Statehood and Decolonization

There are two different ways to think about the bid for Palestinian statehood, which correspond to two different ways to think about the project of Palestinian national self-determination. One is the way the statehood project has historically been presented to Palestinians, and the other is the way that same project has been presented to Israel and to the rest of the world. Only one of these ways pursues goals of decolonization and return.

When speaking to Israelis and the international community, Palestinian leaders speak of their desire to stand side by side in “peace and security” with the Israelis. Palestinian leaders tell Israelis that by accepting a solution based on the ’67 borders, the Palestinians will end all of their claims to the ’48 lands, and respect Israeli sovereignty within its pre 1967 borders. Behind closed doors at Taba, and sometimes more recently in public on Israeli TV, Palestinian leaders cede the Right of Return and recognize that any return of Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel is subject to Israeli approval.

However, when speaking to their own people, and especially to the party faithful, the settlement based on the ’67 border is separated from the issue of the refugees. The right of return is called a “sacred” right, a right which can not be negotiated away. This return would end the Jewish majority in a democratic Israel, enabling Palestinian self-determination on all of their traditional lands not by revolution but election. Founding member of Fatah and Palestinian intellectual Sakher Habash confirmed this view in a lecture given at Al-Najah University in Nablus in 1998 when he called the refugee issue the “the winning card which means the end of the Israeli state”.

It is not easy to tell which of these two ways is actually being pursued at any one time. In fact, since actions of groups can’t be reduced to subjective intentionalities, there is probably no answer as to which is the “real” program.

If we take sides on the Palestinian-Zionist conflict, then we will prefer one of these interpretations to the other, we might even undertake political actions to support one interpretation becoming true. For example, solidarity action and support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions program against Israeli Apartheid supports the second interpretation, by creating an international movement supporting the rights of individual Palestinian refugees to return. For example, prominent activist in the BDS movement, Ali Abunimah, has taken sides on the question of whether the PLO has a right to negotiate away the right of return.

The domestic Palestinian interpretation of statehood should not be dismissed quickly as internal propaganda. It is based on an interpretation of Zionism as a constant tension, as gaining strength from its conflict with the Arab states and the Palestinian people. This interpretation is similar to Daoist thinking which states that the best way to fight your enemy is to stop treating them as your enemy. The idea in its simplest form is simply this: that if Israel gains peace it will lose its national mind, its racist colonial ideology, and will not be able to resist in the long term the return of the refugees once the issue of the refugees no longer presents it with a threat to its existence as a state.

However, we should not uncritically accept the interpretation of Zionism as a tension. Zionism is after all not only a program for racist ideas but a racist construction – the building of settlements all over historic Palestine is an architectural way to institute the domination of Jewish Israelis in every place of the land. The fact that barely a single Arab town has been founded inside the state of Israel since 1948, while hundreds of new Jewish towns have been created, speaks to the reality that the idea of Zionism is not only existing in people’s heads. Zionism, for Israelis, is not only in their fears, in their ideas, but also in their streets and walls and monuments. Peace with Israel does not mean necessarily the end of Zionism anymore than peace with the indigenous people of Canada means the end of racist Canadian nationalism.

Another reason to critique the view of Zionism as a tension is the material benefit that the so called “Peace Process” brings to the Palestinian political elites who perpetuate it. It is absolutely in the financial interest of the Palestinian national bourgeoisie to cede the right of return and create good economic relations with Israel. They do not need to worry about the refugees – to them the refugees remain a cheap labour pool who guarantee the large size of the reserve army of the unemployed which ensures that wages will remain low.

In the end, which version of the statehood comes true depends on work done by Palestinians and Palestinian solidarity activists around the world. It also depends on the UNRWA and whether the Palestinian “state” will mean the dismantling of Palestinian refugee camps across the region. Perhaps most importantly it depends on the establishment of an anti-colonial discourse which allows us to talk about Palestine not as a problem of competing nationalisms but as a settler-colonial problem.

Even if a Palestinian state is created, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip will most likely continue, except in the nearly unimaginable scenario of Palestinians gaining rights over borders, airspace, and the right to militarize. Without an effective military deterrent, Israel will effectively be able to bomb Palestinians into submission every time any conflict erupts between them. And given the number of radical Israeli settlers and the intensity of their motivation, it would be very foolish to assume that border skirmishes between Israel and a newly formed “Palestinian State” could only be started by Palestinian militants.

