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(DV) Petersen: The Duty of Progressives is to Speak Out Against Oppressors and Not Excoriate Their Resisting Victims







The Duty of Progressives is to Speak Out Against Oppressors and Not Excoriate Their Resisting Victims
by Kim Petersen
July 18, 2006

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The expanding violence that the Zionist regime is unleashing upon its neighbors is drawing muted reaction from the international community or, even worse, support from imperialist-Zionist serving regimes, such as in the United States and Canada. Zionist supporters claim that Israel has a right to defend itself. Supposedly then, the Palestinians have that same right. And one would assume that Lebanon and the rest of the region has that same right.


But does Israel have some special right to defend itself? Does a thief have a right to defend himself from his dispossessed victim?


Important to remember is that the scofflaw state of Israel exists because it violently stole the territory of an indigenous people (similar to other states, such as Canada and the United States). To acknowledge Israel is to acknowledge territory acquired by invasion. Zionist Israelis are, for the most part, an invading migrant people. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have the right to oppose their occupation and dispossession.


The statements of imperialist-serving states are not surprising. It is the comments of some people usually described as progressives that give pause.


Ran HaCohen laments the blows against the Zionist forces. HaCohen writes columns that are considered by some people as critical of the Zionist occupation. HaCohen once said, “All settlements are illegal, because the Geneva Convention forbids moving civilians into an occupied territory.” Yet HaCohen is a Zionist, himself, because he limits his arguments to colonies imposed on the West Bank and Gaza and seems to think that the ethnic cleansing of areas of Palestine prior to 1948 are somehow, presumably, legitimate.


His recent column at Antiwar.com is a contradiction for the website. [1] It is Zionist propaganda that exudes empathy for the humiliated warmongering Zionist forces.


The events unfolding now in the Middle East are exposing Zionist sympathizers among progressives -- a contradiction for the principles of progressivism, which posit respect and equality among people(s).


HaCohen’s written words speak loudly: “the tragedy of an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas”; “to kidnap two Isareli soldiers.” With respect to comments attributed to the General Secretary of Hizbollah he writes, in part “… as the charismatic Hassan Nasrallah said contemptuously.” Even more telling is his sentence: “The strongest army in the Middle East seems unable to protect its own soldiers, let alone Israel’s citizens.” The words of HaCohen clearly reveal his emphasis on protecting the Zionist invaders.


He writes of a failed army. “Terrorizing the Palestinians and the total destruction of their physical, social, and political infrastructure were carried out very efficiently, but failed to provide security to Israel’s citizens; and presumably that’s what armies are for.” What’s this? The efficient terrorizing of Palestinians? 


HaCohen worries about Zionism’s “brave fighters” (i.e., terrorists) becoming bored. Since when do progressives preponderantly care about the “humiliated, frustrated military” of Zionist invaders? The Zionist fighters are humiliated by their own actions in enforcing an illegal occupation against a dispossessed, impoverished, and brutalized people.


More surprising is the recent tangent in the writing of Robert Fisk. The courageous British journalist appears to be on a literary offensive against the Syrian regime.


Fisk, who labels Iraqis as “insurgents,” [2] seems bent on tying Syria to the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri (with little evidence). In so doing, Fisk absolves Zionists of any connection to the assassination.


Instead, Fisk points Israelis in the direction of Damascus, which he identifies as the “central hub” for Hizbollah terrorism. [3]


Fisk claims good contacts and supposedly so does the CIA. Contacts serve their own purposes, and the information that gets to Fisk serves a purpose.


Even if Damascus does arm opponents of Zionism, why should that not be so? The US has essentially armed the Israeli terrorists. What’s the difference? Fisk needs to answer this.


Arabs are victims of Zionism and so are their pathetic dictators. The oppressor and the ultimate terrorist is the Zionist entity.


Fisk, however, insists, “It’s about Syria. That was the frightening message delivered by Damascus yesterday when it allowed its Hizbollah allies to cross the UN Blue Line in southern Lebanon, kill three Israeli soldiers, capture two others and demand the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails.” [4]


For Fisk, it is not about Israel and not about Palestine? Fisk mouths exactly the Zionist line. [5]


Fisk tendentiously pronounces, “[L]et us not forget that the Hizbollah broke international law, crossed the Israeli border, killed three Israeli soldiers, captured two others and dragged them back through the border fence. It was an act of calculated ruthlessness.” [6]


Israeli border? What is Fisk talking about here? Israel recognizes no borders for itself. Fisk accords the Zionist state recognition, which is recognition of the results of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Yet Fisk, who wrote vividly of the Israeli-backed massacres of hundreds of people, including women and children, at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon, and passionately of the unforgivable Israeli shelling of Qana [7], has the temerity to accuse Hizbollah of “calculated ruthlessness.”


Fisk continues with his one-sided journalism: “There are real issues here. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1559 -- the same resolution that got the Syrian army out of Lebanon -- the Shia Muslim Hizbollah should have been disarmed.”


There are numerous invasions of Lebanon by the Zionist state. What about these breaches of international law? Why mention only the UN Security Council Resolutions against Hizbollah? Why not also mention the plethora of UN Security Council Resolutions that Israel steadfastly violates with impunity? Besides, why should Hizbollah be disarmed given the history of Zionist occupation in southern Lebanon by its aggressive neighbor nuclear-armed neighbor?


Fisk prefers to focus on the months of planning that went into the Hizbollah assault. [8] Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery focuses on the longstanding reason for the Zionist assault on Lebanon: to install a puppet regime in Lebanon along with the secondary aim of rehabilitating the ‘deterrent power’ of the army. [9]


Fisk harangues Syria, “whose own Minister of Interior allegedly committed suicide last year and whose soldiers had to leave Lebanon amid suspicion that Syria had set up the murder of Rafik Hariri ... But Damascus remains, as always, the key.”


