Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nakba

“My Palestinian grandmother witnessed the following events:

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily. August 15, 2014 at 10:50 PM · Eltham, United Kingdom

A Palestinian living in New York: “My grandmother witnessed the following events:

– she lived during the British mandate of Palestine and its turmoil
– the 1948 war and nakba (catastrophe) 
– the 1956 Israeli invasion of Gaza
– the 1967 six days war and Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank
– the 1973 war

Then she moved with my grandfather to Lebanon to witness:
– the 1978 Israeli invasion of Lebanon
– the civil war
– the 1982 Israel massive invasion of Lebanon and entering its Capital Beirut

Then she returned to Gaza to witness:
– the 1987 first intifada
– the Oslo peace agreement
– the 2000 second intifada
– the 2006 operation
– cast lead 2008/2009
– pillar of cloud 2012
– protective edge 2014

Last time I called her she asked me to take care of myself and to focus on my studies- hoping for a better future.

My grandmother’a calendar is full of war and bloodshed. She is in Gaza now and I’m in New York unable to go see her or see my family and beloved ones.

Since 1948 when she hears the drums of war, she gets dressed and prepares her papers and precious stuff getting ready to become forth, fifth, or sixth time refugee in her country.

Freedom is precious guys, if you live in freedom and dignity you never need to complain….”

Apartheid systems: South Africa versus Israel State

This year, the 14th Israeli Apartheid Week will be commemorated in over 200 cities around the world.

Commonly referred to as IAW, as a South African I do not think that a more apt name could have been chosen to highlight the atrocities carried out by the Zionist regime on a daily basis.

Whenever the plight of the Palestinian people is compared with Apartheid, there are more than a few strong objections from the pro-Israel community.

The very idea that such a comparison can be made repulses those who support the oppressive system run by the Israeli government, and passionate statements against such remarks are sure to be vented.

However, if we analyse the situation from a historic and non-biased view, the similarities between Apartheid South Africa and the situation in Israel are startling and simply cannot be ignored. (Israel is a colonial occupying force, funded and supported by western colonial powers)

The restrictive policies applied in the old South Africa are comparable to those presently carried out in occupied Palestine. We know that the government implemented the Group Areas Act here in South Africa, and non-white people were forced to live in specific areas while families were torn apart; all movements were restricted through the use of pass books.

A similar policy is seen in Israel, where Jewish settlements are established within and between Palestinian cities and then encircled by concrete walls and barbed wire, completely cutting off Palestinians from other family members and even basic necessities such as access to hospitals.

If they need to reach any destination outside of their “homeland”, their papers must be approved by Israeli soldiers, a process which often takes hours, and approval isn’t always given.

Countless horror stories have been reported where Palestinians, often children and the elderly, have suffered great deterioration to their health or even death due to these “security” checks.

We can also evaluate the specific repressive policies employed by both governments.

The Apartheid government worked in a very orderly and structured way. The arrest and detention of political and community leaders was the order of the day and suitable steps were always taken in order to justify the government’s actions.

This is precisely how the Israeli government works. It announces that it will “terminate” Hamas leaders or young Palestinians resisting occupation, and truth be told we are then sure to hear of the killing of a leader or ordinary person soon afterwards. Teenagers who are suspected of “terrorist” activities are dragged savagely from their homes in the middle of the night, and must usually endure torture and interrogation without due procedure.

The most notable and current example of this is 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who is spending her third month in an Israeli prison for resisting the unjustified storming of her home by Israeli forces. If these young Palestinians are lucky, they will be released — months or even years later — without being charged and tried, but definitely changed for the rest of their lives.

South Africa’s National Party government oversaw a rapid militarisation of society and the army was sent into the non-white townships regularly.

Having had the privilege of visiting Palestine myself recently, I can testify to the fact that the entire Israeli society is based around the military. Israeli forces patrol everywhere and, under the illusion of ensuring security, soldiers keep a close and suppressive eye on the Palestinians, monitoring their every move.

PW Botha’s government also became famous for its violent suppression of protest marches, and when I witnessed powerful Israeli tanks encroaching on a group of adolescent Palestinians trying to repel them with stones, it is as if I was witnessing history repeat itself.

