Bulletin #11

From: Francis Feeley <Francis.Feeley@u-grenoble3.fr>
Subject: News and an essay by Professor Edward Said: On The Future...
9 April 2002
Grenoble, France

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements received today this message sent by
Mr. Michael Albert, editor of Z Magazine in Boston, who participated in the International Colloquium on "The Social Impact of American Multinational Corporations," last January at l'Université Stendhal in Grenoble.

In addition to Albert's brief description of a growing anti-war movement in America, he sent us a copy of Professor Edward Said's penetrating analysis of Zionist ideology, in which he discusses the historic efforts of the Palestinian Liberation Movement to overthrow this brutal domination.


Francis Feeley
Directeur de recherches


The horrible events in the Mideast persist. We hope you are working to
impact them wherever you may be, as with working against the war on
terrorism, and working for social justice more generally -- three sides
of one coin.

Updates on ZNet (www.zmag.org) are currently very frequent...and we hope
you will visit the site to make use of the materials we are

One of the focuses on the top page, in addition to the Mideast, is the
upcoming demonstrations in Washington DC and San Francisco. Turning out
for major events is always important, not only to demonstrate our scale
and focus to elites, but also to uplift ourselves and inspire potential
future allies. But even more than usual, for diverse reasons the whole
world is going to be examining these demonstrations to see if activism
in the U.S. -- as in Rome, Barcelona, and elsewhere -- is back on track.
Let's show them that it is.

Elites yield victories only to social movements that raise social costs
that elites do not wish to endure. But raising such high costs for
elites requires that movements attain massive scale and steadfast focus.
Seeking such scale and focus must therefore be central to our efforts.
Regarding achieving such ends for the Mideast as well as more generally,
here is the latest essay from Edward Said...

from Michael Albert, 7April 2002

Thinking ahead: After survival, what happens?
By Edward Said

Anyone with any connection at all to Palestine is today in a state of
stunned outrage and shock. While almost a repeat of what happened in
1982, Israel's current all-out colonial assault on the Palestinian
people (with George Bush's astoundingly ignorant and grotesque support)
is indeed worse than Sharon's two previous mass forays in 1971 and 1982
against the Palestinian people. The political and moral climate today is
a good deal cruder and reductive, the media's destructive role (which
has played the part almost entirely of singling out Palestinian suicide
attacks and isolating them from their context in Israel's 35-year
illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories) greater in favouring
the Israeli view of things, the US's power more unchallenged, the war
against terrorism has more completely taken over the global agenda and,
so far as the Arab environment is concerned, there is greater
incoherence and fragmentation than ever before.

Sharon's homicidal instincts have been enhanced (if that's the right
word) by all of the above, and magnified to boot. This in effect means
that he can do more damage with more impunity than before, although he
is also more deeply undermined than before in all his efforts as well as
in his entire career by the failure that comes with single-minded
negation and hate, which in the end nourish neither political nor even
military success. Conflicts between peoples such as this contain more
elements than can be eliminated by tanks and air power, and a war
against unarmed civilians -- no matter how many times Sharon lumberingly
and mindlessly trumpets his stupid mantras about terror -- can never
bring a really lasting political result of the sort his dreams tells him
he can have. Palestinians will not go away. Besides, Sharon will almost
certainly end up disgraced and rejected by his people. He has no plan,
except to destroy everything about Palestine and the Palestinians. Even
in his enraged fixation on Arafat and terror, he is failing to do much
more than raise the man's prestige while essentially drawing attention
to the blind monomania of his own position.

In the end he is Israel's problem to deal with. For us, our main
consideration now is morally to do everything in our power to make
certain that despite the enormous suffering and destruction imposed on
us by a criminal war, we must go on. When a renowned and respected
retired politician like Zbigniew Brzezinski says explicitly on national
television that Israel has been behaving like the white supremacist
regime of apartheid South Africa, one can be certain that he is not
alone in this view, and that an increasing number of Americans and
others are slowly growing not only disenchanted but also disgusted with
Israel as a hugely expensive and draining ward of the United States,
costing far too much, increasing American isolation, and seriously
damaging the country's reputation with its allies and its citizens. The
question is what, in this most difficult of moments, can we rationally
learn about the present crisis that we need to include in our plans for
the future?

What I have to say now is highly selective, but it is the modest fruit
of many years working on behalf of the Palestinian cause as someone who
is from both Arab and Western worlds. I neither know nor can say
everything, but here are some of the handful of thoughts I can
contribute at this very difficult hour. Each of the four points that
follow here is related to the other.