This means that even after the creation of the Palestinian state, a struggle for equal rights for all Palestinians under the occupying power could continue. But it is hard to imagine this taking place unless the Palestinian citizens of ’48 and the Palestinian Refugees come together with citizens of the new Palestinian state in a new or renewed organization that sees their liberation as its ultimate goal.

But we should be honest – the struggle does not always continue, especially if the institutions that embody it are co-opted or disbanded. To pursue the goal of decolonization, the ongoing strategy must be to strengthen the liberators and weaken the oppressor, and this means to work on all levels to strengthen the anti-colonial strategy of the Palestinian nationalist movement, while at the same time working to undermine the racist ideology of the state of Israel.

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BDS is the just solution to the repetitive and ongoing conflict in Gaza

I was asked to speak last night at an event organized by the Arab Student Association entitled “Gaza: Humanity’s Failure”. I was very happy to do it because it is essential to connect the ongoing cycle of violence in Palestine to western complicity and support for Israeli war crimes, and understand as students and citizens of Israeli-allied nations how our support for Palestinian rights can help alter the current power imbalance, improve the negotiating position of the Palestinians, and help them regain their rights. In the interest of reaching as many as possible, I have here posted behind the cut my rough notes of the talk.  Continue reading “BDS is the just solution to the repetitive and ongoing conflict in Gaza”

Imperial and Revolutionary BDS

One thing that was made eminently clear during Ross’ discussion of Egypt and Iran last night was the commitment of America and Israel to economic coercion as a mechanism of achieving its foreign policy goals. With respect to Egypt, the whole imperial logic of ensuring Egypt maintains its peace treaty with Israel is based on investment and the threat of divestment if it refuses to play by Israel’s rules. It is not strictly a divestment campaign, but rather based on a combination of investment and divestment – first invest to make Egypt reliant on western Capital, and then threaten divestment if they stop playing by the rules. This is both a method to ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood does not prevent a political pluralism from emerging within Egypt, as well as to ensure Israeli security. In both cases the logic is to put the Muslim Brotherhood’s own ideology in a tension with its economic needs and its responsibility as a government to bring development and stability to the Egyptian people.

In Iran the threat of western divestment is not strong enough to disuade its leaders from pursuing their own agenda, but sanctions are beginning to have an effect. Because Iran’s economy is largely dependant on oil sales the fact that sanctions have cut Iranian oil production by half and cut sales by 75% has produced a situation where the central bank is devaluing the currency by half about every two months. This is starting to create a situation of internal instability in which the leader of the revolutionary guard has openly criticized the head of the central bank, and protests in the Bazaar are calling for money to be kept in Iran rather than given to Hezbollah and Hamas. The sanctions may be successful – it is not easy for leaders to maintain their political line even if it is internally popular when the cost becomes internal economic devastation.

There is strong internal pressure in Egypt not to cow-tow to the Israelis and Americans, and strong internal pressure in Iran to continue to nuclear program. And yet, the sanctions and investment/divestment tactics may succeed in coercing these states to follow US orders. Of course, if they don’t work, America and Israel also have recourse to overwhelming military force. We should think about these dynamics when talking about building a popular BDS movement because, although there are obvious differences, some similarities exist between US/Israeli coercion and popular pressure supporting Palestinian demands. The current Palestinian leadership does not have recourse to economic pressure and sanctions to support their cause because they are not in direct control of economic and political forces in the way American and Israeli leaders are, this is why they use the political powers they have – resistance and compromise. If we build a popular movement of economic divestment, boycott, and sanctions which support Palestinian consensus demands, however, the Palestinian political forces will find themselves in a strong situation where they can demand of the Israelis all of their rights. If BDS becomes strong, then we will find ourselves in a situation where the Palestinians’ pressure against Israel is of the same kind as the contemporary US pressure against Egypt and Iran. This is important because it means we don’t have to normalize with Israelis and convince them to love us and change their minds with arguments. The only thing that will bring freedom for Palestine is force, but we make a big mistake if we think force only means the Resistance. Just as America finds economic coercion with Egypt and sanctions against Iran the most appropriate tool, BDS is a tool we need to give the Palestinians to use against the US and Israel to gain their rights.