I believe that the similarities are so undeniable, that it seems as if the Israeli government has used the Apartheid laws as the basis for its oppressive rule over the Palestinians living under occupation. (Actually, both systems adopted British occupation laws and ran with them)

It is correct to say that the occupation of Palestine by the nascent state of Israel in 1948 was indeed a Nakba, a Catastrophe.

Through the implementation of the Apartheid-like laws we see imposed against the Palestinians today and the countless massacres of innocent civilians that took place in order to establish Israel, it is safe to assume that the state was not “created” by the UN.

Instead, it was and remains built upon the terrorism of the Zionist militias and, later, the Israel “Offensive” Forces. It is time for the world to recognise the need to reject Israel as a legitimate member of the supposed “free-world” and support the rights of all Palestinians, including their right to return to the land taken so ruthlessly from them, as well as their basic human rights.

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, said in 1948: “We must do everything to ensure that the Palestinians never return.” Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes, he claimed that, “The old will die and the young will forget.” (Even the old dead Palestinians never forgot yet)

I wish Ben Gurion was still around, if only to see that, in 2018, young Palestinians have Not forgotten, as he’d hoped, and nor have justice-loving people around the world forgotten the catastrophe imposed upon the Palestinians.

It is for this reason that Israeli Apartheid Week will continue to be commemorated until truth, justice and human rights are achieved for everyone in occupied Palestine.

– Dr Aayesha J Soni is a medical doctor working in South Africa, as well as the vice-chairperson of the Media Review Network a Johannesburg based advocacy group committed to human rights and justice. Her article was published in the Middle East Monitor.

@Copyright The Palestinian Information Center

‘Fake News!’: The View from Israel’s Occupation

Rebecca Stein. Feb 19, 2018

Among the numerous ideological affinities and governing styles shared by Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a commitment to the rhetoric of ‘fake news.’

In the last year, Netanyahu has increasingly borrowed this Trump formulation in an attempt to quell dissent and undercut critical Israeli and international media scrutiny.

Netanyahu is not unique in this regard. Over the course of the last year, authoritarian regimes across the globe – including Syria, Russia and Malaysia – have adopted the fake news script to silence detractors and critics, frequently in response to the charge of human rights violations.

But while the global scale of this accusation may be unprecedented, charges of fake news have a long history, considerably preceding the Trump era.

In Israel, the accusation of fraudulence, employed against political critics and foes, can be traced to the onset of the Zionist settler-national project.

As post-colonial studies show, the repudiation of indigenous claims (to history, land, humanity and so on) was a foundational logic of colonial projects, enabling the violence of colonialism in its various forms.

This formulation was also at work in the history of Zionism and has had a lasting hold on dominant Israeli ideology.

Over the course of the last two decades, amidst the ascendance of nationalist extremism in Israel, the fraudulence charge has grown ever stronger among the Jewish right-wing public as a popular means of indicting critics and undercutting Palestinian claims, particularly where Israel’s military occupation is concerned.

Mohammed al-Dura

Video footage of Israeli state violence against Palestinians has been a favorite target of this accusation – footage shot by international journalists and human rights workers and increasingly, as cameras have proliferated in the West Bank, by the cameras of Palestinians living under occupation.

It was in the language of fake news that Israelis famously responded to the killing of 12-year-old Mohammad al-Dura by the Israeli security services in 2000, in the early days of the second Intifada.[1]

His killing was filmed by French television and was replayed around the world in the aftermath of the event, becoming no less than a viral global icon of the Israeli military. What ensued was an organized campaign by the Israeli right wing, and their international supporters, to debunk the images as fake.

Netanyahu convened an Israeli government committee of inquiry in 2012 to investigate the incident, and the committee eventually endorsed the popular discourse of fakery, blaming manipulative editing for falsely producing the damning images.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was Not actually dead.

Right-wing Israeli newspapers put it succinctly in their headlines: “Mohammed al-Dura: The Boy Who Wasn’t Really Killed.” Pleas by the al-Dura family to exhume the boy’s body were declined.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was not actually dead.

Despite the Israeli response to the al-Dura affair in 2000, it would take nearly two decades for this argument about Palestinian fakery to become commonplace where video evidence of Israeli state violence is concerned.

