This is a rarely seen picture of Brig Muhammad Zia ul Haq killing Palestinians in Jordan during what is known to the world as “Black September.” During Black September, the head of Pakistani training commission took command of the 2nd Division and helped slaughter around 25,000 Palestinians. Zia ul haq was later awarded Jordan’s highest honor for the services rendered. Black September resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the vast majority Palestinian. Armed conflict lasted until July 1971 with the expulsion of the PLO and thousands of Palestinian fighters to Lebanon. Zia remained posted in Jordan from 1967 till 1970 as a Brigadier, where he was involved in training and leading Jordan’s military where he commanded Jordan’s 2nd division. He helped late King Hussain of Jordan in ‘cleansing’ the so-called Palestinian Insurgents, Zia and Hussain butchered many innocent Palestinians in the name of Operation against Black September. Zia’s troops were heavily involved in street-to-street urban fighting and are credited with killing scores of Palestinians. The intensity of bloodletting by Zia ul Haq and King Hussain was such that one of the founding fathers of Israel Moshe Dayan said: “Hussein (with help from Zia-ul-Haq) killed more Palestinians in eleven days than Israel could kill in twenty years.”
— TheMuslimTimes (@TheMuslimTimes2) July 17, 2017
A review of Tariq Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity (Verso, 2002)
Book by Tariq Ali
Review by Sam Ashman
Another strength of The Clash of Fundamentalisms is the way the analysis of events following the end of the Second World War brings together two areas of the world that are generally treated separately–the Middle East and South Asia. The violent processes which led to the formation of the states of Israel and Pakistan are described as different but comparable. The partition of India in 1947 left up to 2 million dead and 11 million refugees, and transformed the South Asian subcontinent. The state of Israel was formed a year later, and while the scale of deaths in Palestine was not the same as in South Asia, the Palestinians were left homeless and stateless in refugee camps in Jordan and Syria. Pakistan was supposedly a homeland for Muslims, Israel supposedly a homeland for Jews. Yet in both cases the founding fathers of these states were far removed from religion. Jinnah was an agnostic whisky drinker, while Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan were atheists. Religious fundamentalists in both cases were opposed to the formation of these states, though in Pakistan the Jamaat-e-Islami soon changed its mind. British imperialism played a central role in the foundation of both states.
The Muslim League would not have won its demand for a separate ‘Muslim’ state of Pakistan without the British. The league only adopted the demand in 1940 and failed to win mass support for it. In fact large numbers of Muslims looked to the Indian National Congress as it led the fight against British imperial rule. The league was formed by upper class conservative Muslims who pledged their loyalty to the British. This loyalty was especially important during the Second World War–the Congress launched the Quit India campaign but the league remained loyal to the war effort. The league’s loyalty was rewarded when the British left in 1947, dividing the subcontinent and making a ‘monsoon with red rain’.
The bloodshed did not stop with partition. Revolt, repression and war would lead to the formation of the state of Bangladesh in 1971 from what had been East Pakistan. The battle over the state of Kashmir, still claimed by both India and Pakistan, continues to take many lives.
Zionism was a secular nationalist ideology created in the 19th century by a small group of secular Jews who thought assimilation into European society was impossible and who began to raise money to settle Jews in Palestine. Britain pledged to aid the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine as early as the 1917 Balfour Declaration which was followed by the annexation of Palestine. Britain then created a nominally independent state of Trans-Jordan (which would later become Jordan) from eastern Palestine and kept the rest of Palestine under direct British control to facilitate a Jewish national home. Significant Jewish immigration began soon after. The first Palestinian intifada against this settlement took place between 1936 and 1939 and was crushed by 25,000 British troops, the RAF and the Zionist settlers together. The British then promised the Zionists their own independent state.
Both Israel and Pakistan emerged from these processes as grotesque societies. But while British imperialism was vital for their creation, US imperialism has been vital for their survival. Both became recipients of huge amounts of US aid in the post-war period as Israel became the US’s watchdog in the Middle East and Pakistan became the US’s Cold War ally in South Asia. The question of Palestine remains a thread which ties the states of the Arab world together. Tariq Ali describes Israel as the only remaining colonial power on the 19th/20th century model. He has even unearthed an interesting personnel overlap: General Zia-ul-Haq, dictator of Pakistan in the late 1970s and 1980s, was involved in the ‘Black September’ massacre of Palestinians in Jordan in 1970.