by Sayyid Ali Khamenei (Islamic Movement, Crescent International Vol. 35, No. 3, Safar, 1427)
Last month, the Islamic Republic of Iran convened an international conference on al-Quds and the rights of the Palestinian people. The conference was attended by Islamic movement leaders from all over the world, as well as leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine. It was chaired by the speaker of the Majlis, Ghulamali Haddad Adel, and opened with speeches by the Rahbar and President of the Islamic State, Ayatullah al-Uzma Sayyid Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Here we publish the text of the address given by the Rahbar.
In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful... All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and may His Peace and blessings be upon the supreme Messenger, the Trustworthy Prophet, and his immaculate Household, the chosen witnesses.
Dear guests – scholars, thinkers, statesmen and valiant guards of the frontiers of Islam and warriors on the borders – I welcome you all. You have come together to confer and deliberate upon the problem of the occupation of Palestine and the holy city of Quds – the biggest catastrophe that has befallen the Islamic Ummah as a result of colonial plots. The concurrence of this session with the birthday anniversary of the great Messenger, may Allah's blessings be upon him and his household, should inspire us with resolution and renewed trust in the Divine promise, presaging, God willing, the descent of Divine mercy and help.
The present era is an era of Islamic awakening with Palestine at its core. For about 60 years since the occupation of Palestine, the oppressed Palestinians have undergone various tribulations, beginning with an unequal and desperate resistance, followed by homelessness and exile, devastation of homes and homeland, massacres of families and friends, recourse to international bodies, fruitless political negotiations and the gamble of mediation by those very powers who bear the most guilt for bringing about these calamities and their continuation.
The outcome of this historical experience is to bring a new generation of that people to the peaks of awakening, unleashing as a result the two intifadas.
The opposite camp has also passed through various stages: merciless and unbridled savagery, ferocious destructiveness and genocide, military aggression against neighbouring states and entertaining of Nile-to-Euphrates pretensions, political and economic encroachment on the region by exploiting the weakness and betrayal of some politicians of the Muslim world... leading to the sudden encounter with the awakened lion of Palestine, aroused from slumber, and the roaring intifadas of an arisen people at the end of their patience.
The outcome of this eventful process – backed all along by the power and wealth of Britain and America, with their disgraceful support for Zionism – is the present uncertainty and despair among the leaders of the usurper regime and their encounter with the rising waves of Islamic awakening.
It is true that Palestine still remains the scene of heinous crimes by the usurpers against the land's oppressed inhabitants. Barbarous and unprecedented acts of inhumanity are flagrantly committed and proudly announced by the Zionist regime. But a glance at the record of this 60-year-long drama reveals a startling and instructive reality: a drastically changed scene and a shifting of power inside Palestine as well as beyond it, within the Middle East and across the Muslim world – for whose long-term subjugation the disastrous usurpation of Palestine had been planned and executed by Western statesmen.
Consider the Palestine of the 1940's: a land in the heart of the Arab world, an unaware people, an impoverished country under a weak government, with colonial puppets as its neighbours. The wealthiest, the most well-armed and nefarious of Western powers, urged on by the Zionists, wrested this country from its people and handed it over to a racist, rapacious and terrorist party.
All Western governments, as well as both the world's rival political blocs, supported the crime. The region's puppet regimes, such as Pahlavi Iran and some others, betrayed Islam and Arab identity to place themselves at its service. Money, arms, science and technology were put at Israel's disposal from all sides. The United States acted as its patron, attorney and steward, and this was the only matter about which the Soviet Union had no dispute with the United States. UN resolutions were totally ignored by the lawless Zionist regime. Encouraged by US and European support, Israel launched military attacks on Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and invaded their territories with the intent of permanent occupation. It uttered threats and perpetrated assassinations, murders and pillage. Notorious terrorists attained to high office one after another, the last of them the infamous criminal of the Sabra and Shatila massacres. For several decades the usurper regime maintained its violent, intransigent and extortionate demeanour in Palestine.
On the opposite front, following the initial weakness and failure of the efforts of the early years, experiments were made one after another. The theoretical and practical products of nationalism, Marxism and the like failed the tests. Religious faith, held strongly by the people, gradually created shimmers of light on the bleak horizon.
Then the sun of the Islamic Revolution rose in the east. There, the name of Palestine was written on the high banner of this Revolution along with the Name of God and of the Islamicshari‘ah. This was a change in the course of events, and with it began the unravelling of Israel and the decline of the absolute dominance of the United States, which had been a consistent collaborator with Israel in its misdeeds.
There emerged jihad groups, in Palestine and Lebanon, with faith in Islam, constituting a new generation of genuine and unswerving combatants. The values of jihad and martyrdom were revived, and the genuine power, that of a people resolute in their steadfastness and sacrifice, recovered its place in Palestine and the region. The noble blood of martyrdom-seeking youths and the presence of dauntless warriors invalidate the calculations of materialists and hedonists, opening a new arena in which blood triumphs over the sword.
