Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Muqawama - Resistance

Almost two years ago I wrote a post about Muqawama - the strategy of the Islamists to achieve their goal through Resistance. At the time I was citing Ehud Yaari, and also using the concept as a supplement to an analysis by Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel. I recommend having a look at that old post both as a reminder of Yaari's thesis, and because the Issacharoff-Harel analysis is still so relevant. Why, just this week Richard Pearson was talking about the matter here in the comments section; the Mondoweis folks do it all the time.

Anyway, today Barry Rubin has an article about the same Muqawama, though he only uses the English term. Since he, and Yaari, and Issacharoff and others are probably right, but their point is hard to find in the general media, I'm doing my small bit to push it.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really, really off-topic-

The Muslims who lit out of Bulgaria in 1989- where did they go? Turkey?

Anyone know?

Bruce

Victor said...

That essay by Yaari several years back got me thinking and reading about muqawama, and I've been following this development ever since.

Muqawama loosely translates from Arabic as "resistance". The full meaning of the term, however, is much broader. Essentially, it is profound, unyielding, insatiable rejection. In expression, muqawama manifests itself as violence - political, economic, social and physical. This violence is a crucial element - the denial of normality, the denial of comfort and peace to the enemy, but more importantly, to oneself.

Muqawama has become the preferred ideological vehicle for anti-Israeli and anti-Western forces, because it is able to unify military actors (terror groups) with political operatives (elected or selected government or semi-government officials) and civilian forces (BDS, "human rights" groups, etc.) from across ideological and religious boundaries - Sunnis and Shiites, fascists, marxists and Islamists, etc. Such combination of forces was not conceivable even a short time ago.

Muqawama is a true Arab innovation, stemming from indigenous honor/shame tribal culture that is so poorly understood by most of us, and infusing it with religious (jihad) and modern political (nationalism, marxism, etc.) themes. The term itself is almost revered by Arab friends of mine - secular, educated people who rebuke me for even speaking the word (it is an insult for a Zionist Jew to do so).

I think this fundamental desire to resist and reject stems from failure, and perception of failure. It is mental isolationism of last resort. "The one thing the Zionists can't defeat or impose on is my the will to reject them", and so on. It is a quest to find strength in what is, in fact, huge weakness. Sure, they killed 1000 of us without breaking a sweat, but we kept firing rockets that did almost no damage, or kidnapped one of their soldiers, etc.

The way to deal with muqawama ideologically is to expose it, objectively, as a psychological front, a mental crutch for total defeat.

Victor said...

After reading what I just wrote, I realized I did not mean to sound so... militant. I should clarify my thoughts.

Muqawama is a denial of reality, a refusal to accept that the outcome one seeks will not be achieved under any realistic conditions. The ideological solution to this reality, and the psychological problem it creates is to push off the date of "victory" and inculcate a mentality of sacrifice, which provides a perverse outlet for grief. The individual believes that their suffering contributes to some distant glory which will make it all worthwhile, this glory itself only vaguely defined to begin with.

As I wrote before, the way to deal with muqawama ideologically is to expose it, objectively, as a psychological front, a mental crutch for total defeat. However, screaming this in someone's face will only push them further into withdrawal.

Not everyone is committed to muqawama "to the death". Less violent adherents should receive support to deal with the anguish and distress that so crippled them, and to help nurture in them an acceptance and understanding of reality. If this sounds like a treatment for other conditions reflective of mental illness, it is.

Anonymous said...

reminds me very much of Christian view points in the history books I read ... only the reward is not glory but salvation of which I do not know how closely defined it was or is - Silke

"The individual believes that their suffering contributes to some distant glory which will make it all worthwhile, this glory itself only vaguely defined to begin with."

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