One other thing I want to comment on is the different role of emotion and motivation between imperial and revolutionary politics – the difference between those who believe in the Palestinian cause, or any revolutionary cause, and liberals is not simply a difference in values but a different relationship with the status quo. When Dennis Ross talks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process he is talking about resolving the conflict given the current power imbalance between the Palestinians and the Israelis. For this reason, his talks are de-politicizing, the listeners are not agents. If anything he wants his largely Israeli audience to calm down and accept a compromise with the Palestinian compromisers who are in power in Ramallah. On the other hand, when we talk about the political situation for the Palestinian people, we want to talk about the way we can be agents to transform the current power imbalance – not how to best solve the current puzzle of geo-political relations but how can we alter the status quo such that solutions which are impossible today become possible. This is motivating, this makes you part of the solution, this is about building solidarity through which you can actualize yourself as a political agent. This is about politicization, this is about having an analysis and resisting injustice and standing in solidarity with people who live in a much less stable situation than us in Canada. This is about empathy and recognizing that in situations of absolute need, people don’t have the luxury to wait for political movements that match their own political visions perfectly. And no matter what our enemies say, the lessons one learns from being politicized by this conflict give us tools of analysis and understanding and action that can be used on the side of freedom and against empires and racism all over the world.

When Liberals lull you to sleep: Dennis Ross at U of T

Tonight I saw Dennis Ross, famed American negotiator, speak at the University of Toronto. There are a lot of things to say about this event, but I’m very tired and just want to get a few ideas out while they are fresh before I go to bed.

The event started with a story, a parable. Actually, it’s a story that Ross was told by his Rabbi, and which he thinks is particularly relevant to the rest of his talk. I think it’s important to talk about this because it demonstrates the way racism and imperial presuppositions are functioning as the zero level of his ideology. The story is about a parrot, a parrot with a filthy mouth. The parrot’s owner (actually, the fact that the parrot is a pet which has an owner is another paternalistic aspect of this story that I just noticed now) tries everything to get the parrot to settle down, brings in psychologists, philosophers, negotiators, nothing works. In frustration the owner grabs the parrot by the scruff of its neck and puts it in the freezer. After about 45 seconds, the owner feels guilty and opens the freezer and gets the parrot out. Suddenly, the parrots disposition is entirely changed – it is polite, apologetic for its previous behaviour. While apologizing, it says, “Can I just ask you one question?” Confused the owner obliges. The parrot asks: “What did the chicken do?”.

The moral of the story, and I’m not interpreting here but simply repeating what Ross said out loud as the point of the story – is that “coercion is sometimes appropriate”. Not simply that coercion is effective, but appropriate. I actually don’t see the normativity (“appropriateness”) in the story, but apparently Ross does. And he said, straight up, that this was a lesson that “we” (explicitly clarified to mean US and Israel) should use when dealing with the “Arab awakening”.

Ross went on to speak for 30 minutes on how US/Israel can pressure Egypt to stay in line with economic threats, and ten minutes predicting what will occur over the next year in Iran. But the details are less interesting, to me at least, as the general sense that it is “our” right to use international capital and sanctions to keep the Arabs “in line”. There was some strange logic used on Egypt, such as saying Morsi is “recognizing reality” whenever he bows to US/Israeli pressure, whereas he is “acting on ideology” whenever he bows to the pressure of his own people. A profound hatred of democracy is implicit in Ross’ attitude in general – he likes leaders when they are being Statesmen-like, especially when subservient to US power.

Overall, what made the most impression on me from the talk was none of the facts, values, or analysis, but the affect, the mood of the talk. The mood was overwhelmingly calm and calming; something like “don’t worry, everything is going alright, remain subservient to US power, democracies in arab countries will remain subservient to US economic interests and Israeli security interests. This calm mood is starkingly opposite to the rallying cries of the keynote talks at the SJP, it really does not appear to have a mobilizing effect on the community. If anything maybe Ross believes that the best way he can promote his views (which I could tell differentiated in some important ways from the views of most of the audience) was to get them to calm down. This of course has to do with the “peace process” and Israeli rejectionism and Ross’ own view that the Zionists must concede territory and help establish Abbas’ Palestinian state. I won’t discuss the details of that here, although I may in a future post.

