Paris. Beirut. Baghdad. Yola and Kano. These names of cities are again this week the names of massacres.
The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network condemns without question the horrible crimes perpetrated in the last days, the ones the mass media has made visible, as in France, and the ones it has refused to see in Lebanon, Iraq and Nigeria, and as ever, in Palestine. We reject these criminal operations – whoever is responsible. And we stand with the people, the innocent victims of these crimes.
The Islamic State group has taken responsibility. Whether it is their or other hands behind the attacks, the consequences are clear and becoming clearer by the day. France is in a state of emergency. President François Hollande has called the coordinated bombs and shootings which ripped through Paris an “act of war.” The Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has vowed to “annihilate the enemies of the republic.” President Barack Obama has named them “an attack on the civilized world.”
Our governments may insist that we are at war, but we do not need to accept their instructions. Nor do we accept the right of a US president responsible for turning Yemen into a graveyard, through his explicit support for the Saudi assault, to draw colonial distinctions between “civilized” and “uncivilized.” Such a division has justified US and European imperialism since they began.
The Beirut bombings are crimes. It is the responsibility of the Lebanese government to investigate and try those they suspect of committing them. Similarly it is the task of the French government not to seek out “enemies” but to find criminals. In announcing civilizational war, they clearly and no doubt purposefully do exactly what IS wishes. The result can only be further death.
IJAN rejects any notion that Muslims in general have any particular responsibility for the recent attacks. Massacres are the work of individuals, political groups, and governments. Not religions. That some professing the Muslim faith are taking credit for these attacks means nothing. We reject Israel’s claim to speak for Jews as we reject anyone who would hold Jews collectively responsible for Zionist colonialism. Similarly, we reject IS’s claims to speak for Muslims, and cannot accept any notion that Muslims have a special responsibility for the crimes of IS.
Governments may claim that there is a religious war going on, but we should reject that claim. If indeed it turns out that IS committed any of these attacks, we should bear in mind that the primary victims of IS thus far have been Muslims, above all in Syria. It has been Muslim-majority nations which have been on the front lines of the struggle against IS, including Sunni and Shi’ite armed groups from the Kurdish YPG (People’s Defense Units) in northern Syria to the Hezbollah resistance group in Lebanon.
Whoever committed the Lebanese bombings did so in an attempt to pit Palestinian against Lebanese, Sunni against Shi’ite, to reignite the civil war, and attempt to tear Lebanon apart. We stand with the people of Lebanon, the people of southern Beirut, and the Palestinians in the camps in rejecting such division. The only beneficiaries of a split between Shi’ites and Palestinians in Lebanon will be the Saudi-linked Lebanese ruling class, behind them, the elites of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Emirates, and Israel, and behind them NATO, the United States, and Europe.
Such an attack is part of the continuous and invisible attack on the Palestinian people, whose suffering is unseen or justified in the Western press – even as Israel continues its colonial project, against the Palestinian resistance fighting for their rights and for the refugees’ right of return.
The attack on Paris was meant to incite people into an Islamophobic fury, to accelerate anti-Syrian and anti-refugee sentiment, and to prepare people for war. IJAN rejects such provocation. Any attempt to suggest Muslims are communally responsible for any action or any crime is racist and xenophobic, and continues an old imperial discourse.
Furthermore, we deplore the role of the racist Western media, which pretends to find some deaths valuable and does not even see the deaths of others. The deaths of children in poor southern Beirut, let alone poor Central Africa, are of no use in manufacturing consent for war, and so they are invisible. Parisian deaths are of great use in pushing people to war, and for that reason, among others, they can be seen.
Furthermore, we note the colonial erasures in the media’s portrait of these events. France sends an aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean, preparing to “annihilate” its enemies, which no doubt will be innocent men, women, and children. As it does so, we recall other massacres that have predated this one, especially French murders in Morocco, Algeria, and Vietnam. Who now remembers their names, their fates, their lives or deaths? In its savage repression of the Algerian liberation struggle it massacred hundreds of thousands, many of their countrymen now living in poverty, neglected in the French banlieues.
We are in solidarity with France’s people as we are in solidarity with the world’s peoples. But France’s flag is the symbol of imperialism and colonialism the world over, and we reject it.
Indeed, as the French government speaks of defensive war, it sells arms to the most reactionary state in the region – Saudi Arabia, to the tune of $12 billion. It is the world’s second-largest arms exporter. United States arms transfers to Saudi Arabia alone total over $90 billion in recent years, while Israel is becoming a major world-wide arms dealer. Such governments cannot lecture about peace and raise the alarm about defense while they prepare the world for endless war.
Quite simply, we have no part to play in a military solution to IS. We urge instead the cut-off of its financial flows and arms supplies, especially through the US ally, Turkey, where in Ankara the innocent die in massacres which the government does nothing to prevent.
We reject the use of the deaths of innocents in Paris, Beirut, or elsewhere to justify the US and France’s military intervention in Syria. We wish the violence there to stop, and we want our governments to bring our armed forces home and dismantle them. The US and French role is not to “solve” the region’s problems, but to stop making them, to stop blocking diplomatic settlements to regional wars – above all in Syria – and to sanction Israel.
The French and US record in the Middle East is a record of bloodshed, imperial partition, colonial occupation, exploitation of resources, chemical weapons, coup d’états, destabilization, criminal aggression, sowing sectarianism, and mercantilist looting. Their colonial and imperial records in Syria and Lebanon are proof if any more was needed that what are needed are not warships, but reparations.
Our hearts go out to the people, who continue to suffer under colonial war and racism.