Observations on the Palestine Solidarity Conference:
The Necessity for the Movement
to Broaden its Base
Third North American Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement
Whatever the religion of Jesus was, that is my religion. I consider myself a Muslim, although I must admit, like most refugees to Islam from the West, I am unwanted and unloved by the Ummah. I came to this Path during college, where I had spent the first few years active with the Leftists and Anarchists protesting the Gulf War and Capitalism. Indeed my house was the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade House of Detroit, and many meetings of leftist intellectuals, old and young, took place there. I also knew well the editors of the Fifth Estate and the local anarchist community, with whom I also shared a home for a time.
I noticed after the Gulf War a demoralization of the movement, and its refocusing on sexual liberties. I started to realize that this secular worldview was internally self-defeating. I wanted to work for a world where it is safe for babies to be born, not to struggle for the right to perform abortion and sodomy. I also saw that while the Leftists claimed to speak for the Oppressed, the Muslims actually prayed with them. When I declared my faith in God openly, after keeping quiet about it all these years, the Anarchists cast me out of their circle, in fact one of them spit on me. The rejection of feminism was something they found as a total betrayal. The Communists did keep me as a comrade on topics of shared interest such as Iraq.
I joined the MSA [Muslim Student Association] and became part of the executive committee. In the ten years I have been Muslim I experienced some uplift, but suffered a lot of racism from the Muslim community which ultimately ended my marriage to another MSA executive from Wayne State University who I had met organizing a Walk For Iraqi Orphans. After growing up German in white liberal Zionist Ann Arbor, home of the second Palestine conference, I also have had the experience of living for seven years in an inner city black neighborhood, then two years living among the Arabs in Dearborn, then two years in New Jersey among the Hindus, and now in an orthodox Jewish enclave in New Jersey, in addition to having the intense anthropological experience of getting to know the Pakistani community and the Muslim community at large. Throughout all these years I have been the editor of an Islamic News Service (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vwns/). I understand the immigrant experience because I too am an immigrants’ daughter (German/Swiss) who spent the majority of her life trying to understand American culture as an outsider trying to fit in.
I have watched my parents struggle and I try to learn from their mistakes while preserving the values they gave me. I tell you all of this only to explain that I am someone with diverse and deep connections to many different ethnic and political subcultures of America, all the while remaining an outsider in this country since the day I was born. Therefore I hope you will understand that my criticisms are a result of my experiences within my lifelong commitment to struggling to spread Light in the world through self-illumination, for every Believer is like a lamp unto himself and unto the world. I have been watching the Palestine conference development as I live in the area of the Rutgers campus. I was not involved in the dispute but I heard there was a break-up of the New Jersey Solidarity movement on the issue of whether or not to openly support the Palestinian right to self-direct their own struggle and choose for themselves which methods of warfare they deem appropriate and effective, versus those who want to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict by appealing to the empathy of the world community. Since I believe that everyone has their own role to play in the struggle and in life’s comic tragedy, I am not offended by the split, although I believe the view most consistent with ‘American values’ is the view that Palestinians have the right to retaliation. My goal is freedom for Palestine and the entire Arab world, which includes the freedom to form an Islamic government that corresponds with the values of the indigenous population and guarantees protection to non-Muslims. I was very glad the Divestment Conference happened, and I also have very serious concerns and suggestions.
It occurred to me during the Rutgers Palestine conference that there is a danger in allowing Leftists to dominate Anti-Zionist discourse because in many ways their vision is a vision of Leftist Fascism, imposing secularism on the Islamic world. Because this is impossible, it is like making defeat inevitable. No leftist organization has ever won an election in America, so leaving the Anti-Zionist struggle to the Left is not the best plan of attack. It is very frustrating for a Muslim trying to communicate with Americans because of this censorship of the spirit. For example, for years I have tried to submit my writing to radical and not so radical leftist and anarchist political publications but am always rejected for being ‘too religious’.