By 2014, amidst the ascendance of far-right politics in Israel, and the threatening spread of cameras among Palestinians living under occupation, the argument finally gained a mainstream foothold.

Footage from Bitunya

For example, the charge of fake news would predominate in Israel following the killing of 2 Palestinian youths in the West Bank town of Bitunya in 2014, fatally shot by the Israeli security services during an annual demonstration commemorating the Nakba.

The military denied responsibility, claiming that their forces had only used non-lethal rubber bullets that day, in compliance with regulations governing engagement in protest contexts.[2] But the scene had been filmed by numerous on-site cameras, including four security cameras, and those of CNN and a Palestinian photojournalist.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem took on the case, believing that the unusually high volume of associated footage conclusively established military responsibility for the deaths.

But mainstream Israelis felt differently, and the volume of footage from Bitunya did little to persuade them of the military’s responsibility. To the contrary, the videographic evidence fueled a widespread repudiation campaign.

State actors and institutions were among the first to join the fake news chorus, including the defense minister, the foreign minister and official military spokesmen.

All argued that “the film was edited and d[id] not reflect the reality of the day in question.”

Their assertions were parroted by the national media, who insisted that the shootings were “staged and faked.” That accusation was then picked up by right-wing Israelis and supporters internationally.

Some focused on the image of the falling body, arguing for its self-evident theatricality (yet another case of what some called “Pallywood” – the purported Palestinian Hollywood-like industry in manufactured images of Palestinian victims).

Others claimed there was a lack of adequate blood in the footage, proof that the victim had not been killed. Most proponents of the fraudulence charge did not dispute the deaths themselves, as they had in the al-Dura case, but focused on exonerating the IDF through a re-reading of the footage, arguing that the bullets had come from other sources.

The charge of fraudulence haunted the case as it wound its way through the Israeli legal system. The Bitunya case established the fake news charge as a default Israeli script for responding to video-graphic evidence of state violence against Palestinians.

A few months hence, during another violent Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Netanyahu would famously rehearse a variant of this discourse when he accused people in Gaza of performing their deaths for the media: “They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause.”

The language of “fake news” had moved from the margins of the conspiratorial blogosphere to become the language of state – presaging a dynamic that we would watch unfold in the US in the Trump era, a few years hence.

High Stakes

For Israelis who support the fake news accusation, the stakes are considerable – just as they are in Trump’s America for those who parrot this rhetoric. In the Israeli context, these accusations aim to protect the image of Israel by stripping Palestinian victims and Israeli perpetrators from the videographic scene of the alleged crime – and to do so in a way that removes all traces of repressive Israeli military rule and its histories.

The charges of fraudulence, forgery or Palestinian theatrics are an attempt to correct the record, to right the wrongs done by a libelous Palestinian public that is intent on Israel’s defamation by means of fictive image-making – or so many believe.

In this way, the discourse of fake news is just another tool in the Israeli struggle against the so-called existential threat.

[This article was originally published in Middle East Report (Issue 283).]

[1] Adi Kuntsman and I explore this in more detail here.

[2] For a more detailed discussion of this case, see Stein, “GoPro Occupation: Networked Cameras, Israeli Military Rule, and the Digital Promise,” Current Anthropology 58/S15 (February 2017).

Palestinians settled in Lebanon?

Have you met anyone of them?

Le pays du Cèdre (Lebanon) compte près de 450.000 réfugiés palestiniens enregistrés par l’Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient (UNRWA). (Not counting those Not registered officially)

Ils représentent un dixième de la population au Liban.

Environ 60% de ces Palestiniens vivent dans les 12 camps de réfugiés installés sur l’ensemble du territoire libanais dans des conditions difficiles.

Aux problèmes de pauvreté, de surpopulation et de manque criant d’infrastructures élémentaires, s’ajoute celui du chômage.

N’étant pas légalement considérés comme des citoyens d’un pays étranger, les Palestiniens ne bénéficient pas des droits de résidence et de travail dont les Libanais ou d’autres citoyens étrangers pourraient jouir.

A titre d’exemple, les Palestiniens ne peuvent exercer un métier au Liban que dans 20 secteurs d’activité. Ils ne sont pas non plus autorisés à acheter un logement ou un terrain.

