AS’AD AbuKHALIL: The Revenge to Come

Thousands of Palestinians — and other Arabs — will be planning violent acts of revenge over Gaza. How far will Arab governments go in shielding U.S. and Israeli interests from their angry populations?

Gazans outside Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, on October 9, 2023, following Israeli airstrikes. (Palestinian News & Information Agency. or Wafa, in contract with APAimages, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By As’ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News 

The scenes of Gaza’s genocide will shape generations to come, and Joe Biden has ensured that current and future generations will blame the U.S. for this war as much as they will blame Israel. The U.S. government openly admits helping the Israeli government in executing its genocidal war.

The U.S. will continue in its unconditional support for Israeli genocide, and the Biden administration has been a full partner while frequently feigning concern for the “humanitarian situation” in Gaza, as if Palestinians are dying from a devastating plague.

Arab political anger is building up, and the scenes of the destruction of Gaza will spawn new militant organizations and political parties. Cries for revenge are heard in all Arab demonstrations, and someone will seize the moment and likely express rage at U.S. interests.

State Department officials are sharing those concerns in internal memos, but Biden and Blinken are focused on the need to resume Saudi-Israeli normalization talks. Gaza will certainly remain in Western news long after this war of genocide is ended.

It is too early to predict the exact consequences and the repercussions of American support for what is being called the second Nakbah. What Arabs are watching on their TV screens is quite different from the little that is filtered through U.S. TV news and the mainstream media.

Biden Persists Despite No Popular Support

Evidently Americans have seen enough, however. A new Gallup poll reveals that a majority of Americans disapprove of the Israeli war in Gaza, even though Gallup’s phrasing of the question characterized genocide as a mere “Israeli military action,” bestowing a moral legitimacy on one of the worst war crimes in decades.

The poll also shows that the majority of Democrats and Independents are turning against Israel in the conflict in the Middle East; only staunch Republican support for Israel (often presented in biblical, millenarian terms) saves Israel from total collapse in U.S. public standing.

Yet, Biden and the Democratic Party leadership continue to offer full support for Israel regardless of deceptive leaks (about Biden-Netanyahu rifts) that are intended to assuage Arab and Muslim public opinion in the U.S. and in the Middle East.

Unlike the Past

Damaged tank during 1956 Suez war. (United States Army Heritage and Education Center/Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. has suffered through various crises in its relationship with the Arab and Muslim worlds over the decades. America has been at war (with much of the developing world) since the end of WWII and has often deployed troops, changed governments, toppled elected leaders, imposed despots, and incited disturbances and seditions in various parts of the region.

The Nakbah did not immediately affect U.S. standing in the region because the U.S. was not perceived to be the major player in a region historically dominated and colonized by European powers. But rising anger against the British role in the creation of Israel had severe consequences, and by 1956 (with the tripartite invasion of Egypt on behalf of French-British economic interests and Israeli political aims), Britain was unceremoniously expelled from the Middle East.

Antipathy against Britain was so prevalent that British correspondents had to distance themselves from the policies of their government before they could enter into conversation with people on the street. The U.S. took over the region officially after Suez in 1956. The U.S. proved to be a qualified successor to racist European colonizers.

Washington became quite adamant that it would not pay a price for its wars and policies in the region, however. The rising role of the AIPAC (and its research arm the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) was predicated on the assumption that no matter how closely the U.S. aligns itself with Israeli occupation and aggression, it would never lose economic and political power in the region.

The U.S. enjoys several strategic advantages there: the Libyan and Iraqi states and societies were largely decimated by U.S. wars and military intervention, while Syria was destroyed and fragmented thanks to U.S. and Gulf intervention.

But the Arab League since at least 2003, has come under the direct control of U.S. State Department officials. A U.S. official now dutifully attends sessions of the Arab League. Qatar, and then Saudi Arabia, alternated in controlling the Arab League agenda on behalf of the U.S. government.

Yet today’s developments in the region (with the war in Gaza and Lebanon) can’t be compared to the past.

This calamity is destined to shape generations, and it is certain that thousands of Palestinians — and other Arabs — will be planning violent acts of revenge.

To be sure, the region is dominated by governments that are friendly to the U.S. but even they are having difficulty controlling their angry populations. How far will Arab governments go in shielding U.S. and Israeli interests from their angry people?

Regional Protests

Gaza protest in Teheran in October. (TasnimNews/Amin Ahouei/Wikimedia Commons)

Public reactions in the Arab world have not been properly covered in the Western press. It’s true that massive demonstrations for Palestine have been larger in many Western countries than in some Arab countries. But massive protests are held weekly in Yemen (in various cities), and Iran, Pakistan and Turkey have also had several massive protests.

