[News] Palestine - the Resistance Option

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 9 10:58:03 EST 2009

The resistance option

Robin Yassin-Kassab, The Electronic Intifada, 8 February 2009

Hamas isn't Hizballah and Gaza isn't Lebanon. The resistance in Gaza 
-- which includes leftist and nationalist as well as Islamist forces 
-- doesn't have mountains to fight in. It has no strategic depth. It 
doesn't have Syria behind it to keep supply lines open; instead it 
has Israel's wall and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's goons. 
Lebanese civilians can flee north and east, while Gaza's 
repeat-refugees have no escape. The Lebanese have their farms, and 
supplies from outside; Gaza has been under total siege for years. 
Hizballah has remarkable discipline and is surely the best-trained, 
most disciplined force in the region. Although it has made great 
strides, Hamas is still undisciplined. Crucially, Hizballah has 
air-tight intelligence control in Lebanon, while Gaza contains 
collaborators like maggots in a corpse.

But Hamas is still standing. On the rare occasions when Israel 
actually fought -- rather than just called in air strikes -- its 
soldiers reported "ferocious" resistance. Hamas withstood 22 days of 
the most barbaric bombing Zionism has yet stooped to, and did not 
surrender. Rocket fire continued from Gaza after Israel declared its 
unilateral ceasefire.

Let's put this in context. In 1947-48 Zionist militias drove out more 
than 700,000 Palestinians without too much trouble. In 1967 it took 
Israel six days to destroy the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies, 
and to capture the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the 
Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Zionism's last "victory" was the expulsion 
of the Palestine Liberation Organization from Beirut in 1982 -- if it 
was a victory.

The long and bloody occupation of Lebanon gave birth to new forms of 
resistance. Where Arab states and armies had failed, popular 
resistance removed American and French forces from Beirut, and then 
steadily rolled back the Israelis. The first suicide bomber of the 
conflict was a Marxist woman of Christian background. The human bomb 
was a tactic to which Israeli troops had no answer. Hizballah formed, 
and developed into the power that would drive Israel from almost all 
of Lebanon by 2000. In 2006 Israel returned, in an effort to finish 
the resistance once and for all. What happened was a historic 
turnaround: for five weeks Israeli troops bled in the border 
villages, and failed to move beyond them. For the first time, the 
hi-tech, first-world savagery of the Zionist army, supposedly the 
fourth strongest army in the world, was kept at bay. Israel of course 
killed far more civilians than Hizballah did, and performed its usual 
rampage against civilian infrastructure, but in terms of the soldiers 
in battle, casualties were roughly equal.

There has been a lot of talk, particularly by Arab collaborators, 
about Hizballah being an Iranian proxy. While Iran does assist the 
resistance with weapons and funds, the Lebanese resistance is 
Lebanese, the creation of the villagers of the south and the Bekaa, 
and the families of the southern suburbs of Beirut. It was the people 
themselves who turned Zionism back. Even more improbably, the same 
collaborators now accuse Hamas, a democratically-elected Palestinian 
Sunni movement, of taking orders from Tehran.

One reason given for this latest massacre in Gaza was Israel's desire 
to restore its deterrence after the 2006 debacle. Certainly the Arabs 
now know (as if they didn't know before) that any whisper of 
resistance will be met by the most fanatical violence. Certainly 
Hamas and others will have to factor this into their tactical 
decisions. But in strategic terms the Israeli deterrent looks even 
shoddier than it did a month ago. The Arab peoples are no longer 
scared of Israel, whatever Israel throws at them. A psychological 
tipping point has been passed, and this, in the long term, counts for 
more than nuclear bombs.

Even as Western and Zionist officials grin and hug, the siege of Gaza 
continues and the people are now facing starvation. However, their 
suffering seems to have strengthened the resistance. The communities 
of south Lebanon and south Beirut, those which suffered most in 2006, 
have redoubled their loyalty to Hizballah.

In spite of Israel's onslaught in Gaza, in Palestine and throughout 
the Arab and Muslim worlds, Hamas and the resistance option it 
represents is immeasurably stronger. The ridiculous 
no-longer-president-of-anything Mahmoud Abbas, and the gangs loyal to 
Fatah warlord Muhammad Dahlan, are much weaker. It wasn't Abbas but 
Hamas political chief in exile, Khaled Meshal who represented 
Palestine at the Doha emergency summit last month. While the 
Abbas-Dahlan traitors arrested Hamas activists, and tried (and 
largely failed) to suppress solidarity demonstrations on the West 
Bank, the resistance was standing firm against Zionist terror.

In solidarity with the resistance, Palestinians in Israel organized 
the biggest demonstrations in their history. There is no doubt to 
which nation these Palestinians belong, especially in the eyes of the 
main Israeli political parties, which sought to ban Arab parties from 
standing in the approaching elections on the grounds of "disloyalty" 
to the apartheid state.

What now? Enough nonsensical talk of peace processes. Peace might be 
nice, but it isn't, and never has been, on the agenda. It is time to 
build a new Palestine Liberation Organization, as elected as 
possible, to represent all Palestinians, both Islamist and secular, 
those living in the lands stolen in 1948, the lands stolen in 1967, 
and those in exile. The Palestinian Authority should be abolished, 
and the Oslo/Road Map farce officially abandoned. Then Palestinians 
have to decide what their aims and strategies will be. The two-state 
solution is no solution. There is a huge amount of work to do. All 
Palestinians should agitate for the new organization.

Robin Yassin-Kassab has been a journalist in Pakistan and an English 
teacher around the Arab world. His first novel, The Road from 
Damascus, is published by Hamish Hamilton and Penguin. He blogs on 
politics, culture, religion and books at 

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