III. The “Street Fighting Man” in Oakland

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Santa Rosa–Your raconteur finishes his narration on Tariq Ali’s visit to San Francisco Bay on the Prophet Issa (PBUH’s) birthday (Dec. 25th) in this overgrown farm town – like San Jose a hundred miles to its south with a burgeoning high tech concentration with the possibility of tremendous population growth, too – also, fifty miles north of San Francisco and gritty Oakland where the Anglo-Pakistani Tariq Ali spewed forth his vision on Palestine and so much more two months ago. 

“What do you say when the system stops working in the West?”

The Arab Revolution is similar to the French.  It is essentially about equality, but it will, further, create the space for future uprisings.  (Ali perceives the regime changes in the Maghreb and the rest of North Africa plus the Middle East as part of a political radicalization.  Your commentator believes his subject slights his human objects by missing their religious yearning expressed by the disenfranchised Arabs before the “Spring.”  Succinctly, Ali’s vision is an overly secular one.)

Ali deems a new Western Imperialism has arisen simultaneous with (the Israeli War) of 1967.  His perception is that of a weakened Washington.  Further, he predicts that the American Empire Will collapse from within.  (Seeing the Occupy Wall Street Movement so vehemently fought out on the streets of Oakland at that end of last October, and of the Christmastide of this writing, it is still in battle [Occupy Berkeley was just cleared out December 22nd], must have re-enforced his analysis of a crumbling Metropole.)   

Regarding a possible Chinese Imperium, it will be one based on trade like the current Anglo-American “Empire.”

Of the changes arising in North America, Europe and the Arabic realms, “The most important force are [and will be] the citizens” of their land themselves.

Tariq Ali is the man of the moment, but he only sees the political people power.  Yet he fails to acknowledge the spiritual craving of the Fellaheen (i.e., فَلَّاح فَلَّاح) themselves.  The Palestinian struggle and the larger Arab “Spring” go further than territory (the Koranic concept of the Ummah (أمة)). It supersedes this, but it goes to the very souls of the lands’ residents!

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Tariq Ali Comes to Oakland

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Alameda (Calif.)–It is a bit of a London urban legend that the 1960s legendary rock group “the Rolling Stones,” had written their (infamous) single, “Street-Fighting Man” 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 “center stage” away from New York City’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 “Revolutionary”-style crisis very similar to what happened in the Middle East’s Arab “Spring.”

Last week we left at Ali’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!

“The selective vigilantism by the West I resent!”  Further, by damning their Colonial masters, “The Israelis use the holocaust to blackmail the Occident!”

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.’s) “Bantustans were much ‘better’ than the [present] Palestinian system.” 
Curiously, Ali, a Post- Colonial radical, did not have a good grasp on the essence of the Arab “Spring,” for he hoped it would revert to a Nasser-like Modernist revival over the Palestinian nation.  One of the chief elements of the “Spring” 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 “Spring” 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.’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 – and that is fading fast – 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 “F” 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, “No one can push you [Israel] into the sea.”  Tariq Ali opines that “Israel is the last (Colonial) Imperial motherland in the twenty-first century!”

Positively, he deems that “The Arab uprising should resolve the Palestinian crisis.”  (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 “Spring” 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.

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Tariq Ali on The Jasmine Revolutions–Impact on Palestine?

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

sinkPart I–Oakland–Shortly before the beginning of the Civil Disturbances in the U.S.A. which broke out on the boulevards of this California city, the renowned literati and “rabble rouser” Tariq Ali, came to this town brought, as a fund-raiser for the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance (MECA) to raise not only money for Palestinian and Iraqi children, but to educate the American public on the plight of Arabs in the Middle East – particularly those caught up in the Palestinian-Israeli imbroglio.  He came to address a totally non-academic American audience here.  

The Occupy Wall Street Movement(s) have been the  most serious challenge to American Capitalism from within for quite some time.  Now, Dr. Ali comes from within Islamic culture — although fully cognizant of the foibles of the West, which would put him at odds with the Euro-American financial system from the perspective of an outsider, but, simultaneously, an insider for his long residence in the West.

