[News] Politics of Humiliation: Trump, Palestine, the Arab Peoples

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 5 11:36:41 EDT 2019


  Politics of Humiliation: Trump, Palestine, the Arab Peoples

June 4, 2019
*By Ramzy Baroud <http://www.palestinechronicle.com/writers/ramzy-baroud>*

The Deal of the Century has inspired much discussion about Washington’s 
latest political gambit in the Middle East. Largely excluded from the 
debate, however, is the emotional toll involving the Arab peoples 

The ‘politics of humiliation’ is fairly a new discourse associated with 
the sense of collective defeat and emasculation generated by the violent 
and condescending American foreign policy in the region, especially in 
the extremely bloody response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The Donald Trump administration’s anti-Muslim and pro-Israel policies 
have further cemented the pervading sense of humiliation felt by Arab 
collectives, especially as Arab rulers are themselves taking part in 
Trump’s regional designs, all with the aim of normalizing Arab-Israeli 
relations, at the expense of Palestinians and their rights.

But the Middle East is not entirely shaped by US interests. Since the 
early decades of the 20th century, Palestine has served as a meeting 
point for all Arabs, a just cause for their collective fight and a 
rallying cry against western colonialism and its direct spawn, the 
Zionist movement.

Cognizant of the depth of meaning that Palestine symbolizes to Arab 
masses, Arab rulers have used and misused the Palestinian struggle to 
achieve a degree of political validation, especially as their regimes 
have often lacked any democratic legitimacy. Thus, since the 
establishment of Israel on the ruins of the Palestinian homeland in 
1948, freeing Palestine became a common official Arab mantra, even when 
Arab regimes conspired 
<https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300172348/palestine-betrayed> with 
the very colonial powers, and oftentimes with Israel itself against the 

While Israel occasionally raged against 
<https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Strategic-Affairs-Ministry-Palestinian-incitement-against-Israel-rising-570313> Arab 
‘incitement’, using official Arab discourse to further illustrate its 
point of being a perpetual victim of Arab hostility, both Tel Aviv and 
Washington were unperturbed by the status quo. As long as Israel was 
able to enrich its military occupation unhindered, through the 
construction of more illegal Jewish settlements, the Arabs could carry 
on with their harmless tirade and claims of Palestinian solidarity. The 
barter suited Arab rulers well.

The 2011 Arab revolts 
<https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12813859> created a new 
paradigm in the region. While it pitted newly empowered Arab populations 
against their corrupt, undemocratic governments, it left the door wide 
open for further foreign intervention. US-led Western governments, 
desperate to sustain the century-old status quo, fought for relevance, 
doing their utmost to prop up rotten political systems, especially in 
oil-rich countries.

While gains of Arab revolts were reversed by counter-revolutionary 
forces – sending the whole region into a seemingly perpetual quagmire – 
the political hawks within the Trump administration discovered in the 
region’s chaos an opportunity to settle old scores against Iran, to 
advance Israeli interests and to further exploit Arab wealth 

As if the humiliation of military defeat and the faltering revolutionary 
momentum were not enough, the Deal of the Century, championed by Trump’s 
son-in-law, Jared Kushner arrives with the intentions of associating 
collective Arab misery 
<https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/176673/emotional-nakba> with 
an actual document, a new American Sykes-Picot 
<https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2016/sykes-picot-100-years-middle-east-map/index.html> that 
divides the Arabs once more with the aim of weakening them even further 
so that Israel may reign supreme a while longer.

But the truth is, the Deal of the Century is not just an official 
document authored by Kushner, US Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt or 
any other pro-Israel US official. It is the marriage of interests 
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-is-trump-s-deal-of-the-century-just-the-biggest-bribe-in-history-1.6979863> between 
corrupt Arab governments and those of Israel and its benefactors. 
Neither Palestinian rights nor Arab aspirations for which generations of 
Arabs fought factor in the least in this arrangement.

Thus, it is not the Deal of the Century, in its technical details that 
matter, but its timing and implications as the Arab world continues to 
reel under failed revolutions, foreign interventions, civil and regional 
wars. The US initiative is the political equivalent of the shock and awe 
the unprecedented violent bombing campaign unleashed against Iraq in the 
early days of war and subsequent invasion in March 2003.

The idea is that while Arab nations are desperately trying to weather 
the storm of regional upheavals, the US and Israel are presented with 
the perfect opportunity to alter the very reality of the region’s 
politics, discard Palestinian rights altogether, and make Tehran – not 
Tel Aviv – the new common enemy.

