August 1, 2006
The events of the past few weeks have clarified the nature of the struggle in Palestine. Although "Israel" has an arsenal of military weapons unmatched by any power in the region, each new wave of aggression against the people of Palestine and Lebanon has resulted in a response of immense courage and resistance. As the military struggle expands beyond Gaza and the West Bank, the underlying reality of Israel's doomed colonial project becomes clear: short of bombing the entire region into annihilation, the Zionists cannot continue to exist in a region in which Arab people aspire to self-determination on Arab land. There can be no more gray zone: the post-Oslo sham of normalization and the process of land theft through peace treaties and open or hidden alliances between "Israel", the "US", and Arab client states-all that is swiftly disappearing. It could not have come at a more critical time: a moment when "the world's only superpower" has suffered defeat at the hands of Iraq's brave guerillas; a moment when a new block of anti-imperial power is forming from Venezuela and Bolivia to the Arab world.
The question of taking sides can no longer be avoided by people in the international community. This is now true not only in Lebanon, but in Jordan and Egypt. It is the only question worth asking now in the US and Europe. The time is passed-if it ever existed-in which activists can pretend to be in solidarity with Palestinians while refusing to take sides with Palestinian resistance to Zionist colonization of Arab land. It is not possible any more to claim to be on the side of the people of Palestine and to condone the theft of 78% of their land, or pretend that there can be a meaningful peace between the colonists and the colonized.
It is time to choose sides: either you are on the side of colonialism or you are on the side of liberation.
The Palestinian people's choice
Although recent elections took place under military occupation, the Palestinian people voted overwhelmingly for resistance. However one interprets the meaning of "elections" in the post-Oslo context, and whatever questionable motives the US and Europe may have had in pressing for elections-e.g. to co-opt Hamas, to create conditions for civil war etc.-the message of the elections was utterly clear: the people of Palestine want their land, their sovereignty and have chosen resistance as the only way forward. The choice itself was a popular recognition that any gains must come through a fight against the occupier, not agreements dictated by the occupier.
The international community was nearly unanimous in its response: it sought immediately to undermine the will expressed by the popular vote, disagreeing only in strategy. The United States and "Israel" imposed a total economic blockade on Palestine in the hope of starving the Palestinian people into submission; the World Bank and some European governments sought ways of funneling money directly into NGOs and "humanitarian" agencies- believing that economic hardship would only increase the people's will to resist. Either way, the international community has tried to use money to pressure Palestinians to give up their fundamental human and political rights.
Palestinians on the street responded to the economic blockade with remarkable courage. They went on strike in the West Bank to instruct their elected leaders that their human rights were not for sale. On a popular level the message was clear. Across Palestine the people declared "We can accept hunger, but not concessions."
Under near starvation conditions in Gaza, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) captured an enemy soldier and attempted to negotiate the release of women and children Palestinian political prisoners, who constitute only a portion of the over 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners and prisoners of war now detained in Israeli prisons. As "Israel" began its military invasion of Gaza, thousands of Palestinians responded by directing the PRC not to release the captured soldier until Palestinian political prisoners were released. In the face of aerial bombardment of their electrical plants, cutting off of their water supply, destruction of bridges, and a massive military assault that has resulted in over 175 murdered and over 450 injured (the majority of whom are in Gaza) - the Palestinian people chose resistance again.
On June 29th, the Israelis kidnapped over 64 elected Palestinian leaders. Before, during, and after the elections, every part of the Palestinian resistance (including but not limited to elected leaders) has been attacked through assassination, aerial bombardment of Palestinian communities, and mass kidnapping and illegal detention.
At the same time, Palestinians have continued their long struggle against settlement of their homeland-- the primary method of genocide used by Zionists that continues to be ignored by the international community. The Palestinian people have resisted this genocide through operations against Israeli settlers and settlements in both 1948 occupied Palestine and 1967 occupied Palestine.