Today, sixty years after those trying beginnings, the forces of truth, now fresh and resolute, with revived hopes and motives grounded in faith – things that absorb the young generations – continue to grow stronger day by day in Palestine and, marching with their heroic jihad towards manifest victory, are inflicting on the enemy a series of military and political defeats, one after another, in Palestine and Lebanon. It appears as if the following words of God were addressed to them:
"[O you who believe!] God has promised you many war-gains which you shall yet achieve; and He has vouchsafed these [worldly gains] well in advance, and has stayed from you the hands of [hostile] people, so that this [your inner strength] may become a symbol to the believers [who will come after you], and that He may guide you all on a straight way. And there are yet other [gains] which are still beyond your grasp, [but] which God has already encompassed [for you]: for God has the power to will anything." (Q. 48: 20 – 21.)
On the opposite front, the forces of falsehood, having faced repeated retreats and having lost the vain hopes of the earlier years, falter in disunity, uncertainty and bewilderment. TheUnited States itself, their main supporter, is confronted with insoluble problems in the Middle East and faces the growing hatred of the entire world. Israel's Nile-to-Euphrates agenda is slashed to that of security within the wall that the usurper is drawing around itself, knowing no other means to confront the Palestinian people but tanks, bombs, prisons and bulldozers. These are the same means whose use for six decades has transformed the Palestinians into hardened steel. Henceforth their effect will be only to make them yet stronger and more defiant.
Brothers and sisters!
Today the Palestinians are in the midst of a difficult and long-term jihad. The struggle is not limited to Palestine. Rather it is the prominent part of the wide front of the Muslims world's struggle against aggressive, murderous and marauding imperialists.
The Islamic world has awakened, and all over the Muslim world the demands for Islamic governance tops the agenda among the youth, the intelligentsia and the universities. Islamic Iran, which has developed and implemented the idea of religion-based democracy, continues to advance and grow in strength. Genuine Islam, propounded by Imam Khomeini as a teaching purged of syncretism, bigotry and obscurantism, has extended beyond to the political stage in many countries and taken roots in the Islamic world, east and west.
The venom of Western liberal democracy, which American propaganda slyly tried to present as a healing medicine, has hurt the body and soul of the Islamic Ummah. Iraq, Afghanistan andLebanon, Guantanamo, Abu Ghuraib and other secret dungeons, and above all the towns of Ghazzah and the West Bank, have translated for our peoples the meaning of such Western terms as freedom and human rights, so brazenly and impudently preached by the United States regime.
Today Western liberal democracy is as much discredited and despised in the Muslim world as are the socialism and communism of the erstwhile Eastern bloc. Muslim peoples seek to obtain freedom, dignity, progress and honour in the shade of Islam. Muslim peoples are tired of the two-hundred-year domination of foreign colonial powers and are fed up with poverty, humiliation and imposed backwardness.
We have a right, as well as the ability, to respond to the humiliation and hubris of hegemonic powers. This is the genuine sentiment of our peoples and that of this generation all over the Muslim world, from East Asia to the heart of Africa. This struggle is complex, diversified, difficult and prolonged. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Palestine is the symbol and banner of this struggle.
Today the entire Muslim world should consider the issue of Palestine as its own problem. That is the key to relief of the Islamic Ummah. Palestine should be restored to the Palestinian people. The entire country should be administered by a single Palestinian state and a government elected by all Palestinians. The fifty-year-long effort of Britain, the United States and the Zionists to erase the name of Palestine from the world map and to dissolve the Palestinian nation in other nations has failed. Persecution, injustice and brutality have produced the opposite results. Today the Palestinian people are much more alive, daring and effective than their ancestors sixty years ago. This trend, which emerged in the shade of faith, jihad and the proud Intifada, should continue until the promise of God is fulfilled:
“God has promised those of you who have attained to faith and do righteous deeds that, of a certainty, He will cause them to accede to power on earth, even as He caused [some of] those who lived before them to accede to it; and that, of a certainty, He will firmly establish for them the religion which He has been pleased to bestow on them; and that, of a certainty, He will cause their erstwhile state of fear to be replaced by a sense of security – [seeing that] they worship Me [alone], not ascribing divine powers to aught beside Me. But all who, after [having understood] this, choose to deny the truth – it is they, they who are truly iniquitous!” (24:55)
Achievement of this higher goal on a wider plane – that is, freedom of the Muslim world from imperialist dominance, intimidation and interventions, and life in the shade of Islam -- is certainly possible. However, it depends on another kind of struggle, one which has a bearing on science, politics and morality. The Iranian people have tested this thesis for the last 27 years and they have tasted its sweet fruits. This struggle is based on a threefold pursuit: the pursuit of faith and of knowledge and wisdom, and empowerment of the people. The reward of this path is that each steady step forward makes the nest step yet steadier; each stage covered makes the next step more accessible.
Whether it is jihad for Palestine or for the Islamic world, the main condition of success is staunch loyalty to principles. The enemy's constant aim is to banish principles. By deceit, promises and threats, he persists in his efforts to force others to disregard them. When principles are abandoned or overlooked, the Islamic world will lose its compass, as a result putting itself at the mercy of the rules made by the enemy, with obvious consequences.
