In part two of a two-part series, Professor Hamid Dabashi analyzes the state of affairs that allows the carnage in Lebanon to continue. Read part one here.
Beirut is burning: A general view of the demolished area of the suburb Dahiya, southern Beirut, 28 July 2006. (MaanImages/Raoul Kramer)
History always happens behind your back — when you are not looking.
We left parts of us, Golbarg and I, in Beirut that Sunday 2 July 2006 — and now, all of that, parts of us Palestinian and parts of us Lebanese, all we saw and witnessed, all our friends, their ordinary lives, extraordinary courage, our very fresh memories of them, sounds of our greetings, echoes of our farewells, a camera full of pictures we now dare not even watch to remember—“next time I come to Beirut Abu Said I want to sit down and write your story”—all of that and much more is trapped — trapped inside a killing field, a vicious, malicious, ungodly, ugly and brutal killing field.
A sadistic, savage and subhuman, torpedo was on its way to Beirut when we left it and we did not know it.
What has happened to our friends, how are they faring? Emails are infrequent, phones do not always work. The night before we left Beirut I was so upset that Brazil lost to France that I left the galleys of my next book on Iranian cinema that I was proofreading at Fawwaz and Nawal’s, right next to the sofa where I was sitting. I emailed Fawwaz as soon as we arrived in New York. The following day he DHL-ed my galleys to me. Three days into the savage siege of Lebanon, he sent me an email in response to my worries, assured me they were all fine and then he asked —“did you get the galleys?” What sort of tenacity is that? How can he ask me about my wretched galleys while the savages have unleashed the Armageddon on him and other Lebanese? What about Samah, Kirsten and their children? One week into the bombing, Samah sent me a gut-wrenching essay he had written on the situation in Lebanon as the editorial of the next issue of al-Adab, asking me and his other friends to disseminate it. We did. What about those two brother and sister in Shturah selling ‘Arisha ma’a ‘Asal? What about Mai, Jean, their children? How is Hana Chamoun doing — did she take copies of her father’s film with her when she run for cover from the American-made Israeli bombs — do these genocidal bombers ever go to the movies? “We, the undersigned Israeli filmmakers,” I received an email on 22 July from Avi Mograbi, the distinguished Israeli filmmaker I know and admire, and on whose e-list I am,
greet the Arab filmmakers who have gathered in Paris for the Arab Film Biennial. Through you, we wish to convey a message of camaraderie and solidarity with our Lebanese and Palestinian colleagues who are currently besieged and bombarded by our country’s army. We unequivocally oppose the brutality and cruelty of Israeli policy, which has reached new heights in recent weeks. Nothing justifies the continued occupation, closure, and oppression in Palestine. Nothing justifies the bombing of civilians and the destruction of infrastructures in Lebanon and Gaza. Allow us to tell you that your films, which we try to see and circulate among us, are extremely important in our eyes. They enable us to know and understand you better. Thanks to these films, the men, women, and children who suffer in Gaza, Beirut, and everywhere else our army exercises its violence - have names and faces. We would like to thank you and encourage you to keep on filming, despite the difficulties. For our part, we will continue to express through our films, with our raised voices, and in our personal actions our vehement opposition to the occupation, and we will continue to express our desire for freedom, justice, and equality among all the peoples of the region.Poll after poll published by the Israeli daily Haaretz reports that up to 80 percent of Israelis support the savagery of their government. Someone has to watch for the soul of that 80 percent — that someone is Avi Mograbi, and a handful of his friends and comrades, the conscience of a people wronged and maligned by history and now taking their revenge on the wrong spot in history, on the shredded bodies and burnet corpses of innocent people — of Palestinians in particular, and now on Lebanese, men, women, and children, indiscriminately. Can these “Israelis” go to bed and actually sleep at night?
On a daily and hourly basis, Beirut is now the target of an unsurpassed savagery from the air, from the sea, from the land. They are pounding Beirut. Their ships, their fighter jets, their artilleries, their unparalleled barbarity, pounding Beirut like there is no tomorrow, burning it to ashes, murdering its fragile peace, shredding its imperceptible harmony to pieces, its gloriously cantankerous and divided thinkers, journalists, artists, writers, historians, poets, photographers, filmmakers — who is Khalil Hawi and why did he commit suicide last time around when these genocidal bombers invaded his homeland? Are there any poets in this “Israel”?