To date, apart from Iraq, the only meaningful international solidarity with Palestine has come from the resistance in Lebanon. Hezbollah fulfilled its promise to capture Israeli soldiers in order to press for the release of its own prisoners at a moment timed to force the Israelis to fight on two fronts. Hezbollah, who have strong popular support in Lebanon, and the Lebanese people have paid a high price for this act of solidarity-nearly 1000 people have been murdered - over one third of them are estimated to be children- and over 800, 000 displaced. At the same time, Hezbollah has also managed to exact a significant cost on Israel, destroying its image of invulnerability.
The Palestinians and the Lebanese people have remained steadfast in their support for resistance. The election of Hamas, the collective refusal by Palestinians to sell their fundamental rights through 'negotiations', the popular support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the steadfastness of the people to resist in the absence of the most fundamental needs, such as bread and medicine, all point to the consistency with which the overwhelming majority of people in both countries have chosen to fight for their liberation. An international solidarity community that is committed to self determination must support this choice.
A Call to Action
This is a critical moment in the history of the Palestinian struggle and the larger struggle for sovereignty over Arab land. Palestinian and other Arab resistance movements in Lebanon and Iraq are currently the only force standing between the Palestinian people and the completion of the genocidal project started by Zionists over sixty years ago.
Up until now, most efforts at solidarity- letters to the editor, protests at embassies, silent vigils, and "humanitarian aid" tied to the condition of renouncing resistance- have resulted in no meaningful support to the Palestinian people. As American and other Western European governments continue to criminalize resistance and dissent, public statements have been crafted to occupy a middle ground where the oppressors' aggression and the self-defense of the oppressed are treated equally. In some cases, calls have actually made Palestinians responsible for Israel's "retaliation" or blamed those who are bravely risking their lives to fight this oppression. Most importantly, these efforts have in no way disrupted the process of Zionist colonization.
We in the international community should not allow the threat of government repression to determine the limits and direction of our movement. It is our responsibility to expose the racist and genocidal aims of the Zionist movement, to support the full range of Palestinian people's resistance to those aims, and to disrupt the infrastructure of genocide where we live.
To be clear, there is no gray area for activists on the side of social justice to inhabit. This moment demands that we in the international community act now and that we act with clarity of purpose and strategy.
As a first step, we call on the international solidarity community to organize and take the following actions to support the Palestinian resistance immediately and unconditionally:
1) Break the starvation and economic blockade being instituted against the Palestinian people. As an immediate way to counterbalance the blockade against resistance, organize financial support for the families of political prisoners and those martyred in the struggle;
2) Support Palestinian freedom fighters who are paying a tremendous price for their courageous resistance. Mobilize an international pressure campaign to demand the release of all Palestinian political prisoners and prisoners of war through financial support for legal defense, coordinated letter writing and phone campaigns organized through existing political prisoner groups in Palestine, and letter writing to prisoners;
3) Exact an economic cost from the Zionist colonization project. Identify key pressure points where force can be exerted to stop the flow of arms and money to the Israeli settler and military infrastructure through direct action at ports and corporate headquarters. There are many Arab solidarity groups as well as immigrant rights groups, anti-globalization, and environmental groups that stand to gain from mass mobilization against corporations supporting the occupation of Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as the "Secure Border Initiative";
4) Recognize and support pan-Arab resistance to imperialism throughout the region. In existing solidarity campaigns, solidarity groups have sent mixed messages to those fighting against American imperialism and Zionist aggression. We must be clear in our political message as well as our political action that we are on the side of liberation and support those fighting for it. The recognition that the Palestinian struggle is part of a larger regional indigenous struggle should be reflected in our solidarity campaigns. We can begin by coordinating internationally between Palestinian, Lebanese, and Iraqi solidarity groups.
This call is broad; we must make the tasks specific and focused. We will be sending out updates and action steps to coordinate with political prisoner groups in Palestine and solidarity groups internationally. If you want to be involved in supporting this campaign or have ideas regarding the points above, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Our first local fundraising event in Boston will be scheduled in the coming weeks. Watch for updates regarding time and location.