Hatem Abudayyeh is a well-known Palestinian activist and who has written extensively on developments in the Middle East.
Fight Back!: Israel has launched a war on Lebanon. What is the cause and what is at stake here?
Hatem Abudayyeh: The Israeli government and its military killing machine has again attacked Lebanon as they did in 1982, one of the most brutal invasions in the long history of their aggression against the Palestinians and Arabs. The war in 1982 led to a 22-year Israeli military occupation of the south of Lebanon, an occupation that was finally ended by the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people.
In this recent attack, planned ostensibly in response to Hezbollah’s capturing of two Israeli soldiers, hundreds of Lebanese civilians have already been killed, Lebanon’s airports have been bombed, and most of the roads leading out of the country have been decimated. The Israelis are causing a massive humanitarian crisis, as Lebanon’s civil society infrastructure is again being targeted for destruction, and the country is in danger of becoming engulfed in another long war and occupation. With its actions, Israel is basically making the racist argument that the lives of two European settler-colonialist Israelis are more valuable than the lives of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Arabs. It refuses to negotiate a prisoner transfer, while over 9000 Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab political prisoners wallow in Israeli cells.
But the Lebanese resistance is bravely fighting back, defending its nation and its people from this massive aggression. It is also important to stress that a military operation of this size could not have been planned in a week, and that Israel, and the U.S. empire, are in crisis and incredibly concerned with the ‘Arab street’ - the mass movements and their will, strength and yearning for freedom and liberation. Israel has the fifth strongest military in the world, easily the strongest in the Arab world, with scores of nuclear weapons and warheads, but it is not ‘all-powerful’ or impossible to defeat. We must recognize the fact that mass movements can transform societies and political realities, and that the Arab people, especially the Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis, have a long history of resistance, and that they will resist Israel and the U.S. for as long as it takes to shed the Arab nation from colonialism, war and occupation.
At stake is the control of Arab human and natural resources - resources that belong to the Arab people. And regardless of what the U.S. puppet governments in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are saying, the Arab masses will not sit back and allow themselves to continue to be exploited.
Fight Back!: Is the U.S. encouraging Israeli aggression?
Hatem Abudayyeh: Of course the U.S. is encouraging Israeli aggression. President Bush publicly stated that Israel has the “right to defend itself,” and that Hezbollah is the cause of this war. The U.S. provides over $4 billion of aid to Israel every year, much of it military aid, and strongly supports Israel diplomatically, politically and economically as well. U.S. imperialist interests are safeguarded by the proxy Israeli state, and Israel does the bidding of the U.S., especially in regards to repressing the people’s movements, like in Palestine and Lebanon. The U.S. is directly waging war and occupying Iraq, the eastern front of the Arab world; and Israel provides the control and domination of the western front. This is the relationship between Israel and the U.S., and this is why we must transform American society and systems of oppression while supporting the national liberation struggles of the Palestinians and others throughout the world.
Also, it is important to realize that 25,000 American citizens are currently living in Lebanon, and facing Israel's bombardment. Although many refuse to leave Lebanon, the U.S. has been woefully slow to respond to the needs of these people, and still has not provided all of them with safe sanctuary, as other nations have done for their respective citizens.
Fight Back!: Are the threats against Syria serious?
Hatem Abudayyeh: Syria continues to be a nation that refuses to cower under Israeli and U.S. threats. It bravely protects its sovereignty and self-determination, and for this, may definitely be a target for the U.S. and Israel. I do not believe that the U.S. or Israel would attack Syria right now, especially since the U.S. already has military fronts opened up in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Colombia, the Philippines, Haiti and in parts of Africa and Latin America. As we have seen in Iraq, where the resistance is standing up to U.S. power, the U.S. military is not indomitable.
Fight Back!: What has been happening in Gaza these past few weeks?
Hatem Abudayyeh: As Palestinians have predicted for many months, the Israeli ‘pullout’ from the Gaza Strip was nothing but a ruse to consolidate its control over the West Bank and Jerusalem, and to continue to steal Palestinian land in those areas for Jewish-only settlements. Its military still controlled the airspace, the water resources and the economic sovereignty of the Palestinians in Gaza. And, using the capture of one soldier as a pretext, the Israeli military, poised and ready to re-invade, did so three weeks ago. Over a hundred Palestinians have been killed, including an entire family just yesterday; and the main power plant was destroyed, cutting off electricity and water to most residents, causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
The hypocrisy of Israel and the U.S. is in full view of the world, because, while they demanded that the Palestinians take part in full and fair democratic elections, once the Hamas political organization took control of the Palestinian Authority in these elections, both the U.S. and Israel refused to acknowledge its victory.
The U.S. and Israel will continue to describe Hamas, Hezbollah and the other Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations as ‘terrorists,’ but the real terrorists are the governments and military forces of the U.S. and Israel. The vast majority of the world sees and understands this, and are in full support of Lebanese, Palestinian and worldwide resistance to Israel and the U.S.’s naked aggression, war, imperialism and occupation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been protesting and stating this very strongly over the past two weeks, and millions more will join the chorus if Israel continues its brutality. This mass movement against war and imperialism must continue, and the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance must be supported.