“Hezbollah stronghold,” the genocidal bombers and their mouthpiece in the United States and Europe call the Dahiya neighborhood. “They warn the civilians to go away before they bomb them,” Wolf Blitzer and his Company say. To go where, exactly? Where exactly were these people supposed to go? The architectural labyrinth that links ordinary people’s lives, their marketplace of goods, sentiments, ideas, hopes and aspirations, fears and trembling, places they hold sacred, the politics that sustains their dignity and pride, placed right next to bakeries they grab a bite to eat, the shops at which they buy a toy for their kids on their way home, the political convictions they just shared with a greengrocer, the broken radio they just dropped for repair, the ablution they just performed to feel cleansed and worthy of presence in front of their Maker, so that they can stand erect and say their mid-day prayers — they are all there, interwoven, connected, miasmatic. How many years of vilification, how many generations of criminal racism, how many CNN programs with Wolf Blitzer, how many New York Times editorials and Thomas Friedman columns, how many neocon creatures, how many Fox News obscenities, how many Salman Rushdie, Fouad Ajami, Fareed Zakaria, and Ibn Warraq native informers, it takes to turn an entire people — living, breathing, hoping, struggling people — into non-entities, as if they don’t exist, they don’t matter, they don’t count. In the United States even animals have activists speaking on their behalf and demanding they be treated “humanely.” But how about humans? What is this monstrous madness, this pro-Israeli propaganda machinery that has successfully reduced an entire world, billions of people, millions of victims, into subterranean creatures not even worthy of a single voice of decency in the bubonic madness of the US media?
The minarets will rise again: A general view of the rubble of Fatima al-Zahra building, hit by Israeli aircraft a week ago, which contains a library, a school and a mosque linked to Hezbollah, in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon, 26 July 2006. (MaanImages/Payam Borazjani)
Warn them to run away exactly where? Wolf Blitzer and other ghastly and shameless propagandists use the propaganda language that the Saudis and the Khalijis in Beirut, and above all the suburban mendacity of New Jersey and Connecticut understand best. “We give them warning.” Say Alan Dershowitz and the Israeli Ministry of Deceit and Disinformation, “So they can flee.” Flee to where exactly? To suburbs of Tel Aviv? There is an architectural organicity in Dahiya neighborhood of Beirut and in Haret Hreyk that links the boisterously ordinariness of its busy streets to the proud minarets of its sacred assumptions. Politics here has arisen from the ground up. Hezbollah does not hide in Dahiya. Dahiya, the seething despair of its wounded pride of place, gave rise to Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the rising minaret from the courtyard of Dahiya. You knock down that minaret, two more will rise again, ten more in five more mosques—you cannot bomb misery to nullity. Injustice will demand and exact attention. The world is not the newsroom of CNN and Fox News. You can fool the whole world once, you can fool one President forever, but you cannot fool an entire world forever. What Mearsheimer and Watt wrote about the ungodly power of the Israeli lobby in the United States is decades late in telling ordinary Americans (not just those fifty millions who voted against Bush, but even those fifty millions who voted for him), what they already know. The world is not the editorial page of The New York Times, the single most disgusting propaganda paper on planet earth — the home of such deceitful ignominies as Judith Miller. A few days into this barbarity, on 17 July 2006, the ADL bought and paid for a full-page advertisement in The New York Times (how much is the cost of that ad, how much does it cost to advertise a lie) defending the savagery of Israel. What a useless and redundant advertisement. The entire Section A of The New York Times is an ad for Israel.
If this savage machinery of death and destruction is doing to Gaza what they are now doing just because the Palestinians captured one single Israeli soldier, what should be done to Israel for having 9,000 Palestinian fighters in its prisons? If capturing two Israeli soldiers brings this Armageddon of terror upon Lebanon, then what calamity should befall Israel for having thousands of Lebanese freedom fighters in its dungeons? If finding one Fajr 3 bomb in Haifa is a scandalous cause for publicity in the US and Israeli media, then what terrorizing atrocity would be an entire arsenal of US-made weapons in Israel? If Hezbollah is the result of Iranian involvement in Lebanon after the Israeli invasion of 1982, then who created the criminal Lebanese Phalangist army and let it loose on innocent people in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps under the watchful eyes of Ariel Sharon to mass murder them with total impunity?