#REPERE – Les #Palestiniens installés au #Liban

Profondément marqués par la guerre, l’Etat et le peuple libanais entretiennent des relations extrêmement compliquées avec les Palestiniens, majoritairement installés dans des camps insalubres où la radicalisation islamiste guette.
Les relations entre les Palestiniens au Liban et les autorités libanaises sont essentiellement marquées par le rejet de toute possibilité de naturalisation, justifiant ainsi les politiques discriminatoires à leur égard.
(Les enfants des femmes Libaneses qui marrient des Palestiniens ne sont pas admit comme Libanais)

Ce rejet, aujourd’hui d’ordre démographique, trouve ses origines dans deux conflits.

En 1948, le Liban accueille des dizaines de milliers de Palestiniens, contraints à l’exil dans la foulée de la guerre israélo-arabe. Les Palestiniens désignent cet exil par le terme « nakba » (désastre, en arabe).
Pendant la première partie de la guerre civile libanaise, de 1975 à 1982, la résistance palestinienne au Liban sera le bras armé d’une coalition à dominante musulmane qui affrontera une alliance à dominante chrétienne. (Trop simplistic et reductive)

A ce rejet historique, s’ajoute une nouvelle problématique : celle de l’islamisme armé.

En vertu d’un accord tacite, les services de sécurité libanais n’ont pas autorité sur les camps de réfugiés palestiniens. La sécurité y est assurée à minima par les forces politiques palestiniennes traditionnelles.
Mais elles sont de plus en plus débordées par des groupuscules plus radicaux, proches de l’islamisme radical. Dans le camp d’Aïn el-Héloué, le plus grand du Liban, situé à la lisière de Saïda, au Liban-sud, les poussées de fièvre sécuritaires sont fréquentes.

Aujourd’hui, l’afflux de réfugiés syriens au Liban éclaire ce dossier d’une nouvelle lumière.

What cost, this Israel…?

Much had been argued about the creation of Israel and the ensuing 1948 ethnic cleansing of non-Jewish Palestinians.

Most had become a desensitised academic debate. A lifeless abstract portrayal failing to depict what it really meant for one to be a refugee without a country.

On this 68th commemoration of the Nakba (catastrophe), I wanted to show what it meant to one Palestinian refugee.

Tonnie Ch shared a link. 22 hrs ·|By Middle East Monitor
Jamal Kanj @jamalkk. May 15, 2016

On May 15, 1948, Zionist Jews danced and firecrackers burst over the streets of New York celebrating the founding of Israel. About the same time, and on the other side of the world, Zionist terrorists’ mortar exploded in the middle of Jebal Al Luz (mountains of almonds) burning homes and forcing civilians to flee their village.

In the middle of the night, Abu Musa carried his physically disabled blind mother on his shoulders. His wife, Um Musa picked up their infant baby Musa and joined a throng of refugees escaping for their lives.

Abu Musa’s family hid in a ditch on the outskirts of their village. The morning sun exposed the scattered refugees hiding in nearby bushes and under trees.

Sorties after sorties, Zionist planes strafed the area pushing the villagers further north towards Lebanon. Under heavy gun fire, panicking civilians ran in all directions.

Abu Musa picked up his newborn son and ran for his life. Um Musa followed in his footsteps. Panting for air an hour later, Abu Musa realised he had left his blind mother behind.

Zionist forces continued to bomb from air and ground. Abu Musa attempted to go back, but all was in vain. The next day and during a lull in the Zionist terrorist bombardment, Abu Musa went looking for his mother. But she was nowhere to be found.

He came across local villagers who returned to check on their properties. They told him they had just buried the remains of what had appeared to be an elderly woman. Her body ripped apart by animals.

“Was my mother eaten alive by wild animals? Or had she been murdered by Zionists?” Those questions haunted Abu Musa all his life. The loss of his country and mother were just the start of his lugubrious life until his death in the mid-1990s.

Abu Musa ended up settling in the same camp as my parents. In addition to baby Musa, he had three more children in the camp, two boys and a girl.

Musa, who had left Palestine as an infant, joined the revolution in the early 1970s and returned to Palestine. He was murdered by the Israeli army and was buried in an unmarked grave. Abu Musa, who did not see his mother’s corpse, was unable to see or bury his eldest son either.