The immigrant American Muslims are in a quandary because they have so few friends to help them stop the genocide of Muslims worldwide. The only groups that have stepped forward to embrace the Palestinian cause and tried to work with the immigrant communities are the Communists, the Socialists, and the Homosexuals.
Recently, I attended the Walk For Palestine organized by the Arabs who left the NJ Solidarity movement because they thought that inviting a speaker from Hamas was a bad idea. It was a small fragmented group of marchers, and morale was low because it was a conglomeration of fringe elements, not a mass movement. The largest groups of people who attended this walk, other than the Arabs, were secular Jews and Homosexuals. The Palestine Conference, organized by the more radical core of NJS, was attended by Leftists, Secular Jews, and Homosexuals. I worry for the Palestinians because this is clearly not a mainstream American movement. In both events there was a conspicuous absence of Christians.
The reason is probably not because no Christians care about Palestine but because no one who believes in God, unless they are a member of an Oppressed Race, is welcome among the Leftists. In fact, when someone stood up to suggest that they try to work with people from the Right instead of limiting our audience to the Left, he was ruthlessly dismissed and told that not only would the Left never network with the Right, but if any of them ever tried to show up at a Pro-Palestine rally, they would be forced to go home. The speaker cited the example of the ‘Arab-Americans’ support for George Bush and what a mistake that had been. He had actually been thinking about Pat Buchanan. But the Leftists could not stomach any Christian Republican even if he supports human rights for Arabs.
This is a little puzzling, unless one understands the intense Zionist brainwashing that is shoved into American minds beginning in elementary school. It is a deep fear and hatred of Christians and the enforced secularization of society by keeping religious faith out of public discourse. I can tell you why Republicans are viewed as being the Great Satan. It is because they they oppose sodomy and abortion. Our Muslim and Palestinian friends do not have a problem with ‘Christian values’. They should not allow themselves to be intimidated by the secular fascism of the Left. Please note the way the speaker referred to the Muslim community as ‘Arab-Americans’. It was the immigrant Muslim community, not just Arabs, that foolishly endorsed George Bush, Jr. Like the Zionists, the Leftists refuse to acknowledge Islam as a guiding force for humanity. Zionists too always refuse to say ‘Muslim’ and always say ‘Arabs’. In more ways than one, I note a lingering effect of secular Zionist programming within the Left. It has the result of creating a False Opposition. Not false in the sense of insincerity, because I’m sure everyone sincerely wants to help the Palestinians, but false in the sense that this is not the way that will lead to victory. A very big reason for this is that the Left needs oppression to exist. As long as there is a struggle, the Leftists will be there rooting for the oppressed. But they want to control the direction of the liberation movement. They don’t want Islam. If an Islamic government took over and granted stability to the region, the Leftists would do everything they can to undermine the success of the Muslims to succeed in creating a functioning theocracy.
Although I deeply appreciate the empathy of the Left and I strongly encourage Muslims to learn from all people, I must advise the Muslims not to limit their friends to those who are eager to use the Palestinian cause to promote their secular ideologies. Remember the words of a Jewish peace activist in Palestine who said on Indymedia, “As long as Zionists are oppressing Palestinians, I will protest them, but as soon as the Muslims try to form an Islamic State I’ll be here protesting against them”. Osama bin Laden made a similar observation, that while it was helpful to Muslims for the Leftists to take up our causes, we must never consider them as our protectors.
The reason that Leftists support Muslim causes is NOT because they support Muslims right to a God-centered ideology. It is because Leftists fear that if Muslims are not granted justice within a secular context, they will turn to religion and this must never be allowed to happen. In fact, I had a stack of brochures entitled “What Islam Stands For” and I was surprised at the discomfort people expressed in keeping this brochure on their table. As if Islam were irrelevant to Palestine. As if being open about one’s faith were divisive to the Pro-Palestine movement. It still smacks of the same kind of stunting of the Palestinian rights movement within the Peace movement that was condemned by the conference. For surely Palestinian rights must include freedom of religion.