There is no answer to these questions. The “Israelis,” as they call themselves, do as they wish — and then they do some more. Instead of agreeing to a global call for ceasefire, for a stop to this carnage, the Americans are sending more arms to Israelis. The killing machine needs more ammunition. On 22 July 2006, The New York Times proudly reported that the Bush administration was rushing a delivery of bombs to Israel, following a request from the Jewish state last week when it began its invasion of Lebanon. “The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel,” David Cloud of The New York Times reported, “was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration.” (“U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis,” The New York Times, 22 July 2006). Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has refused to stop the Israeli killing machine, describing the plight of Lebanon as part of the “birth pangs of a new Middle East” and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire. “This is a different Middle East. It’s a new Middle East. It’s hard. We’re going through a very violent time,” the US Secretary of State said (al-Jazeera, 22 July 2006).
Who is this Condoleezza Rice? Could there be in her the distant memory of even an iota of the pain and suffering that generations of African slaves endured in this continent, and yet stand there and with such barefaced vulgarity say that it is too soon for her to intervene and stop the slaughter. Forget about the nobility of the heritage that African-Americans have accumulated in this land, does she have any claim to common decency?
How are we to read this sequence of events, when out of Lebanon are escaping European and American nationals, and into Israel are fast delivered the most sophisticated American weapons to kill those who remain more effectively? What barefaced barbarity and racism is this? Instead of putting pressure on US and its colonial subsidy to stop the carnage, Europeans are taking their white-only enclaves out so those who remain can be murdered with more impunity. The flight of the white folks out of Lebanon will also diminish the coverage of the international press, so these genocidal bombers can do their dirty deeds in the blind spot of history.
Targeting civilian infrastructure: A general view of a demolished area in the south of Beirut, 24 July 2006. Israeli air strikes have destroyed much of the Lebanese infrastructure and transport network. (MaanImages/Payam Borazjani)
Just for a split second dare the elements and imagine what would have happened if the shoes were in the other foot — if Lebanon was capable and doing to Israel what Israel is capable and now doing to Lebanon! Imagine if Lebanon had moved its navy, air force, and army, surrounded Israel, and started bombing the living daylight out of its inhabitants — destroyed every bridge, bombed every motorway, and shelled every square inch of populated area in sight; then blew up Ben Gurion airport runways and destroyed its terminals; then flew myriads of jetfighters over Tel Aviv and bombed it to kingdom come; then blockaded all its ports; bombarded its beaches and destroyed all its buildings; then went ahead and bombed every highway before ordering civilians to leave, and just as they started doing what they were told to do the Lebanese started shooting the Israelis and tearing them to pieces. Just imagine the U.S. and European outrage; imagine the moral outcry of Michael Ignatieff if these were Jewish children being slaughtered; imagine the legalese uproar of Alan Dershowitz; imagine the editorials of The New York Times, the headlines of The New York Sun, the graphics of The New York Post, the waving colors and background music of the CNN and the Fox News, the columns of Thomas Friedman; imagine the face of Wolf Blitzer, the words of Elie Wiesel, the ads that ADL would have purchased in newspapers, the messages Nathan Sharansky would have sent to President Bush. Just for a second dare and imagine what would the Pope have said if these were Jews being slaughtered instead of the poor, helpless, hapless, defenseless Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon. Imagine the number of times that Fouad Ajami were asked to explain to CBS audience the deranged Arab mind. Imagine! Just imagine!
To do such systematic and sadistic murdering of an entire nation, and then do these so-called “Israelis,” as they call themselves, think that their problem is just with a few million Palestinians who stubbornly refuse to let go of their homeland and allow a racist, apartheid, colonial settlement steal them blind of their possession and dignity? Do they really confuse the corrupt, bankrupt, backward, and illegitimate Arab leaders they call “moderate” with the will of an entire people they misrepresent? Do they think that they can get away with murder in the world, the way they do in the U.S. and in Europe? Do they think they are that powerful to silence an entire globe — and to frighten and intimidate any voice that rises against their savagery with accusation of anti-Semitism, slandering them in their bought and paid-for tabloids, defaming them in their workplaces, intimidating them with losing their jobs and livelihood, so they can maim and murder and plunder and steal with complete and utter impunity?