A short time after losing Musa, Abu Musa became disabled. I made it a point to call on him whenever I visited the camp. It broke my heart during the last visit before his death as I watched him crawling out of the bathroom like a little baby. I knelt down and kissed him; he kissed me back and then asked, “Who are you, my son?”

Calamity was a continuum to this one refugee.

In the early 1990s, his youngest son Kamal was murdered while he was on his way to school in Tripoli, Lebanon. He was butchered in the year he would have graduated from high school.

For Israel, Abu Musa and the other Palestinian refugees like my parents were dispensable nuisances.

In a 1948 foreign ministry study, Israel predicted the refugees “… will waste away. Some will die but most will turn into human debris and social outcasts … in the Arab countries.”

To Israel’s chagrin, the grandchildren from Abu Musa’s surviving son and daughter did not turn to “human debris.”

Sixty-eight years later, Abu Musa’s progenies are more determined to find and bury their great-grandmother’s remains, in their original village

The term Nakba “not found” today on CNN The New York Times Washington Post BBC News ‪#‎NakbaDay‬

Habib Battah's photo.
Habib Battah's photo.

Mr Kanj ( writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues.

He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Zeinoun Naboulsi with Khodor Salameh and 39 others. May 16, 2011 ·

We are returning to Palestine

عائد إلى فلسطين…

Zeinoun Naboulsi's photo.

Israeli Jews can help plan for Palestinian return

This May 12, Palestinians in Israel are paying visits to towns that Israel has expropriated since 1948 and posting the original names of the towns.

The Nakba has entered the mainstream Israeli discourse in recent years in ways that were unthinkable in the past. A large majority of Jews in Israel know it is a word in Arabic connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has a negative connotation, shows a public opinion poll to be published soon by De-Colonizer, a research and art laboratory for social change, that provides materials and tools to expose and challenge the colonialist nature of the Israeli regime.

In response to that public recognition we have seen a dramatic shift on the part of the Israeli government and right-wing group Im Tirtzu. The “Nakba Law,” which passed in 2011, is aimed at preventing the study and commemoration of the Nakba.

At the same time, Im Tirtzu launched a major campaign encouraging Nakba denial. And yet, despite the burgeoning awareness of the Nakba, most Israelis do not know what it actually is.

Andrew Bossone shared a link.. 19 hrs ·
Perhaps the most important area in which Jewish Israelis can be active regarding…|By +972 Magazine

Even fewer Israelis recognize that Israel has any kind of responsibility for turning most Palestinians into refugees and destroying most of their towns and villages in 1948 in order to establish the Jewish state.

Among those who understand the importance of Israeli recognition of the Nakba, a minority supports recognition of the right of return (Hak al-Awda in Arabic) of Palestinian refugees as determined in international law and specifically in UN Resolution 194 from December 11, 1948.

Since Israel’s establishment, the bitter debate over the right of return has been dichotomous: Zionists are against and the anti-Zionist are for. It seems to be a dispute between two sides that aren’t engaging in any constructive dialogue.

Obviously this is not a dispute restricted to legal terms, but one whose basis is the Jewish state, a state that uses legal mechanisms to maintain a Jewish majority and in which only Jews can be full citizens.

In order to move past this and achieve a real discourse on the matter, in order to promote the right of return, we should focus more on practical return and less on a theoretical right.

In addition to studying and recognizing the Nakba, it is necessary to start planning the actual return itself.

Planning for the return of Palestinian refugees is based on two fundamental principles:

1.  nobody should be uprooted from their home; and

2. every refugee and their offspring should have the freedom to choose whether to physically return or opt for some sort of reparations.

The Israeli non-profit Zochrot began an initiative in this spirit 10 years ago. Several texts have been written by Israelis and Palestinian on the subject, exhibits and conferences were held which presented return plans, Palestinian refugee communities began planning their return and some have already returned to the villages of Iqrit and Bir’im within the framework of a project that has been going on for over a year.

It is not surprising that Palestinians are engaged in efforts to advance return, but Jews engaged with the matter are few and far between.

The last text we are aware of written by Jewish Israelis was part of a project by the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI).

