"Resistance" Conference in Beirut Draws Far Left American and International Activists


Introduction

Delegates from more than 30 countries attended a conference in Beirut that featured speeches by representatives of Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

 

The conference, titled the "Arab International Forum for the Support of the Resistance" was held at the UNESCO Palace in Beirut on January 15-17, 2010. It was organized by the Arab Center for Communication and Solidarity, an international anti-Israel organization, to support "resistance to occupation."  The Center has held several conferences in recent years on the Palestinian "right of return" and strategies for reclaiming the Golan, Jerusalem, and the Palestinian territories. The conference was marked by rhetoric similar to other pro-resistance conferences previously held in Beirut.

 

George Galloway
, an anti-Zionist British parliamentarian and the leader of a pro-Hamas campaign called Viva Palestina, attended the conference, as did several American Far Left figures, including former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Stanley Cohen, a Jewish American lawyer who has served as the defense lawyer in several high-profile terrorism cases.

 

The conference consisted of speeches by Hamas and Hezbollah leaders calling for increased support for "resistance" against Israel and calls for the destruction of Israel. Many of the conference speakers addressed the need to unite the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance forces, an objective that was accomplished at a meeting between top Hamas and Hezbollah officials during the conference. Its importance was underscored in a final statement issued at the end of the conference.

 

Among those in attendance were representatives from Iran, Syria and Venezuela. The Venezuelan delegation consisted of approximately 30 people, including members of Parliament. While not in attendance, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent "messages of support" through their representatives.

 

On the last day of the conference, organizers released a final statement reiterating principles previously highlighted during the conference program. The statement declared that resistance in all forms, but particularly "armed resistance," is legitimate and therefore there should be increased coordination between different resistance forces. The statement also established that January 18 and August 14, the dates the Gaza war and the Lebanon war respectively ended, should be days of "Celebration for the Resistance and Victory!"

 

Calls for the Arab world to reject negotiations with Israel, commit to boycotting Israel and acknowledge that resistance is the only viable pursuit to justice were also restated.

Several media reports estimated the number of attendees to be in the "thousands." The Web site of Hezbollah's military wing, the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, claimed that "almost a thousand participants" attended.



Speakers

Several delegates delivered speeches that praised "resistance" against the United States and Israel, called for the destruction of the state of Israel and urged the unification of various resistance forces.

 

  • Khaled Al Sufyani, a Moroccan pro-resistance activist and the coordinator of the conference's preparatory committee, said, "Resistance is the cradle of every freedom in the world, and of every son of our Arab and Islamic nations." He also called for the complete destruction of Israel: "Occupied Palestine will be liberated from the river to the sea and regarding occupied Iraq, all the political efforts will not work unless it is freed from the occupation."  Al Sufyani, who is also the coordinator of the National Association for Support of Iraq and Palestine, supports Iraqi and Palestinian resistance initiatives as legitimate opposition to "U.S.-Zionist terrorism."

  • Hassan Nasrallah
    , Hezbollah's Secretary General, addressed the audience via video link and proclaimed that Hezbollah will defeat Israel: "I promise you, in view of all the threats you hear today, that should a new war with the Zionists erupt, we will crush the enemy, emerge victorious and change the face of the region." He claimed that Israel no longer intimidates Hezbollah and that the American and Israeli plan to change the Middle East has resulted in failure. He spoke positively of "resistance," describing the choice to resist as "true, logical and victorious." Nasrallah also called the 2006 Lebanon war and the 2008-2009 Gaza war victories for the resistance, noting that Israel "wanted Gaza drowned in the sea [but] God willing, it will not drown in the sea but it will drown them in the sea." Toward the end of his address, Nasrallah sought financial support for "resistance" and thanked Iran and Syria for their "unlimited and unconditional support."

  • Khaled Meshal
    , leader of Hamas' political bureau in Damascus, voiced support for Palestinian resistance against Israel and Arab resistance against the U.S. and called on Egypt to cease building a security wall on its border with Gaza, and instead unite against the common enemy, Israel. Meshal recalled the Gaza war, noting that Israel believes Gaza is weak but will "find out that it is the true reason behind Israel's death." He repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, concluding his speech with, "We will wrest the land from Israel; we will wrest Jerusalem and the sanctuaries; and God willing, we will realize the right of return. Our people, our Ummah, and the free people of the world will score victory." Like Nasrallah, Meshal also thanked Iran for the support it has been providing Hamas in Gaza.