Lebanon has been fully engaged in the war against Israel since Oct. 7, and Hizbullah — while clearly avoiding a larger war — is consistently proving that “resistance fronts are fully united.”

Armed groups in Iraq have also shown support, while other countries have to contend with repressive regimes in planning public expressions of anger; even in the West Bank, the C.I.A.-sponsored security forces act just like all other Arab regimes in quelling manifestations of public solidarity with the resistance in Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen.

The standing of Yemen in the Arab world has risen sharply due to the daring military stance of the ruling Ansar Al-Allah (“Houthi”) government despite U.S. and British raids inside the improvised country. The Houthis will no longer be portrayed (as has been the habit of Saudi, UAE and Qatari media) as mere tools of Iran.

The Houthis are now in the forefront of Arab nationalist assertion of identity through solidarity with Gaza. Hizbullah, on the other hand, still faces high expectations from those in the region who want the Lebanese group to open an all-out war against Israel.

So-called Abraham Accords on Ice

President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz bump fists at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, on July 15. (Saudi Press Agency, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

Even the friendliest Arab regimes to the U.S. have had to react by suspending the Abraham Accords. In the Trump and Biden administrations, the lynchpin (or the only element) of U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict has been the encouragement and promotion of normalization between pro-U.S. depots and Israel.

Putting it on hold, at least for a time, the Saudi regime has contradicted U.S. accounts of its intentions toward normalization, perhaps being aware of Saudi public opposition to a relationship with Israel.

The U.S. will continue to push, but the price of Saudi acceptance will be higher (in terms of security arrangements, import of advanced U.S. arms and military technology and even a nuclear reactor inside the kingdom). The Saudi regime will also extract bigger concessions from Israel; previously, the Saudi de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, spoke only of “easing the life of Palestinians”. 

Containing the Rage

Arab public anger will likely not be reflected uniformly across the region. Public dissatisfaction with the Egyptian ruler over economic hardships has increased due to his regime’s cooperation with Israel in the siege and strangulation of Gaza.

In Jordan, the government was forced to take a tougher public stance against the Israeli war to absorb public outrage over Gaza (two thirds of the population of Jordan are originally Palestinian refugees). The protests outside the Israeli embassy in Amman have been getting fiercer in recent days.

Even Morocco, which the U.S. and Israel have treated as a loyal client of Mossad, witnessed many demonstrations geared toward rejection of normalization.  In Tunisia and other countries rulers must reiterate their opposition to normalization despite Gulf (UAE-Saudi) promotion of the theme in their media.

It took several years of planning after the Nakbah, for the first signs of repercussions to be registered. George Habash and his comrades at the American University of Beirut began plotting revenge soon after their expulsion from their homeland. The Movement of Arab Nationalists which Habash founded in the early 1950s, adopted “revenge” as one of its mottos.

As’ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Lebanon (1998), Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), The Battle for Saudi Arabia (2004) and ran the popular The Angry Arab blog. He tweets as @asadabukhalil

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

17 comments for “AS’AD AbuKHALIL: The Revenge to Come

  1. bardamu
    April 3, 2024 at 01:32

    Bad behavior incites blowback, wherever that blowback may land; that’s not always where justice might suggest.

    Lots of bad behavior incites lots of blowback.

    The US and Western Europe have centuries, oceans awaiting us, though it is unlikely that most shall ever land.

  2. wildthange
    April 2, 2024 at 20:18

    It seem we believe in the profits of permanent war for full spectrum dominance of world culture for maximized profits and creative destruction for renovation. The world wide rule of a military protection racket along with monotheistic religion is an addiction human society bring down to earth for civilization to survive.

  3. Randal Marlin
    April 2, 2024 at 17:52

    Revenge is never a good idea.
    “They recke no laws that meditate revenge.” (Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy)
    One great wrong is followed by another, and the escalation of atrocities never ceases.
    At some point the injunction “love thine enemies,” properly interpreted, needs to hold sway for peace to arrive.
    This is true regardless of which groups we may have in mind.
    We can understand the sense of injustice that prompts the desire for revenge, but the solution is to bring an end to the injustices, not add to them.

  4. CaseyG
    April 2, 2024 at 13:11

    I do not trust Israel nor Netanyahu about anything—and Joe Biden, the same goes for you.

  5. anon
    April 2, 2024 at 12:45

    Instead of bitching, pick any Arab country you’re bitching about and say in a detailed way:
    1. What EXACTLY they should do
    2. What would be the risks and costs (getting sancioned, nuked by Israel, etc.
    3. How this would STOP genocide if US keeps sending three planes of weapons daily to Israel.

