Posts Tagged ‘Grassroots Activism’


(Italian subtitles by Diego Traversa, French by Mirielle Rumeau)
To reply to the Gaza youth Manifesto, and with no additional words to the ones spoken with true heart on this video, we give you, The Manifesto. A simple, true, self-explanatory, expression of what we’re sick of.

As these days mark the 63rd memory of the Nakba, our people all around the world, revolt, and object to the injustice and hatred we are met with on a day to day basis, just because we’re Palestinians and just because we exist.

I urge your humanity and your conscience, to spread on this video, so the 15th of May 1948, wouldn’t ever be forgot, and so Palestinians would once more have their freedom and rights back; especially the right of return.

Salamat,
Two anonymous from Palestine.

كرد على بيان شباب غزة، وبدون أي كلمات إضافية للكلمات الصادقة من القلب التي قيلت في هذا الفيديو، نقدم نحن لكم “البيان” والذي هو تعبيرنا البسيط والصريح والغاني عن الشرح، الذي يعبر عن كل الأشياء “اللي احنا زهقنا منها”.

في هذه الأيام التي تمثل الذكرى الثالثة والستين للنكبة، شعبنا في مختلف أنحاء العالم ينتفض ويحتج على الظلم والكراهية التي نعامل بها على أساس يومي، فقط “علشان احنا فلسطينية”.

أنا أحث إنسانيتكم وضمائركم لتنشروا بياننا، لكي يبقى 15-5-1948 يوما لا ينسى في تاريخ الشعوب، ولكي يستعيد الفلسطينيون حريتهم وحقوقهم، وخاصة حقهم في العودة.

سلامات،
عشوائيان من فلسطين.

63 ans de Nakba

Par Deux anonymes de Gaza

Pour répondre au Manifeste de la Jeunesse de Gaza, et sans ajouter un mot à ceux qui sont dits du fond du cœur sur cette vidéo, nous vous donnons Le Manifeste. L’expression simple, qui se passe d’explications, de tout ce dont nous avons marre. En ces jours qui marquent le 63ème souvenir de la Nakba, notre peuple, dans le monde entier, se révolte et proteste contre l’injustice et la haine que nous rencontrons chaque jour, simplement parce que nous sommes Palestiniens et simplement parce que nous existons. (cliquer pour la suite du post et la traduction des sous-titres)
Nous en appelons à votre humanité et à votre conscience pour diffuser cette vidéo, pour que le 15 mai 1948 ne soit jamais oublié, et pour que les Palestiniens recouvrent leur liberté et leurs droits, en particulier le droit au retour.

Salamat,
Deux anonymes de Palestine

http://www.ism-france.org/temoignages/63-ans-de-Nakba-article-15565

63 ans de Nakba

J’en ai marre du mur
J’en ai marre des checkpoints entre les villes palestiniennes
J’en ai marre des colons israéliens illégaux et de leurs colonies
J’en ai marre que ma carte d’identité soit en hébreu
J’en ai marre que des gens ne connaissent rien de notre histoire mais qu’ils sachent tout de l’histoire juive
J’en ai marre que des gens ignorent le droit palestinien au retour et accepte le droit au retour des juifs
J’en ai marre de l’Accord d’Oslo que personne ici n’a d’abord voulu
J’en ai marre de l’Autorité palestinienne sans aucune autorité
J’en ai marre de voir mon père être humilié aux checkpoints par des gens de mon âge et plus jeunes
J’en ai marre que mes amis internationaux soient obligés de mentir quand ils viennent me voir, qu’ils soient interrogés, fouillés à corps et quelquefois expulsés
J’en ai marre que des gens ne comprennent pas ce qu’est “l’occupation”
J’en ai marre d’avoir tout le temps peur
J’en ai marre du syndrome de stress post-traumatique, un état normal ici en Palestine
J’en ai marre du Droit humanitaire international qui ne s’applique pas à l’État d’Israël
J’en ai marre de voir que combattre pour les droits humains de base des Palestiniens, ou critiquer la politique israélienne, est si souvent traité d'”antisémitisme”
J’en ai marre que tout le monde oublie que je suis une Sémite
J’en ai marre d’entendre les Israéliens se plaindre de discrimination quand l’État d’Israël a été fondé sur un principe de pureté ethnique
J’en ai marre de vivre à une époque où la discrimination raciale est devenue acceptable
J’en ai marre d’être constamment traité comme un suspect
J’en ai marre de la manière dont les médias nous décrivent, nous et notre situation
J’en ai marre que le monde entier se préoccupe de Gilad Shalit alors qu’il y a plus de 7000 Palestiniens dans les prisons israéliennes
J’en ai marre d’essayer de me défendre, moi-même, mes amis ou mes compatriotes et de me faire traiter de terroriste
J’en ai marre de voir, où je j’aille, le mur, une colonie ou une soldat israélien

J’en ai marre de 63 ans d’occupation israélienne

Traduction : MR pour ISM

During Demonstrations Demanding the Opening of Shuhada Street and Commemorating the Ibrihimi Mosque Massacre, a Number of Participants are Injured or Arrested
Hebron–Dozens of were injured Friday 2/25 when Israeli forces threw sound bombs and assaulted demonstrators at a large peaceful protest commemorating the Ibrihimi Mosque massacre, calling for the opening of Shuhada Street, and criticizing the American veto of the Palestinian call for UN Security Council condemnation of and a halt to settlement activity.

The protest was organized by Youth Against Settlements. Thousands of Palestinians and dozens of Israeli and foreign activists along with a number of Palestinian leaders (among them the Governor of Hebron Governorate Kamel Hamid, member of the Fatah Central Leadership Committee Jamal Mahsin, Head of the Palestinian initiative Mustafa Barghouthi,) participated in the demonstration after Friday prayers. The demonstration proceeded from the area of Sheikh Ali Al-Baka Mosque in the city toward the direction of Shuhada Street in the center of Hebron.

Occupation forces tried to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the eastern entrance to Shuhada Street, near the old municipality, by creating a large human chain of individuals from Special Forces. However, a large number of demonstrators managed to cross into Shuhada Street, where a number of demonstrators sat on the ground and in front of the tires of military jeeps. Soldiers attacked them, began to hit them with their hands and with the butts of their guns, pulled them away, and arrested a number of them, according to Youth Against Settlements Coordinator Issa Amro
.
The protesters split up to try to enter Shuhada Street through alleyways and smaller streets. They confronted occupation forces who used excessive force against them.

Occupation forces fired gas and sound bombs and rubber bullets at demonstrators, leading to injuries. About 20 demonstrators were taken to Hebron Governmental Hospital.

According to Amro, the demonstrators chanted slogans and carried signs in Arabic, English, and Hebrew demanding from the occupying authorities the opening of Shuhada Street, which has been closed for many years. Demonstrators’ slogans praised the popular revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, and criticized the American veto of the UN Security Council condemnation of settlement activities.

Hebron Governor Kamel Hamid spoke to those in attendance, confirming the Arab nature of the city of Hebron and the opposition to the policy of settlement and discrimination practiced by the occupation in the city. He called for supporting and strengthening popular resistance to the occupation. He condemned the US veto in the Security Council. Jamal Mahsin spoke also, praising the steadfastness of the residents of Hebron, and emphasizing the necessity of national unity and the end of internal divisions.

The Israeli occupation forces closed Shuhada Street to Palestinian vehicles in 1994, after the Ibrihimi Mosque massacre, then forbade Palestinian residents to walk there in 2000, in order to provide security for the 600 Israeli settlers occupying the center of Hebron.

More than 500 stores were closed by military order in the center of Hebron, and more than a thousand store owners were forced to close their shops due to checkpoints and closures. At the same time, illegal settlers enjoy freedom of movement in the closed streets and are protected by occupation forces.

The activities of the occupation and its settlers in the city of Hebron have turned the lives of 200,000 Palestinians in Hebron into a living hell and expelled thousands from their homes.

Unity between Palestinians is more urgent than any other need

 please sign the petion Ahewar
We have yet to be free as a people but have diverged from the path to liberty. This social contract is the basis of a new popular movement towards our liberation.

The Palestinian people and their struggle are now confronted by a disastrous situation. We are divided. Our priorities are confused, and our agenda for liberation is unclear. We have consequently fallen short of achieving our freedom. We lack justice and have yet to practice our inalienable right of self-determination.

Today, we derive our strength and legitimacy from our urge to end the suffering and aspirations of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Galilee, in the compulsory diaspora in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and around the world. We stand infused with the energy emanating from the Arab people’s glorious revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and the revolutions in Arab countries from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf. We say, in the name of our innocent martyrs, the wounded, prisoners, refugees, men, women and children, youth and elderly that our compass now points in one direction, and it points towards freedom. To get there we must and shall achieve the following:

Freedom, Justice, and Self-determination

The Palestinian people shall begin to build a realistic vision for their future based on a new Palestinian Social Contract. Our social contract shall be based on the inalienable rights to liberty, justice, self-determination, and the pursuit of happiness. This contract shall ensure freedom, human dignity and justice. Equality, clarity, transparency, democracy and full societal participation in the struggle shall be the guiding principles for this contract. The Palestinian citizens’ cause, concerns and aspirations cannot be reduced, in anyway, to one third of the Palestinians who are in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Therefore, the required Social Contract represents all the Palestinians. It addresses their rights within a formula that observes what is common among all Palestinians and recognizes the differences among the diverse components of our society.

This statement balances between the daily concerns of the Palestinian people and their aspirations. It also suggests realistic alternatives to the current status quo that results in a state of division, weakness, economic crises and the marginalization of the majority of the Palestinian people. We pose three necessary changes to the status quo that express our vision for the Palestinian people.

First: The Establishment of a New Palestinian Social Contract

The Social Contract is based on the need to establish unity amongst the Palestinian people (in Palestine within its historical borders and in the diaspora). We all have the same aspirations: Freedom, justice, return, the unhindered pursuit of happiness, and the dream that we will practice our right to self-determination. To achieve these aspirations all sectors of the Palestinian people, civil society, different political factions, the youth and trade unions are invited to:

- Rebuild the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and maintain its independence. This requires re-structuring its institutions and ensuring that it is away from the Israeli occupation control.
– Reformulate the Palestinian National Charter in accordance with the new Social Contract, in a manner that ensures the supremacy of freedom, justice and equality that light the path for our movement towards liberation, democracy and self-determination.
– Re-building of the PLO requires, first and foremost, election of a Palestinian National Council (PNC) representing all Palestinians (inside and outside the homeland). Preparations for the elections shall ensure full democracy.
– Pursuant to the PNC elections, the PLO Executive Committee shall be formed in a manner representing political forces, independent personalities and representative institutions with a special focus on ending the factional quota tradition.
– Full separation between the PLO institutions, tasks and persons and the institutions of the administrative bodies responsible for maintaining the day to day life of Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).
– End the existing status quo and begin building mechanisms that ensure the broadest democratic representation of the Palestinian people.
– Ensure that the newly formulated PLO is the sole responsible party for the political track of the Palestinian cause before the Palestinian people. Consequently, the Palestinian Authority, as an institution or personalities, does not politically represent the Palestinian people and does not identify mechanisms of our struggle and resistance.
– Struggle against the occupation and its injustices using all internationally legitimate and ethical means. Any strategies for the struggle shall be decided upon through national consensus (achieved within the PLO) and strategically formulated according to the challenges the Palestinian cause is facing to ensure that the most practical tactics are being used.
– Ensure that our inalienable rights are non-negotiable.

Second: The Struggle Against the Occupation and its Apartheid policies

Main principle: The Palestinian people shall struggle against the Israeli occupation using all morally legitimate means of resistance until they are free and establish a just society with full equality.

