Wednesday, August 19, 2009

West's Wild East 2

Continued from the previous post.

Meet the 'Palestinians':-

Nuri Chakry: The best thing that ever happened to Nuri was the Israeli 'takeover' of Palestine. The guy was made for Beirut...

"In his lighter moments... Nuri Chakry was wont to deliver a little speech describing himself. '... There's no such thing as luck. Character is destiny. We do what we are. We get what we deserve. I, for instance, am a Phoenician. I love money. I love trade. The haggle is a game to me; the risk is as heady as hashish. If I'd been here in the old days, I'd have sat in a little booth down by the mole, changing gold for silver, trading camel hides for axe-heads and oil for the lentils of the pharaohs. I am - what do you call it? - a huckster. For me there is only one rule: never do business with a huckster smarter than myself... ' Chakry was a Phoenician, in the sense that he was an adopted citizen of what had once been a Phoenician city. However, the record showed - for those who could dig deep enough to find it - that he was a Palestinian Arab, born in Acre, who had fled the country in 1948 when the Israelis took over." (p 17)

"[Chakry's] Mecca was in the West... In the East he saw no dawn, only a twilight of past glories and a gaggle of jealous princelings enthroned over a bottomless sump of black oil. He would shout any creed you pleased, provided you left your purse in his safe. He would bend to every wind like a reed rooted in a festering swamp. Open the highway from Tyre to Haifa and he would be the first to ride along it, his pockets stuffed with bonds, bursting to do business with the Jews who had cast him out of his homeland. If the Americans played money music, he would dance to the happy tune. If the Russians beat the drum he would march, submissive to the martial beat, a happy camp-follower ready to bolt at the first boom of the guns." (pp 205-205)

Chakry's best mate, Heinrich Muller. An ex-Nazi? But of course!

"[Chakry's] alliance with Heinrich Muller had lasted for 17 years and had produced a handsome profit for both... Heinrich Muller was not Heinrich Muller at all. He was a Swabian, born and babtized Willi Reiman, and he had been one of the most expert forgers in the Third Reich... "(p 66)

Idris Jarrah: PLO terror master; an ex-informer, he's in on the fantasy of liberation merely to line his own pockets...

"Idris Jarrah, the mild-eyed terrorist, was a man who understood the why of things. He understood the personal why, the political why and the public why. And he understood that they were all different and mutually contradictory. The personal way was the simplest of all. Idris Jarrah was a stateless Arab. A stateless Arab had no identity and no future. If he wanted a home, he could have it among the refugees on the Gaza Strip or in the hovel towns west of the Jordan. If he wanted work, he could have that too - as a street sweeper or a day labourer or a pedlar of dates or a carver of trifles for the tourists. But if he wanted an identity - an official assurance that he was a person and not a nameless piece of flotsam - then he had to find a market in which he could buy one, at a price which he could pay. Idris Jarrah had found such a market in the Palestine Liberation Organization - that family of dispossessed zealots which had vowed to drive the Jews into the sea*, re-establish the old borders of Palestine and build an Arab hegemony across the whole of the Fertile Crescent**. As for the price, Jarrah was able to offer solid coinage. He had worked first as an informer and later as a junior detective for the old Palestine police force. He knew the tricks of espionage and the usages of terror. He had learnt from the British the value of system and method. Because he had no illusions and no hopes beyond the Organization, he worked with a nerveless efficiency. Because he never promised more than he could perform, his work always gave satisfaction; and because he believed in neither God nor politicians but only in Idris Jarrah, he was beyond seduction - if not insensible to his self-interest. He spoke his mind, took his orders, delivered a night raid or a bomb explosion, collected his pay and slept happily with any available woman, while greater men tossed in nightmares of frustration or dreamed wild fantasies of empire.

"The political why was equally clear to him. So far as the Arab world was concerned the State of Israel was God. If you did not have it, you would have to invent it as a focus of discontent and as a rallying-point for the sorely divided Muslim world. Without the Jew, what other scapegoat could you find for the slum-dwellers in Alexandria and the beggars who scratched their sores in the courtyard of the Noble Sanctuary and the workless men in Damascus and the hundred and ten thousand lost people camped between the desert and the sea near the city of Samson? Without the Jew, how could you find a common cause for the wealthy Lebanese, the Kuwaitis and the Bedouin tribesmen and the Hashemite King and the Marxist Syrian and the Egyptian Fellah fighting a meaningless war in the Yemen? Arab unity could only express itself in the negative: destroy the Jews! But without the Jews it could hardly express itself at all! As for the restoration of Palestine, Jarrah knew better than most that even if it were restored it would be dismembered overnight by its jealous neighbours. So the Organization was dedicated to a fantasy, but fantasy was the stock-in-trade of politicians and they paid large sums of money to preserve it and to keep men like Idris Jarrah working for their rival causes.

