Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 16th, 2018

Coprolalia on Syria, European pseudo-Leftists, and Žižek

I was a bit disappointed when I read Žižek´s article on Syria.

It is true that the people in Syria have no excuse for not making a revolution, but compassion is a virtue.

Maybe if “comrade” Žižek could´ve taken the time to scribble them a manual of “Revolution 101″ they could´ve been brought to their senses.

Possibly a syllabus of recommended readings? Žižek has a lot to teach the people in Syria and Egypt.

The European Left as a whole has much to share itself. I mean, Europe has been revolting for decades and the victories of the European Left are a source of global envy.

Žižek himself has lead the barricades and put a stake to the heart of neo-liberalism in his own country.

Leil-Zahra Mortada posted this Nov. 12, 2013

Zizek 1 

Only if the people in Syria could read Žižek!  Only then they´d see how mistaken they have been.

They´d see that revolution is not about survival.

It is not about teaching your kids that their life does matter despite the international silence that hollowly echo the atrocities they have been witnessing for over three years; let alone the terror of the decades before.

Revolution is not about reminding yourself and those around you that it is ok to continue living though your friends are either killed or are being tortured in detention camps as we speak.

Revolution is not about carving the walls of your city with “Down with the Regime” knowing that you are not risking your life only, but also the lives of your family members.

Revolution is not about making a song that resonates in the voices of hundreds of thousands across the country, then have the regime forces slit your throat open and distribute a celebratory video of your dead body.

Revolution is not about women taking to the streets after hearing the constant stories of gang rapes of both men and women by Assad´s thugs.

Revolution is not about thinking how to get food to the besieged towns and villages.

Revolution is not a small activist group working to deliver/smuggle vaccines to counter the outbreak of polio in northern Syria.

Revolution is not about all the creative direct actions in Damascus.

Revolution is not about the Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) organizing and working under bombardments, detentions, shortage of basic needs, the Assad regime, Islamic fundamentalism, and constant pressure to prove that they are “revolutionary enough”.

Revolution is not about not-writing leftist communiques because your people are refugees jumping on the first ship to sink, and you don´t have the time nor the energy to prove to Europe that you are “revolutionary enough”.

Revolution is not about dreaming and plotting about the future while all you see around is hunger, pain and death. Revolution is not about still believing that another Syria is possible despite Assad, the Islamic fundamentalists, the international meddling, and the international hypocrisy; plus the constant reproach of the European/International Left.

Revolution is not what Syria is doing. This is what Žižek wants us to know.

I wonder if Žižek took the effort to google for an hour or two before he wrote his opinion. If he bothered to check the hashtag #Syria on Twitter while he is waiting for his turn to speak on some academic conference.

I wonder if he tried to get the contacts of Syrian activists and rebels for some firsthand accounts on what is happening while he is on his way from his hotel to his BBC interview.

Or maybe acted like a revolutionary would and headed there on a solidarity field trip, or maybe volunteered for a week or two at a refugee camp in Turkey and recorded all the “social theories” he´d witness there!

Maybe then he could´ve read Kafr Nabl´s banners that would put him to the shame he deserves.

Maybe then he could´ve relayed to the European Left the communiques of some LCCs; or maybe the photos of the courageous media collective “Lens of a Young Homsi“, or those of “Lens of a Young Woman on a Summer Vacation“.

He could´ve heard of the Spray Guy, or the smuggling of tape-recorders into governmental buildings in Damascus then blasting revolutionary chants from within.

People would´ve told him about Damascus waking up to find the fountains in its squares spilling red water in protest against massacres committed by the regime.

If Žižek took the time to use google he could´ve heard about the “Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression” and its detainees; he could´ve read about the “Violations Documentation Center in Syria” and the inspiring work of Razan Zaitonah.

There are so many names and groups and organizations to come across, it is easy to see how much revolutionary work is being done if he could´ve just went through the names of the detainees and what they were doing before getting arrested.

I wonder if he ever heard the name Bassel Shehadeh! I wonder if he spoke to some activists or refugees which can be found all over European streets, before he decided that Christians (in such ignorant generalization) are siding with the regime.

Yet, Žižek decided without the minimal respect for the lives of those killed, to flamboyantly disseminate a whole uprising! He had the “Leftist” audacity to sit on his European academic pedestal and wipe these people off the revolutionary map.

It is quite impressive how many Europeans feel entitled to dictate on other people what they should or should not do.