All of this is likely to contribute to the growing sense of anger and 
betrayal that Arab nations feel towards their self-serving governments, 
who are playing into American and Israeli hands to guarantee their own 
survival. However, the Arab peoples shouldn’t be so easily dismissed and 
discounted, for humiliation can have many unintended consequences.

The rise of the ‘humiliation’ discourse has placed much focus on how 
emotions – those of despair and humiliation – often lead to terrorism 
<https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1354066108100053> as a way 
to explain militant groups’ abilities to generate new recruits. That 
conclusion – while it contains much truth – caters to research interests 
in western academic institutions, always keen on deconstructing and 
combating terrorism as opposed to ending western hegemony and 
challenging the destructive US-Israeli relationship. However, the 
collective humiliation that has been felt by Arab masses throughout the 
years deserves to be studied from an Arab-centric viewpoint.

Indeed, humiliation 
<https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/articles_papers_reports/729> leads 
to a sense of collective emasculation, which undermines the sense of 
nationhood altogether, leading to economic downturns and mass 
migrations. Violence is only a component of the politics of humiliation. 
And even then, it should not be readily assigned the ever-denigrating 
designation of “terrorism.” In his introduction to Frantz Fanon’s 
‘Wretched of the Earth’, Jean-Paul Sartre refers to violent resistance 
as a process through which “a man is re-creating himself”.

Due to the current restrictions on the media, public demonstration and 
opinion in general, it is not always possible to demonstrate the 
centrality of Palestine to the popular Arab discourse. However, ordinary 
Arabs take every opportunity to show their solidarity with their 
Palestinian brethren. Who could forget how in February 2016, 80,000 
Algerian sports fans cheered 
<http://english.alarabiya.net/en/sports/2016/02/18/Algerians-cheer-Palestine-football-team-against-own-countrymen.html> for 
the Palestinian national team against their own team, simply because for 
them their love for Palestine trumps their love for sports? The same 
pattern is often repeated, most notably in Morocco as well.

In fact, for various Arab nations, solidarity with Palestine seemed a 
most urgent priority following the toppling of corrupt regimes. Aside 
from the fact that Palestinian flags accompanied national flags of 
rebelling Arab nations in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere, 
delegations of Arab youth from some of these countries attempted 
<https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xqiyu7> to break the siege on Gaza 
soon after the launch of their popular revolts. In Tunisia alone, 
several caravans of activists representing many civil society 
organizations tried 
<https://www.tunisienumerique.com/la-caravane-tunisienne-de-la-dignite-arrive-a-gaza/> to 
break the siege on Gaza, some succeeding and others getting turned back 
at the Rafah border.

Egyptians who were not allowed to display solidarity in such a way 
turned their anger at Israel into protests 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/10/cairo-israeli-embassy-attack> against 
the Israeli embassy in Cairo. They were met with violence, of course, 
but remained committed to their demand that their government must sever 
diplomatic ties with Israel.

Most meaningful of all such solidarity is the fact that tens of 
thousands of Yemenis continue to protest 
<https://www.presstv.com/DetailFr/2019/02/17/588831/Yemen-Mass-proPalestine-rally-denounces-Warsaw-Conference> in 
solidarity with Palestine despite the fact that their country is 
struggling against a Saudi-led war, economic collapse and mass hunger. 
The fact that Yemenis under the harshest of conditions still see 
Palestine as a national priority tells volumes about the importance of 
Palestine to the Arab nation everywhere.

As occasional leaks and statements convey how the Deal of the Century is 
meant to marginalize Palestine and the aspirations of the Palestinian 
people, tens of thousands of Jordanians launched 
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190426-jordanians-stage-pro-palestine-rally-near-dead-sea/> numerous 
protests throughout the country in recent weeks. The protesters chanted 
for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and vowed to fight the US-Israel plot 
which aims, as Trump himself has asserted 
to “take Jerusalem off the table.”

But Jerusalem cannot be taken off the table, nor will the Palestinian 
people and their historic rights as enshrined in international law. What 
the Deal of the Century, however, is likely to achieve is widening the 
gap between humiliated Arab peoples and their undemocratic rulers who 
are mainly interested in survival, even if that entails the very 
destruction of the collective values embraced by all Arabs.

/– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine 
Chronicle. His last book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto 
Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the 
University of Exeter and was a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center 
for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa 
Barbara. His website is //www.ramzybaroud.net/ <http://www.ramzybaroud.net/>

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