Often some of our own people, following the enemy's cue, advise us to abandon our principles, thinking it to be some kind of tactic or expediency. Whatever their motive, whether it is weakness mixed with ignorance, or greed accompanied with treachery, the following words of God apply to them:
“And yet you can see how those in whose hearts there is disease vie with one another for their good will, saying, "We fear lest good fortune turn against us." But God may well bring about good fortune [for the believers] or any [other] event of His own devising, whereupon those [waverers] will be smitten with remorse for the thoughts which they had secretly harboured within themselves...” (5:52)
They will not benefit from helping the enemy. The United States and the West have repeatedly demonstrated that. They show no mercy to those who surrender, and quite simply discard their collaborators as soon as they cease to be useful.
Some others try to inspire awe for the enemy's power and warn those who struggle for a just cause against resisting. A dangerous fallacy underlies such suggestions.
Firstly, the judicious person avoids conflict only with an enemy that does not threaten his identity, vital interests and his very existence. To resist an enemy that does pose such a threat is a definitive judgement of human reason, because it is evident that certain damage resulting from surrender to him will be similar to the probable damage proceeding from resisting him, along with the additional disgrace and humiliation. Today global imperialism, with the US president as its spokesman, openly threatens the Muslim world and talks of a crusade against it. The network of Zionism and the US and British intelligence agencies is engaged in subversive activities throughout the Muslim world. Islamic sanctities are openly insulted with the help of their funds and with their encouragement. Even the supreme Messenger (saw) is not secure from their insolence. Thousands of movies, computer games and such stuff are produced and marketed with the purpose of casting aspersions on Islam and Muslims. All this is beside their crimes of encroachment on Muslim countries, the massacres committed in Palestine, Iraq andAfghanistan, and their brazen interventions in Muslim countries that are aimed to secure their illegitimate political and economic interests. Surrendering to such an enemy is totally contrary to the judgement of reason, and resisting him is the sole prescription of reason and religion.
Secondly, exaggerating the enemy's power is itself one of his tactics. Money, political and military force and stockpiles of modern weapons overawe governments that lack the support of their own people. Military victory against a regime like that of Saddam, who did not enjoy his people's support and whose army was stranger to the concepts of faith and jihad, is not an evidence of strength. However, the US could not subdue the Iraqi people. To the same extent that Iraq has contested and unmasked US pretensions of bringing democracy to the Middle East, it has also challenged and mocked the pretensions of absolute American power and invincibility. If governments relying on popular support possess the asset of faith in God and self-confidence, they will never be defeated if they pursue a policy of defying imperialist pressures. Their steadfastness in face of the hardships resulting from resistance will be rewarded with victory, and will destroy the myth of the invincibility of the enemy. This has been proved in the present as well as in the not-so-distant past and, insha'Allah,will continue to be proved henceforth.
The connected chain of US plots against Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, with the aim of establishing its dominance over the Middle East under the auspices of Israel, will never succeed and will not earn America's leaders anything but ruin.
If, fortuitously, the United States should deign to follow the dictates of reason and conscience, it should abandon its opposition to the will of the Iraqi people and defer to their vote in favour of their elected government. It should respect the government elected by the Palestinians and curb Israel's lawlessness. It should immediately free the inmates of Guantanamo, Abu Ghuraib and other secret US prisons. It should give up its plotting against Syria, Lebanon and Islamic Iran, and refrain from inflaming with its arrogance the sensitivities of the Middle East and the Gulf.
Finally, this is what I have to say to the Palestinians:
Becoming an exemplary people, you have brought honour to the Muslim world with your splendid struggle, steadfastness and resistance. The heavy burden of this great ordeal has not bent your back, and the noble blood of your martyrs has hardened your resolve and firmness. Your enemy's brutality and bloodthirstiness, the massacres, destruction and abductions perpetrated by him and his barbarism have not made you turn your backs, and today you are stronger that ever. Until now the blood of such great martyrs as Shaikh Ahmad Yasin, Fathi Shaqiqi, Rantisi, and the blood of your martyrdom-seeking youths and victims of oppression has triumphed over the sword and, with God's power and might, will be increasingly victorious hereafter.
We, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the mass of Muslims and freedom-loving people of the world, share your sorrows and sufferings. Your martyrs are our martyrs, your sorrow and grief are our own sorrow and grief, and your victory is our own. The great Islamic Ummah cannot remain silent and indifferent, unlike the devious West, toward the wrongs perpetrated against you, or extend its friendly hand towards your enemy. Whoever does that will be your enemy, and definitely the Muslim peoples stand absolved of such a great sin. It is the duty of the Islamic Ummah to offer you all the help that it can and assist you in persevering upon this blessed path.
Keep your trust in God's promise. Bear patiently your sorrows and the crushing pain inflicted by the unjust bloodshed and by your daily hardships for the sake of God. And say what the prince of the world's martyrs, Husain bin Ali (as), said when his baby was slain by a poisoned arrow while he held it in his arms: "The only thing that makes it easy to face this is that it takes place right before God's eyes!" You should know that God has assured the ultimate victory of the faithful and those who strive patiently, and “truly and justly has thy Sustainer's promise been fulfilled”. (6:115)