Posts Tagged ‘intifada’

The Secret with Iran: The 30-Year Covert Struggle for Control of a “Rogue” State

by Ronen Bergman

Translated by Ronnie Hope

Oneworld (2009)

Book Review

This is a very depressing book. The “secret war” referred to is the covert war Israeli intelligence has fought with Iran over the last [40] years. Most of The Secret War with Iran is an endless chronology of lawless tit-for-tat revenge killings, car bombings, kidnappings and extrajudicial assassinations Israeli intelligence and Hezbollah* impose on one another.

While most of the narrative seems historically accurate, the author’s clear pro-Zionist bias results in a number of troubling inconsistencies. Examples include persistent claims about Iran’s mythical nuclear weapons arsenal – despite verification by US intelligence (see Iran Doesn’t Have a Nuclear Weapons Program) that their nuclear weapons program ceased in 2003; a clear attempt to minimize the role of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine in generating and perpetuating Middle East violence; repeated claims that Iran (rather than Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the CIA) was the key player in the birth of Al Qaeda; and an erroneous assertion that Saddam Hussein expelled UN nuclear inspectors in 1998 (Bill Clinton had them recalled so he could bomb Iraq – see Clinton’s Worst Crimes).

Despite these weaknesses, the book provides valuable insight about the Israeli origin of Iran bashing recently taken up by Trump and the Republican Congress. The book also contains important historical background on Ruhollah Khomeini and the 1979 Iranian revolution to overthrow the ruthless CIA-backed Shah. Prior to reading this book, I was unaware of the role Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) played in training Iran’s Revolutionary Guards nor the role of Iran in training, arming and funding Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia group operating on the Israeli border in southern Lebanon.

After 1948 when the new state of Israel forcibly evicted millions of Palestinians from their lands, a sizeable proportion fled to southern Lebanon where they’re housed in refuge camps to this day. It was these camps that gave rise to the PLO.

After their UN-mandated expulsion from Lebanon in 1987, many PLO fighter returned to Palestine – where they launched the first Intifada.


*Hezbollah is a Shi’ite Islamist political party and milita group based in Lebanon. They enjoy strong support from Lebanon’s civilian population owing to their programs offering health, education and social services the Lebanese government is too poor to provide.

intifada

(More from my research for A Rebel Comes of Age and the role of youth in sparking revolution)

Like the 1976 Soweto uprising, the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987 was instigated by teenagers experiencing a breakdown in family life and parental authority.

From 1967, when Israel first seized the Gaza strip from Egypt, until 1987, Gaza, which has always been much poorer than the West Bank, was little more than a cluster of refugee camps. This meant the only central authority Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers, who maintained order. According to a study by EuroMed Youth, this lack of central authority led to the breakdown of parental authority. With a breakdown in civil society, it was only among young people, who freely intermingled in schools, universities and the streets, that intellectual debate could occur. In 1987, Yasar Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization were still in exile.

The Breakdown of Parental Authority

Demographic factors played a major role in the empowerment of Palestinian youth in the late eighties. Approximately 65% of Palestinians were under 25 (with short life expectancy older age groups are underrepresented). In 1987, this group had a 37% unemployment rate.

As in Soweto, the breakdown of parental authority was a major factor. Although some Palestinian adults crossed into Israel to work, their wages were extremely low. Many children and teenagers worked as street vendors to contribute to family income. In some households, they were the sole source of support. Watching Israeli soldiers routinely humiliate their parents also tended to undermine their authority.

Children take on the Israel Defense Force

The first Palestinian Intifada started spontaneously when Palestinian children, teenagers and college students rioted in response to the IDF murder of six Palestinian students. Initially Palestinian youth were armed only with rocks, bottles and slingshots. The insurrection quickly spread to the West Bank and was joined by underground Palestinian resistance organizations, such as Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. They taught the youths how to make Molotov cocktails and sophisticated tactics, such as burning tires or constructing barricades to protect themselves from retaliation.

The response by the IDF was massive brutality, with random killings, arbitrary detention and torture of Palestinian children and teenagers. By 1989, 13,000 Palestinian teenagers were in Israeli jails.