He began by declaiming that the legal foundation for the (Palestinian) Right of Return was legally delineated by the U.N. in 1948.  Thus, the “Right of Return” is, for politically exiled Palestinians citizens, guaranteed under International law!  He emphatically declaimed that “There can be no peace in the Holy Land without a “Right of Return!”  Speaking here in a hall nears the jewel of this city of the capital of Alameda County, Lake Merrit (an Arroyo from the Bay), that the oppressed people of Palestine were in solidarity with the revolt here against Metropolis and the repressive principles of Imperialism:  “It was great to be part of Occupy Oakland!”

Ali was born (1943) and educated in Pakistan (Lahore) shortly before Independence (1947 and Partition) from the British of a prominent “feudal” family of that nation, but, after becoming radicalized in his politics, he was exiled to the United Kingdom where he gained notoriety as a writer and an editor.

He opined that the fall of (the “Pharaoh”) Mubarak on the Nile would (begin to) transform the Middle East, and would blunt the U.S.’ pro-Israeli policy towards the imbroglio in the Levant.
Essentially, the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty had corrupted the great Nasser’s prior traditional principle of support for the Palestinian people on the other side of the Sinai from Alexandria.  Shortly before the outpouring in Tahrir Square, the American Secretary of State Hilary Clinton described the Mubaraks as “family.”  Presently, the Americans are holding talks with the mighty Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood (who, as of this composition [the 3rd]) of the first part of this article) seem to be headed towards a plurality in the current election and may be the dominant political grouping of any coalition that could unfold (after the final tally of this drawn-out election is announced).

“It is not a black and white picture” there.  The masses must assuage their fear of death to politically succeed.  Yet, fraternization between Cairo’s military and their people has been developing.  Succinctly, though, this has weakened Washington’s influence there. 

Ali confirms a point your author on this page made in remarks within the previous month:  The Iraqi population was amongst the best educated in the Middle East – including opportunity for women – under the Baathist (i.e., a type of Arab socialism) regime.   (Of course, unfortunately, this was achieved at the expense of minority and religious rights.)

On the other hand, Khadafy presided over a tribal system.  Many in the West disliked the Colonel because of his eccentricity, and the intervention of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) can be seen as revenge for his perceived hostile saber-rattling against Brussels, etc., but, most of all, for suspected involvement in Lockerbie.

Despite Colonel Khadafy bizarre manner, he opened Libya to Modernism, but the Occident wished the mineral richness of his desert.  One of the problems that Moammer Khadafy’s regime had was its waffling and failure to develop a clear policy for governance.

Supposedly, New York (the U.N.) gave the commission for NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to protect the non-combatants in and around Benghazi, but the Alliance extended their mandate to cover all the air space over the Libyan sands.  For Tariq Ali, “To prevent one massacre, they created a second one” of their own. 

The West wishes the Burghers to rule in post-“Revolutionary” Libya, but the Islamists have other ideas.  “Tyrants should be toppled organically,” but ultimately the language of violence is the determinant.  We, according to Tariq, find ourselves in a post-legal situation, also.  Succinctly, we are killing our own.

Ali Sahib deems that Obama has not come through, (but your correspondent senses the only other options for personalities in that position would impact the Islamic nation much worse.)   America recently has dealt crudely with Arab leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria.  He rightly points out that the Mossed have been the leader in State terrorism (as have the ISI, and British intelligence) and now he asserts that the U.S. is mimicking them.  (That is true to a point, D.C. [the District of Columbia’s] Central Intelligence Agency [C.I.A.] has a long way to go, though, to free itself from its traditional bungling.    Further, to struggle within the Arab “Spring, the Saudis have been suppressing Bahrain for some time.  The Bahraini King was appointed by the Colonial British.  The Royal family is Sunni whereas the grand majority of their subjects are Shia.  Essentially, the King only represents his own tribe which leaves out most other traditional groupings.

This discussion will be develop and unfold in the future.

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