Theresa May’s battle for survival scapegoats

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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement to the Houses of Parliament in London, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Having lost considerable influence in Europe and other parts of the world over the ding-dong being played out over Brexit, Theresa May is seeking to gain leverage by boxing in Hezbollah. Not only does it appear that British politics under the Conservative party has lost the plot, but many may not be faulted if they question whether May has lost her marbles too.

The announcement to declare Hezbollah a “terrorist” organization was made by her Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The reason advanced is plainly ridiculous. It alludes to why many would wonder whether Britain has ran into a cul-de-sac of its own making. Javid said he had decided to proscribe Hezbollah because it was “continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East”.

Explosive language and choice of words indeed. With or without context and substance, some people, especially Tories and rightwingers allied to Israel, will unquestionably accept the misleading statement as the truth. Unfortunately some British tabloids will and have amplified the arguments without any attempt to unpack it rationally and logically. In line with Israel’s hasbara (propaganda), which has repeatedly demonised Hezbollah, pro-Israeli lobbyists in Britain have stamped their approval of Javid’s decree. 

Once the partisan law comes into force any British citizen found supporting Hezbollah will be charged for committing an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. An outrageous assault on civil liberties lacking any grounding in law or morality. Yet the British juggernaut continues to inflict pain and suffering in most of the conflicts in the Middle East in which Muslims are victims. Whether wars of attrition or wars of occupation, regime change or plunder of resources, the British government is intrinsically involved in most. 

Whether Afghanistan or Iraq, Syria or Libya, under one or other pretext, Britain has been in the forefront to “destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East”. And the devastation wrought in Palestine since the immoral and illegal Balfour Declaration of 1917, which injected a colonial entity causing the dismemberment of the indigenous Arab Muslim and Christian population, remains a bloody disgraceful legacy no British citizen can be proud of.

How dare Javid threaten legitimate movements rising up against colonialism? Does the May government not know that by handing over Palestine to Europe’s discarded Zionist settlers, by arming them with lethal power and by granting them political protection at the UN, has caused the ultimate catastrophe in the heart of the Muslim world? The creation of Israel by the British has resulted in it being the epicenter of global instability. The price of British colonial policies has and remains unbearable for victims across the entire Arabian Peninsula. 

Hezbollah, far from being a terrorist organization, is a popular political, military and social movement that wields considerable power in Lebanon. Its existence in defense of Lebanese sovereignty has earned it respect and support across Arab countries even if neocolonial monarchs such as Saudi Arabia  – another British creation, has teamed up with Israel to crush it.

Hezbollah is an integral part of Lebanon’s government, having successfully fielded candidates in regular democratic elections. Its leadership and membership is intertwined with Lebanese culture, society, economics and politics. Far from being a foreign imposition, Hezbollah is a homegrown movement with outstanding military capacity to ensure that the homeland is protected from external aggression. 

Indeed it dislodged Israel’s twenty years of ruthless occupation and having successfully freed Lebanon from Zionism’s grip, restored the country’s territorial integrity. Poised as it is to ward off Israel’s colonial expansionist plans, Hezbollah is thus a crucial component of Lebanon’s civil and military operations. 

But Britain being steeped in empire-building, finds it natural to have affinity with Israel’s ambitions to subjugate the Muslim world, rather than support resistance against it. A legacy of control and domination which spanned across many continents including Africa, seems difficult to dump as evidenced by Javid’s decree. 

The current hawkish posture by India and its air raids in Pakistani territory over the pressing issue of Kashmir, is yet again a reminder of how British colonialism deliberately allowed conflicts and wars to continue perpetually. Just as Britain is responsible for the wound inflicted on Palestine, so is it directly implicated in the unresolved question of Kashmir’s independence. 

These are among the important issues that ought to confront British politicians in order to redress injustices – past and present, not to proceed as if it’s reign of power allows it to continue behaving as it did during its colonial days. British civil societies have a distinct responsibility to ensure that abuse of power whereby at the stroke of a pen, their rights are compromised, are challenged and defeated. 

 

Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network based in Johannesburg, South Africa.