World Against War – the conference formerly known as an ‘international peace conference’ – has been criticised for not being against war at all, but instead being a reactionary anti-imperialist enterprise.
I watched the video of Mousawi (below), a Hisballah media man with an enormous cloud of antisemitism hanging over him which he doesn’t go out of his way to dispel. Like many terrorists and terrorist affiliates, he cuts a strangely avuncular figure. He addressed the issue of having called Jews a “lesion on the forehead of humanity” – he says he didn’t, the journalist who interviewed him – a “paid journalist”, note – still says he did, but to the best of my knowledge Mousawi isn’t suing and I don’t think that’s because he believes in free speech – which contributed to Ireland not accepting his visa application to speak at another ‘anti-war’ conference in Ireland.
He didn’t bother to distance himself from Al Shatat and its depiction of Jews as occult, conniving and murderous. He didn’t talk about peace work with Jews or Israelis. In fact he didn’t address any of the reasons to feel queasy about dealing with Hisballah. We’re really supposed to support them in subordinating every scruple to fighting the occupation. But a dominant faction in Hisballah believes Israel itself to be an occupation, and although Mousawi notes “twisted definitions … we have to find our own dictionary, terminology” he – deliberately, we must assume – leaves the definition of occupation, so central in how we must view Hisballah, ambiguous.
I thought Hal Draper’s ABC of National Liberation Movements was elementary reading for every baby lefty:
We do not give political support simply because an organization or government demonstrates it has mass support. We do not give political support simply because an organization or government is an enemy of our enemy. We certainly do not give political support to a government simply because it is in power or gets into power. We do not give political support to a movement or government simply because it adopts a formal political program that is superficially unobjectionable. We do not give political support to a movement simply because it succeeds in inveigling the support of better political elements than its leadership. We can give political support only on the basis of what we analyze as the real political character and real political program this formation, as in any other case.
Is that national struggle led by a national democratic movement of some sort, or by nationalist authoritarian or totalitarian leaders?
A simple example: Are the leaders of that nationalist struggle as anxious to kill you as they are to kill the imperialist enemy? In most of the six cases we considered, it was in fact impossible for revolutionary forces to establish a relationship of peaceful coexistence and collaboration with the official leaders of the national struggle, and in some cases the latter would give higher priority to the task of physical extermination of a revolutionary alternative to their own leadership than to fighting the common foe.
Oh well, maybe they don’t read Hal in the SWP.
We had a long apology (in every sense except actually saying sorry) for Mousawi from Mousawi. He fudged Hisballah – referring to it as “a resistance movement, a huge social network, a political party”. and then later as a political movement or party. And he compared the organisers of the conference, and possibly the participants (if that isn’t too active a term), to “what your brothers of resistance were were doing at the front, in order to fight the occupation and the aggression and the humiliation of people” – he means, Hisballah, right? Whooping cheers from the floor indicated that the audience found the comparison favourable. He also said that a platform “your opportunity to deny me”, but Stop The War events are known for people being spoken at without an opportunity to question the speakers.
“If religion is not going to make me a better human being, then who cares – I don’t need it. I don’t need it!”. Logically, that one’s circular – he’s citing his decision to be religious as evidence that religion is making him a better human being. “If you are really a true believer you should care for human beings whoever he is, wherever he lives, otherwise you are not a human being”. That one’s just belly-up.
Coming to Hisballah’s war with Israel (which he calls Israel’s war with Lebanon) he quoted Nasrallah puffing up Hisballah’s ability to withstand Israel. When (bizarrely, was he really?) asked by Lebanese leaders “Who are you going to give this victory to?” he replied that it was not just for Hisballah but “for all the Lebanese. It’s for all of the Arabs. It’s for all of the Palestinians. It’s for all countries, peoples who are under oppression, under occupation.” An audacious inflation of what in fact was nothing more glorious than not being annihilated. And in the very next breath, Mousawi claims that Hisballah didn’t attempt to score any political points from it.
So, what is ‘victory’ to Hisballah? Lacquer’s and Rubin’s forthcoming edition of the Israel-Arab reader includes a speech by Nasrallah. Rubin excerpts it in a Jerusalem Post article from earlier this year about emerging themes in Israeli and Arab rherotic:
A third theme is the definition of victory. Nasrallah’s stance here is shockingly, well, suicidal. He stated: “If the resistance survives, this will be a victory. If its determination is not broken, this will be a victory… [A refusal] to accept any humiliating terms… will be a victory. If we are not militarily defeated, this will be a victory.”
What do we make of those Stoppers who cheered when Mousawi said they were like Hisballah?
I met a young Stopper the other day, Ismail. He was nice. He hadn’t really thought about what it meant that Mousawi was there. I wonder what the average age of a Stopper is – because if it’s about Ismail’s age I’d say there was a good chance most of them will see through this stuff given time.