I hope it’s of value to go to a talk like this and hear what the zionist community is telling itself about the Arab Spring. Perhaps what surprised me most was how similar Ross’ analysis of why Islamic identity-politics dominates the new political spectrum in Egypt and how it should be overcome is similar to Elias Khoury’s account. But maybe this just indicates that there are aspects to the analysis of the development of political consciousness which are a consensus across liberal and radical discourses. Might it be that even imperialists share an interest with the secular left in ensuring that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood maintain an open political discourse in which secular parties can develop and political consciousness can continue to grow? Maybe – this is a topic I will follow up on in another post, perhaps with the title “one police state is not like another”.

War and Protest: from stressing out to solidarity action

Everyone I know, more or less, is affected by this war. It covers my Facebook feed, my twitter page dances with explosions reported not by news channels but by people hearing them themselves, sometimes shaking their houses vigorously because the bombs land just a few houses away.

 

Peoples nerves are on edge, they are stressed – worried about family and friends, concerned about developing an analysis and an understanding of the events as they unfold, desiring to participate in some way in the popular demonstrations against the carnage. But at the same time, everyone is tired, everyone has midterms and papers.

 

In this context it was an emotional and overwhelmingly positive experience to participate in a solidarity march this last Sunday in Montreal. The crowd of three to five thousand was organized nominally by students for palestinian human rights, but in practice it was basically self-organized by the people who came. All through the march chants echoed, English chants, French chants, and many Arabic chants too. The protest was not dominated by any racial, gender, or age demographic – there were young white men, old arab women, jewish children, and every other combination you could think of.

 

The feeling of marching in a protest is of crucial importance. In relation to the feeling of learning about the carnage on the internet, singing chants in public gives a felt sense of solidarity. It’s empowering. And by that I mean it gives you the (hopefully true) feeling that action in common with others can change the current balance of power, that Gaza is not abandoned, that there is hope for a general will in this world to stand up against institutionalized injustice. To only focus on analysis and “getting it right” is to miss something important about solidarity work and political activism – solidarity is built socially through concrete collective actions and in part because of the effects those actions have on your body. Your body is not an individual, it needs social ties, and it gains strength from the feeling of acting in concert rather than alone.

 

The lesson is – don’t sit on your computer by yourself and try to understand the world. At best, you will understand it, but the physical effect of your analysis will be your own alienation and the feeling of disempowerment, as well as the actual disconnection of you from other people, reduction of social skills, drying up of ties, etc… Instead, go out, meet others, organize, do things in common. Do what you can do, and then you will feel less stressfully concerned about that which you can not do anything about.

 

Is there much to say about the war?

Of course, there is always much, too much, to say about any war. And there are certainly things to say about this one. But before all that it feels necessary to emphasize how little is new, how much everything feels like repetition, how unsurprised any of the foreseen outcomes will be. At the same time, it is necessary to elicit surprise, to mobilize anger and outrage, because it may be only an uprising of world opinion against continued Israeli aggression that can prevent an even worse episode of war crimes than occurred in the 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza. In my heart I am worried less about another 2008 than a new 1982

 

So what is the current situation, how is it most productive to frame the escalation? There is an election in “democratic Israel” in 7 weeks; military commanders are warning Mayors in Israel to prepare for 7 weeks of fighting. On one account, what is happening is a military escalation against a produced and manufactured threat that can succeed not so much in destroying the threat but in ensuring that the debate in the elections remains focussed on military and diplomatic issues (on which Likud is popular) and not on social issues (on which Likud is increasingly unpopular). The rise of social protests, “occupy” style encampments and mass demonstrations against austerity inside Israel by self-identified zionists who are not critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians (“don’t call it an occupation” was a slogan used to keep the protesters from splitting apart due to the Palestinian question), has created a situation which is potentially very dangerous to the ruling class. This will not be the first war fought for domestic political reasons, nor the last, and this aspect is crucial to keep in mind when looking at the racism and nationalism being spun up by the war amounts the Israeli population. 

 

