the Syrian Revolution.
Israel’s attack must be opposed. “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008, Israel’s last war in Gaza, killed thousands, including hundreds of civilians–many of them children. For a government that includes Avigdor Lieberman, the advocate of Palestinian genocide, to carry on a new war against Palestinians is absolutely unacceptable and must be opposed by all people of conscience. That government must be overthrown.
PALESTINIANS ARE A TARGET EVERYWHERE
At one and the same time, reports out of Syria describe the shelling of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus by Assad’s genocidal regime, a regime that Iran desperately seeks to preserve.
It has long been clear that in a war between the reactionary governments of Israel and Iran, the Palestinians’ very existence will be threatened. The current attacks in Gaza and Damascus (and previously Latakia, Syria) are a direct expression of the counter-revolutionary essence of these state powers.
The U.S., France, Turkey and the Gulf States backed the creation of a new umbrella group to replace the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council (SNC). The SNC had become a marginal player to events on the ground in Syria. These powers hope that the newly founded National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces will have more credibility with Syria’s people than the SNC, and so give them greater leverage as the foundation of a post-Assad government.
It is the Syrian people’s struggle that these world powers are responding to. The recently proposed Chinese “peace plan,” which recognized the areas liberated from Assad’s regime control, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s call to “negotiate a settlement” (issued in Saudi Arabia) show they’ve been forced to recognize the Syrian people’s revolutionary gains–if only in the interests of undermining them. As with French President François Hollande’s call to arm the rebels vs. U.S. President Obama’s reluctance to do so because they may threaten Israel, it is more a division of labor between imperialists than a difference of aims. This is the unspoken, counter-revolutionary equation that has always been the background of their response to the Syrian Revolution, as to the Arab Spring in general.
FIGHTING FOR NEW HUMAN RELATIONS
For both Syrians and Palestinians–and for humanity itself–the stakes couldn’t be higher. As in Palestine, the provision of arms to the most fundamentalist groups, however unrepresentative of the larger struggle, has had consequences. For one, starving the larger rebel groups of weapons has allowed Assad to drag out his last days in genocidal bombing campaigns that never had to happen. Protesters in Syria Oct. 19 said, “America, your silence is complicit in thousands of our deaths.”
Besides that, some episodes of rebel sectarianism, bloody reprisals, and even war crimes have been traced to the fundamentalist fighters. These have been used to discredit the revolution itself, despite the far greater crimes of Assad and the shabiha government thugs. Most important, the Syrians have shown that they are able to criticize their own revolution, even demonstrating against actions of the Free Syrian Army when called for.
The revolution won’t be decided by force of arms, but by the new human relations created. What is decisive is the kind of revolutionary vision that allows a youth like Loubna Mrie, an Alawite woman activist, to look beyond sectarianism and embrace a greater idea of freedom as the power that can destroy the reactionary regimes that threaten human existence. She has opposed Assad’s effort to promote hatred between Sunnis and Alawites with her very life, saying, “I decided I would join the revolution and die for the revolution and never go back.”
Now opposition to all reactionary state powers and ideas is a life-and-death necessity in the Middle East. Only on revolutionary ground can the questions of Israel and Palestine, or Iran, be settled, and anything less courts disaster and genocide. Now is the time when we must fight for a vision of freedom. The old world has gathered around Syria, Palestine, and the Arab Spring like jackals offering their rotting teeth in return for our humanity.