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An American War with Israeli Features

Lead editorial from "as-Safir" Beirut, Monday, 5th November 2001. Translated by Muhammad Abu Nasr. English translations of columns appearing in "as-Safir", Beirut's progressive daily can be found at Jay's Leftist and Progressive Internet Resources Directory,
Translator's Note: At the beginning of November 2001 the United States officially added Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC), and Hizballah from Lebanon to the list of "terrorist" organizations whose assets are to be frozen and which are to be treated like Usama bin Ladin's al-Qa`ida. This comes after incessant Arab pleas with Washington to recognize the difference between resistance to occupation on the one hand, and terrorism on the other. On Friday, 2 November 2001, David Satterfield, former US ambassador to Lebanon and currently Deputy Undersecretary of State for Middle East Affairs gave a speech in Washington in which he referred to the intifada or Palestinian uprising as "studied terrorism," in effect charging the entire Palestinian people with "terrorism." The editor of the Beirut daily "as-Safir" responds to these US policy moves in the following front-page editorial.

An American war with Israeli Features

By Talal Salman, as-Safir, Beirut

Day by day the American war against "international terrorism" in the persons of Usama bin Ladin and the government of the Taliban in Afghanistan takes on Israeli features.

Hour by hour America's official reassurances drop away and the hypocritical flattery of the Arabs (and Muslims) disappears, and the war takes to its true course. So now, the heroes of terrorism, as America describes it, appear as none other than the heroes of the resistance to the Israeli occupation!

The Hollywood image of Usama bin Ladin and the phantom Commander of the Faithful Mulla Muhammad Umar are left to entertain the media and war newsreels while America's smart planes hunt down children before they can become terrorists and blow up skyscrapers, and America focuses its accusations on the fugitives of Israel's assassin helicopters and sniper tanks in the occupied Palestinian territories and around them in Lebanon (and Syria?!..)

"The intifada is terrorism"!! Washington has resolved the issue by the statement of one of its most distinguished experts on the Middle East region [former ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield, now Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs] with his record as an outstanding and unique ambassador in Lebanon for years during the period of resistance and daily confrontations between the sword and blood that ended finally in the declared defeat of the strongest army in the region. Israel was forced to evacuate Lebanon one night, abandoning its lackeys, its weapons, and its political propaganda about "protecting minorities" - a tissue of lies to be scattered away by the winds.

"The intifada is terrorism." And everyone who bears arms against the Israeli occupation in Palestine, as in Lebanon, and everyone who supports or sustains or aids them with his sword, or his hand, or his tongue, or his heart is, according to America's definition, a terrorist too. And all must inevitably receive their punishment at the hands of those messengers of western democracy and the struggle against international terrorism - the heroes of Israeli enlightenment whose extraordinary model is Ariel Sharon!

If the intifada in Palestine is terrorism, then it is entirely appropriate according to American "logic" to regard Hizballah as a bunch of gangs of killers who scare peaceful people and commit all sorts of vile acts from cultivating drugs to laundering money to running gambling dens, and to demand that the government in Lebanon deliver the head of their leader, or else.

There is no longer any need to tone down the intensity of the remarks by the American ambassador and the denials about what "as-Safir" reported concerning the threats he made or the warnings he gave to the authorities in Beirut about the need to turn Hizballah into a welfare society that works, for example, on family planning projects or to improve grain output or to develop the art of folksong and dance, after handing over those responsible for the period when the organization bore arms against Israel, that "oasis" of western civilization in the desert of Arab (and Islamic) backwardness.

Daily killing is an open work agenda item with the Israelis in their occupation in Palestine: its tanks invade Palestine's cities, villages, and refugee camps, they destroy homes, demolish their little institutions, kill their children in their schools and their women and men on the roads. But the American accusations go beyond these facts to focus their condemnation on the violence and then on the terrorism that they attribute to the Palestinian organizations that are struggling against the occupation. And then they go even beyond that to accuse of terrorism all those who have worked or thought about resisting the Israeli occupation in any place or time, regardless of their identity.