On the Palestinian side, the important escalation occurred after the targeted assassination of one of their military leaders. We could talk about the initial events in this escalation – the Israeli tank fire against kids playing soccer, the PLFP attack on a legitimate military target, but these are less interesting because regardless of whether they paint Israel as the aggressor or not (which truly depends on whether you consider the targeting of civilians and military targets to be equivalent, and whether you think and occupied population has a right to military resistance against occupation forces under international law), they do not account for how the current escalation broke out of the quite small scale pattern of small escalation followed by ceasefire, usually with deaths of less than ten Palestinians, and only one or (usually) zero Israelis. So what is so distinctive about a targeted assassination? Targeted assassinations are extra judicial executions, illegal under international law but common practice by the Americans both in their support of the Israelis and in their own war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Targeted assassinations are branded by Israel as “more humane” because they do not target civilians, although this defence is really of no value partially because Israel also targets civilians regularly, and because when you send a missile into someone’s apartment or car it’s normal for civilians to be also killed. However, targeted assassinations are not distinctive because civilians are also killed, but because they challenge key elements in the Palestinian movements, they threaten to bring chaos to the binds that hold Palestinians together and allows them to act with a single fist. It is in the interest of Palestinian movements to do whatever they can to deter Israel from committing targeted assassinations, because if they don’t they may quickly cease to exist, or at least cease to exist as a unified and strong front. Israelis know this just like any army knows that attacks on their enemies leadership will bring the strongest and most desperate attempt to create a deterrence against future similar attacks. 

 

It is in this context that we can interpret the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza including the longer range rockets that hit outer suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The fact that the rockets did not hit the centre of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem is less significant than the fact they reached the area – the Palestinians are clearly demonstrating they have a capability which they were not previously believed to possess. In this attack which also included many hundreds of shorter range rockets, three Israelis were killed, bringing the Israeli death toll up to a number I think lower than the number of Palestinian deaths which had already occurred prior to the targeted assassination. And yet, whereas America will never talk about the right of Palestinians to kill Israelis in “self defence” against the Israeli killing of Palestinian civilians, the reverse is the most common statement on lips of leaders all over the world. 

 

However, hypocricy is not simply the answer to why the current escalation has happened, or why the response from America has been so one-sided. To understand why escalations like this happen we have to go back to the will of the Palestinian people, and the 2006 PLC elections where there was a resounding anti-Oslo vote, followed by a civil war resulting in Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip. To get to the root of the continual breakdowns of the “peace process” one must understand that the rise of political Islam in the Palestinian movement has always occurred in reaction against unfair compromise, against leaders more interested in pandering to the Israelis than in achieving Palestinian rights. The rise of Hamas in the 80s was in reaction at first to the defeat in ’82, but also importantly in reaction against the recognition of Israel in ’88 and the signing of the Oslo accords in ’93. Recognizing that the basis of support for Hamas lies not in fidelity to Political Islam but fidelity to Palestinian rights allows one to understand not only the roots of the entrenched and repetitive conflict but also what would be sufficient for its resolution. 

 

Who lives in Gaza? Gaza is still primarily populated by refugees, people pushed off their land during the Nakba of 1948. Why do Israelis who arrive as Jews from all over the world and are offered citizenship upon their arrival have any more right to live in the land of Palestine than the descendants of the Palestinians who were pushed off their land in 1948? To reflect on this question is to begin to understand the base situation from which escalations like the current one can arise. For how long will such escalations continue? After all, hundreds of years after the colonization of north america, no armed movements of first nations continue any military resistance against the colonizers of their land (although the six nations reclamation is a shining example of ongoing non-violent resistance against the breaking of treaties). 

There have always been two possibilities for the Palestinian struggle – defeat of the indigenous people, as has happened all around the world in innumerable instances of colonization, or victory for the anti-colonial resistance and the anti-colonial movement and transformation – not only of Israeli society from a racist ethnocracy to a democratic state of all of its citizens, but a chance in mindset of the entire world which supports Israel against the natives to a de-colonizing mindset which will open doors to decolonizing transformations all around the world. The Palestinians’ choice not to accept defeat, not to stand down and accept their oppression and dispossession as  the accepted status quo from which they can barter for better humanitarian conditions, is a gift, a form of charity to all the peoples of the world – both colonizers and colonized. The gift is the belief in freedom, in the institutionalized maintenance of the dream of decolonization, of the end of eurocentrism and racism. It becomes us as those who benefit from the privileges enabled by colonization to turn our eyes towards its ongoing violence and demand the end of ethnic privilege and legalized theft wherever our taxes subsidize the bullets and bombs which continue to collectively punish those indigenous people who refuse defeat. 

Building a League of People’s Struggles

On Friday I had the good fortune of taking in the opening panel of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle conference held this weekend in Toronto. The panel entitled “Many Struggles One Fight” was large and extremely diverse – never before have I seen so many struggles brought together in one place, and never have I see so much emphasis on commonality and unity between struggles.