- The Palestinian people, through the PLO, shall identify the strategies of the struggle.
– We shall increase the momentum of nonviolent popular resistance, using the media, international law, strikes, boycotts, divestment and sanctions and shall seek international support for our struggle.
– We shall support the steadfastness our people on their land, especially in Jerusalem, areas threatened with eviction such as the Jordan Valley and areas in the Negev desert, and near the Apartheid barrier.
– We shall form popular committees to confront occupation’s measures and create daily realities to protect innocent people, their private properties and land.
– We shall launch international campaigns to combat the occupation and its racist separation. We shall use international law to assist us in ascertaining our rights and coordination with international organizations that support values such as human rights, freedom, and equality.
– We shall struggle against the Israel’s racist measures against our people inside the Green Line, support them and provide political and legal protection for their demands and struggle.

Third: Administration of the daily living affairs of the Palestinian people in the OPT

Main principle: The Palestinian administration in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the civil entity mandated by the PLO to manage the Palestinian affairs. Hence, it does not have the authority to represent all Palestinians. It is not a political entity or authority.
– The PLO forms a representative council for the Palestinians in the OPT responsible for management of their life affairs.
– The representative council is the realistic alternative of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Presidential institution in the OPT.
– An administrator shall be elected from the representative council. He/She shall nominate the heads of the differnet administrative directorates, which shall work according to a platform set up and approved by the representative council to ensure the fulfillment of the people’s day-to-day demands in the OPT.
– The representative council shall be constituted of experts and not politicians whose tasks are confined in taking care of administrative and legislative demands pertinent to people’s day-to-day lives. This will reduce factional competition and enhance the role of the elected representative council.

Formation of security apparatuses and their tasks, and the resistance arms
– All security apparatuses will be integrated within one police service that maintains public safety and the rule of law in the OPT.
– The police apparatus shall be fully separated from and independent of the political factions.
– Weapons shall be used for legal reasons only such as maintaining the people’s safety and defending them from mortal harm.
– Political factions do not have the right to individually select their resistance strategies.
– The police apparatus will be restructured based on new laws that shall govern its duties.

Combating corruption
– Full transparency shall be restored. Corrupt institutes and individuals shall be tried and the stolen funds returned to their rightful owners and the Palestinian people.

Requirements of national and societal reconciliation
– Banning any political platform from inciting to violence.
– The youth and academic experts shall formulate a document to end Palestinian disunity in a manner that is beneficial for the Palestinian cause.
– The youth shall use wide ranging activities to pressure all conflicting sides to come together
– Any delay in ending the division after this document is presented shall be borne by the present leaderships.
– A court shall be formed from independent persons guaranteed by the PLO to decide on all the division implications at the individual and collective levels. The court’s decisions are binding to all.

Let all people who love their people and their country now say, as we say here:
– WE SHALL STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM, SIDE BY SIDE, THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES, UNTIL WE HAVE WON OUR LIBERTY.

please sign the petition on Ahewar

Houria Bouteldja from "Indigenes de la Republique"

 from Kasama Project A Maoist sister in Spain, LG, sent us the following posting. She wrote as an introduction:

This very controversial  essay is by Houria Bouteldja, the spokesperson for the political party organized by people of color in France called Les Indigenes de la Republique. This group is composed by people born and raised in France whose families come from the French ex-colonies. The majority of the members are French from African, Caribbean and Arab origin.

The essay caused a lot of interesting debates because it is a critique to Western Feminism from a Third World Feminist perspective. The essay was also translated to many languages by the Decolonial Translation group.

The term “indigenous” in the French context is used very differently from the Americas. In the Americas, the indigenous are aboriginal or native people. In France, indigenous means “colonial subjects of the French empire.” Indigenous was the term used by the French empire during colonial times to refer to colonial populations everywhere (Viet Nam, Algeria, Tunisia, Martinique, Guadaloupe, Senegal, etc.).

This French party, composed primarily by people of color but open to everybody, appropriated the term “indigenous” from French colonial history to basically say that even though they are French (born and raised in France), due to racism, capitalism and imperialism, they are still treated inside France as “indigenous of the Republic,” that is, as colonial subjects.

It is a way of saying, we are still living in colonial times even though we live in France. Thus, their openly stated goal is to decolonize France. They do a Decolonial march every year in Paris on May 8th. This is the day of the liberation of France in 1944 from the Nazi occupation and the day of the Seti massacre in Algeria. What happened was that while the French went to the streets to celebrate, the Algerians in Seti (a small city of Algeria) also went to the streets to celebrate and to call for Algerian independence. The response of the French colonial army was to kill everybody in the Seti demonstration. So, the indigenous of the Republique do this Decolonial march every year to remind that France is in need of radical decolonization. I was once in one of these marches and it is surreal. You could see thousands of French people-of-color in a demonstration through the streets of Paris with huge Photos of Aime Cesaire, Frantz Fanon, Amircal Cabral, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkhruma, Nelson Mandela, Nasrallah, Nasser, etc.

Anyway, here is the essay, which was delivered as a speech to the 4th International Congress of Islamic Feminism that took place in Madrid, in October 2010. It appeared in English on Decolonial Translation:

 

Les Indigenes de la Republique

 

White women and the privilege of solidarity

by Houria Bouteldja

I would, first of all, like to thank the Junta Islamica Catalana for having organized this colloquium, which is a real breath of fresh air in a Europe that is shriveling up in upon itself, wrought up in xenophobic debates and increasingly rejecting difference/alterity.

I hope that such an initiative will be able to take place in France. Before getting into the subject at hand, I would like to introduce myself, as I believe that speech should always be located.

I live in France, I am the daughter of Algerian immigrants. My father was a working class man and my mother was a housewife. I am not speaking as a sociologist, a researcher or a theologian. In other words, I am no expert.

I am an activist and I am speaking as a result of my experience as a political activist and, I might add, my own personal sensibility. I am insisting on these details because I would like to be as honest as possible in my reasoning. Truth be told, until today, I hadn’t really thought about the question of Islamic feminism. So why am I taking part in this colloquium? When I was invited, I made it quite clear that I lacked the authority to speak about Islamic feminism and that I would rather deal with the idea of decolonial feminism and the ways in which, I believe, it should be related to the more general question of Islamic feminism.

That is why I thought I would lay out a few questions that could prove useful for our collective questioning.

  • Is feminism universal?
  • What is the relationship between white/Western feminisms and Third World feminisms among which we find Islamic feminisms?
  • Is feminism compatible with Islam?
  • If it is, then how can it be legitimized and what would its priorities be?

First Question: Is feminism universal?

For me, it is the question of all questions when adopting a decolonial approach and when attempting to decolonize feminism. This question is essential, not because of the answer but rather because it makes us, we who live in the West, take the necessary precautions when we are confronted with ‘Other’ societies.

Let’s take, for example, so-called Western societies that witnessed the emergence of feminist movements and have been influenced by them. The women who fought against patriarchy in favor of an equal dignity between men and women gained rights and improved women’s circumstances, which I, myself, benefit from.

Let’s compare their situation, that is to say our situation, with that of so-called “primitive” societies in Amazonia for instance. There are still societies here and there that have been spared by Western influence. I should add here that I don’t consider any society to be primitive. I think there are differing spaces/times on our planet, different temporalities, that no civilization is in advance or behind on any other, that I don’t locate myself on a scale of progress and that I don’t consider progress an end in itself nor a political goal.

In other words, I don’t necessarily consider progress to be progressive but sometimes, even often, it is regressive. And, I think that the decolonial question can also be applied to our perception of time. Getting back to the subject at hand, if we take as our criteria the simple notion of well-being, who in this room can state that the women from those societies (who know nothing of the concept of feminism as we conceive of it) are less well-off than European women who not only took part in the struggles but also made available, to their societies, these invaluable social gains?

I, myself, find it quite impossible to answer this question and would consider quite fortunate whoever could. But yet again, the answer is of no importance. The question itself is, for it humbles us, and curbs our imperialist tendencies as well as our interfering reflexes. It prevents us from considering our own norms as universal and trying to make other’s realities fit into our own. In short, it makes us locate ourselves with regards to our own particularities.

Between Western & Third World feminisms

Having laid out that question clearly, I now feel more at ease to tackle the second question dealing with the relationship between Western feminisms and Third World feminisms. Obviously it’s very complicated but one of its dimensions is the domination of the global south by the global north. A decolonial approach should question this relationship and attempt to subvert it. An example:

In 2007, women from the Movement of the Indigenous of the Republic took part in the annual 8th of March demonstration in support of women’s struggles. At that time, the American campaign against Iran had begun. We decided to march behind a banner that’s message was “No feminism without anti-imperialism”. We were all wearing Palestinian kaffiyehs and handing out flyers in support of three resistant Iraqi women taken prisoner by the Americans. When we arrived, the organizers of the official procession started chanting slogans in support of Iranian women. We found these slogans extremely shocking given the ideological offensive against Iran at that time. Why the Iranians, the Algerians and not the Palestinians and the Iraqis? Why such selective choices? To thwart these slogans, we decided to express our solidarity not with Third World women but rather with Western women. And so we chanted:

Solidarity with Swedish women!

Solidarity with Italian women!

Solidarity with German women!

Solidarity with English women!

Solidarity with French women!

Solidarity with American women!

Which meant:

Why should you, white women, have the privilege of solidarity? You are also battered, raped, you are also subject to men’s violence, you are also underpaid, despised, your bodies are also instrumentalized…

I can tell you that they looked at us as if we were from outer space. What we were saying seemed surreal, inconceivable. It was like the 4th dimension.  It wasn’t so much the fact that we reminded them of their situation as Western women that shocked them. It was more the fact that African and Arabo-Muslim women had dared symbolically subvert a relationship of domination and had established themselves as patrons. In other words, with this skillful rhetorical turn, we showed them that they de facto had a superior status to our own. We found their looks of disbelief quite entertaining.

Another example: After a solidarity trip to Palestine, a friend was telling me how the French women had asked the Palestinian women if they used birth control. According to my friend, the Palestinian women couldn’t understand such a question given how important the demographic issue is in Palestine. They were coming from a completely different perspective. For many Palestinian women, having children is an act of resistance against the ethnic cleansing policies of the Israeli state.

There you have two examples that illustrate our situation as racialized women, that help understand what is at stake and envisage a way to fight colonialist and Eurocentric feminism.

Following on from that question, is Islam compatible with feminism?

This question is purely provocative on my behalf. I can’t stand it. I am asking this question to imitate some French journalist who believes they are asking a really pertinent question. As for me, I refuse to answer out of principle.

On the one hand, because it comes from a position of arrogance. The representative of civilization X is demanding that the representative of civilization Y prove something. Y is, therefore, put in dock and must provide proof of her/his “modern-ness”, justify her/him-self to please X.

On the other hand, because the answer is not simple when one knows that the Islamic world is not monolithic. The debate could go on forever and that is exactly what happens when you make the mistake of trying to answer.

Myself, I cut to the chase by asking X the following question:Is the French Republic compatible with feminism?

I can guarantee you one thing: ideological victory is in the answer to this question. In France, 1 woman dies every 3 days as a result of domestic violence. The number rapes per year is estimated around 48 000. Women are underpaid. Women’s pensions are considerably less substantial than those of men. Political, economic and symbolic power remains mostly in the hands of men. True, since the 60’s and 70’s, men share more in household duties: statistically, 3 min more than 30 years ago!! So I ask my question again: are the French Republic and feminism compatible? We would be tempted to say no!

Actually, the answer is neither yes nor no. French women liberated French women and it’s thanks to them that the Republic is less macho than it was. The same goes for Arabo-Muslim, African and Asian countries. No more, no less. With, however, one extra challenge: consolidating within women’s struggles the decolonial dimension, that is to say the critique of modernity and eurocentrism.

How to legitimize Islamic feminism?

For me, it legitimizes itself. It doesn’t have to pass a feminist exam. The simple fact that Muslim women have taken it up to demand their rights and their dignity is enough for it to be fully recognized. I know, as result of my intimate knowledge of women from the Maghreb and in the diaspora, that “the-submissive-woman” does not exist. She was invented. I know women that are dominated. Submissive ones are rarer!

I would like to conclude with what, in my opinion, should be priorities for decolonial feminism.

