The Syrian regime has done nothing to liberate the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, let alone Palestine, but even if it were the only entity in the world capable of liberating our land, we must stand against it. You can never achieve your liberation on the blood of your brethren and with the aid of the very regime that denies your fellow men and women their most basic rights.
This is what makes the support of some corrupt Palestinian leaders, couch leftists, and Arab nationalists for the Assad regime so repellent and disgraceful. By brazenly exploiting the cause of one oppressed people to justify the oppression of another, Palestinian cheerleaders of Assad inflict irreparable damage on the Palestinian cause. Khaled Jabbareen, a veteran Palestinian activist I met during the demonstration we held in Haifa to mark the first anniversary of the Syrian uprising, told me: “I quit political activism for 15 years. What spurred me to be active again was watching an obsolete Palestinian ‘leader’ sing Assad’s praises on Syrian State TV. We have been repeatedly scapegoated because of contemptuous stances taken by self-appointed Palestinian leaders and we paid the price dearly. We cannot allow the same to happen with the Syrian intifada. We cannot sit idly as Syrians are being killed and repressed in our name.”
Jabbareen added that the Syrian intifada has unmasked the traditional Arab “Left” and exposed its moral bankruptcy. For decades, Arab leftists and modernists have been urging the masses to rise up. When the masses did rise to break the walls of fear in Syria, most of those self-proclaimed leftists and revolutionists cowered and either supported the regime in the guise of “anti-imperialism” and “Arabism” or sat on the fence, perhaps because the intifada was not attractive enough to satisfy their self-perceived intellectual superiority or because they were never revolutionary in the first place. Although those intellectuals and “leaders” are unashamedly loud in their support of Assad, and although one cannot deny that minhibbakjiyeh exist in Palestine as well, they do not represent the Palestinian people – as much as they shame me - and they do not represent the Palestinian cause. They do not represent the values and principles Palestinians are fighting for.
Palestinians chanted “Yallah Irhal Ya Bashar” in Nazareth, Haifa, Jaffa, Baqa, Jerusalem, Bil’in and Nabi Saleh. Many of us will continue to do so since it’s our duty to stand on the side of those who sing for freedom, dance, and even make jokes through the horror visited by bullets and mortar shells. A victory for the brave Syrian people over Assad’s tyranny will be a triumph for every oppressed community in the world. Such a triumph could change the discourse of resistance and turn it from a pretext to crush revolt into a leaderless, grassroots movement. Resistance is not a tyrant’s speech, and the Palestininian cause lives not in the ivory towers of intellectuals or in the dungeons of dictators. It lives in the voice of Ibrahim Qashoush, the innocent soul of Hamza al-Khatib, the heroic "Sumoud" of Homs and in the unbreakable spirit of the Syrian and Palestinian people.