With total impunity and as if they could not care less what the world thinks they cold-bloodedly kill UN peacekeeping observers and think nothing of it, repeatedly and deliberately ignoring their pleas not to kill them. They target Red Cross ambulances, kill the already wounded Lebanese civilians. They bomb vans full of women and children, slaughtering them as they run away from their savagery. Their returning soldiers, mounted on their tanks, display the flag of Lebanon like members of some savage gang coming back from the gang rape of a victim and flying her shirt — and The New York Times proudly flaunts that picture on its front page. The criminal thugs refuse to allow the UN bring humanitarian aid to the wounded, the elderly, and the children — and the US media thinks nothing of it. With a savagery reminiscent of barbaric behaviors long since thought lost in history, they dishonor the dead bodies of the Lebanese resistance, and have a photographer handy to mark their deeds. They think themselves accountable to nothing — to no law, no morality, no conscience. Nothing. They bring their children to sign the bombs they are about to throw at Lebanese children and murder them. In case they might run out of bombs to give to their children to sign and drop them on even more civilians to kill, Americans are here to send them even more, for the AIPAC has done all the ground work years and decades earlier so that the US congress wholeheartedly endorses the shipment, while the British are more than willing to allow their airbases and airspace to be used for delivering these American bombs to Israelis so that they can murder even more Palestinian and Lebanese women and children. At Qana in Lebanon, they target a shelter in which Lebanese civilians, mostly women and children, have sought refuge, deliberately murdering more than sixty human beings, more than half of them children. What are the criminal corporate media’s response to all this? Nothing. Fabricating a chronology — The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, collectively concurring in their lead editorials, categorically blaming the Hamas and the Hezbollah, unanimously engaging in a criminal act of manufacturing a collective amnesia, fooling Americans who are too busy to keep a record of who did what when, never ever uttering a word about the Israeli systematic maiming and murdering of Palestinians and Lebanese long before, months leading into, the capture of one Israeli soldier in Gaza and two in Lebanon.
If the dim witted Iranian president uttered an utter stupidity about “wiping Israel off the face of the earth,” Israel is now doing precisely that, nothing other than wiping Lebanon off the face of the earth — and they do so with an astounding combination of savagery and cowardice. Their military machinery avoids direct combat with the Lebanese resistance and resorts to air and sea bombardment of civilian population by way of frightening an entire nation into submission and turning them against their resistance forces. This so-called military superiority of these “Israelis” is rested entirely on a barbarity of metaphysical proportions, avoiding direct, one-to-one combat with the Lebanese resistance, in which the invading genocidal bombers will lose, and resorting to aerial and naval bombardment of civilian targets. “In terms of explosive and destructive power,” observes the distinguished Palestinian intellectual Azmi Bishara, “Israel has thrown an atom bomb on Lebanon, it is the Israeli Hiroshima.” (“Blackmail by bombs,” al-Ahram 20-26 July 2006) — and does this racist European colonial settlement called “Israel” still want to have a claim to the legacy of millions of innocent Jews who perished in the Holocaust?
Do they look like Robert Fisk?: Lebanese refugees in the camp of Saida, southern Lebanon, 28 July 2006. (MaanImages/Payam Borazjani)
Genocidal as it is, “Israel,” has no monopoly over racism. Even the best betray the worst. “They look like us, the people of Beirut,” says Robert Fisk in his “Paradise Lost: Robert Fisk’s elegy for Beirut” (The Independent, 21 July 2006). “They have light-coloured skin and speak beautiful English and French. They travel the world. Their women are gorgeous and their food exquisite. But what are we saying of their fate today as the Israelis - in some of their cruelest attacks on this city and the surrounding countryside - tear them from their homes, bomb them on river bridges, cut them off from food and water and electricity?”
What in the blasted nonsense that this world has come to is this? “They look like us, the people of Beirut. They have light-coloured skin and speak beautiful English and French …” What is this racist piece of garbage — and who said all Beirutis look like Robert Fisk, and what does that supposed to mean? That if the Beirutis did not look “like us” — us being the British and the Europeans of Fisk’s choice — then it would have been OK for these savages to murder them? As someone who has read with gratitude Fisk’s reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq, I would not question his journalistic integrity, but I have seen Beirutis who look far more like me than they look like Robert Fisk, and they speak no English or French, nor have they traveled the world. They are positively trapped under a poverty line that does not allow them even near the Rafik Hariri airport, let alone travel the world. Yes, there are plenty of those Beirutis too, who look like Robert Fisk and travel the world, and they are the one who have now mostly run away either to “the world” or else to their mansions in the surrounding mountains of Beirut, hoping that the genocidal bombers will not hit them — and judging by reports from Christian strongholds like the posh Bikfaya they have not. “This is a Christian town,” a resident of Bikfaya recently told Martin Patience of the BBC News (“The divided loyalties of Lebanon,” 20 July 2006) “and many of the residents aren’t happy about the Muslims coming here.” But not the people of Dahiya, the people of the poorest neighborhood of Beirut, the people of Sabra and Shatila (they are not all Palestinians; there are plenty of Lebanese among them — and they certainly don’t look like Robert Fisk), the people of Bekaa Valley, the people of the southern Lebanon. They are Lebanese too — the poor, the wretched, the refugees, the guest workers, the Sri Lankans, the Bangladeshis — they are Beirutis too, the invisible subaltern slaving away at the mansions of the Saudis and the Khalijis and the French and the Americans, people who definitely look like Robert Fisk.
