Sunday, July 23, 2006

Who Is Violating Our Sense of Security?

Growing up in Syria in the heydays of the late 70s and early 80s, fears of an Israeli attack were not exactly the thing that was keeping me and my friends up all night, or making us refuse to return certain people’s gaze in the streets. But, then, all talk of resistance and the “national struggle” aside, the Israelis were not exactly the bogeymen which we were raised to fear and dread. Indeed, if there were any bogeymen in our lives, and, of course, there were, they were the dreaded mukhabarat, the country’s security apparatuses, and certain government officials and their children, who indeed had the ability to make you disappear from the living face of earth.

Indeed, our sense of security as a people was being violated on a daily basis by our very protectors.

Israeli threats against us and the real violation of our society and sovereignty that Israel did indeed pose were always episodic. They came and they went, and were often quickly forgotten by the great majority of us who did not lose a home or a family member to the fight. Regime violations, on the other hand, were constant and omnipresent and touched more lives, directly and indirectly, than Israel could ever accomplish.

The oppression from which we suffer in our societies has always been multilayered, but the first layer of oppression is represented by what we encouner in our families and in our societies on a daily basis – the traditional patriarchal values upon which we were all raised, including, naturally, political patriarchy, which is what our regimes are all about in one sense. This is why rebelling against these norms is the first real step in the struggle for our liberation. As long as we refuse to acknowledge this simple truth we will remain slaves.

For, in essence, the main source of our insecurity and fears is embedded deep within us. We are the main (but not only) source of our insecurity. The ruling regimes are simple manifestations in this regard, mere demons conjured by our collective Id and, then, transmogrified into reality, a reality that needs to feed upon us to thrive. For this reason, the regimes seek to amplify our mutual fears and suspicions and play on our existing sectarian and ethnic cleavages and divides and, when worst comes to worst, they are more than willing to trudge in an external enemy onto the scene, who might as well be quite eager to come in for its own interests and because it might just be suffering from the same type handicaps back home.

As such, if Israel is the best thing that ever happened to Arab regimes, Arab regimes might just be the best thing that happened to the Israeli military complex, which plays a role in Israel that is not too dissimilar to the role that the Turkish army is playing in Turkey – to protect the country against its lingering deep identity crisis (despite the different way in which it is manifested in the two countries). And that complex would be quickly running out of a raison d’êter, had it not been for the favors that Arab regimes are so eager to render onto it every now and then. For the Complex, facing the Israeli identity crisis is something that is better deferred at this stage through involvement in external conflicts. As such, a main source of Israel’s insecurity, for all the talk about deterrence, Arab intransigence, terrorism and all that, must to be seen as inborn as well, that is, as related to a great extant to the Israelis themselves.

We and the Israelis are each other’s mirrors and we tend to denude ourselves, even with regard to some of our basic insecurities. Consideration of democracy and authoritarianism notwithstanding, neither in Israel nor anywhere in the Arab World are these issues being seriously debated.

And lest one think that the above analysis does not pertain to the Palestinians, whose basic sense of insecurity might seem more closely related to their "relationship" with the Israelis, let me rush to point here to the growing rift between Hamas and the PLO, and within Hamas itself, a rift that seems to have been exploited by external actors, namely Syria and Iran, to dictate an extenral agenda and udnermine the voices of mdoeration within Hamas and the Palestinian society in general.

As such, the layers of oppression and insecurity might admittedly be more complex here, but they still definitely include a major internal factor. Indeed, the struggle to establish a national homeland notwithstanding, inter-Palestinian dynamics are a mjor source of insecurity and instability for the Palestinians, and a major handicap that needs to be overcome.