Saturday, July 26, 2008

Death: A Way to Life

On July 22, Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst and professor, wrote an article in the Gulf News, titled "Women of Valor," in which he questioned the value of dying for your country. Specifically, Mr. Moubayed was undermining the contribution to their nation of the likes of Sanaa Mahaidly and Dalal Moughrabi, the two martyrs who died fighting the Jewish occupation of our land. Mr. Moubayed's analysis was that these were bright young ladies, with their whole future ahead of them, who could have become gifted intellectuals and thus contributed more to their nation by undertaking various intellectual and academic activities. Therefore, according to Mr. Moubayed, living for your country is better than dying for your country.

With all due respect to Sami Moubayed as a political analyst, I believe that his understanding of life and death is completely lacking. First, all nations are made up of individuals who are able to contribute to the advancement and development of their respective nations. We are all productive potentialities endowed with the capacity and duty to enrich our nation in our own respective ways. The nation is thus made up of doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, farmers, workers, etc., each of which is able to contribute to the betterment of the nation based on their specific individual ablities, talents, strengths, weaknesses, etc. However, the nation is also in need of fighters; those who are willing to risk their lives, or even give up their lives, for the sake of defending their homeland and protecting the national rights of their people as a whole.

From here, we understand that the life of the nation is more precious than the life of individuals. That is not to say that each individual life is not valuable in its own right. Rather, the continued life of the nation overrides and takes precedence over the idea of individual self-preservation. For this reason, numerous individuals throughout history have willingly sacrificed their individual selves for the sake of their respective nations as a whole. If we are to engage in an analysis of what each of these individuals could have contributed to their nation were they to remain alive, we would be undertaking a futile exercise that completely misses the basis of such acts of selflessness. It is not that these individuals do not value their lives, nor is it that they have nothing to offer to their nations while living, but rather they understood that the continued life and liberty of their nation was in danger and they viewed national life as more important than their individual lives.

Our nation is today divided, fragmented, and many portions of it are occupied by foreigners. More importantly, its continued life is under constant threat from its enemies who are working day and night to subjugate it. In such a state, the nation cannot meet its vast potential, as it is broken and its resources are dispersed. Our nation is currently neither free, nor sovereign, nor independent, because its destiny is controlled by foreign will, it is not allowed to act freely in betterment of itself, and its right over its land has been completely stripped from it. As such, the nation's very existence is threatened, and its life, in all its true meaning, has been stolen from it. In such a situation, it is natural that individuals within the nation would rise to defend their land and protect their nation's life. Such people understand that life is not worth living if it is empty of honor and dignity. That is, they realize that individual life means nothing when the nation as a whole is reduced to mere existence.

It is worth clarifying here the difference between living and existing. Life is a mere stand of dignity. That is, one cannot live unless they are enshrined in glory, dignity, and honor. And whereas life is not possible without glory, mere existence does not differentiate between glory and humiliation. Therefore, while the nation can exist in a state of enslavement and humiliation, it can only live in a state of glory; a state where it controls its own destiny, is in full possession of all its rights, and is occupying its rightful place among the nations. Only then can our nation truly be living in a meaningful sense.

It is with this understanding that our brave compatriots go into battle, insisting on defending their nation's honor. They understand that their individual lives do not take priority when their nation is divided, occupied, and subjected to persecution and oppression. And what people mistakenly conclude, is that these people do not love life, when in fact these are the very individuals who truly love life. But loving life to them is not a cliche. They love life because they love freedom. They would love nothing more than to see their nation living in freedom and their people freely acting for the betterment of their nation. And because they love life, within its true meaning, they also embrace death when death is a way to life. That is, they will gladly give up their individual lives if this leads to the life and prosperity of their nation. Therefore, rather than belittle and demean the actions of courageous, honorable figures such as Sanaa Mahaidly and Dalal Moughrabi, our intellectuals, including Sami Moubayed, should be honoring them and commemorating their sacrifices in a respectful manner.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Distorting the Resistance: The Case of Samir Quntar