"And this was the public why. The Egyptians wanted Israel destroyed, but they lacked the money and the resources to do it. The Syrian socialists wanted to get rid of the little king of Jordan, who was a friend of the British and a symbol of outdated tribal monarchy. The Jordanians wanted a highway to the sea and a port on the Mediterranean. The Lebanese wanted money and trade and the Russians wanted a socialist arc from Baghdad to the Pillars of hercules. For each of them, the Palestine Liberation Organization had a peculiar value. They could praise it publicly or damn it in secret and pay generously to keep it alive." (pp 24-25) And the Americans, Morris?

Although West's 'Palestinians' might rivet the likes of Sheridan, and provide grist for his Zionist mill, they are little more than cardboard cut-outs. Nor has West done his history homework. Remember that he's writing about the period leading up to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The PLO was created in 1964, with Arab League backing, but did not embrace the concept of armed struggle against Israel at the time. This was espoused by the Palestinian nationalist organization Fatah, which operated independently of the PLO and took up armed struggle against Israel clandestinely in 1965 because all Arab states except Syria opposed such a course. So West's characterization of the pre-67 PLO as a military tool of the Arab states is sheer baloney. The PLO did, however, come under the control of Fatah after the war, in 1968. As for West's nonsense about the Palestinian resistance aiming to "drive the Jews into the sea," the stock standard Zionist talking point of all time, Fatah's position was clear: "All the Jews, Moslems and Christians living in Palestine or forcibly exiled from it will have the right of Palestinian citizenship... This means that all Jewish Palestinians - at the present, Israelis - have the same right, provided, of course, that they reject Zionist racist chauvinism and fully agree to live in the new Palestine as Palestinians. The revolution therefore rejects the supposition that only Jews who lived in Palestine prior to 1948... and their descendants are acceptable." (Palestine: The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Ramparts Press Reader, ed Russell Stetler, 1972, p 208)

West's blindness on the issue of Palestinian refugees is curious. While registering the fact of Palestinian dispossession ("cast him out of his homeland," "refugees on the Gaza Strip or in the hovel towns west of the Jordan," "dispossessed zealots") he shows no interest in going further: Why were they cast out? What were the circumstances of their dispossession? Nor can he appreciate the obvious connection between dispossession and resistance, dismissing the latter as zealotry and fantasy. Dispossession and statelessness fail to elicit from him the most elementary empathy. (Sheridan, of course, goes one step further, dismissing even the fact of Palestinian dispossession as "rubbish... just rubbish." See my 9/5/09 post Sheridan: Nakba Denier). The best West can do is reflect, typically through his Israeli protagonist, that "it was impossible to render an absolute justice to every single human being who, by the act of birth, was made a victim of the human paradox. Six million Jewish dead were commemorated in the sombre crypt of Yad Vashem; but 310, 000 living Arabs were camped in the hovels of the Gaza Strip and they would not renounce one jot of their claim to a place in their original homeland." (p 149) And why the bloody hell should they, then or now?

I'll leave you with a genuine Palestinian voice from that era, that of the wonderful Leila Khaled: "I come from the city of Haifa*, but I remember little of my birthplace. I can see the area where I played as a small child, but of our house, I only remember the staircase. I was taken away when I was 4, not to see Haifa again for many years. Finally I saw my city 21 years later, on August 29 1969, when Comrade Salim Issawi and I expropriated an imperialist plane and returned to palestine to pay homage to our occupied country and to show that we had not abandoned our homeland. Ironically, the Israeli enemy, powerless, escorted us with his French and American planes. What I knew about Haifa had come from my parents and friends and from books. Now I saw Haifa from the air and formed my own cherished image of my home. Haifa is caressed by the sea, hugged by the mountain, inspired by the open plain. Haifa is a safe anchor for the wayfarer, a beach in the sun. Yet, I, as a citizen of Haifa, am not allowed to bask in its sun, breathe its clear air, live there with my people. European Zionists and their followers are living in Palestine by right of arms and they have expelled us from our homeland. They live where we should be living while we float about, exiled. They live in my city because they are Jews and they have power. My people and I live outside because we are Palestinian Arabs without power. But we, the graduates of desert inns, we shall have power and we shall recover Palestine and make it a human paradise for Arabs and Jews and all lovers of freedom." (My People Shall Live: The Autobiography of a Revolutionary, 1973, pp 21-22)

[*See my 7/5/08 post Bend It Like Benny]

To be continued...

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