Philip Weiss in love with the Angry-Arab
['AbuKhalil never referred to boycott or divestment.' Philip Weiss.]
And he never will. He is a Chomskite! His favorite word or expression is 'don't be anti-Semitic'. Right there, you get a clue! When a genuine Semitic Arab uses the expression of 'anti-Semitic' in regards to the Non-Semitic European Ashkenazi Jews, it is a dead giveaway that he is not as radical as he claims to be.
Note: The text in red is where I noticed Philip Weiss going way overboard in comlimenting the angry-Arab.
April 23, 2009
By Philip Weiss
The Angry Arab addresses an overflow crowd on Wall Street
One of the stars of the internet was in New York tonight, As’ad AbuKhalil, speaking at Alwan for the Arts, an Arab space on Beaver Street in the heart of the financial district. AbuKhalil has a tour-de-force blog, the "Angry Arab," and upped everyone's love temperature for him recently by overwhelming an Israeli consular official in a debate at the University of San Francisco during which he refused even to look at his opponent.
The New York room was packed and AbuKhalil sat at a table at the front. He is a large man with long wings of graying hair and a high forehead and long nose. He hardly moved while he spoke but his lips never stopped moving. He joked that he could speak for three or four hours--and his voice was too raspy or he would sing. I believed him.
His talk was about the culture of collaboration in the Arab world--collaboration with Israel. He was extremely critical of Arab governments and elites for playing footsie with the U.S. and Israel and suppressing real resistance to the occupation, by which he meant the Jewish state's presence in Palestine. These governments quashed the communist left years ago and are now stopping Islamic resistance to Israel.
The talk was so critical (he even took a shot at Avi Shlaim, and human rights workers, too) and so altogether cynical about official motivation that I could not at first place where AbuKhalil was coming from. Then I understood that he is a leftwing anarchist who doesn’t think much of any governments at all. It was therefore hard for me to take him completely seriously. He was an extremist at 15, and his mother has lately said that he is even more extreme today, at 49, he said in his delightful manner. He is a professor. It is difficult to believe that any of his politics are based on achievable goals. I have the feeling he would want to undo all of capitalism while he is at it.
That said, AbuKhalil is entertaining and brilliant and could hold a room as long as Fidel back in the day. The pleasure in listening to him is only slightly reduced by the fact that he is lecturing you, but there are wonderful moments. For instance, he compared the treatment by Hamas of collaborators to the treatment of collaborators by the French resistance, the Algerian resistance, and the anti-apartheid movement. "There is an artificial and semi-disguised attempted to impose on Palestinians standards that have never been imposed on any people resisting occupation... standards never imposed on any movement of national liberation before." Mandela rejected calls to give up violence. When Palestinians reject those calls, they are called terrorists.
During the Q and A, AbuKhalil was compelled to deal with real people’s political concerns. There were about 150 people in the room and most of them were young, striving Arab-Americans seeking guidance. One man asked, "What is the future of Palestinian resistance?"
It got AbuKhalil to be more forthright about his feelings about Israel.
“I am quite eager to witness the liberation of Palestine in my lifetime,” he said. This was suddenly a real possibility in a way it had not been before. “I am optimistic.” He then gave all the reasons for his optimism:
For a long time the Israelis were perceived as supermen who were better than Arab fighters. That feeling is over. The defeat of Israel in 2006 by Hezbollah was unprecedented, and the long Gaza assault must be compared with the ways that Ariel Sharon used to sashay into Gaza back in the 1970s. “Something has changed. Something major has changed.” During the 2006 Lebanon war, Hezbollah fought with only 2400 soldiers below the Litani river and they didn’t run, they stayed put. Music to the ears of the Lebanese was the cries and shouts of Israeli soldiers fleeing. “Compare that to 1967.”
"In general I am rather optimistic. I know that Israel is doomed. Zionism is doomed by its own making.” Back in the 70s and 80s Israel had a chance to achieve a two-state solution, “which I do not support. I am for one secular state in all of Palestine, the return of all Palestinian refugees, and their compensation.”
But the chance of a two-state solution died with Arafat. Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan have the same ability to bring a two-state solution to Israel and Palestine as James Zogby does in Washington. (Rim shot!)
It was good after a long and often contemptuous lecture to hear AbuKhalil actually embrace something. As for his hatred of Zionism, I will just say here that he witnessed the occupation and destruction of Lebanon in 1982 as a young man and has lived life since in resistance to that. When he reels off the list of countries that Israel has attacked in the last 30 years, it’s a long one. And I find it hard to argue with his statement that a country that has to resort to violence again and again has no faith that the people it is ruling will accept its rule.
My misgivings were about the sanctification of Palestinian violent resistance as the answer. AbuKhalil never referred to boycott or divestment. I felt there was something a little idle about his statements. He is a professor in California, and a blogger. Someone else will be doing the resisting.
Many have been blacklisted for expressing even a portion of AbuKhalil's ideas. But I take it as testimony to the internet and, yes, American society that AbuKhalil has a job and so much personal freedom. To hear him express heretical ideas, on Wall Street, to an overflow crowd, on a weekday night-- something major has changed, he is right. New ideas are getting out at last.
[an earlier version of this post said AbuKhalil took a shot at Ilan Pappe. Sorry; it was Avi Shlaim]