With news of the recent agreement between "Israel" and the Resistance in Lebanon over the exchange of prisoners, the story of Samir Quntar, who is to be among the Lebanese detainees to be released by the Jewish entity, has again resurfaced with the official propagandistic version of the "Israeli" government being presented as the factual depiction of the event which led to the capture of Quntar. This version portrays Samir Quntar as a brutal, merciless, cold-blooded killer who killed a Jewish civilian in front of his 4-year-old daughter and then proceeded to smash the young girl's head against a rock with the butt of his rifle. It is an image of a heartless psychopath whose only intent was to terrorize and murder innocent civilians. Unfortunately, although Quntar's version of the event was never heard, most media outlets, including Al-Jazeera, have presented the concoction disseminated by the Jewish state as the true and accurate version of the event.

This depiction of Samir Quntar is in fact part and parcel of the continuous campaign waged by "Israel" and its allies to discredit the Resistance and tarnish its image before the world. The ultimate aim is to conceal the reason for the very existence of the Resistance and to strip it of its cause. The world must be prevented from seeing that the Resistance has a cause, which is to liberate its land from foreign occupiers and protect and defend its people's inherent rights. As such, Resistors are transformed from freedom fighters to murderers and trouble-makers whose sole objective is to terrorize civilians.

The reason that "Israel" chose to fabricate that very story about Samir Quntar is because the tale implies that Quntar organized this entire operation for the sole purpose of killing a civilian in front of his daughter and then crushing the skull of the little girl. In reality, Samir Quntar, and three of his comrades, embarked on an operation on April 22, 1979 the purpose of which was to attack one of the biggest "Israeli" military bases, located in Nahariya, in order to prevent the continued establishment of permanent Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

The operation initially succeeded brilliantly in that Quntar and his fellow fighters were able to drive their speedboat into occupied Palestine, maneuvre through six squadrons of warships, hide the boat from the seashore guards and "Israeli" radar, and enter the settlement camp of Nahariya after combatting and defeating an "Israeli" patrol squad. However, the subsequent detection of Quntar's group by "Israeli" forces led to a gun battle that resulted in the death of several people including an "Israeli" settler family of four. The exact details of the event are still unclear, but Quntar at the time engaged in a battle in order to escape and return to Lebanon. His intention was thus to get back into the boat and make his way back. However, his plan was stopped short and once the dust of the battle cleared, people were found dead.

The idea that Quntar would take time from his heated battle with "Israeli" forces in order to shoot a father in front of his child and then crush the skull of the child is completely implausible. However, "Israel" needed a tale that would demonize Resistance fighters and all those who dare stand up to the Jewish state and its occupation of their land. It also needed to minimize the success of the operation in the ability of 4 fighters to penetrate "Israeli" security. As such, during the course of the sham trial (this was a trial run by the occupiers to try resistance fighters from among those whose land is occupied) the illegitimate prosecution presented to the illegitimate court fabricated evidence to demonstrate that Samir Quntar was nothing more than a brutal, cold-blooded killer, equivalent to any common criminal.

Unfortunately, this story has floated around for so long that anyone who dares regard Samir Quntar as a hero is seen as a hypocritical, callous apologist for a disgraceful criminal. As such, the successful liberation of Quntar by the Resistance in Lebanon is portrayed as a group of terrorists whose moral bankruptcy allows them to insist on the freedom of a convicted murderer. What is most saddening, however, is not the position of the enemy on this issue, as this is normal and expected, but rather the position of fellow citizens whose very honor and dignity the Resistance is fighting to defend.

