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From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

If you’re interested, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) recently posted some “Frequently Asked Questions” at their website, www.palsolidarity.org. The official answers to these questions will probably be composed in prose even more purple than the questions’ current font. But since the ISM still hasn’t gotten around to posting their own answers, I’ve made a quick stab at ISM-speak to predict what their oh-so principled responses will be. After they update, we can see how well I did. So, dig:

What is ISM's position on suicide bombings? Well, if you have to ask, you’ll never really understand. But basically: The ISM abhors suicide bombings and all forms of terrorism, including Israeli state terrorism, which is itself a primary cause of the suicide bombings and has in fact claimed far more lives over the years than self-detonating Palestinians. We recognize the Palestinians’ right to armed struggle, but we ourselves much prefer creative nonviolent measures, such as our recent creatively nonviolent, armed attack against the Apartheid Wall, or efforts of ISM activists to creatively stall Israeli soldiers until people can show up to hurl rocks (or perhaps worse) at them. As we note in our mission statement, the Palestinian response to the brutal and illegal Occupation over the years, notwithstanding the myriad histories of Palestinian terrorist groups like the PLO and other such historical realities, has been “mostly peaceful protests, demonstrations, and appeals to Israeli courts.” That’s right: Mostly peaceful protests, the occasional terrorist attack notwithstanding. But terrorism is terrorism, whether it’s spontaneously combusting Palestinians or the Israeli efforts to stop them (and other similarly minded people) via oppressive measures such as curfews, checkpoints, and other humiliations and inconveniences of the Occupation. Although the effects of suicide bombings are indeed terrible, on both the Israeli and Palestinian populations (for it is the latter that must bear the full brunt of the repercussions of such acts, after all, in the form of reprisal attacks and so on), the effects of the Occupation are full worse, and it is the Occupation that breeds the despair and humiliation that engenders suicide bombings. Indeed, if there were no Occupation there would be little if any terrorism, so we must look at the real root cause of suicide bombings and other Palestinian terrorism—that is, the decades old illegal and brutal Occupation of Palestine—and place blame accordingly. Never mind, of course, that other people have lived through far worse than the Palestinians have without resorting to a campaign of suicide terrorism against civilian targets, a campaign that is unprecedented in the history of humanity. We acknowledge that never before have self-detonating human bombs been launched against civilian targets (Japanese Kamikazim and the suicide bombers of the Tamil Tiger at least had the decency to restrict themselves primarily or entirely to political or military figures). To be sure, this isn’t much of a contribution to humanity, yet so terrible is the plight of the oppressed Palestinians, who have had to endure an Occupation of unprecedented scope and scale (did we mention that it’s brutal and illegal, too?) that they have had little choice but to resort to such measures of self-sacrifice. And it’s hardly the fault of the Palestinians that in this monumentally unequal struggle that their weapons so often include only their own bodies, albeit with some explosives, some nails, and some rat poison attached. Such barbarity and its widespread support is symptomatic not of Palestinian society but of the despair and desperation bred by the illegal and brutal Occupation of Palestine. Indeed, as a banner that used to be displayed on our website proclaimed, “It’s the Occupation, Stupid!”

Does ISM protect terrorists? Horrors, no! Well, not deliberately, at least. But please keep in mind that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter is another man’s activist, and, as was so eloquently stated in the diktats of the Palestine Solidarity Movement’s most recent annual conference, “As an international solidarity movement it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.” Also, just because ISM activists have been known to protect the homes of recently killed-in-action Palestinian terrorists, er, fighters (one of our activists even moved in with the resistance fighter’s family, despite the fact that their son was killed while attempting to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in the dead of night), this should in no way be taken as offing protection for their terrorist kin, even if such measures offer consolation or reassurance to potential suicide terrorists. After all, knowing that foreigners like us might protect their families after their own deaths must offer them no small degree of comfort as they set out to murder innocent people. Also, despite the fact that terrorists have been known to make a social encounter with us prior to setting out to slaughter as many Israeli civilians as possible, and that at least one terrorist somehow ended up hiding in one of our offices, we do not support the terrorist actions of such people. It’s not our fault such folks somehow ended up with us. After all, it’s not the dog poop’s fault that flies are attracted to it, y’know? And slogans like “Palestine Will Be Free From the River to the Sea” are totally radical and revolutionary, even if genocidal terrorist groups like Hamas use them, too. And as we mentioned above, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, so, in the words of ISM activist Rachel Corrie (whose murder at the hands of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) we are so-NOT milking for publicity, despite her picture being plastered all over our website), “try to imagine, please, the courage it requires to do what these young fighters do, knowing that the odds are against escape and that, every time they do succeed in evading death, the odds against a further survival are shortened. Even if the operation is a success the price is always high.” Granted, the price is even higher for the Israelis they may have maimed or murdered, but please, imagine the courage!

