Tuesday, September 3, 2013

ACTIVISTS AND SUFFERERS OF “ACTIVITIS”: By Ghassan Kadi 10 November 2012

Ghassan Kadi
10 November 2012

Palestine has become a hot issue, and this is not surprising. The atrocities of Israel have gone too far and too wide for the rest of the world to continue to turn a blind eye to.

For decades, the world stood by and watched. A very small percentage of people outside the Arab World knew “how” and “why” Israel was created. And though the figures now are improving slightly, the overwhelming majority of non-Arabs, especially Westerners, and specifically Americans, remain none the wiser.

The Western “awakening” is a great development and the involvement of Western activists fighting for Palestinian rights is quite admirable indeed.

Who could forget Rachelle Corrie and Vittorio Arigoni who died for Palestine? Who could forget Patrick McMannus who kept fighting for Palestine whilst fighting his cancer until he lost his battle to the latter? How can an Arab with any gratitude in his/her heart not regard George Galloway with great admiration and respect? The list goes on and on, and the objective here is not to name those wonderful people one by one.

That said, the Palestinian cause has brought to the fore-front activists who are probably well-intentioned, but certainly not well-educated about the subject.

Certain issues and situations turn into people magnet, and for different reasons. Just like meditation groups are joined by some seeking relaxation, others as an aid against depression, and others seeking enlightenment.

The photographs of the draconian infamous Sharon wall and/or photos of Gazan babies burnt with white phosphors bombs are definitely big movers of human emotions. They stir within caring humans the drive to get p and try to do something about this great injustice, and again, this is highly admirable.

But if/when a person embarks on the journey of helping Palestinians, he/she should not automatically brand him/herself as an expert who understands the ins and outs of this whole very complex situation. Motivation does not make that person an expert in the history, geography and demagogy of the Levant. The complexity of the situation is hard enough for many locals to understand in holistic and comprehensive manners.

Some Western activists have gone way too far in proclaiming the stature of experts and make the most incorrect statements and judgments about issues that they do not have the least idea about.

One of the most recent and gravest errors on their part is their inability to understand that Palestine is inseparable from Syria and that what is happening now in Syria is part-and-parcel of this whole political power struggle in the entire region. It is not at all unusual to hear ridiculous comments from some of those activists, the kind of comments that clearly expose their total lack of knowledge of simple issues of basic geography. One of such “prominent” activists recently did not seem to know that Lebanon did not have common borders with the Gaza strip and was wondering why was it that the whole fuss about Rafah and ignoring the blockade on the Lebanese side?

Such comments and similar ones are not at all unusual. To add insult to injury, we often hear the cries of others expecting the people of Gaza to turn the other cheek and setting the right example for the world to see. Then we have others who want to “teach” much better informed Arabs, who have lived their entire life in the region, studied and lived the Palestinian cause, that it is not about this and this but about that and that. One of the most ridiculous statements I have read recently was that of an activist saying that people of Palestine want to have an Islamic state with Jerusalem as its capital and where people of all religions can live. Surely, some fundamentalist Palestinians would want an Islamic state, but since when did they represent a majority let alone unanimity?

Where do those activists get their information from and who runs their statistical research? This passion of some becomes some kind of paranoia, an obsession, a mental dis-order that can perhaps be called “activitis”.

The worst of those activists are those who got so engaged with the Syrian conflict to the extent that they dropped Palestine like a hot cake and carried the banner of the FSA. On one hand they are fighting the US-led plans to control the Levant and on the other hand they are sitting with their American partners on conference tables plotting how to topple the government of Syria. Some of them shamelessly brandish photographs of John McCain and John Lieberman wearing the FSA flag as a scarf.

Help? Yes, we need and appreciate. But this form of alleged help becomes akin to ill-informed meddling and this in itself is a remodelled form of colonization. I say this without a reservation because the attitude of activists of such calibre is quite arrogant and patronizing and has a strong flavour of let-me-show-you-what-to-do.

Help? Yes, we need and appreciate, but in as much as we in the Levant refuse to accept the democracy of NATO bombs, we also do not want meddlers telling us on which basis are we to model our struggle for liberation.

This honestly has to stop before someone tells us that the Emir of Cairo is funding the erection of a bridge to connect Amman with Damascus.

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