I don´t remember Tunisian leftists telling the Occupy movement what to do.

I don´t remember texts from Bahrain telling Acampada Barcelona that what they are doing is not changing a thing.

It is only Europeans and North Americans that feel that it is perfectly normal for them to judge and intervene in the smallest details of other political movements, to tell the world how to talk and where to walk, without doing the indispensable research ahead.

In the same way Žižek laid misinformed and misrepresented “facts” about Syria, he did about Egypt.

To consider that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were ever “surprised impassive observers” shows great ignorance. When were they “surprised impassive observers”?!

When they met with Omar Suleiman (intelligence agency chief) even before Mubarak stepped down?

Or when they were playing on various fronts sending their youth to Tahrir Square while they were striking deals with SCAF?

Or when they were actively supporting and defending the same military regime that is killing them now?

To consider that the “agents of Tahrir Square” are passively supporting the crimes of the military is another blatant sign of lack of touch with revolutionary reality. Or maybe it is all built on what is coming out in the European mainstream media?

Activist groups and revolutionaries in Egypt, despite having suffered the brutality of Morsi´s regime, have been actively and loudly denouncing Sisi´s massacres.

They too are worn out from the immense revolutionary weight yet still carrying out the Not-so-glamorous tasks of dealing with the detainees, military trials, the injured, the housing problems, the families of the martyrs, sectarian violence, the attack on liberties, the writing of the constitution, the attack on women´s bodies and rights…and the list can go on longer than Žižek´s scheduled appearances on magazine covers.

They are working day and night to stop the further division of their society, to fight against the stigmatization of even their enemies (Muslim Brotherhood) so that they can build a country where a woman can´t be arrested and tortured for wearing a veil and protesting for someone she believes was the democratically elected president.

Even if this ex-president has blood on his hands and favored neoliberal economical policies.

The same way Europe is obsessed with secularism, it is obsessed with “democracy”. But did anyone stop and ask  the European Illuminati what democracy are they talking about?

The votes bought with sugar and flour “donations”? Or the political affiliation paid for with medicines for those who can´t afford a loaf of bread?

Or the democracy that is built on fueling sectarian violence and telling people that voting for one party would make you a better Muslim?

The democracy that made the votes for Mursi modern-day indulgences!

Žižek then moves to reduce popular dissidence and rebellion against Mubarak to a “predominantly the revolt of the educated middle class, with the poor workers and farmers reduced to the role of (sympathetic) observers”.

Does anyone truly believe that the middle class (to which I belong) is capable of holding up nonstop on the barricades for days and nights?

Does anyone really believe that if it wasn´t for the youngsters from Egypt´s slums and their bravery on the frontlines, the middle class could´ve ousted Mubarak?

Does anyone really believe that without the Bedouins in Sinai, the workers in various factories, the strikes and the workers descending on the square, any of this would´ve been possible?

Do people truly still believe that this all happened thanks to Twitter and Facebook?

Of course activists from the middle class played an important role in this, but it was in no way more important than those from the crushed classes of the society.

Go over the names of the martyrs, the names of the injured and the names of the detainees, and scan their economical backgrounds, then come talk about the poor being “sympathetic observers”.

zizek 2 

Žižek´s article is the perfect example of every European leftist (prick) sitting in some bar drinking beer and talking about entire populations fighting in ways he only saw in books and movies.

The story of our lives, immigrants in Europe.

His/their portrayal of the options we have as

A) supporting Assad or

B) supporting the Islamists is the typical and historical mistake of a big section of the European Left.

With all his/their “social theory” expertise they didn´t come across options C, D, E, F and the numerous combinations.

It is like talking about the USA and saying that the only two options we have, as radical leftists, are between the Republicans and the Democrats, completely dropping the extensive network of activist groups who are doing inspiring work.

Since when did we measure European activism according to the major political forces on the scene?

Yes, superficially these are two options we have, but not if we did our revolutionary homework and looked for people who are too busy getting up every morning to face both A and B instead of sitting on their computers and write letters of self-validation to the European Left.

But of course, it is the duty of Syrian leftists to clarify these issues for the European Left.

I mean, “comrade” Žižek and other “comrades” are busy setting up the EU on fire, attacking US military bases, World Bank headquarters are under siege, and immigrants are welcomed into the fortress by revolutionary committees. They are too busy to google Syria.

