- A Marxist
- A believer in education as a “political intervention“
- A supporter of the Cuban style single party state.
This post looks at Mohsen al Attar’s attitude towards Israel.
First up is Mohsen al Attar writing to a US online newspaper the Albion Monitor in 2003.
A recent attack on Israel, dubbed the “Passover massacre” is a grim reminder of the partiality that subsists in the American media with regards to the Israeli occupation.
When did we last hear a sincere discussion about the thirty-five years of brutal military occupation imposed on the Palestinians by our staunchest ally? What about the systematic targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli snipers, the calculated seizures of Arab land and resources, the 3.7 million refugees agonizingly waiting to go home, and the 15,000 political prisoners rotting in Israeli jails without so much as a charge being filed?
Instead, we are methodically bombarded and utterly swindled by the media’s signature sound bytes: “Terrorism must be stopped ,” “Arafat is responsible, ” “They seek the destruction of Israel,” and so on.
The Passover massacre harks back to an incident three weeks ago. The Israeli military marched into occupied territories and slaughtered 55 Palestinians. If this wasn’t enough, they wounded 300 others, and detained 800 youths — all in less than 24 hours. It was not labeled “Bloody Friday,” nor was it glorified on every news channel. Sharon was not ordered to curtail terror, nor was it even suggested that he be held responsible for the acts of every malevolent soldier. In customary fashion, it was brushed aside as retaliation to Palestinian terror, and justified because Arafat and his minions are hell-bent on destroying Israel.
We will not forget the past, nor will we allow them to taint the present with the vile fairy tales they have created. We will read, we will write, we will speak, and we will educate. And in the end, no matter how many promiscuous definitions of “terror” they conjure up, they will not succeed in absolving the Israeli government of the horrendous crimes it commits.
Next up is from the Irish Times of December 31, 2008. Mohsen al Attar is described as;
a staff member at the faculty of law at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He teaches and researches in the areas of law and society, international trade law and class struggle.
Comrade al Attar discusses Israeli retaliation against Hamas attacks. It’s a piece of not so subtle propaganda that essentially justifies Hamas terrorism, compares that organization to the Irish Republican Army and invokes the name of Martin Luther King.
A MASSACRE is under way. According to reports from UN agencies and local hospitals, nearly 310 Palestinians were killed over the weekend and nearly 600 injured in a series of assaults by the Israeli military against the Gaza strip. To put these figures in perspective, the Bali bombing, so virulently condemned across the globe – and rightfully so – resulted in roughly 200 deaths and an equal number of injuries.
Interestingly, officials from London to Washington have called on both sides to exercise restraint. Restraint is, of course, a relative concept. Israel can claim, as it does, that it has shown restraint in its handling of the mortar and rocket attacks against Sderot (rockets, the Guardian reports, that have killed 18 people over eight years).
Palestinians, conversely, argue that they have shown restraint towards the assassinations Israel has carried out against elected leaders. They also assert that they have shown restraint with regards to the three-year blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza.
In the latter instance, Palestinians appear to be on firm ground. Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on the occupied territories, recently published a report on the coffin-like conditions of life in Gaza. Electricity, water, pharmaceuticals and other basic essentials are constantly in scarce supply.
Notably, the Israeli human rights organisation B’tselem has calculated that despite its much-publicised withdrawal from Gaza, Israel has mounted an impressive record of engagement, with nearly 1,000 Palestinians killed in 2008 alone.
These acts of restraint are intended to punish the Palestinian people for their electoral choice and to force them to do what Israel has been incapable of achieving on its own: dislodge Hamas.
But what is Hamas and does it, as Israel’s public relations campaign affirms, bear responsibility for the killings? Hamas is branded, ad nauseam, as a terrorist organisation. This label is warranted. Not unlike the IRA once did, Hamas maintains a military wing that has carried out reprehensible attacks against Israeli civilians. Each such attack is justifiably met with a wave of international condemnation and has increased global ire against the party.
Hostility towards Hamas, however, does not end there. A much-ballyhooed fact is Hamas’s self-professed Islamic roots. For starters, its name represents an acronym for Islamic resistance movement and its communiqués are peppered with references, often misquoted and misunderstood but present nevertheless, to the Koran.
Israel has capitalised on popular apprehension of Islam by constantly drawing links to the sectarian nature of the party (a perplexing irony when one considers that Israel prides itself on being a Jewish state). In fact, numerous unsuccessful – and often quite comical – attempts have been made by Israel to link Hamas to al-Qaeda in the hopes of generating further sympathy for its cause.
There is of course more to the story – and to Hamas – than this. Not unlike the IRA once again, Hamas is a grassroots resistance movement. It has a strong political wing, so strong in fact that it unseated Fatah in the last round of elections. It also has an even stronger social wing which provides food, schooling and medical services in an environment where official services have collapsed.
All of this begs the question: what is Hamas resisting? Israel prefers to decontextualise the struggle. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor has suggested that in assessing the latest events “we could start in 1948 but if we want to limit ourselves to the current situation, I would begin with the pull-out of 2005”. Palmor is essentially seeking to erase 41 years of occupation from the debate.
By so doing, emphasis can be placed on the immediate actions of Hamas – such as the firing of rockets – and not on the historic actions of Israel – that is, the occupation.
This is, as many will recognise, a doomed strategy. Try in vain – and they all have – but invading forces will never be regarded as victims. The British were not the victims in India, nor were the Soviets in Afghanistan, nor are the Americans in Iraq, and neither are the Israelis in Palestine. Each one of these nations chose to breach the sovereignty of another and, in so doing, acquired the much-detested title of invader.
Under conditions of invasion and occupation, calls for mutual restraint ring hollow for only one side is in a position to exercise it. Rather than repeat the politically correct refrain, the international community should adopt a new strategy. Indeed, to stand idly by while Israel commits gross violations of international law does a great disservice to all parties.
The Palestinians suffer (as did the Lebanese in 2006 when Israel launched a similar offensive for ostensibly similar reasons); the Israelis suffer as their pariah status intensifies; and the world suffers as, in the words of Dr Martin Luther King, injustice anywhere corrupts justice everywhere.
By condemning the actions of supposed enemies but excusing those very acts when executed by allies, the West squanders any moral capital it claims to possess.
Justice knows no borders and injustice knows no friend.
In this instance, the only alternative is to call Israel on the criminality of its actions and of its occupation and to stand in solidarity with justice, if not with the Palestinians.
For a profile of Mohsen al Attar, go here.