• Books: Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, Endless War: Hidden Functions of the "war on terror" by David Keen, Capital Vol. 1, Tin Drum by Günter Grass, What is Islam? by Shahab Ahmed, Desiring Arabs by Joseph Massad, Spies, Soldiers and Statesmen by Hazem Kandil, La Condition Humaine by André Malraux, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Imagined Community by Benedict Anderson, Culture and Imperialism by Edward Said, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould, Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Noli me Tangere by José Rizal, Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm, ذهنية التحريم لصادق جلال العظم, Karl Marx by Francis Wheen, وليمة لأعشاب البحر لحيدر حيدر, Candide by Voltaire, النزعات المادية في الفلسفة العربية الإسلامية لحسين مروة, Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich ..
  • Films: Alexanderplatz by Rainer Fassbinder, Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, The Battle of Algiers, films by P. P. Passolini, Persepolis, Midnight Express, 1984, Papillion, Gangs of New York, Sophie Scholl, Life of Brian, Ivan the Terrble, Battleship Potemkine ...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Via Joey Husseini Ayoub


Middle East Eye asked me to write an op-ed on what's become an all-too-familiar theme following some of the (ongoing) exchanges between the folks at The Electronic Intifada and folks active in the Syria solidarity movement.
To be quite honest with you, I got tired of writing the same thing. I think this is the 3rd or 4th time I write this - in fact you can see it as an extension of my piece for Raseef22 رصيفــ22 - and I know people who have written more than I have - emphasizing especially the work of Leila Al Shami and, obviously, the folks over at الجمهورية al-Jumhuriya like Yassin Al Haj Saleh and Yassin Swehat, all of whom have done infinitely more than I have. 
It's frustrating, but here's one more. 
I added quotes by Jesse Williams given that so much of the power narrative is being dominated by Americans (as usual, making this even more annoying) in the hope that American comrades would be able to challenge the narrative from within.
"There is a significant portion of the Western Left today that has adopted a nativist framework which started to exclude the voices of Syrians as soon as their revolution became inconvenient. Without naming names, many of us can think of a number of commentators - including so-called “experts” whose credentials revolve around them being white males - who were initially supportive of the revolution but ended up disavowing it or even, in some cases, supporting the fascist and imperialist forces slaughtering their way to victory with the deafening silence of a spineless “international community”. This is made all the worse with the participation of notable figures and parties of the so-called Old Arab Left - that same “Left” which happily colludes with fascist parties under the guise of a tired “anti-imperialist” narrative." 
The question at the bottom of this whole debacle is: what does “fighting imperialism” mean if “imperialism” is what might save your life and that of your loved ones? Is it actually fighting imperialism to effectively condemn the countless Syrians who have called for a no-fly zone since at least 2013 (and some as early as 2012)? Where is the anti-imperialist fighting occuring and who is fighting whom? I’m reminded of Jesse Williams’s powerful recent BET Awards speech which, discussing the struggle of African Americans, can be said to have some universalist principles, namely that “the burden of the brutalised is not to comfort the bystander”. He then formulated a sentence that should be a basic principle whenever human suffering is concerned: “If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression.
I’m not arguing for or against a no-fly zone here. There are legitimate concerns to be had with the idea of a no-fly zone in Syria, concerns which I know for a fact have given Syrian comrades sleepless nights. It does, however, raise the question of who is opposing it, and why? The least that can be said of most of those who support the idea is that it is a reflection of popular - read: desperate - feelings on the ground and that it is proposed in the hope of preventing that which we know is behind most of Syrian suffering: the regime’s aerial bombardment of civilian areas, now worsened by the Russian government.
Beyond Syria, the inability of many to see past outdated narratives has galvanised the rise of right-wing reactionary nativism in the West. Discussions on Syria ignored Syrians for so long that it became easy to dehumanise and demonise them when large numbers reached Fortress Europe’s shores.”

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