    As a third party observer, albeit someone who is horrified at the genocide, why is it that Lebanese / Arab / Muslim academics who have decent jobs in the West love to trash other Arabs?
    I find it unproductive and cowardly.
    Unproductive because if you hadn’t noticed, the West has closed ranks to protect Israel. And yet you guys always slinging mud on Arabs instead of where you should throw it: UK, US, Germany, France, EU are Israel’s staunchest supporters.

    It’s cowardly because taking on the Zionist lobby in the US would mean losing your job. But that’s the biggest problem, not Arab states.

    And why should they help if you’re always bitching about them? They have rebuilt Gaza every time Israel destroyed it before. You all come across as extremely ungrateful.

    The Lebanese Christian parties, FPM, Kataeb etc. are the biggest ones undermining Lebanon. In Palestine you have the PA itself undermining the resistance. But bitching about Arabs is safe.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    April 2, 2024 at 12:03

    I don’t want to get too old (going on 84) but do hope to see the day when israel gets to reap what it has sowed. WHO are the animals? Not even animals behave like this.

  7. Peter Loeb
    April 2, 2024 at 10:40

    It is well known that the US has been supporting Israel for decades. See among others James Bamford’s several
    works and under many administrations This support and the political stranglehold of US policy (since
    Harry Truman’s support of Israeli membership in the UN) lives on. The Biden administration continues to exemplify
    those policies and the immunity of Israel in virtually all matters including stealing from “NUMEC” , nuclear tests
    and the like (Obama administration).

  8. Charles E. Carroll
    April 2, 2024 at 10:09

    Free Palestine!

  9. susan
    April 2, 2024 at 08:20

    Cease Fire in Palestine Joe Biden – you have the power!!

  10. April 2, 2024 at 08:13

    The world will never forget what the US and Israel have done in Gaza, but many people in the US will never know what actually happened because our news organizations have been captured by the wealthy elites fomenting war. But the rest of the world knows, and the blowback will be severe and enduring.

  11. Voltaria Voltaire
    April 1, 2024 at 23:19

    I’m actually more concerned about False Flag events. Look what 9-11 was used for by evil people. Palestine had the legal right to resistance (although this is denied), but what was the cost? The poor people in the U.S. are in agreement with the poor people in the Middle East. We don’t want war. We don’t agree with this genocide. We don’t want to see our children die and we don’t want them to see theirs die either. It is the Psychotics who are aching for a World War, not the general populace. It is not the majority of people in any country, despite what the media tries to make people believe, or incite people’s emotions towards. Anger should be directed at the wrongnesses and Injustice, not the people. The individuals responsible for the crimes should be held to account not the general populace. Otherwise, how will it ever change?

    • Threetrees
      April 2, 2024 at 10:30

      The Arabs are not going to attack anyone! They know they and their children will be vaporized. They are not stupid. All they dream about is coming to America and prospering.

      • anon
        April 2, 2024 at 12:48

        Bitching about Arabs is the favourite sport for Western academics who are too gutless to take on the Zionist lobby. They pretend to do something by going for the low hanging fruit that won’t get them fired. They never say what exaxctly the Arabs should do or how it would stop Israel. The last thing the Palestinians need is for the rich Arabs to end up like Iraq etc. They’re the ones who always pay for rebuilding.

    • mary-lou
      April 2, 2024 at 11:04

      absolutely. violence only begets violence, “we” don’t want war. after all, cui bono? with “Gladio B” still around there will be false flags, there will be revenge and more death and misery, but it will be “us”, normal people who want peace and a chance to bring up our children in a decent way who are targeted. humans are smarter than that, so please let’s seek peaceful solutions.

    • DW Bartoo
      April 2, 2024 at 11:24

      Superb, spot on comment, Voltaria Voltaire.

      Those who are pathologically dangerous to the rest of us must never be granted power, or wealth sufficient to buy such power.

      The Age of the Divine Right of Money, practiced by the Colonial – Empires of violence, exploitation, and vicious deceit must end, else humanity will cease to exist.

      • Selina Sweet
        April 2, 2024 at 13:23

        Yes! Yes! Yes! Well said.” The Age of The Divine Right of Money” a la colonial mentalities and institutions must end.

    • Kay L Walker
      April 2, 2024 at 13:47

      Thank you for you comment Voltaria Voltaire. I wish more people in the West would stand up against this latest form of genocide, against regime change and against the USA’s and other nations betrayal of the common men and women instead of voting them in over and over.

Comments are closed.