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On Living in an Enchanted World

On Living in an Enchanted World

Wednesday, 17 November, 2021 - 08:30

During the epoch in which Arab nationalist rhetoric mixed with a form of leftism was dominant, many political statements and speeches began with a phrase warning us from “the vicious attack... on our nation and people...”. That is, according to popular folktales: the wolf came. The wolf attacked us...

During the epoch in which the rhetoric of political Islam prevails, which is ongoing, we became the ones attacking the wolf. That is because the “era of defeats is behind us,” as the Lebanese Hezbollah secretary-general’s phrase goes.

What is common to both rhetorics - and those behind them have a lot in common - is that we are playing around with a wolf, saying he will attack and take us down one time - then he does not - and that we are the ones who will attack and take him down the other, but we do not.

Just a few months ago, we saw an explosion of articles and statements, in their dozens, hundreds and thousands, some by politicians and writers, others by journalists and authors, on how we are taking down the wolf.

Below is a very tiny sample of what was published and said at the time:

“...Palestine has been reunited, and the geographical borders between Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Galilee, the Triangle, the Naqab and the diaspora have been erased.”

“In the battle that the land of Palestine is witnessing, starting from Al-Aqsa and the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to the West Bank and the lands usurped in 1948, passing through Gaza, which, despite its limited surface and the suffocating siege that has been imposed on it for 15 years, has turned into a strong base for a growing resistance movement against colonialism, we can see a new phase beginning, one that signals the demise of the entity’s state and heralds the promise of the imminent realization of the dream of liberation.”

“The resistance and the people of the Gaza Strip, the youths and masses of Palestine within its historical borders, and those in every country where they have sought refuge, have the right to raise the sign of victory and declare it after the unconditional ceasefire.”

“Emphasizing victory does not stem from an illusion, nor is it an exaggeration or an attempt at raising morale. Rather, it is based on the facts embodied on the ground and in the fields where the clashes broke out throughout the blessed month of Ramadan and beyond, until today (...) That is how the unity of the people of Palestine inside and outside the Palestinian territories was achieved, bypassing and defying all that the occupation has done since the 1948 Nakba that saw Palestine and its people uprooted and fragmented.”

“Jerusalem is undoubtedly closer.”

The Israeli enemy is “on course to collapse.”

Fewer than six months separate us from those words, keeping in mind that merely six days were more than enough to demonstrate how foolish they had been. Nonetheless, those who, at that time, declared their solidarity with and support for the people of Sheikh Jarrah, the Gaza Strip and the 1948 territories, without claiming that Israel had been on a course to collapse or that Palestine would be resurrected and united once again, were considered to be in the wolf’s camp, regardless of whether the wolf was attacking or was being attacked.

It is easy to always attribute this rhetoric to a deep sense of frustration and defeat. It is also easy to credit it to flagrant disrespect for the intelligence of those being addressed or to point out the profound influence of a certain manner of speech which is contemptuous of knowledge to the same extent that it is contemptuous of people.

What goes beyond this is the fact, the evidence for which is increasing, that this prevailing political discourse has been transforming, for a while now, into a way of life. We, for example, are winning while Israel continues to launch strikes in Syria, and we should be convinced that Lebanon’s interests do not lie with the Gulf states but Iran and that Michel Aoun’s reign is a “strong reign.” As for Bashar al-Assad’s regime, it has made several impressive gains for its people and country over the past few years!

And since living in an enchanted world demands a certain belief in magic, those who express contradictory statements belong only to a devilish world. Breaking confidence in reality and truth goes hand in hand with breaking trust between every citizen and the other. We thus live in a fragile world where nothing is solid, a world brimming with foreign agents, spies, fake news, and evil intentions that stalk us.

In North Korea, for example, facts of life are refuted as South Korean lies. The Soviet Union attributed every factual piece of news about it to “CIA fabrication” and “the capitalist media’s misleading propaganda” and it continued to do so until its collapse.

That we are pushed to live in an enchanted or imaginary world, the stuff of cinematic dreams, is no innocent matter. Whoever believes in this approach, turning his back on the actual world, is an ideal citizen in an authoritarian regime. They are perfect worshipers of a leader for whom politics is equated with magic.

The wolf attacking us was a lie when it had been said that he had attacked. And it remains a lie when it is said that we are attacking the wolf.

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