But on the other hand, I must also comment on the cliquishness of the Muslim Students Association, because the entire time I was there, not one of them met my eye, even when I went to their table to buy a book they regarded me as a non-person, even though I wore a long dress. All I was to them was a faceless white person. So what I see is that this movement is handicapped by competing ideologies and intense bigotry on the part of both sides trying to work with each other, and even more intense conflicts with the groups they refuse to work with. Please understand my criticisms come from deep love of both the Leftist and Muslim communities, and the gratefulness I have for the basic foundation of political awareness that they have laid down for me. What I am trying to do now is digest what I have learned from both groups and go forward in a way that respects the sensitivities of Palestinian culture.
When it comes to the Muslims, they are every bit as opportunistic as the Leftists. The main focus of MSA and most Islamic organizations, in addition to sending relief to desperate Muslims around the world, is to win converts to Islam. Of course, how to absorb these new converts into the inner circles of the Muslims is a problem yet to be resolved. The main reason Muslims like to see Americans, especially white intellectuals, convert to Islam, is because this proves to the Muslims that they are the best, and their religion is so good that even Americans will convert to it. The American converts are then paraded around on stage and coerced into making speeches about why they accepted Islam in front of teary-eyed Muslims that afterwards refuse to speak to them unless it’s to ask them to give another speech somewhere else. Conspicuous also in their absence, except for a few exceptions, were the African Americans or Latinos, whether Muslim or Christian. The tendency of the Left to be a self-contained movement of white intellectuals and the tendency of Muslims to be a self-contained community of immigrants has resulted in a fragmented movement without a broad base.
When I was active in the MSA I tried to help the MSA connect with the Leftists because they do have a lot of shared causes and I’m glad that they have moved forward in this regard. But I also tried to get the MSA to work harder with the Unitarian Church across the street, which is known for social activism. The Muslims were very resistant to befriending Christians or any white Americans. From the nearly complete absence of believing Christians at either of the Palestine Solidarity movement groups I gather that this is probably where we need to start focusing our efforts if we want to gather momentum for Palestine activism. In truth, there are many Christians who care about Palestine. In my experience some of the most Muslim-friendly people in America are Irish-American Catholics, Unitarians, and Quakers.
Strongest among men in enmity to the Believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; And nearest among them in love to the Believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians”, Because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. (5:82 Quran)
So what are Muslims doing following secularists and pagans into a sexually liberal Leftist atmosphere? I think the Leftists decision to take the Peace Movement away from the Zionists is a great plan, and they should be encouraged to keep things moving in that direction. We should support them.
Still, the Muslims must realize they cannot stop with the Peace activists. We are not seeking peace. We get peace from Allah. In Palestine, we will stop only at victory, which will be, inshaAllah, in the end, a just implementation of Islamic religion. We have to guard against the Palestine movement being represented primarily by homosexuals and feminists, like what happened with the Chicano movement, which does not represent the majority of Latinos and Mexicans who are religious Catholics and hold traditional family values. Even Sir Francis Boyle, who has struggled tirelessly on behalf of the Palestinian people, has strived to impose feminism upon the Muslim and Christian people of Palestine and they rejected it. Islam has women’s rights. Although we want to build as many bridges as possible, Muslims should represent themselves. Ultimately, we have to realize that this is a religious struggle and at core, it is a struggle between Faith and Disbelief.