Is ISM doing anything to protect Israeli civilians? Of course! In helping end the decades old illegal Occupation of Palestine we help reduce and eliminate the causes of Palestinian resistance, which has occasionally manifested itself as unpleasant actions towards Israeli civilians. By helping reduce both the need for Palestinian resistance and the causes (humiliation, despair, etc.) behind its more unpleasant manifestations (Zionists would call it terrorism), and hence its subsequent (albeit occasional) unfortunate effects (dead children at shopping malls, for example) we thus help protect Israeli civilians who might have otherwise found themselves occupying the wrong pizza parlor or public bus at the wrong time. Please keep in mind, though, that many Israeli civilians are in fact military reservists, and the status of settlers as civilians is problematic at best. Some settlers even carry guns, you know! Also, the reason “We don't usually recommend people ride Israeli busses!” (a little chuckle from elsewhere on our webpage, tee hee!) with Israeli civilians is not because we are fully aware that by doing so we would be placing ourselves on the front lines of Palestinian terrorism, er, resistance, and thus putting our lives at actual risk, but because riding Israeli buses would be like, you know, totally offering support and stuff to the Israeli economy. We’d much rather take our chances with the Israeli government, as unlike self-detonating Palestinian activists they at least take measures to protect civilians like us, regardless of how obnoxious we are or how much extra danger our disruptive actions place Israelis into, rather than (like self-detonating Palestinian resistance fighters) trying to kill as many people as they can, willy-nilly and regardless of nationality or religion. Plus, the IOF are quite likely the most restrained and moral army in the world, and the fact that they haven’t started mass deportations (or worse) of ISM activists, as would have any other military in the world by now, is testament to their restraint. We take full advantage of such restraint, of course, and are quite thankful for it, even if we don’t know it. Also, although we don’t suggest taking advantage of Israeli buses, taking advantage of programs like Birthright Israel is no problemo. Just ask our co-founder, Adam “Free Ticket” Shapiro. It’s all about risin’ up, dawg, and stickin’ it to the (Zionist) man!

Why Palestine when there are so many other areas of conflict in the world? Why, indeed. Quite simply: Because Palestinians are the largest and oldest refugee group in the world; Israel is a brutal, anachronistic, colonial, Apartheid state established upon the racist tenets of Zionism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine’s indigenous population; Israel has had more United Nations resolutions passed against it than any other country, including Apartheid South Africa, Syria, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Libya, resolutions which Israel inevitably flaunts or ignores (indeed, that Israel has had more Security Council Resolutions passed against it than all other countries combined is used by some people, especially Zionist, as evidence of some sort of alleged anti-Israeli bias on the part of the U.N.; in fact, this preponderance of resolutions merely shows how awful Israel actually is);and Israel receives the unfair and unequal support of the US, the most powerful country in the world. Indeed, per our mission statement, “Under the protection of its powerful ally and benefactor, the United States, Israelhas (sic) been able to continue the occupation, build illegal settlements, deny the most basic of human rights, and pursue policies aimed at removing all Palestinians from their homeland.” (Please don’t ask us what all these “policies aimed at removing all Palestinians from their homeland “ are, because you won’t get an intelligent response. Oh, and Israeli tanks are made in America, and Arabs are Semites, too, by the way.) Such unfair support, from the world’s most powerful country, no less, not to mention the pro-Zionist slant of so much of the media, necessitates that someone stand up for and raise awareness of the Palestinians, who have lived under the illegal Israeli Occupation for decades and who have been unfairly portrayed and victimized as both terrorists and the aggressors in the conflict. Indeed, despite numerous public opinion polls that have indicated overwhelming Palestinian support for measures like suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, “the vast majority of Palestinians,” again per our mission statement, “are peaceful, and want only for the Israelis to treat them with justice and respect, and to live in peace with them as neighbours.” And really, who hasn’t wanted their neighbors to be blown up while they were, say, dining at a restaurant? Granted, there are many other areas of conflict in the world, including other places where Palestinians are oppressed (in Lebanon, for example, they are excluded from most jobs and services), but who the hell in their right minds would go somewhere like Lebanon or Syria or Jordan to oppose the government and support Palestinian refugees there? Have you seen how dissent gets treated in Syria? Ever seen Palestinian refugees hurling rocks or Molotov cocktails at Jordanian or Syrian soldiers? Ever heard of Hama? Black September? Hello? We’ll stick with the nefarious IOF, thank you very much! Indeed, since Arab countries (all except Jordan, in fact), none of whom even remotely resemble a democracy, generally refuse to offer citizenship to Palestinians as a group, and Arab countries like Libya and Kuwait have expelled tens of thousands of Palestinians in recent years, we thus direct our actions not against Arab countries, of which there are so many to choose, but against Israel, a democratic country that has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees over the years, and the only country to ever offer Palestinians a state. No, this isn’t a double standard, trust us.