The key word is “allegedly.” One wonders why Fisk would have readers focus so much upon an alleged event? Earlier Fisk had been more circumspect about the suicide.


Fisk wrote, “Syria’s Interior Minister, found shot dead in his office last year, committed suicide because of his own mental instability.” There was no mention of “allegedly.” In fact, Fisk attributed the mention of suicide to “[w]idespread rumours outside Syria.” [10]


Fisk maintains “the infrastructure of the state, that the real country that lies behind the Hezbollah is Syria, and this is Damascus, this is the hand of Damascus, trying to push back its claim to the return to the occupied Golan Heights and to step forward into the limelight of Middle East politics and the whole power games of the Middle East after its very humiliating military retreat from Lebanon last year.” [11]


One should also remember the exit of Israeli occupation soldiers from South Lebanon, which could equally be depicted as a “very humiliating military retreat.” Hizbollah claimed victory for the Israeli retreat. To bring about the Syrian military exit, the major powers, a colluding media, and the international community applied pressure on Syria, which had been invited into Lebanon. 


Fisk’s friend, the linguistics professor Noam Chomsky is less sure about the Syrian role. In an interview, Chomsky said, “It’s certainly plausible. I mean, there’s no doubt that there are connections, probably strong connections, between Hezbollah and Syria and Iran, but whether those connections were instrumental in motivating these latest actions, I don’t think we have the slightest idea.” [12]


Chomsky turns to the Financial Times for insight into the cause of the violence: “‘The timing and scale of its attack suggest it was partly intended to reduce the pressure on Palestinians by forcing Israel to fight on two fronts simultaneously.’ David Hearst, who knows this area well, describes it, I think this morning, as a display of solidarity with suffering people, the clinching impulse.”


Chomsky opines on Hizbollah’s “display of solidarity”: “It’s a very -- mind you -- very irresponsible act. It subjects Lebanese to possible -- certainly to plenty of terror and possible extreme disaster. Whether it can achieve any result, either in the secondary question of freeing prisoners or the primary question of some form of solidarity with the people of Gaza, I hope so, but I wouldn’t rank the probabilities very high.”


No doubt Chomsky is correct when he states that Hizbollah’s daring assault exposes Lebanese people to the violence of the Zionist army. Chomsky offered no alternative. The Israeli state still occupies a section of Lebanon; it still infringes on Lebanese airspace; it still humiliates Arabs and occupies their land. What should Hizbollah do?


As Jeff Blankfort notes: “Those who fault Hizbollah for acting in solidarity with the Palestinians under siege in Gaza when Lebanon had not been attacked, must then fault the US for entering the war against Nazi Germany in 1941 when Germany has not attacked the US.”


Why criticize the victim? The major irresponsible party is Israel. That is where the brunt of the criticism should be targeted. If the Zionist invaders ended their occupations and reached a fair agreement with the indigenous people of the Middle East, then there would be no provocation against the Arabs for them to respond.


The Israeli state army does not need provocation; it has a huge army, and it cannot have trained killers sitting around doing nothing but terrorizing Palestinian citizens at checkpoints.


When the terrorist forces of Israel kill Palestinian and Lebanese people with impunity it is incumbent upon the international community, the media, and people of conscience, among which progressive voices should be prominent, to condemn urgently and appropriately the violence of the oppressor-occupier.


Certainly, the victims are not to be blamed for the brutality of the occupier.


Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives in the traditional Mi’kmaq homeland colonially designated Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org.



[1] Ran HaCohen, “The Army Wants Action: The great fiasco,” Antiwar.com, 15 July 2006.

[2] Robert Fisk, “What Does Democracy Really Mean In The Middle East? Whatever The West Decides,” The Independent (UK), 20 August 2005.

[3] Robert Fisk, “From my home, I saw what the ‘war on terror’ meant,” The Independent (UK), 14 July 2006.

[4] Robert Fisk, “Beirut waits as Syrian masters send Hezbollah allies into battle,” The Independent (UK), 13 July 2006.

[5] “Israel Points Finger at Iran, Syria,” Arutz Sheva, 13 July 2006.

[6] “What I am now watching in Lebanon is an outrage,” Robert Fisk, “What I am watching in Lebanon each day is an outrage,” The Independent (UK), 15 July 2006.

[7] Robert Fisk, “Massacre in Sanctuary; Eyewitness,” The Independent (UK), 19 April 1996. Wrote Fisk, “Israel's slaughter of civilians in this terrible 10-day offensive -- 206 by last night -- has been so cavalier, so ferocious, that not a Lebanese will forgive this massacre.”

[8] Robert Fisk, “Hizbollah’s response reveals months of planning,” The Independent (UK), 16 July 2006.

[9] Uri Avnery, “The Real Aim,” Information Clearing House, 15 July 2006.

[10] Robert Fisk, “Seen through a Syrian lens, ‘unknown Americans’ are provoking civil war in Iraq,” The Independent (UK), 28 April 2006.

[11] Mark Colvin, “Israeli missiles hit Beirut airport,” Transcript from PM of ABC Radio Australia, 13 July 2006.

[12] Amy Goodman, “Noam Chomsky: U.S.-Backed Israeli Policies Pursuing ‘End of Palestine’; Hezbollah Capture of Israeli Soldiers ‘Very Irresponsible Act’ That Could Lead To ‘Extreme Disaster’,” Democracy Now! 13 July 2006.


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