Meanwhile the Oriental regiments of the US neocon artists — ready like eunuchs to provide their servile services and expert knowledge about Hezbollah — that they have no blasted clue what they were talking about and they would not know their nostrils from a hole in the wall if they were dropped in Dahiya was entirely besides the point. “Would Hezbollah use a sophisticated missile that can hit Haifa without permission from Iran?” the question was put to Abbas Milani, a newly recruited neocon at Hoover Institution by himself, and to which he responded himself, “I doubt it.” The same native informer, stretching a bit too thin on the premise for which he has been hired, proceeds to speculate, “There is a connection with the tussle over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, now that China and Russia have suggested they might support referring the issue to the United Nations Security Council. Iran has never made a secret of its support for Hezbollah. … [The Iranians] have been very clear that if push comes to shove, if the West tries to push them, tries to get tough with them, they can get tough back . … They don’t want to sit and wait. They want to show the West that there is a cost for moving against Iran.” (As reported by Neil MacFarquhar and Hassan M. Fattah, “At crossroads, Hezbollah goes on the attack,” International Herald Tribune, 16 July 2006). Such astounding ignorance of the Lebanese politics, the place of Hezbollah within a larger frame of its polity, of which Milani knows absolutely nothing, completely escapes the nauseating consensus that these comprador intellectuals are hired to generate and sustain. “Western governments had no concrete proof that Iran and Syria were behind Hezbollah’s attack.” This is Margaret Beckett, the British Foreign Secretary, who then adds, “I’m not sure that any government anywhere in the world would tell you that they’ve got cast-iron proof [of Iranian and Syrian involvement]. What I can tell you is that almost every government in the world shares our view.” (Daniel Dombey, “Britain Warns Israel Against Ground Invasion,” The Financial Times, 22 July 2006). Well, every government in the world except the U.S. and Israel, their respective propaganda machinery, aided and abetted by the oriental regiment of the neocon artists they have sub-contracted as native dis-informers.
Infinitely more important in what Hezbollah does or does not do is the internal dynamics of political alignments within Lebanon itself, rather than the wishes of the Islamic Republic — even if that inanity had a unanimous voice and vision of what was best for its interest (it does not). Anyone who believes that Hezbollah acts and operates or chooses its course of action with a signal from Tehran or even Damascus is either astoundingly illiterate in the Lebanese internal politics or else is a deceitful charlatan, or both.
The bankrupt and illegitimate mullahs in charge of the Islamic Republic have no control over the Lebanese resistance, but if the cosmopolitan, syncretic, and multi-denominational struggles of the Lebanese heroism succeed in thwarting this killing machine, it will have an effect on the legitimate struggle of Iranians for freedom and democracy. A band of useless expatriate Iranians are now swarming Washington DC hotel lobbies and the White House and the State Department offices, seeking a pathetic role and a lucrative salary for regime change in Iran, doing nothing but wasting our tax money, while registering their ignoble names in the annals of a maligned nation. History is now recording their shameful names and will deal with them in proper time — Abbas Milani, Mohsen Sazegara, Amir Taheri, Azar Nafisi, Ramin Ahmadi, Roya Hakakian, and an ilk of reprehensible names next to them. The battlefronts of Lebanon against the Israeli savagery has an inroad that will generate and sustain a national liberation movement, akin to the one in Palestine, and they will both export democracy, decency, and justice back to Iran, instead of importing a pathological Islamic Republic into Lebanon or Palestine. Mark these words for posterity. This will come to pass. Israel will not reduce the cosmopolitan disposition of national liberation movements in Palestine and Lebanon into tribal affinities of its own image and likeness. The reverse will happen, and the national liberation movements that are now taking exemplary momentum in Palestine and Lebanon will change the entire region, the corrupt Arab regimes, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the medieval patrimonialism of Syria, and of course the Jewish state itself. Mark these words.