This is an especially welcome feeling for me because whenever I get back from Palestine my initial responses to the politics of this place is to feel disgust at the fragmentation, at the “me first” attitude, at the inability of groups to get along and see the common fight. And I think this attitude is something one is more likely to feel on the cusp between the third world and the first – on the exchange between living in a space of overwhelming oppression which binds people together, and a space of relative stability where oppression marginalizes people not only from the oppressors but also from other marginalized groups.

The panel included first nations speakers, historical and contemporary analysis of the six nations struggle and the reclamation and residential schools, french students from the quebec student strike, analysis of the Canadian working class and all its subdivisions especially undocumented and migrant workers, a Palestinian speaker discussing resistance and the rebuilding of the Palestinian national liberation movement, and a Canadian who’s mind has been criminalized for having a “criminal ideology” who will soon be spending time in prison for his beliefs. (Apologies, for I’ve probably forgotten a few). I’m not sure what the most moving moment of the night was – either watching Khaled Barekat and Francine Doxtator embrace after Khaled’s speech, or seeing my friend Gary Wasakesack stroll calmly back and forth across the stage, speaking with such conviction and ease, stringing together topics in a way he genuinely couldn’t when I first met him five years ago.

The analysis emerged organically, in-common between the speakers: anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, pro-resistance. But to describe it this way makes it seem something merely negative, merely reactionary. And certainly the injustices that are normalized today demand a reaction. But I would do an injustice to the night if I did not also emphasis the constructive project told by the different speakers, and the one that emerged across them – the project of anti-colonialism is not merely destructive it is also the demand to construct the uncolonized society, and for the colonizer to recognize its own redemption not only in reacting against the violence of colonization, but also in seeing in the colonized the truth in the human relations that exist outside of its commodification. And the project of anti-capitalism is not merely destructive either, but the challenge to build economies based on human rather than financial relations. And finally, resistance is not merely negative – because it is in resistance that the positive organs of revolution are motivated and formed. Khaled talked about the need for the Palesitinian national movement to be re-vitalized, and contrasted the factions today from the factions twenty years ago when they were infused with the life of the youth – most Palestinian youth today (according to Khaled) are not a member of a faction. “Faction” therefore is not a merely negative term but a potential positive depending on whether work, effort, life, and sacrifice is put into it. The positive aspect of the revolutionary’s gun is that it enacts the same sacrifice as any other form of work – the sacrifice of present enjoyment for the sake of the future.

The work of building cross-struggle alliances is not easy, and I did not actually attend the conference proper (occurred on Saturday), but it lifts my spirits immensely to see people doing this kind of work in a serious and cross-movement manner. There may only have been about 50 people in the auditorium, but when this many dedicated and serious people get together in a positive and collaborative way to talk about struggle, we can only be moving in the right direction.

North Korea produce remarkable film exposing American culture

This came across my facebook feed. A twelve minute film about American celebrity culture, gaming culture, reality TV, and imperialism. Basically, it is a film about American narcissism, and the disconnect between American culture and American foreign policy. We in the west could certainly make a film critical of North Korea’s propaganda and internal culture, but since North Korea does not have a military that threatens states all around the world, and is in a real position to start new wars, maybe we have less of a reason to worry about domestic North Korean culture than they have a reason to worry about us.

EDIT: Here is the full length version. The film is called “Propaganda” and it is 82 minutes.

Reflections on SJP National: Palestinians and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement

A question which I did not hear raised, nor did I have a chance to raise myself this weekend at the SJP national conference was: to what extent are SJPs made up of Palestinians, and if that proportion is as high as I think it might be, in what sense are properly a solidarity organization? Can a Palestinian led, largely Palestinian populated student movement be a “solidarity organization”, is this a question about framing and putting non-Palestinians on an equal footing in the organization, or even if it is a solidarity organization should there be a privileged place for Palestinian voices within the movement? 

  Continue reading “Reflections on SJP National: Palestinians and the Palestinian Solidarity Movement”

Reflections on SJP National: Neutrality in the Palestinian Solidarity Movement

A conversation which I think is important, and which I raised several times at this weekend’s SJP National conference is the question of our neutrality as Palestine solidarity activists with respect to the Palestinian political spectrum. From my experience doing this work I feel that I can say with confidence that as Palestinian solidarity activists, we generally are extremely fearful of appearing to take sides on any internal Palestinian political question.  Continue reading “Reflections on SJP National: Neutrality in the Palestinian Solidarity Movement”