You have all heard about Amina Wadud and her involvement in the development of Islamic feminism. She became well known the day she lead the prayer, a role usually reserved for men. Out of context, I would say that it could be thought of as a revolutionary act. However, in an international context that saw the Iranian Revolution and 9/11 (as well as growing Islamophobia, demands that Islam update and modernize itself), a much more ambiguous message was brought to light. Was it answering strong demands, an urgency, the fundamental expectations of women from the Umma? Or were these expectations of the white world? Allow me to dwell on the latter hypothesis. Not that there aren’t any women who find it an injustice that only men be allowed to lead the prayer but because women’s priorities and urgent needs are elsewhere.

What do Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian women want? Peace, the end of the war and the occupation, the rebuilding of their national infrastructures, legal frameworks that guarantee their rights and protect them, access to sufficient food and water, the ability to feed and educate their children under good conditions. What do Muslim women in Europe and more generally those who are immigrants and who, for the most part, live in lower income neighborhoods want? A job, housing, rights that protect them not only from state violence but also men’s violence. They demand respect for their religion, their culture. Why are all of these demands silenced and why does the issue of leading the prayer make its way across the globe when Judaism and Christianity have never really made apparent their own intransigent defense of the equality of sexes? To finish up with this example, I believe that Amina Wadud’s act was, in fact, quite the opposite of what it claimed to be. In reality and independently of the theologian’s own wishes, this act, in my opinion, was counter-productive. It will only be able to adopt a feminist dimension once Islam is equally treated with respect and once the demands to lead the prayer come from Muslim women themselves. It is time to see Muslim men and women how they really are and not how we would like them to be.

I conclude here and hope to have shown the ways in which a true decolonial feminism could benefit women, all women when they, themselves, deem it to be their path to emancipation.

Houria Bouteldja, Madrid, 22 October 2010.

Translated by Amy Fechtmann

On 25 February 2011 activists and organizations from around the world will join together in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Hebron/ al Khaleel, through local protests that demand for the opening of Shuhada Street to Palestinians and an End to the Occupation! For more info or to organize a protest in your city please contact openshuhadastreet@gmail.com

Want to get involved? Click here for more information

Open Shuhada Street Pamphlet 2011

Open Shuhada Street – 25 Feb 2011 – Global Day of Action from Joseph Dana on Vimeo.

Shuhada Street used to be the principal street for Palestinians residents, businesses and a very active market place in the Palestinian city of Hebron/ al Khaleel. Today, because Shuhada Street runs through the Jewish settlement of Hebron, the street is closed to Palestinian movement and looks like a virtual ghost street which only Israelis and tourists are allowed to access. Hate graffiti has been sprayed across the closed Palestinian shops and Palestinians living on the street have to enter and exit their houses through their back doors or, even sometimes by climbing over neighbor’s roofs.

International Supporter Being Arrested During a Recent Protest in Hebron. Photo: Activestills.org

In 1994, following the massacre of 29 Muslims at prayer by America-Israeli settler Dr Baruch Goldstein, shops on Shuhada Street were closed and vehicular traffic prohibited on the street. Despite a court case and an admission by the Israeli government that it is illegal, the street is still closed to Palestinians 16 years later. We are focusing on Shuhada Street as a symbol of the settlement issue, the policy of separation in Hebron/al Khaleel and the entire West Bank, the lack of freedom of movement, and the occupation at large. Check back to this page for more updates regarding how you can get involved. For more background information and FAQ’s click here.


Στο όνομα του Αραβικού Παλαιστινιακού λαού, του αίματος των μαρτύρων, των χηρών και των υστερημένων, των ορφανών και των χιλιάδων φυλακισμένων στις Ισραηλινές φυλακές και όλων των απόδημων Παλαιστινίων, καλούμε όλες τις Παλαιστινιακές παρατάξεις να ενωθούν υπό το λάβαρο της Παλαιστίνης, προκειμένου να μεταρρυθμιστεί το πολιτικό σύστημα στην Παλαιστίνη στη βάση των συμφερόντων και των φιλοδοξιών (οραμάτων) των Παλαιστινίων στην πατρίδα και τη διασπορά.

Η σοβαρότητα της Ισραηλινής αποικιακής εισβολής στην παρούσα φάση, η αρπαγή των εδαφών της ιερής μας Ιερουσαλήμ και η βίαιη πολιορκία εναντίον του λαού της Γάζας, απαιτεί από όλους μας να αντισταθούμε σε αυτή την βάναυση κατοχή.

Έχουμε ακούσει πως ο Παλαιστινιακός λαός ζητά νομοθετικές και προεδρικές εκλογές προκειμένου να λήξει το καθεστώς διάσπασης. Ναι, όλοι θέλουμε να βάλουμε ένα τέλος στη διάσπαση, αλλά θέλουμε επίσης την πλήρη αναδόμηση και μεταρρύθμιση της Οργάνωσης για την Απελευθέρωση της Παλαιστίνης (PLO), ώστε να περιλαμβάνει όλες τις αποχρώσεις του παλαιστινιακού πολιτικού φάσματος, της Hamas συμπεριλαμβανομένης, προκειμένου να παλέψουμε πάλι για την απελευθέρωση της Παλαιστίνης όπως προορίστηκε αρχικά.

Εμείς, οι Παλαιστίνιοι στην πατρίδα και στο εξωτερικό, πάντα ακούγαμε ότι οι ειρηνικές ενέργειες θα επετύγχαναν τη νίκη και θα αποκαθιστούσαν τα εδάφη μας αλλά 20 χρόνια διαπραγματεύσεων δεν έχουν επιτύχει ούτε τις ελάχιστες απαιτήσεις. Οι συνάνθρωποι μας παραμένουν υπό τη βάναυση και καταπιεστική κατοχή που υφαρπάζει τα εδάφη μας, παραβιάζει τους ιερούς τόπους και σκοτώνει τα παιδιά μας, και όλα αυτά ενώ η οικουμένη, που απαιτεί δημοκρατία και σεβασμό των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων, απλά παρατηρεί και ακούει! Ενώ παράλληλα, η αντίσταση χρονοτριβεί, αφήνοντας περισσότερο από ενάμιση εκατομμύριο Παλαιστίνιους υπό τον ισραηλινό αποκλεισμό που τους πνίγει σε τέτοιο βαθμό που παραπέμπει ακόμα και ασθενείς στο εξωτερικό προκειμένου να τους παραχθεί θεραπεία, την ίδια στιγμή που αυτό είναι πρακτικά αδύνατο να γίνει, ακόμα και για τους ίδιους τους ηγέτες της αντίστασης και των οικογενειών τους, πόσο μάλλον για τον υπόλοιπο Παλεστινιακό λαό.

Πρέπει να συμφωνήσουμε πως είναι απαραίτητο όλοι μας να ενωθούμε για τους απανταχού Παλαιστίνιους, που ακόμη ονειρεύονται την επιστροφή έξι εκατομμύριων Παλαιστίνιων προσφύγων στις κατοικίες τους που καταπατήθηκαν κατά την κατοχή, μια κατοχή που αντιλαμβάνεται μόνο τη γλώσσα της βίας!

Ας γίνουμε δυνατοί, ας είναι η ενότητα η δύναμή μας, και ας συμφωνήσουμε ομόφωνα σε μια ενοποιημένη ηγεσία που θα μας οδηγήσει στην ελευθερία με υπερηφάνεια και αξιοπρέπεια!

Από αυτή τη θέση, καλούμε τις κυβερνήσεις της Δυτικής Όχθης και της Γάζας να ανταποκριθούν στα νόμιμα αιτήματα των ανθρώπων:
1. Την απελευθέρωση όλων των πολιτικών κρατουμένων από τις φυλακές της Παλαιστινιακής Αρχής και της Hamas.
2. Το τέλος της μεταξύ τους δημόσιας αντιπαράθεσης.
3. Την παραίτηση των κυβερνήσεων του Haniyeh και του Fayyad και τον σχηματισμό μίας κυβέρνησης εθνικής ενότητας που θα συμφωνηθεί από όλες τις παλαιστινιακές παρατάξεις και θα είναι αντιπροσωπευτική του Παλαιστινιακού λαού.
4. Την αναδιάρθρωση της Οργάνωσης για την Απελευθέρωση της Παλαιστίνης, που θα περιέχει όλες τις παλαιστινιακές παρατάξεις και την επιστροφή της στον αρχικό στόχο: την Ελευθερία της Παλαιστίνης
5. Την ανακοίνωση περί αναστολής όλων των διαπραγματεύσεων μέχρι την πλήρη συμφωνία ενός πολιτικού προγράμματος από τις διάφορες παλαιστινιακές παρατάξεις
6. Το τέλος κάθε μορφής συντονισμού σε θέματα ασφάλειας με το σιωνιστή εχθρό
7. Την οργάνωση προεδρικών και κοινοβουλευτικών εκλογών ταυτόχρονα, σε χρόνο που θα συμφωνηθεί από όλες τις παρατάξεις

Οι εκδηλώσεις θα ξεκινήσουν την Τρίτη, 15 Μαρτίου 2011, στις 11:30 π.μ. και θα συνεχιστούν μέχρι την επίτευξη όλων των στόχων.
Θα μαζευτούμε στις ακόλουθες τοποθεσίες (αλλαγές είναι πιθανόν να υπάρξουν):
Γάζα: Πλατεία Αγνώστου Στρατιώτη (Gaza: the Unknown Soldier Square)
Ραμάλλα: Πλατεία Manara (Ramallah: Manara Square)
Τουλκάρμ: Κυκλική Πλατεία Gamal Abdel Nasser (Tulkarm: Roundabout Gamal Abdel Nasser)
Τζενίν: στο συγκρότημα των χώρων στάθμευσης κοντά στον παλαιό κινηματογράφο Jenin (Jenin: complex of garages near the old Cinema Jenin)
Χεβρώνα: μπροστά στο κυβερνείο (Hebron: in front of the governor’s office)
Βηθλεέμ: Εκκλησία της πλατείας Nativity (Bethlehem: Church of the Nativity Square)
Nablus: Πλατεία Μαρτύρων (Nablus: Martyrs Square)
Ιορδανία και Λίβανος: η τοποθεσία δεν έχει οριστεί ακόμα
Στον υπόλοιπο κόσμο: μπροστά από τις Παλαιστινιακές πρεσβείες, σε συνεννόηση με τις παλαιστινιακές κοινότητες στο εξωτερικό. ΘΑ ΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΗΣΕΙ ΑΝΑΚΟΙΝΩΣΗ !!!

Παρακαλούμε επισκεφτείτε μας στην σελίδα:
http://www.facebook.com/Palestinians.United?sk=info

15 marzo, Azione internazionale per l’unità del Popolo Palestinese.
Un solo popolo contro il Sionismo.

In nome del popolo arabo palestinese, per il rispetto del sangue dei martiri, delle vedove, degli orfani e dei loro lutti, per le migliaia di prigionieri nelle carceri israeliane e per tutta la nostra gente della diaspora palestinese, chiediamo a tutte le fazioni di unirsi sotto la bandiera della Palestina per potere riformare e basare il sistema politico in Palestina sugli interessi ed aspirazioni del popolo palestinese, in patria e in esilio.

La gravità dell’attuale fase di incursioni da parte dei coloni israeliani, dell’appropriazione della terra nella nostra Sacra Gerusalemme e della violenza dell’assedio contro il popolo palestinese di Gaza obbliga tutti noi ad unirci saldamente contro quest’occupazione brutale.

Noi abbiamo sentito il popolo palestinese chiedere le elezioni legislative e presidenziali per porre fine alla divisione. Sì, tutti noi vogliamo la fine della divisione, ma vogliamo anche una totale ricostruzione dell’ Organizzazione per la Liberazione della Palestina, che comprenda tutti i colori dello spettro politico palestinese, incluso Hamas, e di riformarla con lo scopo di lottare di nuovo per la liberazione della Palestina, così come era stato inteso dalla sua fondazione.

