[Marxism] On The Allies We're Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria

Tristan Sloughter t at crashfast.com
Tue Oct 11 18:40:03 MDT 2016


We, the undersigned Palestinians, write to affirm our commitment to the
amplification of Syrian voices as they endure slaughter and displacement
at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. We are motivated by our deep
belief that oppression, in all of its manifestations, should be the
primary concern of anyone committed to our collective liberation. Our
vision of liberation includes the emancipation of all oppressed peoples,
regardless of whether or not their struggles fit neatly into outdated
geopolitical frameworks.

We are concerned by some of the discourse that has emerged from
progressive circles with regards to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In
particular, we are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals
known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some
crucial context in their analysis of Syria. 

The Syrian revolution was in fact a natural response to 40 years of
authoritarian rule. The Assad regime, with the support of its foreign
financial and military backers, is attempting to preserve its power at
the expense of the millions of Syrians whom the regime has exiled,
imprisoned, and massacred. We believe that minimizing this context in
any discussion of Syria dismisses the value of Syrian self-determination
and undermines the legitimacy of their uprising.

We also believe that an important consequence of all foreign
interventions, including those purportedly done on behalf of the
uprising, has been the setback of the original demands of revolution.
The revolution is a victim, not a product, of these interventions. It is
imperative for any analysis of Syria to recognize this fundamental
premise. We cannot erase the agency of Syrians struggling for
liberation, no matter how many players are actively working against

Though we maintain that the phenomenon of foreign aid demands thorough
critique, we are concerned by the ways in which foreign aid has been
weaponized to cast suspicion on Syrian humanitarian efforts. Foreign aid
is not unique to Syria;  it is prevalent in Palestine as well. We reject
the notion that just because an organization is receiving foreign aid,
it must follow then that that organization is partaking in some shadowy
Western-backed conspiracy. Such nonsense has the effect of both
undermining humanitarian efforts while simultaneously whitewashing the
very crimes against humanity that necessitated the aid in the first

Furthermore, we object to the casual adoption of “war on terror”
language. Enemies of liberation have historically used this rhetoric to
target humanitarians, organizers, and community members. From Muhammad
Salah to the Midwest 23 to the Holy Land Five, our community is all too
familiar with the very real consequence of employing a “war on terror”
framework. Therefore, we reject a discourse that perpetuates these old
tactics and peddles harmful and unwarranted suspicion against Syrians.

Along these lines, it is our position that any discussion of Syria that
neglects the central role of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime in the
destruction of Syria directly contradicts the principles of solidarity
by which we abide. We have reflected on our own tendency to heroize
those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle, and we fear
that some members of our community may have prioritized the celebrity
status of these individuals over the respect and support we owe to those
Syrians affected most directly by the war, as well as those living in
the diaspora whose voices have been dismissed as they have watched their
homeland be destroyed.

We will no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the
immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis. Despite
reaching out to some of these individuals, they have shown an
unwillingness to reflect on the impact of their analysis. We regret that
we have no choice left but to cease working with these activists whom we
once respected. 

We would like to encourage others who are guided by similar principles
to do the same.

Nadia Ziadat
Tareq R
Amanda Michelle
Leila Abdelrazaq
Adam Akkad
Riad AlArian
Yahiya Saad
Jannine M
Imran Salha
Taher Herzallah
Shirien D
Husam El-Qoulaq
Linah Alsaafin
Shady Zarka
Samar Azzaidani
Mariam Saleh
Tamar Ghabin
Helal Jwayyed Saint Xavier University
Yasser Quzz
Adrian McAfee
Abdulla AlShamataan
Sami Jiries
Susan Al-Suqi
Jennifer Mogannam
Sima Dajani
Bayan Abusneineh
Heba Nimr
amena elmashni
Joey Husseini Ayoub
Omar Zahzah
Talal Alyan
Hazem Jamjoum
Jehad Abusalim

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