In 2014, Noa Levy led a working group that formulated a document addressing the policy of immigration and return of refugees. Nothing else has been done in recent years by Jewish Israelis on planning the ‘Awda.

Why is it important for Jewish Israelis to participate in planning the return of Palestinian refugees?

  1. Because Israelis are (the descendants of) those who expelled Palestinians, so they should do what they can to help refugees return, which includes helping plan the return itself
  2. Because they benefit from the uprooting of Palestinians, which makes them responsible for correcting the situation and not just taking part as passive supporters.
  3. Because the uprooting of Palestinians is part of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict from which they also suffer. Helping refugees return also helps end the conflict.
  4. Because planning the Awda will teach Israelis about the Nakba.
  5. Because planning the return will prepare Israelis for coexistence with Palestinians – not the empty slogan of the Zionist Left but a shared existence under terms of full equality, including immigration laws. Planning the return of Palestinian refugees is the most radical step one can take to counter the Zionist policies that have trained us to remain separate.
  6. Because when Israelis are involved in planning the return, it has an impact on the Israeli public. There is nothing out of the ordinary about Palestinians planning for return, but if Israelis are involved it draws attention as unique and subversive.
  7. If Israelis are involved in the plan of return, it has more chances of becoming accepted by more Israelis.
  8. Because the return of refugees is in the interest of everyone who lives here – not just Palestinians. Palestinians need to lead the initiative but Israelis who live here must be allies in designing a post-Zionist shared way of life.

So what is the role of Israelis who support the right of Palestinian return?

Israelis should not be involved in the planning of a re-built Palestinian community. The Palestinian group should do that in a safe space. Questions about the composition of the town, style of construction, location of shared spaces, etc, should be address by the future residents.

Interference by Israelis is paternalistic and can only be done with express request by the relevant Palestinians.

However, Israelis should respond to ideas about the Palestinian return. Criticism can always be constructive when it comes from a place of support.

There are also obligations.

Everything beyond internal planning has consequences for everyone who lives here and obviously Israelis have an interest in the matter. Construction of a new town cannot be detached from its surroundings.

If it is an existing town that will be expanded in order to absorb refugees that wish to return, this also has an environmental impact that affects Israelis as well, which is why they should be partners in planning.

For example, if 50,000 refugees chose to return to the city of Nazareth, this will have an impact on the Jews that lives in the area.

Maybe the most important area in which Israelis should be active regarding return is preparing the Israeli public for that eventuality. They should organize activities, for example, conducting a survey or focus groups and discussions ahead of the return, where they examine Israeli positions on return and on its aftermath. Such activities will prepare Israelis for the dramatic shift. It is also vital to address Israeli fears on this matter.

Another option is to present Israelis with Palestinian positions on return.

This is important since Israelis are usually exposed to the issue by people who do not support return; “experts” in media or academia. They present a picture in which the Palestinians who return pose demographic and security risks, endanger democracy, etc.

Israelis who support return have an important role to play in presenting a different, more balanced narrative — not to present an idyllic picture of how things will be after return, but to offer ways of coping with the fears that prevent any movement on this matter.

Planning the return of Palestinian refugees is an act of utopian politics that encourages thinking about what is possible, beyond the current agenda. It gives hope at a time when it feels like we at a dead end.

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio is the co-founder of De-Colonizer, a research and art laboratory for social change that provides materials and tools to expose and challenge the colonialist nature of the Israeli regime. The organization is holding an event, ‘Should Israelis plan the ‘Awda,’ on May 11 in Tel Aviv. View the event here.

Note: Planning now for the return will shorten the negotiations when another war takes place and the world community is ready to start serious implementation of the UN resolution 194 for the right of return of the Palestinians.

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About time for Palestinian liberation: Statement by over 1,000 Black activists

The actual distance between Ferguson, Missouri, and Gaza is about 6,000 miles. But last summer, the repressive and deadly violence visited upon blacks and Palestinians, respectively, made that distance seem to disappear.

Immediately, lines of solidarity began to emerge between those groups, and in August a set of activists and organizations in Palestine issued this statement:

We the undersigned Palestinian individuals and groups express our solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man gunned down by police on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri. We wish to express our support and solidarity with the people of Ferguson who have taken their struggle to the street, facing a militarized police occupation.