Also, to point out that much of historic Palestine is now an Arab country called Jordan (and, no, we’re not going to those parts of Palestine to stand in solidarity with Palestinians there, either, and not just because Jordanian holding centers probably wouldn’t supply vegetarian meals to our activists, as Israel has been know to do—just ask Abe “Motherf*cking Smash Mouth” Greenhouse) or that the West Bank did not become an eponymous geographic entity until 1948, is to risk engaging in a Zionist hermeneutics of engagement, not to mention Orientalist historicism and other paradigms of colonialist discourse, and we’d really prefer not to. Granted, we’re not sure what some of those words mean, but Hanan Ashrawi is always talking about such things, and she’s always right.

Also, as far as standing in active and vocal solidarity with the plight of, say, the gay and lesbian populations of Palestine, not to mention Palestinian women and girls who have been victimized by honor killings and the like, or openly protesting the widespread indoctrination (child abuse, that is) of Palestinian children with militaristic fanaticism and hate (schools and sports teams named after terrorists, for example): Well, such demonstrations would do little if anything to create bad publicity for Israel, and thus don’t really serve our purposes. After all, gay rights activism and other forms of solidarity with gay Palestinians and other such segments of Palestinian society might offend certain Palestinians, especially those of the “activist” bent. Ever seen a gay Fatah or Hamas member? Neither have we. So when it comes to chanting slogans of solidarity in the face of Palestinian homophobes or the IOF, we’ll take the latter! We’ll rise up in open and loud solidarity with gay Palestinians (not to mention Palestinian females who have been murdered and maimed and otherwise victimized by the patriarchy of Palestinian society) as soon as there’s a Palestinian state. Seriously. And anyway, Palestinian gays and lesbians can find refuge in Apartheid Israel, just as the Egyptian Foreign Minister did the other day after being attacked by Palestinians.

Is ISM affiliated with any political party? We are internationals of good will from across the world, and as such our group affiliation is one of solidarity with oppressed people everywhere, especially indigenous peoples living under colonial oppression. Be that as it may, our training packet dictates that “ISM activists will be in contact with local activists and leadership in every community where we will be active.” One doesn’t have to be affiliated with a political party or terrorist organization to attend the same rallies as terrorist groups, though, and should ISM activists attend, and even participate in, rallies or other “spirited demonstrations” that feature racist terrorist groups like Fatah, Hamas, and PFLP, their attendance should not be taken as support for such racist terrorist groups any more so than should someone’s attendance and participation at rallies that featured Neo-Nazis or the Klu Klux Klan indicate his or her support for those racist terrorist groups. And please don’t ask ISM activists who are self-proclaimed Anarchists why they support Palestinian nationalism despite Anarchism being opposed to statism and state structures. Such questions just make their brains hurt, and you won’t get an intelligent reply. Plus, we’re confident that they’ll protest the existence of Palestinian statehood just as soon as it happens. ISM activists aren’t witless hypocrites, after all.

If the ISM ever get around to posting their own answers, I suspect those of The Blue Octavo Notebooks might actually be quite a bit better, not to mention more informative. But so it goes.

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