Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Zionists and anti-Zionists finally agree (that Syrian rebels are "terrorists")

[Originally posted at NOW]

There was a time, not very long ago at all, when being called a “terrorist” by the Israeli chief of staff earned one the instant respect and support of the anti-Zionist intelligentsia. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, after all, so what nobler title could there be for the warrior for Palestinian liberation than this ultimate vilification, this summa of demonization in the enemy’s eyes? Indeed, to disavow “terror”, as Yasser Arafat did in 1988, was nothing less than craven capitulation to Empire and shameful treachery to the cause.

Alas, the “anti-imperial” left has undergone strange contortions in the last two years, and an unlikely consensus is beginning to be forged between the bitterest antagonists. Already reviled by the likes of As’ad AbuKhalil as “armed fanatical gangs […] inheritors of Bin Laden […] terrorists and not revolutionaries”, the Syrian opposition was later partly designated a "terrorist organization" by the White House. This was ostensibly on the grounds that the brigade in question, Jabhat al-Nusra, was deliberately killing civilians, but on Monday State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland even condemned as “terrorism” a rebel attack on Syrian regime soldiers, to whom she inexplicably referred as “noncombatants”. Reporters in the room at the time must have briefly wondered if they were not at a Russian Foreign Ministry press conference.

Yet equally interesting on Monday was Israeli military chief Benny Gantz’ warning that “the terrorist organizations [in Syria] are becoming stronger on the ground.” Of particular concern to Gantz was that Bashar al-Assad’s most dangerous weapons “could fall into the hands of these terrorist organizations” (draw what inference you will about the hands they’re currently in).

How extraordinary to see the Israeli army, the Arab “left” and the American administration singing in such resonant harmony. Evidently, whatever their differences over Gaza, the settlements and the occupation, they battle as happy comrades in this latest round of the War on Terror.

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