  • Hareth Al Dari, a representative of the Iraqi resistance, advocated for all Iraqis to resist the American presence in Iraq, claiming that the "highest objective is the liberation of Iraq from foreign occupation and restoring its full and complete authority." He also linked the Iraqi resistance to Palestinian and Lebanese resistance and affirmed the importance of getting rid of "the enemy invading the different countries." Al Dari is the secretary general of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, a Sunni political group. According to the U.S. military, Al Dari has fomented resistance in Iraq against U.S. troops and the kidnappings of Westerners.

  • Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, a radical Muslim Brotherhood ideologue based in Qatar, added a theological element to resistance, declaring, "The believers will never be defeated. Source of our strength – Allah. God is great. World that is given with the condition of subordination to the enemy, we do not need."  

  • Shahnaz Fakoush, a member of the Syrian Ba'ath Party, claimed that Israel has continued its "aggression and arrogance" despite the Arab world's desire for peace. She accused Israel of "organized terror" and called for resistance as the appropriate method to achieve victory against Israel. Fakoush also referenced an oft-cited anti-Semitic charge about Jewish power, claiming that the U.S. does not side with the resistance "because the Israeli lobby is still in control of the U.S. administration."  

  • Mohammad Salah Musaffir, a political science professor from the University of Qatar, called for renewed resistance in Lebanon and Palestine and stated that material support for resistance forces should be escalated in light of "Zionist tyranny." It is not clear from news reports if his remarks were made during a speech at the conference or in a media interview.

  • Layla Khaled, a representative from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), spoke at a workshop on the second day of the conference and urged support for Palestinian resistance, which she claimed has been abandoned by the Arab world. Khaled expressed the view that a successful resistance will wake up the world to the Palestinian plight, saying, "This world needs a bomb explosion so the people could listen."

  • Stanley Cohen, a Jewish American lawyer who has served as the defense lawyer in several high-profile terrorism cases, presented at a workshop on the legal aspects of resistance. He expressed support for Palestinian resistance on the grounds that it is comparable to a situation wherein someone "invaded his home and killed his children." In a statement on the last day of the conference, Cohen said, "It is always with great pain and great shame as a Jew and as an American to come to this land which has suffered so long by my people. Every time I come, I walk away with hope, for the resistance will be the road to victory." He concluded his statement with, "Inshalla, next year we meet in Al Quds." ("God-willing, next year we meet in Jerusalem.") 

  • Iran's Vice President for Parliamentary Affairs Mohammed Reza Mir Tajeddini delivered a speech on behalf of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and affirmed that Iran will continue to support oppressed people until the "resistance" is victorious. He also declared that that Israel has been unable to defend itself against the "resistance" and that its success demonstrates that it is the only viable way to restore justice.

British parliamentarian George Galloway did not publicly speak at the conference, but was interviewed by two Lebanese newspapers while in Beirut. In an interview with As-Safir, Galloway stated that the right to resist applies to all whose land has been occupied. He recalled the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, noting that since then, "People are no longer afraid of Israel and all that Israel can do is threaten Iran, Lebanon and Gaza, but it is not in a position to launch any war, I think."

 

A representative of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Asam Fiqh, who also attended the conference, was interviewed by a Lebanese Arabic-language newspaper and praised the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance forces for inflicting heavy losses on Israel, which he referred to as the "enemy." He also claimed to speak on behalf of the Egyptian people, who are ready to help the resistance more and believe in the resistance as the path to victory.



Alliance between Hezbollah and Hamas

Throughout the speeches and workshops at the conference, Hamas and Hezbollah leaders repeatedly praised one another and called for the unification of resistance forces against the United States and Israel, common "enemies of the resistance."    

On the second day of the conference, a delegation of Hamas officials, including Khaled Meshal, met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah at an undisclosed location in southern Beirut and agreed to establish a joint military command for Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and throughout the Arab world. They also pledged to strengthen ties between their security and intelligence agencies and to establish joint offices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.

 

The group also discussed the Arab world's "incompetence in the face of the Israeli threat" and the futility of the Arab world's stance against Israel and the U.S., according to a public statement released by Hezbollah media relations.

 

Other high-level Hamas officials who attended the meeting included Mousa Abu Marzouk, Hamas' deputy political leader in Damascus, Mohamed Nasr and Osama Hamdan.




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