From all factions and sectors of our dislocated society, we send you our commitment to stand with you in your hour of pain and time of struggle against the oppression that continues to target our black brothers and sisters in nearly every aspect of their lives.

We understand your moral outrage. We empathize with your hurt and anger. We understand the impulse to rebel against the infrastructure of a racist capitalist system that systematically pushes you to the margins of humanity.

And we stand with you.

At the same time, I wrote an article in Salon that spelled out the similarities between the forms of oppression both groups live under, including dispossession from lands and homes; de facto forms of inequality; state violence; the constant interruption of daily life; and the ways the perpetrators of such violence are often immune from prosecution.

Nevertheless, such comparisons were criticized by some here in the U.S., and acts of solidarity were sometimes regarded with suspicion:

In what ways might solidarity with Palestinians be harmful to black political projects here?

Individual activists such as Angela Davis and Cornel West addressed that issue and spoke out on the need for black solidarity with the Palestinians.

As West put it:

In terms of the various kinds of Zionist critiques, we make it clear that this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Jewish hatred or anti-Jewish prejudice.

This has to do with a moral and spiritual and political critique of occupation.

Secondly, there is no doubt that Gaza is not just a “kind of” concentration camp, it is the hood on steroids. Now in the black community, located within the American empire, you do have forms of domination and subordination, forms of police surveillance and so forth, so that we are not making claims of identity, we are making claims of forms of domination that must be connected.

There is no doubt that for the Ferguson moment in America and the anti-occupation moment in the Israel-Palestinian struggle there is a very important connection to make and I think we should continue to make it.

But until today there has not been a mass statement of support from black activists and groups to echo the one issued by Palestinians last year.

Now, in a historical event, well over 1,000 black activists, artists, scholars, students and organizations have released a comprehensive, carefully crafted and passionately intoned statement reaffirming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people,” and supporting “freedom and equality for Palestinian people.”

In this sweeping and momentous document, the signatories make a point of drawing out the historical connections between the issues of black and Palestinian freedom and rights, and the urgency of their present-day struggles, calling the fight for Palestinian liberation “a key matter of our time”:

On the anniversary of last summer’s Gaza massacre, in the 48th year of Israeli occupation, the 67th year of Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba (the Arabic word for Israel’s ethnic cleansing)—and in the fourth century of Black oppression in the present-day United States—we, the undersigned Black activists, artists, scholars, writers, and political prisoners offer this letter of reaffirmed solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people.

The list of signatories includes scholar-activists Angela Davis and Cornel West, political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli, rappers Talib Kweli, Boots Riley and Jasiri X, and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. Organizational signers include the Florida-based Dream Defenders and St. Louis-based Hands Up United and Tribe X, which were founded after the killings of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, respectively, as well as the 35-year-old Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis.

The statement calls on the U.S. government to end diplomatic and economic aid to Israel, for black and U.S. institutions to support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law, and for supporters of black and Palestinian liberation to target the private security company G4S for boycotts and divestment, as well as other companies doing business in the occupied territories.

Besides endorsing both academic and cultural boycotts (which in the U.S. is facilitated by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), as well as divestment and sanctions, the statement makes emphatically clear the signatories’ commitment to the three goals of BDS and especially addresses the issue of Palestinian refugees:

Our support extends to those living under occupation and siege, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the 7 million Palestinian refugees exiled in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The refugees’ right to return to their homeland in present-day Israel is the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.

Andrew Bossone shared the link

“In terms of the various kinds of Zionist critiques, we make it clear that this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Jewish hatred or anti-Jewish prejudice.

This has to do with a moral and spiritual and political critique of occupation. Secondly, there is no doubt that Gaza is not just a “kind of” concentration camp, it is the hood on steroids.

Now in the black community, located within the American empire, you do have forms of domination and subordination, forms of police surveillance and so forth, so that we are not making claims of identity, we are making claims of forms of domination that must be connected….

There is no doubt that for the Ferguson moment in America and the anti-occupation moment in the Israel-Palestinian struggle there is a very important connection to make and I think we should continue to make it.”

More than 1,000 black activists released a statement reaffirming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle”|By David Palumbo-Liu




April 2020

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