Secularism is an outdated worldview that includes Zionism. The strict enforcement of secularism within the Palestine movement has resulted in not only Leftists controlling the discourse and limiting it to Arab nationalism, which, like the two-state solution, Palestinians have already grown beyond. This in turn leads to fragmenting of the movement. This is the result of the twisted internalization of the Christian value of martyrdom within the Communist dogma, strangely enough. The speaker, when explaining why the Right must be excluded from Pro-Palestine rallies, said something to the effect of, “It is better to be weak and correct, than strong and compromised”. This dogma of the Hopeless Despair of the Good Man is an internalization of self-defeat, related to the self-denial of the atheist who insists he has no soul and that nothing he does really matters. Ultimately, Belief must prevail if Palestine is to win the war. Belief is the idea that man is able to perfect himself. We struggle to convince Americans to reject Zionism because we believe that if they only knew better, they would stop doing what they are doing. It is a matter of Faith to believe in the inherent goodness of the human being: the Islamic belief that all people are at core, Muslim. We believe it is possible to be right and to be strong, because that is the example of Mohammad.
The antithesis of Belief is Disbelief, and the most striking example of it is in the Leftist Zionist who accepts injustice as some kind of inevitable force of nature because he believes in the inherent corruption of man. The Zionists insist on their right to kill and plunder because they argue, the Europeans did it, why can’t we? The Leftist Zionist Peacenik sheds crocodile tears for the fate of the Palestinian people, but he does nothing. He does not dare to question the right of Israel to exist; he has already submitted his heart to moral defeat. He knows it’s wrong, but he finds a way to justify. He comes up with some sanitized explanation of events so that he can convince himself he is a good person. He says, falsely mimicking Christianity again, “It is better to die refusing to kill than to be a terrorist”. Thus, he dehumanizes Palestinians as terrorists for refusing to die willingly, and so justifies their mass extinction.
When I was fourteen years old I joined a Peace March in DC (running away from home) and I truly believed that it was Republicans who were at fault for the world problems. If only the Democrats were in control we could have peace on earth. So I was told by the Zionist peaceniks. But then, when we had a Democrat in office, I saw the total betrayal of peace by the Democrats as they willingly starved 1.5 million Iraqis to death and told the US government to bomb the Taliban for the sake of women’s liberation. I watched as the very person who drove me to the peace march in 1985 grew up to become a Zionist. The attempt of Leftists to try to straddle both sides of the fence, to say they are for Muslims but they are against Islam, is an ominous warning of further betrayals by the Peace Movement. For this reason I find the Left’s rejection of Republicans completely absurd, because it uncovers an interesting fact: most Leftists are closet Democrats. Given that for Muslims, there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, they are nearly all anti-Islam bigots; we should get out of this secular trap and start appealing to people’s souls.
What is really needed is for someone who understands American mainstream thinking to make Zionism into a brand name for Racism and Anti-Americanism, if America is to kick out the Zionists from the takeover of the US government. I left the Leftists and became Muslim for a reason. That was the arrogant, anti-woman (anyone that advocates abortion instead of insisting that men take responsibility for their offspring through marriage is anti-woman), and anti-spirit attitudes that I felt made their idealistic vision self-defeating. The Left will always be at the fringe, and they will not allow Palestine to become a mainstream, religious issue.
The Leftists should do their thing, but the Palestine movement needs to broaden its base because the goal is victory. If we define the defense of Palestine as a radical, revolutionary movement, this lessens its appeal to the general public. Furthermore, I recognized a lingering effect of Jewish Zionism in the enforced secularism of the Pro-Palestine discourse. The Zionists who want America to suicide bomb itself to take care of the Middle East for Israel, after which Israel will dominate world politics (since America will be dead), are doing this deliberately. The Left shares this delight of seeing America humiliated. The condemnation of American leaders for being imperialistic by attacking several Muslim nations at once is overlooking the real problem. America knows it cannot win a world war against Islam. America is unknowingly but willingly martyring itself for Israel. That is why it’s important to take the Pro-Palestine rhetoric away from the Leftists. The Palestinian people are important, but for Americans, saving America from the Zionists is the key issue. Supporting Palestine should be made into the patriotic American thing to do. If we buy into the trap that supporting Palestine is anti-American, we will fail.