After his sentence was announced, Samir Quntar responded saying "I don’t care if the sentence was 9 or even 10 life sentences, the important thing for us is that we made them realize that we are here to stay. Now and tomorrow." These words express the mindset of a person struggling to defend his land and his people against an unjust, brutal occupation, and not that of a murderer. It is in line with the spirit which says that there is nothing easier than for some nations to surrender their right to life for the sake of an "everlasting peace", and we refuse be among those nations.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Folly of Economic Prosperity through "Peace" with the Enemy

Many misguided citizens of our nation anxious to make "peace" and normalize relations with "Israel" have used a fallacious economic argument to make their case. The assertion is that if we come to a "peace" settlement and normalize ties with the Jewish state, we will find economic prosperity, as western nations will reward us with money and we will benefit from new economic relations with said nations. There are two erroneous assumptions with this theory. The first is the assumption that "Israel" is willing to open the door for the potential prosperity of our nation, and the second is that economic agreements with western nations is the way to economic prosperity.

In their blindness to reality and clear misguidedness of surrounding events, many proponents of the above-mentioned argument find it useful to cite to two prime examples of economic boom following normalization with "Israel." These two examples are Egypt and Jordan. The idea that Jordan and Egypt are exemplary models of economic success is based on superficial observations and a shallow understanding of economics. A simple visit to either of these countries presents one with a facade of economic prosperity. This facade is constructed by the presence of western retail stores, restaurants, and hotels and by the financial wealth of certain capitalists and entrepreneurs, who were able to achieve tremendous financial success. In reality, however, these manifestations merely show that rich people can be found anywhere and that western nations have no problem turning developing countries into consumers of their products. A closer look at the economies of both Egypt and Jordan gives a much more grim and dismal outlook.

Recent developments have exposed Jordan's major economic problems and its inability to eliminate or even reduce the increasing poverty rate in the country. Global price increases have hit Jordan especially hard, as it has proven to lack the ability to cope with this crisis, given that Jordan imports just about all its consumer products, including much of its food. A study on rural poverty in Jordan indicates that because of the arid nature of the land in Jordan, people are unable to produce enough crops to feed themselves. In a statement released on June 24, 2008, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood called on the government to declare certain extreme poverty areas as disaster zones. Poverty rates in those areas were astoundingly high, as these rates stood at 52.8% in southern Ghor, 62.5% in Wadi Araba, and a shocking 73.7% in Rweished. This means that these percentages of people in those areas are living on no more than $553 per year. Yusuf Mansur, in an article in Bitter Lemons, shows that high inflation, combined with the stagnant double-digit poverty and unemployment rates, is forming a dangerous tripod, and goes on to argue that "last year the average household consumed 20 percent more than it earned, not a sustainable phenomena."

Jordan's normalization with "Israel" has thus failed to pay off in the manner proposed by those supporting normalization. Even as early as 1998 Francesca Ciriaci, writing in the Jordan Times cited the "failure of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty to deliver many of the promised economic dividends" as a cause for the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The situation in Egypt does not look any less grim, as price increases led to riots recently, due to the fact that such increase in the cost of food is unsustainable for a large portion of the Egyptian population. Add to this the fact that Egypt is a net importer of food, and Egypt's economic condition becomes even more fragile. Reports continue to show that poverty is rampant in Egypt's rural areas.

The idea that economic prosperity will come with a so-called "peace" agreement with the Jewish entity is a flawed one based more on the wishful desire to achieve success without having to struggle than on any reality-based findings. Economic prosperity can only be achieved with national unity and with organizing the national economy on a productivity basis. Turning our society into one that merely consumes western products is not a healthy development, and is bound to lead to the economic collapse of our different entities. In addition, basing our economies on services and on opening our markets to the invasion of foreign goods is not a wise or sustainable policy. Economies can only be built on increased productive capacities. If we are to achieve true economic success, we must focus on maximizing our productive potential by investing in industries, research institutions, and agricultural programs. Only with increased production can we hope to alleviate our citizens from the economic disasters they continue to experience. Therefore, rather than normalizing ties with the enemy, our priority should be on normalizing ties with each other, so that we may remove all obstacles to our natural economic life-cycle and realize our productive potential.