Every sunrise brings a new delegation from America to the Arab region: sometimes it is a British delegation, sometimes Canadian. Sometimes an article or a report in some important American newspaper substitutes for the delegation. In any case, the message and its content remain the same, that is, to threaten the Arabs with the need to abandon their Arab identity, their Islam, and Palestine. If they don't, they are told, then they are "Bin Ladinists," or "Talibanists" and they must bear the consequences, for they have been fairly warned.

The Americans are exploiting the breakdown of the Arab regimes and their multifaceted fears - their fear of their peoples, of Israel, of the Americans, of their domestic "Bin Ladins" and "Talibans." America is trying to drive them into the defendant's box, to convict them of covering up for those who resist Israel and occasionally concealing the fact that they hosted them, protected them, and gave them asylum.

The American administration tramples on its supposed friendship with the Arabs, and treats its Arab "allies" with scorn, indeed with an outright contempt that is worse, if anything, than Israel's attitude towards them. Then after that, Washington demands that the Arabs "cover" its wars against Iraq, to begin with, and now against Afghanistan and those around it, and perhaps tomorrow against other Arab states themselves. The "cover" that the Arabs are supposed to provide runs the gamut from religious fatwas in favor of US policy, to financial support, to opening their military bases to the American army, to bringing guidance to the resistance fighters who will become "terrorists," helping to tighten the financial, political, and police screws on them if they decline to arrest them and hand them over to "infinite justice" so that they might be judged according to the criteria maintained by the "noble American eagle," and always all to the benefit of Israel.

In general the crudeness of America's treatment of the Arabs even exceeds that of Israel's treatment of them, particularly since it hits them all, from their sultans in their capitals down to their "subjects" who are studying, or living, or working, or traveling in the United States of America, the global center of scientific revolutions and progress.

Despite that, the Arabs still hope and expect that George Bush will act kindly towards them, that his "idea" about establishing "some kind of state" of Palestine in the belly of the giant state of Israel will crystallize so that they might be relieved of their great burden, whereby the US will deserve their credit, their reward and their loyalty for ever.

Usama bin Ladin put them at ease in his second letter, in which he cast the worst of insults upon them. He condemned them, called them infidels, apostates, pagans, and traitors - that is, he expelled them from his version of Islam, something that amounts to a great gift from him to them, something they want to thank him for.

For its part, the United States pursues them, disdains them, gives them impossible tasks, and then abandons them to their fate with the butcher who won't negotiate, Ariel Sharon!

As if they had been consigned to someplace neither on earth nor in heaven!

How, when they are in this condition, will the Arabs come to grasp the importance of their situation and their position regarding this war in which the American administration is now embroiled and in which it wants to embroil the whole world too?

How can they be brought to see the potential power of their position? No international alliance can work without them - for if not, the war becomes in fact a "Crusade." They are the ones who have suffered the most from terrorism - including from this American terrorism that was born, nursed, and raised in Afghanistan - so they alone are in a position to expose the falseness of its claims and to establish the error of its slogans.

But the first condition for their being able to confront that terrorism is that they be in Palestine and with it, and that they be in their countries and with them, and that they be in the resistance to the Israeli occupation and with it, and that they not be playing the role of servants of the occupation or middlemen between the butcher and the martyrs.

Whoever flees from the field of confrontation with the occupier of Palestine will wind up as nothing but a "mercenary" in this American war, with no share in the victory nor any justification to call himself a martyr if he falls in this US battle. Most likely he will end up convicted of the charge of trafficking with the enemy or desertion in time of war.

Neither on earth nor in heaven.

The real heroes are in Palestine and around it and not in Afghanistan - which is being killed before the eyes of the world, its children buried with no one to bid them farewell - and in any case, certainly not in Washington or Tel Aviv.




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