It always seemed strange to me how we as a people have lacked the ability to criticize the way in which we resist. We all play for the same team for obvious historical, ethnic, cultural and religious reasons. We all have the same common goal. We all look at the occupations in the same way. We all look at the opposing teams the same way. Essentially what we disagree on is the strategy we employ to win. For purposes of this post, when I say ‘we’ I mean the Arab people.
In such cases there seems to always be a majority and a minority. The majority is a group of people who I feel are blinded by the emotions of the situation. When realities explode, the blast tends to blind everyone near it. Those same realities can be so powerful that it makes it difficult for people to criticize the choices made in the subsequent moments. All crimes are committed in a moment of justifiable passion. It’s only afterwards that the majority begins to revise its thinking. And the worse things get, the worse we become, the more the environment begins to change and we become braver when it comes to speaking up and speaking out.
The US invasion of Iraq was such a giant wave that we didn’t care what came next. Kidnappings and beheadings of civilians became so popular that criticizing the act in the face of the initial invasion seemed insane; even more so after Abu Ghrieb and the counter of ‘well look what they did to us’ became more prevalent.
Bombing Iraqis lining up to join the police force was also perceived as an act of courage. They were joining the enemy and deserved to die.
But then the perception began to change.
Kidnappings and beheadings started to target more and more people who seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the American occupation. Journalists, drivers etc. The bombings became more and more senseless as well and before we knew it they had gone from Iraqis waiting in line to sign up for the police force, to Iraqis praying in a mosque. At this point in time the justification was that the US was fabricating all these things. That they in fact orchestrated all the beheadings and the bombings of mosques, hospitals and schools; a perception which eventually died down the more and more it became obvious that this was far from the case.
There’s always that moment when even the biggest advocates are thinking to themselves that this has gone too far; beyond the realms of justification. And the environment begins to change to allow for some reflection, for some criticism. Perceptions changed in Amman on November 9th 2005. Acts we felt made sense before began to feel illogical. It was a reality that hit at the core of our beliefs.
Yet still, we cannot criticize methods of resistance employed in Palestine. In the context of time it’s only been recently that people have changed their minds about the kidnapping of journalists as opposed to soldiers, or the bombing of markets as opposed to checkpoints. To do this is to deny Palestinians of their right to resist and illegal occupation.
It’s a strange situation. Especially when historically there was a great deal of self-criticism when it came to how we chose to fight. From the Prophet pbuh to Salah il-Deen; wrongs and rights were always pointed out. War ethics were established. There was never an “anything goes” situation, or at least one that didn’t go criticized. Even Salah il-Deen who everyone seems to look up to as the model of a Muslim commander, stated that crusaders fight according to their ethics and we fight according to our ethics.
We seem to have abandoned that.
Instead we say ‘they started it’ or ‘they’ve done worse’. And so our models for resistance become the laws of physics; our reactions became proportionate and equal to their actions. Or at least we aim for that much. We let the people we fight to lead us down the slippery slope into the darkness. The worse they act the worse we react.
Have we really lost all sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, or at the very least the ability to point to a losing strategy?
In truth, I think a lot of people belonging to the majority have a sense of the rights and wrongs but are too scared to say it. The environment is not conducive to criticism.
Should we wait until our actions become worse and worse until there’s no room for justification? Should we remain silent because to speak out is to suggest an unpatriotic attitude; a betrayal of the cause? Should we follow in ‘their’ footsteps?
What happens next?