On a frosty New York weekend afternoon we demonstrated together across at the United Nations building, side by side: Palestinians, Jewish Israelis, Egyptians, Tunisians, and other young people from the Mediterranean region, in fraternity with the forces of freedom arising in the Middle East. Our joint goal was to fight against any dictatorship which tries to violate the rights of every person to a life of liberty.
We demonstrated in support of the Egyptian nation and its just struggle against the Mubarak dictatorship.
We marched for the Palestinian nation and its just struggle against the regime of pillage and apartheid of “the Jewish Democracy.”
We sang for the Iranian nation and its just yearning for freedom and against the rule of the ayatollahs.
And we felt like we were taking part in the Jasmine revolution, where the path was made clear by the courageous Tunisian people.
Several people asked me how it could be that “the only democracy in the Middle East” was the only one to object to the Middle Eastern Jasmine revolution. I turned to Israeli websites and was dismayed at what I saw. While the whole world supports a new age of democracy, it was only the leaders of Israel, its news commentators – including senior figures of the left – that expressed full support for the Middle Eastern dictatorship.
The best way to explain Israel’s responses to the revolution is to make somewhat loose use of terms borrowed by philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who likes telling us about Wile E. Coyote’s adventures in the Road Runner cartoons. Wile E. keeps running along in the air after the precipice is gone and doesn’t immediately fall into the abyss. Zizek explains that the coyote loses contact with reality from a suicidal urge to be greedy, due to a blind ideological belief that the desert bird belongs to him and is there to satisfy his desire.
Like him, we too are running over an abyss of hollow ideologies and conceptions which are no longer valid. Anyone who dares to sound the warning call about this is pilloried. The official interpreters of the news keep getting it wrong, and providing an erroneous analysis, again and again. However, a day will come and the “obviously discontent” will take to the streets and shout out and be heard to the ends of the world, and an entire state will look down and see that there is no more earth beneath its feet; and it will then plummet into the abyss of reality and heaven forbid, shatter in the abyss.
It is with this understanding that a revolutionary partnership of Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs was established, there by the United Nations building. It was named “The Binational Popular Front For The Liberation Of The Middle East”. This group sees the just, nonviolent struggle for the liberation of Palestine as part of a greater struggle. It is a struggle that views the concept of liberty in paradigms that extend beyond religion and nationality, respecting these religious and national aspirations and expanding them into universal thinking.
However, in the State of Israel today, in order to maintain the denial and pad it with Jewish bread, circuses, and spirituality, it is not enough to keep two million of our local people in poverty, as cheap labor deprived of its right; it is also not enough to oppress four million Palestinians and humiliate them incessantly and cause our own poor to hate them rather than rise up against us. Apparently, in order to satisfy the appetite of “the only democracy in the Middle East” the entire Middle East must be enslaved. Which makes you have to ask: how does it feel to have the entire Middle East enslaved to dictatorships in the service of the lauded United States, only to provide a continuous flow of water, gas, sex slaves, foreign laborers, hashish, high culture, low culture, celebrities, and security fencing around the nouveau riche villa we’ve established in the barbaric jungle.
Each individual retains their particular identity within the joint group, but simultaneously takes part in the fight for the universal values of justice and equality. This group is sensitive to historical processes happening in our region and is aware of the dangers to the revolution from two reactionary super-powers: religious fundamentalism on the one hand, be it Jewish or Muslim, and post-colonial dictatorship on the other hand, caring only for its elites. We can already see the devastating combination of these two reactionary forces as the primary components of the Israeli government, and identify them as the forces destroying Palestinian society from the inside.
Between these two dark forces there rises a glowing third power of civic forces, fighting for a new road. Who will keep it from falling into the arms of Iran or of America? We cannot stand aside and when it is all over, announce deterministically “I told you so.” It is far better to take part in the Jasmine Revolution and try and create a place that will fit in a Middle East trying to redefine itself in liberty.
Our potential, between the river and the sea, is made of two million poor people, four million Palestinians with no rights, and half a million elitists racked with guilt. That’s not a bad start for a revolution.
The Binational Popular Front for the Liberation of the Middle East
Translated by Dena Shunra. This article is from Udi Aloni’s Brooklyn-Jenin column he is writing for the Israeli website Ynet about his experience living between New York City and the Jenin refugee camp, where he is teaching a film production class. You can read the entire Brooklyn-Jenin series here.