Noi, il popolo palestinese, in patria ed in esilio, abbiamo sempre sentito che le azioni pacifiche sarebbero bastate per ottenere la vittoria e ci avrebbero restituito la nostra terra, ma 20 anni di negoziati non ci hanno fatto ottenere la benché minima richiesta. La nostra gente vive sotto una brutale ed oppressiva occupazione che saccheggia la nostra terra, viola i nostri luoghi sacri, uccide i nostri figli. Fa tutto questo mentre il mondo dichiara che la democrazia è assicurata e i diritti umani vengono rispettati! D’altro canto la resistenza è in stallo, mentre più di un milione e mezzo di palestinesi restano sotto l’assedio israeliano che strangola fino al punto che i nostri malati, compresi i figli dei leader della resistenza, possono essere curati solo altrove.

Dobbiamo essere d’accordo: è necessario che noi ci uniamo per tutti i palestinesi qui e per i sei milioni di rifugiati palestinesi in ogni parte del mondo che ancora sognano il loro ritorno alle loro case sottratte dall’Occupazione, che comprende soltanto il linguaggio della forza! Dobbiamo essere forti, dobbiamo fare sì che l’unità sia la nostra forza e che siamo unanimemente concordi su una dirigenza che ci potrebbe guidare fino alla libertà, con orgoglio e dignità!

Con questo appello chiediamo a tutti coloro che governano in Cisgiordania e Gaza di rispondere alle richieste legittime del popolo:
1 – il rilascio di tutti i detenuti politici nelle prigioni dell’ Autorità Palestinese e di Hamas
2 – la fine di ogni tipo di campagna stampa contro le altre fazioni
3 – le dimissioni dei governi di Haniyeh e Fayyad per poter ricostruire un governo di unità nazionale che riscuota l’approvazione di ogni fazione palestinese e che avrebbe il compito di rappresentare il popolo palestinese
4 – la ristrutturazione dell’Organizzazione per la Liberazione della Palestinna che includa tutte le fazioni palestinesi e che ritorni al suo scopo originario: la liberazione della Palestina
5 – l’annuncio del congelamento dei negoziati finchè non ci sarà totale compatabilità tra le vari fazioni su un programma politico
6 – la fine di ogni forma di coordinamento con il nemico sionista sulla questione della sicurezza
7 – l’organizzazione di elezioni presidenziali e parlamentari simultanee nei tempi scelti da tutte le fazioni

Gli eventi avranno inizio il martedì, 15/03/2011 alle 11:30 e andranno avanti finchè non saranno accolte tutte le nostre richieste. Ci raduneremo nei seguenti posti (salvo modifiche):
Gaza: Piazza del Milite Ignoto
Ramallah: Piazza Manara
Tulkarm: Piazzale Gamal Abdel Nasser
Jenin: complesso dei garagi vicino al vecchio Cinema Jenin
Hebron: davanti all’ufficio del Governatore (Al Khalil)
Bethlehem: Piazza della Natività
Nablus: Piazza dei Martiri
Giordania e Libano: da definire
Nel mondo: davanti alle sedi diplomatici palestinesi, in coordinamento con le comunità palestinesi in esilio.

http://www.facebook.com/Palestinians.United?sk=info

Gaza Youth Breaks Out

Translated into Greek by Christina Baseos, translated into Italian by Mary Rizzo

On behalf of the Palestinian Arab people, on the blood of the martyrs, widows and bereaved, orphans and thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails and all our people in the Palestinian diaspora, we call on all the Palestinian factions to unite under the banner of Palestine, in order to reform the political system in Palestine, based on the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian people in the homeland and the diaspora.

The seriousness of the current phase of Israeli settler incursions and looting of land in our Sacred Jerusalem and the violence of the siege against the Palestinian people in Gaza require us all to stand as one against this brutal occupation.

We have heard that the Palestinian people call for legislative and presidential elections to end the state of division. Yes, we all want to end the division, but we also want a complete re-building of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to include within it all the colors of the Palestinian political spectrum, including Hamas, and to reform it in order to fight again for Palestine’s liberation, as it was initially intended.

We, Palestinian people in the homeland and abroad, have always heard that peaceful actions would achieve victory and restore the land, but 20 years of negotiations have not achieved the leatest demands. Our people remains under a brutal and oppressive occupation that steals land, violate the Holy sites and kills our children, and all of this while the world that claims democracy and human rights is watching and hearing! On the other hand, the resistance is stalling, leaving more than a million and a half Palestinians under Israeli blockade, choking them to the point that our patients, including the sons of the leaders of the resistance, are sent to be treated abroad.

We must agree; it is necessary that we unite for all Palestinians here and there and everywhere, still dreaming of six million Palestinian refugees to return to their homes stolen by the Occupation that only understands the language of force! Let us be strong, let unity be our strength and unanimously agree on a unified leadership that can lead us to freedom with all pride and dignity!

From here we call on the governments of the West Bank and Gaza to respond to the legitimate demands of the people:
1 – the release all political detainees in the prisons of the PA and Hamas
2 – the end of all forms of media campaigns against each other
3 – the resignation of the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad to re-build a government of national unity agreed by all Palestinian factions representing the Palestinian people
4 – the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to contain all the Palestinian factions and get back to its initial aim: Palestine’s freedom
5 – the announcement of the freeze of negotiations until the full compatibility between the various Palestinian factions on a political program
6 – the end of all forms of security coordination with the Zionist enemy
7 – the organization of presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the time chosen by all the factions

Events will start on Tueseday, 03/15/2011 at 11:30 pm and will continue until the achievement of all goals. We will be gathering in the following places (modifications possible):
Gaza: the Unknown Soldier Square
Ramallah: Manara Square
Tulkarm: Roundabout Gamal Abdel Nasser
Jenin: complex of garages near the old Cinema Jenin
Hebron: in front of the governor’s office
Bethlehem: Church of the Nativity Square
Nablus: Martyrs Square
Jordan and Lebanon: no location yet
All over the world: in front of the Palestinian embassies, in coordination with the Palestinian communities abroad. TO BE ANNOUNCED!!!

Please join our page.

http://www.facebook.com/Palestinians.United?sk=info

Gaza Youth Breaks Out

Nomen omen

from PULSE – A few weeks ago, while I was in al-Arakhib after the 11th ethnic cleansing attempt (yesterday was the 15th), I was interviewed by the Israeli Channel 10 culture editor, about Vanessa Paradis’ cancellation of her performance in Israel. Only one of the sentences I uttered in the 15-minute interview was included in the segment, and the rest is somewhere on the Channel 10 editing floor. So in an act of preservation, I’d like to paraphrase a part of the interview:

Channel 10 culture editor: “OK, so Vanessa Paradis canceled, do you really think anybody cares?”

Myself: “You came all the way to al-Arakhib to ask me that, I think it’s pretty effective.”

Macy Gray Draws The Picket Line

Macy Gray’s initial words of condemnation showed her to be someone who understands, to an extent, that Israel is practicing apartheid. This created a situation in which the international community expected her to act in moral accordance with her words. We all worked very hard to help her understand the meaning of occupation and apartheid, but we failed. We also failed to show her why she has a responsibility, beyond her performance, towards the Palestinian people. Though Gray had tried to offer a plethora of unacceptable “solutions” that would allow her to continue the show, (like doing the show in combination with going to the West Bank, as she published on her official blog) we had failed in getting her to do the one thing she had to do: Not perform.

Though I repeat that we’ve failed, I’d like to make it clear that due to her actions, it’s clear that Gray actually has no real understanding of the situation and how her actions, as innocent as they may seem, are in fact lending her face to injustice. As if performing in the “White City” wasn’t enough, Gray had followed up with a list of things that not only don’t help, but they actually exasperate the situation. I feel it’s important to follow these actions, so that maybe other artists will be more informed in the future (not to mention us “little people” who guide them in the process).

I’ve written about Gray’s meeting with the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles. It’s most crucial to understand the international artist’s role in whitewashing of Israel’s atrocities and creating an illusion of “business as usual.” The Israeli government has always made an effort to bring international artists to Israel. The artist’s name gives the state a sort of unofficial sponsorship- a vote of support- which is good for “the market”. The D in BDS is about divestiture from Israeli companies that profit from the occupation, or from Israeli institutions that enable, forward, or whitewash the occupation. One way to achieve this goal is to directly inform international companies where their money is going, another way is to erode Israel’s “sexy” image, by taking away its star-studded aura, which artists such as Madonna, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and now Macy Gray, provide.

It’s important to add that Gray’s meeting with the Consulate is direct cooperation with the government of Israel. She has already violated the boycott, before she even stepped on the “holy soil”. However, even this could have been rectified, had Gray came out with a public statement that her good name has been used for Israeli state propaganda. As expected, this “seemingly innocent” meeting has made good use of Gray, as the Consulate proudly plastered a picture of gray and Consul, Jacob Dayan, on the front page of its website, accompanied by a press release and a Facebook release.

Not recognizing the pattern, after a sour experience with the Israeli government, Gray came to Israel and met a currently undisclosed member of Knesset, in the Knesset building. Of course the violation of BDS is obvious, but she furthered the propaganda on her Twitter page with these following statements:

Seeds of Illusion

If that statement wasn’t enough to get Israel a few more business deals, then we can look into her meeting with “Seeds of Peace”. I wonder who set this meeting up, because as we’ve seen in the case of the Cape Town Opera, meeting with Palestinian organizations after performing in Israel isn’t an option. More so, when the organization is an Israeli-Palestinian organization that promotes an illusion of balance, and more so, when the organization is American (government and corporations) funded, such as the case of Seeds of Peace.

On the face of it, the organization is impressive. A mixed population of children, both Israeli and Palestinian (and other conflict regions, but allow me to focus), are taught “leadership and coexistence skills” within the context of the “conflict”. It’s very exiting to see a program which teaches kids things like economics and gender within the prism of politics. However, with the sterilized language on the website (no “occupation” to be found) and the program’s focus on trust building games between strangers that fake mutual trust in a sterilized environment, one must ask, how will these kids be able to be effective in the real world, when their education was based on a fictional balance between their situations? I highly doubt that an Ashkenazi Israeli young woman faces the same economic problems and obstacles that a Gazan young woman faces, for example.

Beyond the questionable content and context of Seeds of Peace, there’s the highly dubious list of funders:

USaid- A US federal government agency “[extending] assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.” The question remains: Is this before, or after they give 3 billion dollars worth of military aid to Israel, on an annual basis? Before or after it brought democracy to Iraq? And this is what USaid, who’s busy donating to Gaza with one hand, is busy doing with its other hand:

The end of the year downturn [for the Israeli economy] was caused by a combination of factors. The violence in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza led to a steep drop in the number of foreign tourists. Construction and agriculture were hurt by the sudden loss of Palestinian workers, unable to travel to jobs in Israel because of closures imposed by the Israeli military. A drop in economic growth in the United States led to a lower level of exports. Finally, the steep drop on the stock exchange resulted in a decrease in the rate of new foreign investment in Israel.

How does USaid solve this?

THE USAID PROGRAM: The United States, acting through the USAID, will provide $720,000,000 in FY 2002 funds to Israel as a cash transfer. These funds will be used by Israel primarily for repayment of debt to the United States

Who would have ever thought masturbation can be profitable outside the porn industry…

ExxonMobil – I was once told by an ethical investing consultant that the biggest donators on the planet, are the most harmful corporations. Now this makes sense, if you just think about the sheer size of these corporations. This manipulation that these corporations practice is, of course, what allows them to continue destroying every green patch of this little earth (also metaphorically speaking). ExxonMobil, which I doubt needs an introduction, trades in fossil fuels and is ranked “sixth among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States”. It’s responsible for catastrophic oil spills, endangering the wildlife and the funding of skepticism of global warming. In addition to environmental damage, ExxonMobil is neck-deep in human rights violations, from denying LGBT employees same-sex partner benefits, to it’s hand in oil-rich governments around the world, creating military unrest, leading to torture, murder and rape. Indeed, is this economics of politics taught to our precious seeds of peace?