1) For better or for worse, Palestine is not just an Arab and Islamic
cause, it is important to many different, contradictory and yet
intersecting worlds. To work for Palestine is necessarily to be aware of
these many dimensions and constantly to educate oneself in them. For
that we need a highly educated, vigilant and sophisticated leadership
and democratic support for it. Above all we must, as Mandela never tired
of saying about his struggle, be aware that Palestine is one of the
great moral causes of our time. Therefore, we need to treat it as such.
It's not a matter of trade, or bartering negotiations, or making a
career. It is a just cause which should allow Palestinians to capture
the high moral ground and keep it.

2) There are different kinds of power, military of course being the most
obvious. What has enabled Israel to do what it has been doing to the
Palestinians for the past 54 years is the result of a carefully and
scientifically planned campaign to validate Israeli actions and,
simultaneously, devalue and efface Palestinian actions. This is not just
a matter of maintaining a powerful military but of organising opinion,
especially in the United States and Western Europe, and is a power
derived from slow, methodical work where Israel's position is seen as
one to be easily identified with, whereas the Palestinians are thought
of as Israel's enemies, hence repugnant, dangerous, against "us." Since
the end of the Cold War, Europe has faded into near-insignificance so
far as the organisation of opinion, images, and thought are concerned.
America (outside of Palestine itself) is the main arena of battle. We
have simply never learned the importance of systematically organising
our political work in this country on a mass level, so that for instance
the average American will not immediately think of "terrorism" when the
word "Palestinian" is pronounced. That kind of work quite literally
protects whatever gains we might have made through on-the-ground
resistance to Israel's occupation. What has enabled Israel to deal with
us with impunity, therefore, has been that we are unprotected by any
body of opinion that would deter Sharon from practicing his war crimes
and saying that what he has done is to fight terrorism. Given the
immense diffusionary, insistent, and repetitive power of the images
broadcast by CNN, for example, in which the phrase "suicide bomb" is
numbingly repeated a hundred times an hour for the American consumer and
tax-payer, it is the grossest negligence not to have had a team of
people like Hanan Ashrawi, Leila Shahid, Ghassan Khatib, Afif Safie --
to mention just a few -- sitting in Washington ready to go on CNN or any
of the other channels just to tell the Palestinian story, provide
context and understanding, give us a moral and narrative presence with
positive, rather than merely negative, value. We need a future
leadership that understands this as one of the basic lessons of modern
politics in an age of electronic communication. Not to have understood
this is part of the tragedy of today.

3) There is simply no use operating politically and responsibly in a
world dominated by one superpower without a profound familiarity and
knowledge of that superpower -- America, its history, its institutions,
its currents and counter-currents, its politics and culture; and, above
all, a perfect working knowledge of its language. To hear our spokesmen,
as well as the other Arabs, saying the most ridiculous things about
merica, throwing themselves on its mercy, cursing it in one breath,
asking for its help in another, all in miserably inadequate fractured
English, shows a state of such primitive incompetence as to make one
cry. America is not monolithic. We have friends and we have possible
friends. We can cultivate, mobilise, and use our communities and their
affiliated communities here as an integral part of our politics of
liberation, just as the South Africans did, or as the Algerians did in
France during their struggle for liberation. Planning, discipline,
coordination. We have not at all understood the politics of
non-violence. Moreover, neither have we understood the power of trying
to address Israelis directly, the way the ANC addressed the white South
Africans, as part of a politics of inclusion and mutual respect.
Coexistence is our answer to Israeli exclusivism and belligerence. This
is not conceding: it is creating solidarity, and therefore isolating the
exclusivists, the racists, the fundamentalists.

4) The most important lesson of all for us to understand about ourselves
is manifest in the terrible tragedies of what Israel is now doing in the
occupied territories. The fact is that we are a people and a society,
and despite Israel's ferocious attack against the PA, our society still
functions. We are a people because we have a functioning society which
goes on - and has gone on for the past 54 years -- despite every sort of
abuse, every cruel turn of history, every misfortune we have suffered,
every tragedy we have gone through as a people. Our greatest victory
over Israel is that people like Sharon and his kind do not have the
capacity to see that, and this is why they are doomed despite their
great power and their awful, inhuman cruelty. We have surmounted the
tragedies and memories of our past, whereas such Israelis as Sharon have
not. He will go to his grave only as an Arab-killer, and a failed
politician who brought more unrest and insecurity to his people. It must
surely be the legacy of a leader that he should leave something behind
upon which future generations will build. Sharon, Mofaz, and all the
others associated with them in this bullying, sadistic campaign of death
and carnage will have left nothing except gravestones. Negation breeds

As Palestinians, I think we can say that we left a vision and a society
that has survived every attempt to kill it. And that is something. It is
for the generation of my children and yours, to go on from there,
critically, rationally, with hope and forbearance.