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Chapter 7 considers the international relations of Tawhid, accounting for the factors behind its recurring tensions with the Syrian regime as well as its foreign alliances with Syrian Islamists, Fatah and Iran. It points to the role of the handful of Tawhid cadres who, as a result of their strong commitment to Islamist ideology, became the principle handlers of the movement’s foreign alliances with like-minded Islamist actors such as Iran. This, it claims, at first reinforced their influence within Tawhid, which they used in order to push its discourse and behaviour in an ideological direction and to make shared ideology the cornerstone of the movement’s foreign alliances with like-minded actors. But the chapter remarks that, as their influence became too strong and their ambition to turn Tawhid into a movement only driven by ideology clashed with the priorities of other factions, a heated debate gripped the movement and violence ensued, leading to the killing of several of them. And, tellingly, the period of late 1984 and early 1985, which corresponds to the decline in the influence of these ideologized cadres, also matches with a Tawhid behavior less driven by ideology than before, as it engaged in criminal practices and as its foreign relations turned more pragmatic.
It was the PLO and the work of its chairman, Yasir Arafat, that made it impossible for the world to ignore the Palestinian issue. The PLO was born in the age of national liberation struggles, when national liberation movements took as their model the struggle for Algerian independence and when violent revolution undertaken by a select group of cadres provided the means to achieve movement goals. Although by the early 1970s the PLO was recognized by most of the world as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” it was never able to fully shed the national liberation model. And although the PLO was recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” two phenomena that came about in the late 1980s called that recognition into question: an uprising in the occupied territories (intifada), during which a local Palestinian leadership emerged; and the emergence of an Islamist movement, Hamas, which would eventually take control of Gaza, leading to a division within the movement.
This chapter continues the bottom-up approach to history with a focus on a specific day of crowd action, Quds Day. History infuses this day of protest with immense meaning and importance. In the 1970s all revolutionary factions in Iran championed throughout the region were championing Palestinian liberation, and the Islamists institutionalized the emancipation of Palestine as an integral part of the state’s ideology after consolidating power. Freeing Palestine became part of the nation’s visual culture, and the discourse of Palestinian liberation was taught to a generation of Iranian youth raised under the banner of the Islamic Republic. The state even designated the last Friday of Ramadan as Quds Day (Jerusalem Day). Thirty years later, Iranian youth used the occasion of Jerusalem Day to circumvent the security crackdown, re-emerging to protest the election results and the state that had ratified them. They used specific Palestine-centered imagery and slogans to either negate the state, or to legitimate their own uprising and portray the state as the usurper of power akin to Israel. The protest was continued online with specific digital displays of subversion.
Concerns about lying and sincerity in politics are common in most societies, as are concerns about conspiracy theories. But in the occupied Palestinian territory, these concerns give rise to particular kinds of effects because of the conditions of Israeli occupation. Political theorists often interpret opacity claims and conspiracy theories as responses to social disorder. In occupied Palestine, disorder and instability are standard. Opacity claims and conspiracy theories therefore require a different kind of analysis. Through an examination of the semiotic ideology of sincerity, especially as it has emerged in the conflict between Fatah and Hamas, this article argues that opacity claims act as a form of nationalist pedagogy, at once reinforcing the basic principles of sincerity of action and word, and encouraging a wariness of political spin.
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