Carlson Wagonlit Travel- CWT is a travel agency with branches all over the world. Its branch in Israel is run by the Israeli travel agency Ophir Tours, which exclusively provide travel services to the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), which is sponsored by the Jewish National Fund, thus taking an active part in Judaizing Israel (“Aliya”), ethnically cleansing the Bedouin population from the south of Israel, and whitewashing Israel’s brutal past of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Clean Like Pros – A cleaning company run by the Singer family. The Singers are active in the Jewish Federation of Ocean County, an offshoot of the Jewish Federations of North America, who’s top partner is the Jewish Agency.

Toll Brothers – A house building company who’s list of contributions could have melted my heart, had it not included that infamous excuse for idleness The Anti Defamation League.

The content and list of donors leaves very little room to speculate about Seeds of Peace using Palestinian youth (and other marginalized young people of color around the world, as well as in the United States) as tokens for a cynical game that furthers a capitalist, imperialist American agenda, which never doubts it’s commitment to its arm in the Middle East, Israel. Don’t believe me? Just check out the Seeds of Peace Advisory Board of Directors list:

T.H. George H. W. Bush

T.H. William Jefferson Clinton

Her Majesty Queen Noor

H.E. Shimon Peres

Dr. Sa’eb Erekat

(A word to Sa’eb Erekat: Who needs Al Jazeera leaks?!)

The Show Can’t Go On

Not only did Gray meet all the wrong people, she went on with her show and in it included a lavish donation of a motorcycle  to United Hatzalah, an Israeli emergency medical organization, which also receives motorcycles from non other than the most notorious settlement in all of the occupied territories, Hebron.

United Hatzallah funded by Hebron settlement. Ceremony held in the Cave of Patriarchs.

Panic in the Knesset

Without a doubt, the combination of Vanessa Paradis (and Johnny Depp along with her) canceling and the possibility that Macy Gray may cancel, as well, propelled the Knesset into action. You’d think that the “Boycott Prohibition” bill ( that will be passed tomorrow), criminalizing BDS criticism and activity in Israel, would be enough for the only democracy in the Middle East, but it seems that they just can’t get enough of the BDS jive [limited by my translation]:

I don’t know what our legal abilities are to act against these boycotts, but if we’re silent, we allow these things to happen… it’s very important that we raise our voice against this issue, especially when we’re talking about organizations that come from within Israel.

These are the words of Kadima’s MK Ronit Tirosh. In this same meeting, she also said [limited by my translation]:

The problem isn’t with specific organizations that boycott Israel and try to have impact, but about the use of different social networks in order to pressure the artists themselves on a personal level and even the people around them, like members of the band and roadies. We’ve asked the ministry of culture to take the issue of utilizing social networks from the Israeli side, too, in the face of the pressure they are exposed to, and an artist, who needs fans, has to recognize the extent of his hurt he causes his fans in the state, and maybe, as a result he’ll reweigh the cancellation.

Tirosh may not know the extent of her legal abilities to counter the BDS movement, but not for lack of trying. She’s just one of the MKs to be behind the “Boycott Prohibition” bill:

…a proposal to outlaw any nongovernmental organization that provides information to foreign or international bodies that leads to war crimes accusations against the government or the army.

The proposed legislation would apply to NGOs that provide information directly to accusers, or to NGOs that put information in the public domain that leads to such accusations… For the lawmaker behind the bill, Ronit Tirosh of Kadima, it is a necessary move to “end the rampage” by organizations that are trying to “subvert the state.”

Other MK’s also had some bright ideas [limited by my translation]:

Yisrael Beitenu MK, Alex Miller, head of the Culture and Education Committee, is planning to create a cross-ministry committee of the Foreign Affairs, Culture and Treasury ministries, who’s purpose will be to create an insurance policy to compensate (with my tax money) the Israeli producers, that bring the acts to Israel, who’s act bailed on them for “ideological motives”. He also added that he’ll join MK Tirosh in a law proposal to ensure this. He also called on the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture to build a joint strategy in dealing with the “delegitimization phenomenon of Israel in the culture world”. Lastly, he called on the producers to use the services of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, let them know about cancellations, so that consulate representatives can apply pressure on the artists.

Alon Barr, Director of Culture Ties of the Foreign Affairs Ministry:

…the boycott phenomenon is well known from the fields of commerce, academia, and international jurisdiction [prosecution] of IDF officers. “The way I deal with it is with an effort to propagate Israeli culture abroad and to encourage cooperation between Israeli artists and artists abroad. If we had more funds, we could do more.

Beit El settlement establisher, founder of Gush Emonim, responsible for doubling the Jewish population beyond the Green Line, National Union member, Arutz Sheva executive director, and Law of Boycott Prohibition initiator, Ya’akov Katz, in his capacity as a fair and balanced media man had this to say:

There are a few dictators of the Israeli media… that systematically stand behind organizations that boycott artists in Israel.

Shas MK, Nissim Zeev, had little to add, except the word “incitement”.

Of course, no Knesset conference, dealing with threats to Israel’s existence, would be complete without a member of the Re’ut Institute. In his capacity of “National Security team leader”, Eran ShayShon added:

..our job is to create a differentiation between legitimate criticism and delegitimization.

The BDS movement has come a long way. Thanks to Macy Gray all the crazies came out of the woodwork. While the “Boycott Prohibition” bill was proposed last summer, only tomorrow will it be passed. From a movement of the most impoverished and oppressed, that for 60 years couldn’t get the time of day from the media, Palestinians of the Occupied Territories are now changing Israeli legislation.

Over three years ago, an idea took shape. That idea was to create a network of activists that would share their material, translating things they considered important from one language, and in exchange, they would be able to circulate things translated by others. We hoped that we could contribute to a more active, involved discourse in our own milieus that would not limited by language. We believed that a good article was like a painting or a song, if it had something to communicate, it could be appreciated in a different context, and we wanted to spread the ideas around as much as we could. We already liked some of the same authors, some of the same sources, and had a common view of the major issues, not less important, we shared a bond of friendship and trust. It was intended to be “for private use”, for our mailing lists, newsgroups, blogs and personal research. We didn’t create it with the intention of making it become a site. Yet, after four months of collaboration, that group of people decided it would be a good idea to share the material we were quickly compiling in great quantity with others. There was no other solution but to open a site, which we launched officially on this day. www.tlaxcala.es

Tlaxcala at the time was a loose assembly of about 25 translator-activists who decided to pool their resources and work in a coalition by agreeing to a common ideal. There have been translation collectives before, and many sites have staff that translates, and most of us had been translating for one site or another as volunteers for a few years, so we weren’t inventing anything new when we started, but there was indeed something “different” about Tlaxcala. The difference of Tlaxcala with other groups is still quite obvious to those of us who answered that first calling to “form a group of anti-imperialist translators”. We have maintained that focus, translating a staggering quantity of material, broadening our vision as a group, but also as individuals. We are trying to keep awareness on what the struggle against “Empire” really is. Together we have discovered how the only way to support liberation from the domination of Empire (be it military, economic, cultural, social, religious, political) is to actively participate, reclaiming the miracle and the mystery of diversity, exalting it even, while making the connection between every struggle, finding their commonalities as well as discovering their unique aspects, and discovering that there are more than a few rays of hope filtering in, and the mainstream media doesn’t seem to want to let people know.

Hegemonic thinking exists in every society, anywhere there is a need for consensus. It is not necessarily damaging to the causes of liberation, and indeed, there are corners of the world where “the people” are influencing “the power elite”, and this too is important news to share. An example among many, for three days the Italian media was hounding about the “mania of dictatorship of Chavez”. The mainstream must have been convinced it was enough to paint him as a megalomaniac and dangerous demagogue, after all, they use the same “Rogue State” menu that they are taught to use by the US. Apparently, it’s easy to call someone a dictator when there is a belief that “the people would not let this happen” and it was basically a given that the Venezuelan referendum would not pass. When it actually did pass, all of a sudden there was silence, this kind of consensus doesn’t seem to find any air time between one fluff story and another. More than that, it would have created a difficult situation to handle: either implying that Venezuelans do not know what democracy is, or that our mass media was busy using a propagandistic element with the Italian public. Either way, they took the easy way out and simply made that story disappear.

Tlaxcala is a group that exists in the realm of language, one that places the struggle for freedom, peace and justice in that sphere. Language is the basis of human existence. We came into a world that was already loaded with meaning, and we learn its codes, its mores and its limits through words. Indeed, our own existence is moulded by the language that we discover, each one of us on our own. It should not be surprising that activists are not expected only to vote or march when called to do so, they are aware of the important position that discourse always has had, of how it evolves, of the way it becomes an action itself, and for an activist-translator, action and language merge their boundaries, they unite into a single instrument.

Since the founding of Tlaxcala, we have grown in number and in dedication. We have obviously fulfilled our purpose of translating material (we now also subtitle videos and have an audio-visual section on our site, in addition to coordinating or supporting international campaigns and petitions), but more than that, we have grown into “Tlaxcala”: an international group with a distinctive character. Not only that, Tlaxcala this month, due to exponential increase in its user base, is upgrading the site, which will be easier to navigate, and will integrate more language pages and with improved features. But the site is only the aspect of Tlaxcala that others see. Tlaxcala is very much more than that.

It actually is hard for me to describe what Tlaxcala really is. Without being a party, sect, social network or NGO, it has managed to create a strong community. There is a human bond and connection of respect, admiration, collaboration and commitment that is so rare it actually does stand out when it happens. I don’t believe a day has gone by when I haven’t learned something, from improving my language skills to learning about the situation in another country to finding out information that otherwise would have been very difficult for me to obtain. I don’t think I would exaggerate to say that many members of Tlaxcala can attest to the same thing. Additionally, I have come into contact with so many outstanding people, people with brilliant minds, generous hearts, a sense of humour, compassion, talent. Every new member brings a whole new patrimony to our group, it is like discovering a new branch on a family tree. Each new member is reason for celebration. This is not to say there are not passionate disputes, that we sit around the campfire singing Kumbayah, but the bond that unites us is strong enough to ALLOW room for debate, dispute and discussion. This is the private side of Tlaxcala, and it is a source of enrichment for those who participate.

Three questions were posed to our members, so that words could convey the relationship between the aspect as an activist and as a translator. Here are replies to these questions from some of our members: I asked them to reply in a language I understood, and I hope the readers of this can also understand the material that is not in English. Check the Tlaxcala site, who knows if it won’t be translated into other languages!?

1)    Do you believe that your participation in our collective has affected your own activism?

Adib: Collective work is always creative and stirs activism and new ideas, man is a social animal, thus always learns from others.  

Atenea: Without a doubt. I believe that activism is about putting your life experience and education at the service of political causes that you strongly support and believe in. Tlaxcala has become one of the key places where I have been able to combine both my profession and principles to contribute, and it has shown me many a times that collective activism is powerful and effective.

Carlos: Naturalmente que si. Primeramente, porque aprendo cada día un oficio que no me es propio, el de traductor, de muy buenos traductores de todo el mundo. Segundo, porque a través de Tlaxcala se produce un importante intercambio de información que es de gran utilidad en otras actividades que hago en redes y organizaciones, con lo que Tlaxcala transciende más allá del  grupo en sí. Tercero porque aporta un enfoque amplio en matices pero bastante estructurado que conforma un tapiz de lo que podríamos considerar una corriente universal de izquierdas en la que es posible y grato trabajar hasta el punto de lamentar muchas veces no disponer del tiempo suficiente para hacerlo. 

Cristina: Mi activismo está ya muy activado, pero Tlaxcala me permite estar al día y acceder a información que de otra manera, a lo mejor, no tenía y propagarla por el mundo.

