via Palestinian Pundit: Mass Grave Discovered in Syria; Buried in it:Mercy...Humanity...Camaraderie...Arabism....Honor!
July 15, 2012
The Baathist regime in Syria has long prided itself on its "resistance" to imperialist forces in the Middle East and on being a major center of Arab nationalism (one of its sobriquets is Qalb l-ˤUrūba l-Nābiḍ, or the "Beating Heart of Arabism"). Indeed this reputation is often cited by certain leftists as reason to support the regime against what they claim are American- and Saudi-backed militias whose aim is to set up a new regime that would be friendly to Israel and other imperialist interests. Most notable among these voices is Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese academic, who has repeatedly argued in the pages of Al Akhbar and on her own blog that the Baath regime must be supported by all those who believe in the Palestinian struggle. In fact, Saad-Ghorayeb asserts that her support for the Baath is not actually support for the Baath, but rather for "the Resistance camp," which just so happens to include Syria.
Saad-Ghorayeb’s line of argument is particularly infuriating not least because she uses the Palestinian people and their struggle as a prop for Bashar al Assad. She and others who parrot her ideas present a false dichotomy in which you are either with (Baathist) Syria and Palestine or you are with Israel and the US. You cannot be opposed to both the regime and the imperial powers, they claim, because it is functionally no different from being for the latter and against the former. Thus supporting Palestine necessarily becomes supporting the killings and shellings and massacres of thousands and thousands of Syrians because all of this is being done, they claim, in the name of Palestine and Resistance. This brand of anti-imperialists perverts the Palestinian struggle and thus the Palestinian people themselves into nothing more than an excuse to commit crimes with impunity.
Moreover, these excuses break down under even the most cursory investigation of the history of the Baath and the Palestinian Question. The notion that the Baathist regime is a bastion of anti-imperialism and strict anti-Zionism could not be further from the truth. Let us never forget that it was Hafez al Assad’s army that facilitated the 1976 massacre of the Tel al Zaatar refugee camp by Maronite militias, in which between 1,500 and 3,000 Palestinians were killed in cold blood, or the 1985-1988 War of the Camps, in which the Syrian Army along with its Lebanese and Palestinian allies and puppets launched a sustained attack against Hizballah, the Murabitoun, and the PLO. Let us never forget his numerous attempts to undermine Palestinian resistance groups, including fostering the Ahmed Jibril-led splinter group that broke from the leftist PFLP. Let us never forget that Bashar al Assad’s government has made overtures to Israel and has participated in secret negotiations with it; nor let us forget that in an effort to stave off pressure from the West over the protests last summer, it recognized Palestine along 1967 lines thus implicitly recognizing Israel.
The so-called anti-imperialists have yet to provide a credible response to these facts that directly contradict the basis of their assertions, and they have remained deafeningly silent on the targeting of Palestinians inside Syria. The latest example occurred yesterday, when between four and seven protesters were killed by security forces at a rally in Yarmouk, the largest refugee camp in Syria and home to the majority of Palestinians in the country. The protest was originally against the killing of 16 members in the Palestine Liberation Army (a Syrian military body that all Palestinian males are conscripted to) by an unknown group, but it quickly evolved into anti-regime protest with chanting in support of the Free Syrian Army and against the Assads. The funeral was held today, at which another 4 were killed, raising the total Palestinian dead in the past 2 days to eleven:
It has been known for a while where Yarmouk’s sympathies lie — there were clashes last year between residents of the camp and Jibril’s pro-Syria splinter group, the PFLP-GC — but aware of their small numbers and vulnerable position, Syrian Palestinians with notable exceptions have up until this point remained relatively quiet, but recently, they’ve begun to slowly enter into the fray. They participated in last Friday’s protests and suffered casualties then as well.
In response to the protests, one government spokesperson posted a status on Facebook about how "guests" must abide by proper etiquette, and if they cannot, must leave. The obvious implication is that Palestinians are guests in the Syrian house. Meanwhile the Syrian government "host" has had its security forces detain hundreds of Palestinians from Yarmouk and driven those living in Homs out of their homes because of the indiscriminate shelling that has all but demolished the city. Is this the "resistance" that Saad-Ghorayeb and her fellow travelers sing praises to? Is this the "resistance" that is worth the lives and livelihoods of the Syrian people? No, there is no decency, no honor, no principle behind these awful actions. And let me be clear, I emphatically do not believe that had the Baath actually supported the Palestinian struggle or that had they not targeted Palestinians as they do Syrians, this repression would be justified. My only point is to say that even the "resistance" excuse does not hold water.
There is no reason to kid ourselves. The regime is not interested in fighting imperialism or Zionism, nor is it interested in the welfare of the Arab peoples and their struggles. It never has been, and it never will be. There is no "beating heart of Arabism" in a system of government that enriches a small number of elite families while leaving the rest of the population mired in poverty, that pits Arabs against Arabs in order to increase its power within the region, that brutally kills its citizens for rising up and demanding a modicum of rights. The "heart" of this Baathist regime has only ever beaten for one thing: its self-preservation. And those who labor to mask its true nature and excuse its unspeakable actions are complicit in the crimes against the Syrian and Palestinian people about whom they claim to care so much.