It is important for social movements, and revolutionaries, to communicate, debate and discuss what is happening in the world and in their respective movements.

This is what true solidarity is all about. But communication shouldn´t be a simplex circuit, it shouldn´t be one directional, else it will be another form of political colonialism and cultural superiority!

Communication should be interactive and opinions should be informed. It should be based on equality, on built and informed trust, and on respect.

Unfortunately this is not what is happening, all the effort is being put into a condescending patriarchal lecturing and continuous ignorant yet firm discrediting.

So what is happening in the majority of the European (& academic) Left these days? Nothing really special, except that Lady Gaga is one step closer to becoming the world’s new superpower while its competitors are eagerly weakening each other.

Note: From 2011 to 2013, the Syrian regime bombed every town where secular activists locally organized the community. Its sustained bombing allowed the extremist Islamic factions to step in and control all these towns and cities. With the total support and aid of Saudi Kingdom,Arab Gulf Emirate, Europe, USA  and Turkey Moslem Brotherhood ideology.


The Insult: Six points toward clarification

Note: I watched the talk of Ziad Doueiri on ARTE, but didn’t have the opportunity to see the movie


Controversy has arisen in recent weeks over the 2017 film, The Insult [Qadiat raqm 23(Case #23)], Lebanon’s submission to the 2018 Academy Awards.

The film’s director, Ziad Doueiri, who also directed West Beirut [À l’abri les enfants] (Sheltered Children)] (1998), is a proponent of Israeli normalization, a political strategy by and large rejected by Palestinians and their allies because its position concerning the Israeli occupation of historic Palestine entails an unacceptable compromise with Zionism.

(Israel is a colonial State, created by our existential enemy the US Evangelical Zionists)

Normalization not only accepts a Jewish presence in the region–something to which most proponents of either the one- or two-state solution would agree–but consents to its continuation in the form of Zionist hegemony.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) supporters, who reject normalization, are calling for a boycott of The Insult, not only because, in line with normalization tactics, it was made with Zionist funding, but because Doueiri “previously lived and worked with Zionists while making [his 2012 film] The Attack (Mada Masr, 1 Feb. 2018), a pro-Israeli take on suicide bombers, and used an Israeli production company to help fund it (Dina Abumaria, 29 Oct. 2017).

For these activists, boycotting The Insult is consistent with the divestment aspect of the BDS Call.

The Insult presents us with a sophistical narrative structure.

Its story is self-consciously organized into multiple allegorical layers, the meaning and significance of which are intentionally obscured and bound up with specious reasoning that distorts and exploits the historical record.

In an attempt to counter the resulting confusion, I supply below six straightforward, interconnected analytic points regarding the film. 

These points are meant to underscore, through clarification, the dual fact that The Insult is a vehicle of Zionist propaganda (hasbara) and that director Doueiri has collaborated with Zionists in its making, in an effort to forward the normalization agenda which he evidently supports.

1) Although The Insult is structured as an allegory, the moral of its story turns on the Damour massacre of 1976, the film’s attribution of which to Palestinian forces, who were in fact operating in concert with the Lebanese left during an active military conflict–the Lebanese Civil War–is presented completely out of historical context.

In turn, the massive Israeli bombing of Palestinian-controlled Damour in 1982, eight months prior to the genocidal Sabra and Shatila massacre perpetrated by ultra-nationalist Maronites with Israeli approval and support, is never mentioned.

As a result, the Sabra and Shatila massacre implicitly becomes an understandable act of Maronite revenge for the Damour massacre, while Maronite collaboration with Zionism in this crucial context is downplayed.

By this tack, Palestinian refugees and ultra-nationalist Maronites are positioned as moral equivalents, while the right-wing view is retained of Palestinians as foreigners who are prone to instigate violence and who should therefore be deported from (or at least not permitted socio-economic integration into) Lebanon–rather than as loyal opponents of fascism who in fact struggled historically in solidarity with the Lebanese left against the disproportionately overwhelming violence perpetrated by Maronite ultra-nationalists and their Israeli allies during the period in question.

2) This positioning of the two main parties to the film’s narrative conflict as morally equivalent is easily belied by the film’s own dramatic structure, in which the right-wing Maronite character, protagonist Tony Hanna (Adel Karam), is portrayed as three-dimensional and psychologically complex, his personal struggle positioned at the film’s dramatic center, while the Palestinian character, antagonist Yasser Abdallah Salameh (Kamal El Basha), serves basically as his foil and as such is portrayed in a more simplified manner.