Diego: Beh, non mi sento un attivista o, almeno, non ritengo paragonabile quello che faccio ad una qualsivoglia forma di attivismo. Detto questo, mi fa piacere far parte di una comunità di persone umane, serie ed intelligenti che, loro sì, hanno molto da insegnare e da cui sono orgoglioso di poter apprendere. Soprattutto, Tlaxcala è un modo per evadere dalla nostra miserabile condizione italiana, soprattutto per evadere dal mare di soprusi e bugie in cui affoghiamo. Tlaxcala, senza retorica, non è solo un modo per conoscere nuova gente e mentalità diverse ma, per me, è una via per far sapere alle persone degli altri paesi che qui in Italia siamo ancora molti a non arrendersi a questo declino morale e sociale che ci sta inghiottendo. In condizioni normali, le idee o gli articoli degli autori che spesso “traduco” circolerebbero senza troppi problemi attraverso i normali canali. Ma non viviamo in condizioni normali e quindi ritengo di dover fare qualcosa per fare sapere almeno all’estero che qui in Italia abbiamo tante persone che meritano di essere ascoltate. E d’altro canto, cercare di contribuire a diffondere le notizie di avvenimenti esteri che qui da noi vengono spudoratamente filtrati, manipolati o censurati. Cmq faccio tutto questo sempre nella consapevolezza che poter scrivere e fare queste cose è un lusso che probabilmente la maggioranza della popolazione mondiale non può permettersi avendo necessità di sopravvivere. E’ uno dei tanti sensi di colpa che mi tormentano da sempre: se ragionassi come molti, dovrei godermi di più la vita proprio per rispetto di chi è meno fortunato, proprio come quando i genitori rimproverano i figli che non consumano fino in fondo il proprio pasto “per rispetto ai bimbi africani”. E’ sbagliato, è come dire che bisogna consumare di più per rispetto di chi non ha niente. In realtà, bisognerebbe rinunciare concretamente ad una parte di quel che abbiamo affinché i bisogni di qualcun altro possano essere soddisfatti. Questa è l’unica via. E, a parte la rinuncia concreta che mi impongo su molte cose, Tlaxcala è un modo come diversi altri per sentirsi più vicini a quelle persone, nella speranza che mi trasmettano un po’ della loro dignità.

 

Dima: it restored my faith in collective activism…

Esteban: Yes, I’m more attentive with the various opinions.

Kourosh: Definitely. Tlaxcala has contributed to my progression immensely. Since I was invited to join the network by Manuel Talens and Mary Rizzo, I made the acquaintance of a number of mindful, intellectual, prosperous and inspirational people who are unassumingly ready for any kind of sacrifice and commitment.

Following my admission into the network, my interviews and articles, fortunately, achieved a broad feedback and reflection internationally, thanks to the constructive contribution and involvement of worldwide translators who work under the umbrella of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity.

 

As a journalist who pays a high priority to the circulation of his message and the wide distribution of his productions, I’m exceptionally satisfied that my articles, interviews and reports were translated into Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Swedish and a couple of other languages pursuant to the precious and worthwhile endeavors of Tlaxcalains. I hope this could help the world to hear our call for peace, equality, improvement, tranquility and brotherhood.

 

Manuel: Le ha dado una visión mundial y ha eliminado cualquier resto de nacionalismo que pudiera quedar en mi.

Nadia:  No sólo ha afectado mi activismo, sino que cada día le da forma, de la mayor consistencia. Tlaxcala para mi es algo más, mucho más que un grupo de activistas procedentes de distintos lugares del mundo que comparten ciertos ideales, que persiguen ciertas metas en común, es una escuela, una escuela en la que perfeccionamos nuestras habilidades linguisticas, pero además, y más importante, trabajamos para construir un mundo mejor, un mundo sin exclusiones, sin prejuicios, un mundo en el que todos podamos ver más allá de la punta de nuestras narices. 

Susanne: I am a member of the local WDM (World Development Movement) group and I have been sharing some of the articles and videos with them. The articles I read on and translate for Tlaxcala provide me with view from those that are marginalised or completely ignored in the mainstream media and that helps to inform my own activism.

2)     What feelings and thoughts come to you when you are translating and then when you see your translations published?

Adib: The world is a global village; so you have to know what your next door neighbor and friend believes in to be able to associate with him in a civil manner so as both of you benefit from each other’s work, unless that next door neighbor is an intruding enemy who plans to expand to your living and bed rooms, then kick you out and replace you in them as we Palestinians are suffering with our intruding unwanted “guests”.. Translation helps you to know both your friend, to ally with him, and your enemy, to confront him and put an end to his atrocities. Know both your enemies and friends. Unfortunately what we learned from our enemy is that he is not willing to learn from his own mistakes… We learned that our enemy is digging its grave with its own hands.

When you see your translations published you earn satisfaction as you know that your time was not wasted, on the contrary it benefits others.

 

 

Atenea: I only choose to translate those articles and essays that resonate with my political convictions and interests, so the experience is always rewarding as every time I learn and/or open new windows to further strengthen my position in specific issues. I try to stay away from well-known authors in alternative media as I find it more urgent to lend my skills and profession to convey the ideas and thoughts of those who are not so popular but equally incisive and sharp. Publication and re-publication in other sites only means that we are achieving our goal as a group: giving a voice to those who would otherwise remain unheard, offering people a view into the other side of the (hi)story, and counteracting and counterbalancing the enormous amount of mainstream so-called information that bombards the world 24/7.

Carlos: Si la conciencia colectiva de una comunidad es su idioma, el esfuerzo de traducir a otra lengua diferente de la tuya, la materna, es adentrarse en un horizonte nuevo y abrirse a una nueva mentalidad, y así es como acometo un texto, que escojo en función de varias consideraciones y no sólo de mis preferencias personales puesto que influye la actualidad, la relevancia de lo tratado, los hechos que rodean el texto, su autor, etc..

Cuando un trabajo se ve después publicado pienso en la utilidad que pueda tener y para quién puede tenerla. Busco vestigios de errores y trato de tenerlos en cuenta para la siguiente traducción y también para escoger un nuevo texto. De unos trabajos te sientes más satisfecho que de otros pero, como los temporales en la mar, el peor siempre es el último.

Cristina: Hay veces (me acaba de pasar con un tema de Venezuela) en que me apasiono e implico de tal modo que me sale una traducción con mucha vida y yo llego a emocionarme. ¡Ésas son las mejores! 
No he visto aún ninguna traducción mía publicada porque soy una novata entre vosotros.

Diego: Nell’ordine: camuffare in qualche modo la mia limitata conoscenza della lingua straniera; evitare fraintendimenti e possibili querele (che da noi sono molto di moda) sperare di non commettere troppi errori, visto che tu ed altri dovete sobbarcarvi le revisioni. Quanto alle pubblicazioni fanno piacere ma più che altro implicano la possibilità che ancor più persone possano leggerle.

Dima: I recognise the importance of what we’re doing as translators, seeing the translations on the web affirms my commitment. it’s only a shame I can’t contribute as frequently as i would like to..

Esteban: Je n’en tire aucune gratification personnelle, le seul fait de savoir que le texte d’un auteur engagé pour les mêmes idées que moi sera certainement lu par des personnes qui n’auraient jamais pu le lire et par conséquent n’auraient pas pu avoir une information parallèle ou un avis en dehors du cadre de la pensée unique m’incite à catalyser les deux parties. Tous les textes de Tlaxcala (et d’autres sites également) ne seront jamais imprimés dans la presse impérialiste, et pourtant avec Tlaxcala ils sont à la portée de tout un chacun afin qu’il s’interroge et s’aperçoivent comment les médias manipulent les consciences. Le niveau des textes étant élevé, Tlaxcala est un excellent vecteur d’information, d’apprentissage, de formation et de stimulateur à la lutte.

Kourosh: At the time of writing and translating, I just try to set focus on the job which is assigned to me; a genuine concentration. Due to the overwhelming clutter of works which usually entangle me, sometimes I can not manage to draw the projects to a close and finish up the works timely, for which I should apologize to all of the Tlaxcalains; however, that’s a source of honor and pride for me to see an abundant trust and confidence which the people bestow upon me.

Manuel: Como cualquier otro traductor implicado en un trabajo político colectivo y voluntario, escojo los textos en función de mis propias preferencias. En el proceso de traducción procuro plasmar las ideas del autor original de la manera más clara posible y con la mayor corrección estilística de la que soy capaz. El lector se merece siempre un buen texto. Cuando veo mis traducciones publicadas suelo estar ya haciendo alguna nueva, así que nunca vuelvo la vista atrás.

Nadia: Una traducción publicada es un nuevo cohete qassam lanzado en contra de la ocupación de la que somos objeto, es un acto de protesta y por ende de resistencia. Tal como los combatientes que en algún rincón del mundo elaboran rudimentarias armas para defenderse de aquellos que los oprimen, nosotros, con nuestras traducciones también reivindicamos nuestro derecho a luchar elaborando cada una de nuestras traducciones. En el proceso dejamos el alma, no hay traducción que no cuente, que no aporte, cada una de ellas representa nuestro grito de protesta, ese grito que, como decía el subcomandante marcos, se sumará al de otros en distintos rincones del mundo hasta finalmente ser escuchado por aquellos que resisten y luchan con las armas en nuestro nombre, porque todos somos combatientes, todos somos palestinos, subsaharianos, iraquíes, tibetanos, todos empuñamos la misma arma.

Susanne: Some of the articles in particular made me think about how the things are connected and how the response in the Western corporate media just doesn’t reflect the severity of some conflicts and the suffering in the world because of some powerful interests, it’s like a script being followed. I have noticed how my translations appear on a number of blogs after publication on Tlaxcala, for all those readers who want to get beyond the scripted reporting in the corporate media. It makes me happy.

3)     Have you gained in a personal way from participation in our collective, or have you lost something?

 

Adib: Definitely both in a personal and collective way. How could anybody lose in collective work. Collective efforts is like yeast that matures dough that becomes good bread when baked thus you have your fill that is consumed with pleasure.

Atenea: No original answer here: I have gained a solid network of compañeros whom I share a world and life view with, a really big thing when you actually think about it. I have lost some free time, but have become a more creative time manager!

Carlos: Aparte de algunas clases de saxofón he perdido poca cosa comparado con lo mucho que he ganado, lo más importante de todo: estar en contacto con un creciente grupo de personas extraordinarias, lo cual sería imposible de otra forma. He ganado también  aprendizaje y  posibilidades de expresión. Desde cualquier punto de vista personal la experiencia es enormemente positiva.

Cristina: He ganado el participar en un proyecto como Tlaxcala del que soy admiradora hace años.
Me enorgullece formar parte de un grupo de gente tan luchador, generoso, valiente con cuyas metas y puntos de vista coincido al cien por cien.
No pierdo nada, porque el tiempo empleado me parece un granito más de arena en la montaña que pare la injusticia.

 

Diego: Mi pare di aver risposto in parte già nella prima. Cmq, più che altro, mi pare di star “rincretinendomi”. Ma forse dipende dal fatto che è Tlaxcala stessa ad essere probabilmente qualcosa di un po’ “folle”.

 

Dima: I like being in a world-wide collective and I intend to plan some trips to countries when some Tlaxcala members have a spare bed for me to lie on (watch out everyone!)

 

Esteban: Comme j’ai dit dans la phrase en rouge ci-dessus, elle est pour moi EN PREMIER. Et donc j’ai gagné sur mon chemin personnel et j’espère encore gagner dans mon apprentissage sur les couleurs du monde, dans ma façon de penser et de réagir. Il faut dire que l’activité intense de beaucoup de militants au sein de l’association incite à aller de l’avant.

 

Je profite de ce questionnaire pour dire que : il est vrai que j’ai des préférences pour des textes et des auteurs, mais je n’ai AUCUNE retenue pour les luttes et les combats des peuples, ethnies, communautés ou individu contre l’impérialisme aliénateur. De même, il y a quelquefois des textes auxquels je n’adhère pas entièrement, alors, je m’abstiens de traduire ou de commenter ; pour autant si une majorité des membres actifs pense que ce texte peut être positif pour les luttes (même s’il n’a pas la radicalité qui me convient), alors je m’investis dans cette optique, ET JE L’ASSUME (« Je l’assume » c’est la seule raison qui me fait signer à la fin, sinon je signerais « le collectif »).

 

it’s a part of me…

Kourosh: Undisputedly, working in Tlaxcala added some new values to me. A beneficial sort of communal cooperation with a group of admirable people who are enthusiastic about their works, making new contacts with people who understand the reality of pure dedication, commitment and pledge, fueling the process of advantageous movements to help the oppressed, needy and impoverished worldwide and finally, acting upon the responsibilities which I believe are allocated to me.