Mark these words and see how Zionist historians have already started misreading what is happening in Lebanon. “At any moment in time,” says one particularly ignorant observer, “it is Israel that can turn Nasrallah either into a cinder or a shadow figure like Osama bin Laden, reduced to sending defiant missives from some basement or cave. And Israel can scatter the big chiefs of Hezbollah like the United States scattered the Taliban. This has to be the objective - bin Ladenization of Nasrallah, Talibanization of Hezbollah - and it is not beyond reach. Of course, bin Laden and the Taliban still exist, but they aren’t a regional or global factor. That is the objective here as well. (Yossi Melman, “What will happen next?” Haaretz, 23 July 2006). This is a catastrophic misreading of Hezbollah (catastrophic for Israel of course), and of Hamas for that matter. Hamas and Hezbollah are integral to a grassroots national liberation movement in Palestine and Lebanon. They are the democratically elected representatives of their respective constituencies in a syncretic, multidimensional, and cosmopolitan national liberation movement. They have absolutely nothing similar with the militant adventurism (created and crafted by the American imperial hubris of course) of Osama Bin Laden and the so-called al-Qaeda. Historians of Islamist movements over the last two hundred years know this difference quite clearly. Pestiferous Zionist propaganda mouthpieces falsify this fact at their own perils.
The Israeli propagandists engage in what they believe to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, for the Jewish state makes no bone as to what it intentions are. “We will turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years,” the Israeli Warlord Dan Halutz is reported to have said — meaning back to a history of civil war, of sectarian strife and ethnic tribalism. This is what Israel’s intentions are, for a free, democratic, pluralist, and cosmopolitan Lebanon, true to its hidden hopes and evident in its rising aspirations, is inimical to the tribal barbarity of its southern neighbor — a Jewish state, mirroring an Islamic Republic, requiring a Christian empire to balance their mutual terror, while a Hindu Fundamentalism is lurking in their horizons. Neither the U.S. nor the mini empire it has created in its own image in the Jewish state is capable of dealing with democratic republics that might emerge from national liberation movements in Lebanon and Palestine. They are — the American neocons and the Israeli Zionists — two carnivorous tribes and they want to see the world in their own tribal terms. Terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, illegitimate theocracies like the Islamic Republic, repressive regimes like the patrimonial obscenity in Syria, and corrupt potentates like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which they call “moderate regimes,” are their vintage choices. Free and democratic liberation movements, of the sort evident in Lebanon and Palestine and potentially possible in Iraq, while savagely repressed and thwarted in Syria and Iran — are what this predatory empire and that savage machinery cannot and do not tolerate.
The common struggle for liberation: Palestinians demonstrate in the West Bank city of Ramallah against the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, July 25, 2006. (MaanImages/Fadi Arouri)
The current savagery of the genocidal bombers will not destroy Hamas in Palestine or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Precisely the opposite will happen. Both Hamas and Hezbollah become even more integral to the Palestinian and Lebanese national liberation movements, will one day succeed in helping establish a free, democratic, and cosmopolitan republic in their respective countries, and should the insidious designs of the neocons for Iraq fail and the Iraqis succeed in doing the same, three model nation-states — Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq — will emerge as the shining stars of a new horizon in Western Asia (what the Orientalist and colonialists call “the Middle East”). These democratic models will export their institutional democracies to Iran and Syria, rather than allowing the Syrian medieval patrimonialism or the Islamic theocracy in Iran to clone themselves in their country — and the rest of the Arab and Islamic world will follow. The crowning achievement of this hope is in the day that Palestinians and Israelis will come together and unite, in one free and democratic state, neither Jewish, nor Islamic, nor Christian, nor divided along any tribal tenacity that pits brothers and sisters against each other. These are not the false dreams of an anguished and angry mind. This is the promise of history to a world no neocon chicanery can fool, no propaganda machinery can deny.
Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. He has travelled extensively in Palestine, Lebanon, and the rest of the Arab world. His previous travelogue to Palestine and Lebanon, “For a Fistful of Dust: A Passage to Palestine,” was published in al-Ahram Weekly (23-29 September 2004, Issue No. 709). He is the founder of Dreams of a Nation: A Palestinian Film Project. His edited volume, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema (2006) will be released next month by Verso. His forthcoming book, Iran: A People Interrupted, is scheduled for publication in the Fall 2006 by the New Press.