Tariq Ali Comes to Oakland
By Geoffrey Cook, TMO
Alameda (Calif.)–It is a bit of a London urban legend that the 1960s legendary rock group â€œthe Rolling Stones,â€ had written their (infamous) single, â€œStreet-Fighting Manâ€ after Tariq Ali, the Anglo-Pakistani, whom we talked about a fortnight ago, and of which this article is a continuation of the reportage of his October visit to Oakland (Calif.).
When Ali came to the San Francisco Bay, the Occupy Oakland Movement was in full swing, and had taken â€œcenter stageâ€ away from New York Cityâ€™s Wall Street, and, as your reporter begins to write writes today (the 12th), demonstrators are shutting down the Port here as well as other major Western North American Seaports. The situation has degenerated into a â€œRevolutionaryâ€-style crisis very similar to what happened in the Middle Eastâ€™s Arab â€œSpring.â€
Last week we left at Aliâ€™s statement that it was the Colonial British Office that had installed the Bahraini Sunni monarch against which the Shia majority is presently rebelling. Tariq Ali demonstrated a sharp and witty sense of history at his Oakland presence of October 29th!
â€œThe selective vigilantism by the West I resent!â€ Further, by damning their Colonial masters, â€œThe Israelis use the holocaust to blackmail the Occident!â€
The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) targets young (five to fourteen) year-old Palestinian Male youths. For the Jews, one Hebrew is worth hundreds of Arab lives! A Palestinian is denied his voice in his very homeland. A former South African bureaucrat confided to Tariq that that their (S.A.â€™s) â€œBantustans were much â€˜betterâ€™ than the [present] Palestinian system.â€
Curiously, Ali, a Post- Colonial radical, did not have a good grasp on the essence of the Arab â€œSpring,â€ for he hoped it would revert to a Nasser-like Modernist revival over the Palestinian nation. One of the chief elements of the â€œSpringâ€ is to re-assert a place for Islam within the Body Politick. The recent election in Tunisia and the ongoing one in Egypt show a preference for a democratic Islamism. As your writer has remarked before, the Arab â€œSpringâ€ has largely been a reaction to the corruption and repression of the second and third (degenerate) Nationalist generations. Old fashioned Leftist ideas are not going to work in these times. The religious or spiritual appears to be taking place as a central element in governance in the Arabic sphere.
The Palestinian Authority (P.A.â€™s) trip to the U.N. (United Nations) was no more than a charade for T. Ali. What sort of State can be created by the G.A. (General Assembly)? He does not think much of the 1967 boundaries. In a sense I agree with him. For it would be wonderful if we could revert to the admirable multi-sectarian province that it was under the Ottomans and the Mandate under the British instead. (Your writer in no way looks back nostalgically upon the alien repression that the Palestinians were subsumed under those Imperia, but rather the Civil Society they were able to build despite them then.) The only reason I still hold out for a two-State solution â€“ and that is fading fast â€“ Israel, unfortunately, is a reality that has to be dealt with for Palestinian Independence to finally be successful.
Unfortunately, too, he doubts Israel (really) intends to leave the Occupied Territories. Mr. Ali accused Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of being a fascist. (Fascism is a charged word. Fascism with a big â€œFâ€ represents a very particular political philosophy; Lieberman is fascist-like in his secularism and vehement vicious anti- Arabism), but the West consents to recognize, and meet with him for political discussions! Why? (To be facetious, if you can answer this question, please send this scribe a memo!)
T. Ali favors a single State in what we term the Holy Land. Everyone would be a citizen of a single admirable tri-Sectarian, Bi-ethnic State. Succinctly, though, if a bi-State solution is not achieved under the Obama Administration; changing demographics there will make a Jewish State untenable!
The Arabs in and of themselves cannot destroy Israel. It is a substantial nuclear-armed State with the sixth largest army in the world. (Because its threats are nearby, its ability to wage war from a distance is limited, though.) This makes Tel Aviv no more than a regional bully; thereby, its hegemony is limited, and, unless it can renounce its Settler Colonialism and integrate into the larger Middle East its days are numbered!
Mr. Ali pointed out that many German Jews are now returning to their ancestral homes in Germany.
(As for the biggest losers in displacement with the establishment of a Jewish State, it has not been so much the Muslims, but rather the Christians!) Besides, â€œNo one can push you [Israel] into the sea.â€ Tariq Ali opines that â€œIsrael is the last (Colonial) Imperial motherland in the twenty-first century!â€
Positively, he deems that â€œThe Arab uprising should resolve the Palestinian crisis.â€ (It definitely will affect it positively, but whether it will be a bell weather of a solution is yet to be seen.) Further, a horrible propagandistic Islamophobia has ugly lifted its eyes over the culture of the Occident and in the West including America, too. Strangely, what American Muslims have gone through during this last decade, is similar to what the Jewish immigrants of the first part of the Twentieth Century had to undergo. (All communes in North America have much to teach each other.)
It was a general article of belief that Arabs could not achieve democracy in and of themselves, but this â€œSpringâ€ has changed the landscape. (America and the West must not continue their inane mantra that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East!)
Let us continue our discussion within the forthcoming time period ahead.