Manuel: He ganado un horizonte sin fronteras y he perdido tiempo libre.

Nadia: No he perdido nada, cómo podría? He ganado mucho, he ganado un espacio de lucha y me siento privilegiada por ello, he ganado el martillo y el cincel con los que estoy contribuyendo a modelar el mundo en el que quiero vivir. 

Susanne: It’s only a short time since I have been a member, but in this time I have been very impressed and inspired by the dedication and courage of Tlaxcala’s members and friends. It is very life affirming and gives me hope that the world can be improved. 

Speech delivered by Nadine Rosa-Rosso at the The Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, Solidarity between Peoples and Alternatives, held from January 16 to 18, 2009. 
The key question in this forum is how to support resistance against imperialism across the world. As an independent Belgian communist activist I would like to focus on the position of the European Left vis-à-vis this issue.

The massive demonstrations in European capitals and major cities in support of the people of Gaza highlighted once again the core problem: the vast majority of the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza against Israeli aggression, but refuses to support its political expressions such as Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Left not only refuses to support them, but also denounces them and fights against them. Support for the people of Gaza exists only at a humanitarian level but not at the political level.

Concerning Hamas and Hezbollah; the Left is mainly concerned with the support these groups have amongst the Arab masses, but are hardly interested in the fact that Israel’s clear and aggressive intention is to destroy these resistance movements. From a political point of view we can say without exaggeration that the Left’s wish (more or less openly admitted) follows the same line as the Israeli government’s: to liquidate popular support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

This question arises not only for the Middle East but also in the European capitals because, today, the bulk of the demonstrators in Brussels, London and Paris are made up of people of North African origin, as well as South Asian Muslims in the case of London.

The reactions of the Left to these events are quite symptomatic. I will cite a few but there are dozens of examples. The headline of the French website ‘Res Publica’ following the mass demonstration in Paris on the 3rd of January read: “We refuse to be trapped by the Islamists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah!” The article continued: “Some activists of the left and far left (who only turned out in small numbers) were literally drowned in a crowd whose views are at odds with the spirit of the French Republican movement and of the 21st Century Left. Over 90% of the demonstrators championed a fundamentalist and communitarian worldview based on the clash of civilizations which is anti-secular and anti-Republican. They advocated a cultural relativism whose harmful tendencies are well known, particularly in England.

Res Publica is neither Marxist or communist, but one would be hard pressed to find even the most remotely positive words about Hamas on Marxist websites. One does find formulations such as “Whatever we think about Hamas, one thing is indisputable: the Palestinian people democratically elected Hamas to lead Gaza in elections held under international supervision.” Looking further at “what we can think of Hamas” one finds on the websites of both the French Communist Party and the Belgian Labour Party an article entitled “How Israel put Hamas in the saddle.” We learn little more than the assertion that Hamas has been supported by Israel, the United States and the European Union. I note that this article was put online on January 2nd after a week of intensive Israeli bombardment and the day before the ground offensive whose declared aim was the destruction of Hamas.

I will return to the quotation of Res Publica, because it summarizes quite well the general attitude of the Left not only in relation to the Palestinian resistance, but also in regard to the Arab and Muslim presence in Europe. The most interesting thing in this article is the comment in parentheses: ‘the Left and far Left (who only turned out in small numbers)’. One might expect following such a confession some self-critical analysis regarding the lack of mobilisation in the midst of the slaughter of the Palestinian people. But no, all charges directed against the demonstrators (90% of the whole protests) are accused of conducting a “war of civilizations.”

At all the demonstrations I participated in Brussels, I asked some demonstrators to translate the slogans that were chanted in Arabic, and they did so with pleasure every time. I heard a lot of support for the Palestinian resistance and denunciation of Arab governments (in particular the Egyptian President Mubarak), Israel’s crimes, and the deafening silence of the international community or the complicity of the European Union. In my opinion, these were all political slogans quite appropriate to the situation. But surely some people only hear Allah-u-akbar and form their opinion on this basis. The very fact that slogans are shouted in Arabic is sometimes enough to irritate the Left. For example, the organizing committee of the meeting of 11 January was concerned about which languages would be used. But could we not have simply distributed the translations of these slogans? This might be the first step towards mutual understanding. When we demonstrated in 1973 against the pro-American military takeover by Pinochet in Chile, no one would have dared to tell the Latin American demonstrators “Please, chant in French!” In order to lead this fight, we all learnt slogans in Spanish and no one was offended.

The problem is really in the parentheses: why do the Left and far Left mobilise such small numbers? And to be clear, are the Left and far Left still able to mobilize on these issues? The problem was already obvious when Israel invaded Lebanon in the summer of 2006. I would like to quote here an anti-Zionist Israeli who took refuge in London, jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who already said, six months before the invasion: “For quite a long time, it has been very clear that the ideology of the Left is desperately struggling to find its way in the midst of the emerging battle between the West and the Middle East. The parameters of the so-called “clash of civilizations” are so clearly established that any “rational” and “atheist” leftist activist is clearly condemned to stand closer to Donald Rumsfeld than to a Muslim.”

One would find it difficult to state the problem more clearly.

I would like to briefly address two issues which literally paralyze the Left in its support to the Palestinian, Lebanese, and more generally to the Arab and Muslim resistance: religion and terrorism.

The Left and Religion

Perplexed by the religious feelings of people with an immigrant background, the Left, Marxist or not, continuously quotes the famous statement of Marx on religion: “religion is the opium of the people”. With this they think everything that needs to be said has been said. It might be more useful cite the fuller quote of Marx and perhaps give it more context. I do this not to hide behind an authority, but in the hope of provoking some thought amongst those who hold this over-simplified view, “Religion is the general theory of this world, (…), its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. (…) The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

(Translation of Prof. W. Banning, Life, Learning and Meaning, 1960, The Spectrum (p.62-63)

I have always been and remain an atheist, but the rise of religious feelings is hardly surprising. In today’s world most politicians, including those on the Left, do little more then display their weakness on this issue: they do nothing against the military power of the US, they do nothing or almost nothing against financial speculation and the logic of profit that plunges billions of people on this Earth into poverty, hunger and death. All this is due we are told to “the invisible hand” or “divine intervention”: where is the difference between this and religion? The only difference is that the theory of the “invisible hand” denies people the right to struggle for social and economical justice against this “divine intervention” that helps to maintain the status quo. Like it or not, we cannot look down on billions of people who may harbour religious feelings while wanting to ally with them.

The Left does exactly the same thing as what it accuses the Islamists of: it analyses the situation only in religious terms. It refuses to disclose the religious expressions as a “protest against misery”, as a protest against Imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. It cuts itself off from a huge part of the masses. Gilad Atzmon expresses it best when he states: “Rather than imposing our beliefs upon others, we better learn to understand what others believe in”. If we continue to refuse to learn, we will continue to lament the religious feelings of the masses instead of struggling with them for peace, independence and social and economic justice.

But there is more. The fate of Islam is very different from that of Christianity. I have never known the Left to hesitate when showing solidarity with the Latin American bishops, followers of liberation theology and the struggle against Yankee Imperialism in the 70s, or the Irish Catholic resistance to British Imperialism. Nor have I known the left to criticize Martin Luther King for his references to the Gospel, which was a powerful lever for the mobilisation of the Black American masses that did not have political, economic or social rights in the U.S in the sixties. This discriminatory treatment by the Left, this systematic mistrust of Muslims who are all without any distinction suspected of wanting to impose sharia law on us, can only be explained by colonialism that has profoundly marked our consciousness. We will not forget that the Communists, such as the Communist Party of Belgium (KPB), praised the benefits of colonization that were enthusiastically spread by Christian missionaries. For example, in the 1948 program of the KPB, when the party had just emerged from a period of heroic resistance against the Nazi occupation, it stated the following about the Belgian Congo: “a) Establishment of a single economic unit Belgium-Congo; b) Development of trade with the colony and realization of its national resources; c) Nationalization of resources and trusts in Congo; d) Development of a white colonists class and black farmers and artisan class; e) Gradual granting of democratic rights and freedoms to the black population.”

It was this kind of political education of workers by the Party which meant that there was hardly any protests from these Belgian workers influenced by the KPB when Patrice Lumumba, Pierre Mulele and many other African anti-imperialist leaders were assassinated. After all “our” Christian civilization is civilized, is it not? And democratic rights and freedoms can only “gradually” be assigned to the masses in the Third World, since they are too barbaric to make good use of them.

On the basis of exactly the same political colonialist reasoning, the Left is rather regretful in having supported democratic elections in Palestine. Perhaps they should have adopted a more gradualist approach towards the Palestinians since the majority of Palestinians have now voted for Hamas. Worse, the Left bemoans the fact that “the PLO was forced to organize parliamentary elections in 2006 at a time when everything showed that Hamas would win the elections”. This information is available on the sites of the French KP and Belgian PVDA.

If we would agree to stop staring blindly and with prejudice at the religious beliefs of people, we would perhaps “learn to understand” why the Arab and Muslim masses, who today demonstrate for Palestine, are screaming ‘Down with Mubarak’, an Arab and Muslim leader, and why they jubilantly shout the name of Chavez, a Christian-Latin American leader. Doesn’t this make it obvious that the Arab and Muslim masses frame their references not primarily through religion but by the relation of leaders to US and Zionist Imperialism?

And if the Left would formulate the issue in these terms, would they not partly regain the support of the people that formerly gave the Left its strength?

Another cause of paralysis of the Left in the anti-imperialist struggle is the fear of being associated with terrorism.

On the 11th of January 2009, the president of the German Chamber of Representatives, Walter Momper, the head of the parliamentarian group of ‘Die Grüne’ (the German Greens), Franziska Eichstädt-Bohlig, a leader of ‘Die Linke’, Klaus Lederer, and others held a demonstration in Berlin with 3000 participants to support Israel under the slogan ‘stop the terror of Hamas’. One must keep in mind that Die Linke are considered by many in Europe as the new and credible alternative Left, and an example to follow.

The entire history of colonisation and decolonisation is the history of land that has been stolen by military force and has been reclaimed by force. From Algeria to Vietnam, from Cuba to South-Africa, from Congo to Palestine: no colonial power ever renounced to its domination by means of negotiation or political dialogue alone.

For Gilad Atzmon it is this context that constitutes the real significance of the barrage of rockets by Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance organizations: “This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message regarding stolen land, homes, fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore”. (Gilad Atzmon – Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land)
What can be understood by an Israeli Jew, the European Left fails to understood, rather they find ’indefensible’ the necessity to take by force what has been stolen by force.

Since 9/11, the use of force in the anti-colonial and the anti-imperialist struggle has been classified under the category of ‘terrorism’; one cannot even discuss it any more. It is worth remembering that Hamas had been proscribed on the list of ‘foreign terrorist organizations’ by the United States in 1995, seven years before 9/11! In January 1995, the United States elaborated the ‘Specially designated terrorist List (STD)’ and put Hamas and all the other radical Palestinian liberation organisations on this list.

The capitulation on this question by a great part of the Western Left started after 9/11, after the launching of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) by the Bush administration. The fear of being classified ‘terrorists’ or apologists of terrorism has spread. This attitude of the Left is not only a political or ideological question, it is also inspired by the practical consequences linked to the GWOT. The European ‘Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on combating terrorism’ and its attached terror list who was a copy-and-paste version of the American terror list that has been incorporated into European legislation, which allow the courts to prosecute those who are suspected of supporting terrorism. During an anti-war rally in London, some activists sold a publication which included Marxist analysis on Hamas were stopped by the police and their magazines were confiscated. In other words, to attempt to inform people on the political program and the action of Hamas and Hezbollah becomes an illegal enterprise. The political atmosphere intimidates people into distancing themselves from these resistance movements and to denounce them without reservations.

In conclusion I have a concrete suggestion to make: we must launch an appeal to remove Hamas from the terror lists. At the same time we must ensure that Hezbollah are not added to the terror list. It is the least we can do if we want to support the Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab resistance. It is the minimal democratic condition for supporting the resistance and it is the essential political condition for the Left to have a chance to be heard by the anti-imperialist masses.