The Creation of the Palestinian Authority

The first Intifada ended in 1993. Under the Oslo agreement, Israel agreed to establish the Palestinian Authority, and Yasar Arafat and other PLO leaders returned from exile to run it.

photo credit: Robert Croma via photopin cc

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Rebel cover

In A Rebel Comes of Age, seventeen-year-old Angela Jones and four other homeless teenagers occupy a vacant commercial building owned by Bank of America. The adventure turns deadly serious when the bank obtains a court order evicting them. Ange faces the most serious crisis of her life when the other residents decide to use firearms against the police SWAT team.

$3.99 ebook available (in all formats) from Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/361351

soweto

(Sharing more of my research for my new novel A Rebel Comes of Age)

Much has been made of the role of youth in sparking the “Arab Spring” revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. The willingness of Arab citizens to rebel against some of the world’s most oppressive regimes is a new and significant phenomenon. It highlights the distinction between political and psychological oppression. Psychological repression is a state of wholesale resignation, when a population believes any resistance will be totally crushed.

The Role of Youth in Sparking Revolution

Youth are nearly always the engine behind any movement to throw off psychological oppression. Older people have an overwhelming drive for “business as usual.” Austrian-born child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim credits this drive for the failure of European Jews to resist the Nazi campaign to enslave and exterminate them. Teenagers, in contrast, possess an illusion an illusion of immortality. They often find it difficult to grasp the finality of death.

Lessons from History: Soweto and the Intifada

Both the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa and the first Palestinian Intifada (1987) were initiated by teenagers. Both South Africa and Palestine were riding the crest of a baby boom and faced high youth unemployment. In addition, both the South African townships and occupied Palestine faced a general breakdown in parental authority. In both settings, parents traveled long distances (to Johannesburg or Israel). A whole generation of children, were left on their own to raise themselves. The link between the breakdown of parental authority and youth rebellion is a major theme of my first novel The Battle for Tomorrow.

The Anti-Apartheid Movement

The 1976 Soweto uprising is widely credited as the start of mass popular resistance to apartheid. The students who started it came from a generation that essentially raised themselves. Strict pass laws implemented in the 1950s forced many black residents to give up to their homes in South African cities and move to black-only townships or Bantustans, where there was no work. The only work open to black men was in remote work camps at the gold and diamond mines. While Sowetan women worked as domestics and nannies for white families in Johannesburg and only returned to their own children on weekends.

In 1976 Soweto teenagers had a lot in common with homeless teens, third world street children and “young carers” (children who care for parents with physical or mental disabilities or drug and alcohol problems). Forced to look after themselves from an early age, it’s typical for these teenagers to exhibit  precocious maturity.

Conditions that Politicized the Bantu Schools

The event the triggered the 1976 uprising was a decree requiring that all Bantu schools teach their subjects in Afrikaans (the language of the original Dutch settlers of South Africa), rather than English. Owing to atrocious conditions in the Bantu schools, students were already highly politicized. While education in white schools was free, black parents were charged 51 rand a year (a half month’s salary) The Bantu schools were also incredibly overcrowded, with sixty or more students per class and teachers who often had no education qualifications.

The prelude to the June 16 uprising was a classroom boycott in early June of seventh and eight graders at Orlando West Primary School. Students from seven other Soweto schools immediately joined in. On Sunday June 13th, 400 students met in Orlando (hard to imagine without cellphones Facebook  or Twitter) to call for a mass boycott and demonstration for June 16th. They also made a pact not to inform their parents, who they believed would try to stop them.

On June 16, fifteen to twenty thousand students age 10-20 in school uniform met at Orlando West Secondary school to march to the stadium. When the students refused to disperse, the police opened fire, killing several. The others went wild, throwing rocks and bottles at the police and setting fire to all symbols of apartheid – government buildings, liquor stores, beer halls and trucks, buses and cars belonging to white businesses.

Where Deadly Police Force Fails

The next morning rioting spread to other townships, as well as to Pretoria, Durban and Capetown with “colored” (mixed race) and Indian students also joining the rebellion. The police were totally unable to quell the rioters, even with force, owing to the students’ greater numbers and their total disregard for their own safety. It would take sixteen months for peace to be restored in the townships.

(To be continued, with a discussion of the role of teenagers in the Palestinian  Intifada.)

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Rebel cover

In A Rebel Comes of Age, seventeen-year-old Angela Jones and four other homeless teenagers occupy a vacant commercial building owned by Bank of America. The adventure turns deadly serious when the bank obtains a court order evicting them. Ange faces the most serious crisis of her life when the other residents decide to use firearms against the police SWAT team.

$3.99 ebook available (in all formats) from Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/361351