3) Likewise in typical hasbara fashion, The Insult reinforces the stereotypical view of excessive violence as somehow inherent to Arab men, and of an exotic passivity as inherent to Arab women.

Both Yasser and Tony are portrayed, albeit in differing ways, as irrational and unable to control their tempers, whereas their wives, Manal Salameh (Christine Choueiri) and Shirine Hanna (Rita Hayek), are portrayed as sympathetic and emotionally intuitive.

Likewise, the female attorney, Nadine Wehbe (Diamand Bou Abboud), who defends Yasser in a lawsuit brought against him by Tony, is portrayed as calm and receptive, while Tony’s male attorney, Wajdi Wehbe (Camille Salameh), is portrayed as verbally abusive and interruptive.

Similarly, a group of Palestinian males depicted protesting the trial outside the courthouse are depicted as immature and thuggish–in this instance as no better than the Maronite ultra-nationalist males with whom they spar; moreover, women play no role in such apparent political spectacles.

Together, these tactics serve to reinforce the moral equivalency discourse, in this instance along conventional gender lines, while naturalizing the film’s core conflict through racist ideology.

4) The Insult nonetheless purports a feminist sensibility, in that Nadine ultimately wins her legal case.  Yet the film’s feminism is  contradicted not only by the elements in point #3 above.

Nadine wins her case with the surreptitious help of Wajdi, who early on is revealed to be her father.  Wajdi’s male pride will not permit him to lose his case, so he decides to manipulate the proceedings, at once bringing about the “realization” of moral equivalence and the acquittal of his daughter’s client.

His paternalism not only reinforces patriarchy but a sense that the moral high ground belongs to the political Right:  Wajdi is a well-known litigator on behalf of the Maronite ultra-nationalist cause.

5) In line with this right-wing slant, when political-economic factors in The Insult‘s narrative conflict are raised, they serve merely as background for dissimulating the film’s Zionist undercurrents rather than for genuinely analyzing the situation in Lebanon. 

For example, we are given to know superficially that Tony is unemployed and cannot find affordable housing under neo-liberal conditions of urban gentrification, whereas Yasser works for a construction company that is actively facilitating that gentrification–a symptomatically unexplored allegorical reference to the situation of economically challenged Israeli settlers, on the one hand, and the Palestinians whom they are displacing, and who are often compelled, under such conditions, to work for Israeli construction companies, on the other hand, that is never made explicit in the context of the trial which comprises the film’s central drama.

 In effect, The Insult projects an Israeli predicament onto Lebanon–and resolves it ideologically in a direction amenable to Zionism and condescending, damaging–insulting–to Arabs.

6) None of the above is surprising.  At least two of The Insult‘s production companies, Cohen Media Group and Ezekiel Film Productions, are of dubious ideological-political origin. 

Both produce slick “world cinema” fare intended primarily for international film festival and art house audiences and not for populations indigenous to third and fourth world countries in which many of their films’ narratives are set.

Making films for distribution on the world cinema circuit is a common tactic of hasbara tactic, the aim of which is to persuade international audiences of the correctness of Zionist perspectives.

Cohen Media Group is a New York-based company whose founder, real estate magnate Charles S. Cohen, was awarded the 2002 Israel Peace Medal for having raised an all-time record $52.4 million in donations to the State of Israel Bonds, and was also honored for his “humanitarian” and community service by the pro-Zionist organization, B’nai Brith International.

Ezekiel Film Production’s main website is devoid of transparency, and its secondary website lists it as yet another U.S. company based in Los Angeles, where Cohen Media Group also has offices.

Another of the film’s production companies, Rouge International, is based in France and produces world cinema fare, as does Tessalit Films, which is listed as both based in France and as a Weinstein company with offices in New York City, as well as Scope Pictures, which is based in Brussels.

Insofar as the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rarely honors films from the Arab world on (prejudicial) account of their presumed anti-Zionism or that of their makers, it is little wonder that The Insult was selected for submission to this year’s competition. 

One wonders who will fund Doueiri’s next film project, which is rumored to be an all-out condemnation of BDS.

Comment:  Why Doueiri believed he needed to shoot a short section in Israel? Because in bad times, al tatbee3 shi thanaweh wa ma bte7rez al tafkeer? The fact that Israel (our existential enemy) allowed Ziad to shoot there means that he and the film serve its propaganda interests




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