I am fully aware of the fact that my political opinions are a minority in the Left, in particular amongst the European communists. This worries me profoundly, not because of my own fate, I am not more then a militant amongst others, but for the fate of the communist ideal of an end of exploitation of man by man, a struggle which can only happen through the abolition of the imperialist, colonial and neo-colonial system.

Nadine Rosa-Rosso is a Brussels-based independent Marxist. She has edited two books: “Rassembler les résistances” of the French-language journal ‘Contradictions’ and “Du bon usage de la laïcité”, that argues for an open and democratic form of secularism. She can be contacted at nadinerr@gmail.com

http://www.countercurrents.org/rosso110209.htm

To support Peoples’ Anti-Imperialistic Resistance and the building of Alternatives to Globalisation 

On the initiative of several research centres, associations and socio-political movements, The Beirut International Forum was held on 16, 17 and 18 January 2009, attended by Arab and international delegations and authorities from five continents (66 countries).

 

This Forum, in which South America, Asia and Near East were massively represented, embodied the spirit of the Tricontinental centre.

 

Two major topics characterised the Forum. On one hand, the heroic resistance by the Palestinian people of Gaza and their ability to confront an intense violence and unprecedented barbarity. On the other, capitalism’s global crisis, which is not only financial but also on economic, social, cultural and moral fronts, thus posing a threat to the survival of humanity itself.
Principles and rights

The Forum declares that:

- All Peoples have the right to resist. This right must be inalienable, supported by the entire international community and recognised as such within international law;

- The resistance’s fight against colonialism can’t be detached from the struggle carried out by world revolutionaries and free individuals when facing global capitalism, imperialism, militarisation and destruction of social achievements. These have been the product of the working classes’ tenacious struggles for two hundred years;

- Peoples have the right to sovereignty over their own natural resources. Rights to nourishment, health and education prevail over all commercial stakes;

- Every culture has to be able to help build humanity’s common good with respect for nature, the supremacy of human needs and a democratic management of societies;

- The right to democratic participation must be exerted not only on a political level but also on an economic one and it applies to men and women alike;

- The right to cultural differentiation and freedom of worship without any cultural or racial stigmatisation.

 

Campaigns and resolutions
Concerning Gaza:

The Forum’s attendees declare their support of the Palestinian people’s resistance of Gaza. They condemn the terrorism, crimes, violations of the rule of law and disregard for human value, which Israel has inflicted on these populations.

Moreover, they call for:
1-     Applying severe sanctions against Israel, such as: calling off relations and covenants and forbidding any sale of weapons to this country;
2-     Legal proceedings against states and companies selling weapons to Israel;
3-     Urging the EU to put an end to all economic, political and cultural relations with Israel and to cancel all the covenants and agreements linking it with this country;
4-     Holding an international conference in order to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity inflicted upon Gaza’ s population, as well as economic and environmental crimes, and to bring to court the persons accountable for these actions, as well as for those committed in Lebanon in 2006;
5-     Restoring UN Resolution 3379 which classifies Zionism as racism, and ousting Israel from the UN;
6-     Launching an international campaign for rebuilding Gaza, lifting the blockade and having political prisoners released

Concerning the anti-imperialistic and anti-colonialist struggle
1-     The Forum participants expressed their support for both the Palestinian and Lebanese resistances against Israeli occupation, as well as to the Iraqis’ fight against American occupation. In addition, they back the Iraqi people’s endeavours to preserve their territorial unity.
2-     The participants declare their support for self-determination for the Afghan people and to their struggle against the American and Atlantic occupation.
3-     The participants salute Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales for their support to the peoples’ resistance. They express total endorsement of their fight against US’s interference in South America.
4-     They call for lifting the embargo on Cuba and the release of Cuban prisoners detained in US’ prisons.
5-     They demand the establishment of an international league of Parliamentary members in order to uphold the peoples’ right to resistance and self-determination, in order to restore accords relevant to the defence of civilian populations.
6-     They urge the creation of an international media network that may expose the mendacious propaganda concerning Israel’s character and crimes.
7-     Carrying on the moral imperative to judge war crimes, namely bringing to court the people responsible for the war crimes committed in Lebanon in 2006.
8-     Launching a campaign to enforce the consultative advice by the International Court of Justice concerning the wall’s ethnic segregation in Palestine.
9-     Setting up an international network with the aim of coordination between local delegations during crises and wars.
10-          Refusing threats and provocations by the US against Iran with regard to its right to develop its nuclear program for civil purposes within the context of international laws. Refusing, likewise, the threats of war by the US towards Syria and Sudan.
11-          Opposing American attempts to make international and humanitarian laws ineffective under the pretext of the war on terror.

The participants suggest the following as alternatives to the market’s blackmail:
1-     Excluding agriculture and feeding-related sectors from the international negotiations contemplating the privitisation of markets (GATT, OMC…)
2-     Turning down accords and international policies that allow corporations to control living organisms thus jeopardizing biodiversity.
3-     Setting up a Mediterranean Common Market based on fair trade between customers and producers, from the north and the south of the basin as well as within each country. All this is to be performed within a process for building an area linking Mediterranean basin with Mesopotamia (leaving out Israel until the colonial question in Palestine is settled), in opposition to Sarkozy’s neo-liberal project.
4-     Fighting the excessive exploitation carried out by industrial fishing in favour of artisan fishery.
5-     Preserving the common asset of humanity and the fundamental resources for living. Developing organic agriculture and using renewable energy sources.

 

The Center for Studies and Documentation in Beirut, International Campaign against American and Zionist Occupation (the Cairo Conference), the National Gathering to Support the Choice of Resistance (Lebanon), The International Anti-Imperialist and Peoples’ Solidarity Forum (the Calcutta- India Conference), Stop The War Campaign (London), L’union de la jeunesse démocratique (Liban), Réseau des organisations de la jeunesse Palestinienne, The Party of Dignity (Egypt), The Popular Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza, KIFAYA (le mouvement egyptien pour le changement), Union of Democratic Youth (Lebanon), Egyptian Women Issues Association, Palestinian Youth Organizations Network (Palestine), Fédération des Syndicats marocains, AMCI (The Mediterranean Agency for International Cooperation (Morocco), Arab Youth Council- and the wWalk to the aArab pParliament (Morocco), Data and Strategic Studies Center (Syria), El Badil Regroupement Anti Globalisation (Syria), Campaign Genoa 2001 Greece, l’altra Lambardia-Sulatesta, Anti- Imperialist Camp (Grèce),  Socialist Thinking Forum (Jordan), Organisation des socialistes révolutionnaires (Egypt), To be continued…

TRANSLATED BY DIEGO TRAVERSA AND REVISED BY SAJA RAOOF, MEMBERS OF TLAXCALA. www.tlaxcala.es

WRITTEN BY Noah Cohen

As news came out recently that the United States would be sending a new shipment of bombs to “Israel” from the Greek port of Astakos at some point between the middle and end of January, Palestinians sent out an urgent call to organizers in Greece to stop the shipment. Within a day, several organizations and individuals in Greece responded to the call. Perhaps most significant in the current context was that of the Greek Anti-authoritarian Movement, centrally involved in weeks of rebellion against the repressive forces of their own government:

“The Anti-authoritarian Movement calls for a Pan-hellenic gathering on Thursday, Jan. 15th at Astakos at 1:00 p.m. to block the departure of boats with American weapons which are destined for Israel.
DON’T LET THE CARGO OF AMERICAN WEAPONS LEAVE THE PORT
SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
RESISTANCE TO GLOBALIZED STATE TERRORISM…”
As pressure began from below, even members of the parliamentary left began to raise questions. On January 12th, the “US” announced that it had canceled the shipment of arms through Astakos because of “concerns” expressed by the Greek government.

The prefect of Aitoloakarnania (where the port lies) announced that they would be sending instead a ship with material aid to Palestinians and expressed the sentiments of the local people:

“The people of Aitoloakarnania do not accept that Greek ports, and especially this port of Platygiali, constitute places for the transfer of weapons and ammunition which are used in belligerent circumstances and in the slaughter of the peoples of our region. … we are sending medicines and medical material to the beseiged people of Gaza instead of weapons [to Israel]…”

Resistance to Globalized State Terrorism

“Resistance to globalized state terrorism” is a call that relates the rebellion of youth and anti-authoritarians in Greece over the last several weeks to the slaughter of people in Gaza. Their opposition moves beyond the usual limits of “solidarity:” stopping a “US” arms shipment to “Israel” becomes a part of their own struggle.

State terrorism is globalized. The “US,” Greece and “Israel” collaborate not just against Palestinians, but against Greeks. It was the “US” that set up Greece’s repressive police structures: the MAT (Monades Apokatastasis Taxis)–“riot” police–are a special branch of political police that have their origins in “US” police training programs. Through the “Public Safety Program” in the 1960s and 1970s, the “US” supplied Greece with weapons and trained police in methods of repression–including torture–as part of the global “war against communism.” Just before Christmas, it was revealed that “Israel” was supplying Greece with a new harsher form of tear-gas to use against demonstrators. Protestors have described it as “asphyxiating.”

People in rebellion find their solidarity in a struggle against injustice which they know directly. It is solidarity in resistance. One can see this reading the statement of high-school students from the Coordinated Struggle of High-Schools in Athens, who chose to re-organize their national mobilization on education rights in Greece on January 9 into a mobilization for solidarity with Gaza:

“…Everyone must take a position:

–either with the victim or the executioner
–either with the Palestinians or with their murderers
–either with the peoples who fight or with the imperialists

…We are on the side of our student comrades in Palestine who have been murdered over these last days by Israeli fire.
Victory to the Palestinian people!”
Fighting zionism

The ties are concrete that link the police murder of Alexis Grigoropulos in Greece, the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, and the genocidal zionist assault on Gaza. The central role of the “US” and “Israel” in developing a global system of police repression has everything to do with their common history as colonial settler-states. As Aime Cesaire, Franz Fanon and others have written, it’s in the colonies that the methods, apparatus, and ideology of fascism developed. Concentration camps, special laws that expropriate whole populations based on “race,” and the systematic annihilation of peoples: Europe did this to Africa, the Arab world, and the Americas before turning to the interior. It’s in the settler colonies that whole new classes emerge whose livelihood depends on repression: the various military and paramilitary formations of the settler garrison become the police, mercenaries and prison guards of the totalitarian state. Germany, Italy and Spain recruited their own repressive forces from the colonies. The Algerian settlers became the most fascistic bloc of political power within France and threatened to seize control of the country and impose a military dictatorship as France began to back away from its colony.

Wherever the “pioneering frontier” is most active so also is the development of genocidal repressive power. The “US” contracts zionist mercenaries and companies to develop its own domestic security state. Elbit Systems–the “Israeli” company that designed and built the wall that is intended to starve communities in Palestine–was contracted to develop the “US” border wall with Mexico and flight security systems in airlines. Instinctive Shooting International–now renamed Security Systems International–provided “Israeli” mercenaries for “security” in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, and now regularly organizes trainings in “Israel” for “US” police and Homeland Security. Repression is now “Israel’s” most important global industry–all it really has to export.

The failure to confront zionism as ideology and as material power is a failure to confront a bloc of repressive, white-supremacist power within our own society. This has been a major weak point of social justice, anti-racist and anti-war organizing. To take the most obvious example, the strength of zionism within labor unions has been a major force for turning them into pro-imperialist institutions.

Solidarity

The Greeks have understood that solidarity means recognizing the concrete points of intersection where the fight becomes serious.

The US is dead center of the system of genocide and global repression. The physical apparatus is here in every major city and across the country in small towns: munitions factories, military bases, recruiting centers. Virtually every major university has its research institutions to develop instruments of mass murder, and its theoretical institutes to develop strategies of repressive power.

But this extensiveness is also its weakness. The main strategy of security is depoliticization: there is simply no way to defend so many nodes of violence from a movement that is serious about intefering with them.

The Greeks have given a small example of what such a movement might look like. Let’s stop the flow of weapons at the source.