Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Why We Are Rallying This Weekend

We are rallying for peace, justice and reconciliation, for dignity and the right of Palestinians to live peacefully on their land. We are rallying against the brutal occupation and apartheid laws and practices. Israel must reconcile itself to peace and to the region if it is to finally attain legitimacy and acceptance in the world community, and security for itself.

We are rallying because, allegorically, we are all Palestinians.

We are rallying because we ask not for whom the bell tolls (Donne), because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (King).

We are rallying to end the Occupation in its engine-room, the Israeli-occupied territory of Washington DC that allows the Likudnik neocons to invade and pillage any country they choose to bully, threatening human life, peaceful co-existence and common dignity everywhere. We rally in many cities but perhaps Washington is the most important in this respect.

We are rallying for Palestine, for Iraq, for Afghanistan, for Lebanon, for Somalia, for all populations that have suffered from being theatres of war, or threatened with the prospect.

We are rallying because, to update the great words of Pastor Martin Niemöller for the new millennium:

First they came for the immigrants,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t an immigrant.
Then they came for the Palestinians,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Palestinian.
Then they came for the Muslims,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Muslim.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was not a union member.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

We are rallying to reclaim our agency and because another world is possible achievable.

Pertinent links (just from the last day or two):

Social Bookmarks:

Ali Abunimah writes (bold emphasis mine):

“Forty years ago today was the last day the citizens of Israel were a free people in their own land,” wrote Ha’aretz columnist Akiva Eldar on June 4. “It was the last day we lived here without living other peoples’ lives.”

This sums up the cherished mythology of what is still called the Israeli left and much of the international peace process industry — that prior to the 1967 war, Israel was pure and on the right path. Had it not “become an occupier” the region would have had a happier history and Israel would be an accepted member of the international community rather than a pariah wearing the “apartheid” label.

The exclusive focus on the occupation serves increasingly to obscure that the conflict in Palestine is at its core a colonial struggle whose boundaries do not conveniently coincide with the lines of June 4, 1967.

I do not often agree with leaders of the settler movement, but they speak a truth Israeli and American liberals prefer to ignore when they point out that the settlements in Gaza and the West Bank built after 1967 are not morally different from towns and kibbutzim inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The Israel that was created in 1948 was established on land violently expropriated from ethnically-cleansed Palestinians. Israel has been maintained as a “Jewish state” only by the imposition of numerous laws that maintain the inferior status of its Palestinian citizens and forcibly exclude Palestinian refugees.

Even Israelis who condemn the occupation support these racist laws. There is an Israeli consensus that it is legitimate to defend the Jewish state against the so-called “demographic threat” from Palestinians who will be again, as they were prior to 1948, the majority population group in Palestine-Israel despite six decades of Israeli efforts to reduce their numbers with expulsions, massacres and administrative ethnic cleansing. It is the imperative to gerrymander an enclave with a Jewish majority rather than any recognition of Palestinian equality that underpins whatever limited rhetorical Israeli support exists for a Palestinian state.

The slogan “end the occupation” has come to mean all things to all people. For Israel’s ruling elites, the quisling leaders of Fateh and the Quartet it can even include Israel’s permanent annexation of most settlements. Demanding an end to the occupation only so Israel can continue to function as a racist ethnocracy within “recognized borders” is not a progressive position any more than supporting apartheid South Africa’s bantustans would have been.

Because Israel’s colonialism harms all Palestinians, not just those living in the 1967 occupied territories, we cannot limit ourselves to demanding that the 40-year old infrastructure of military dictatorship be dismantled in the West Bank and Gaza. We must simultaneously demand the abolition of all racist laws throughout the country, including those allowing foreign Jews to immigrate while Palestinians are kept out, as well as discrimination in land allocation, housing, education and the economy.

We must recast the struggle as one for democracy and equal rights for all the people who live in the country. This involves two kinds of work: solidarity in the form of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli apartheid system in all its disguises, and the articulation of a vision of a shared future inspired by the values of the peace settlements in Northern Ireland and South Africa. Leaders of Israel’s one million Palestinian citizens have put forward imaginative and concrete proposals for democratization and equality. They are already paying the price: Israel’s Shin Bet secret police has received official blessing to subvert even legal activities that challenge the superior rights reserved for Jews. Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza have failed to offer a compelling vision, even though many recognize that the two-state solution is a mirage.

Of course Israelis will not easily give up their privileges any more than whites in Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi did in the face of the American civil rights movement. But racism is not a lifestyle choice the rest of the world is obligated to respect. Determined movements can bring about transformations that seem scarcely imaginable from the depths of the gloom. We have seen enough shining examples to maintain our hope and inspire us to action.

Ali Abunimah is cofounder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse

This article was originally published by bitterlemons-international, Edition 22 volume 5 – June 07, 2007.

7 comments on “Why We Are Rallying This Weekend

  1. michaelgreenwell
    7 June, 2007

    thanks for the links

  2. peoplesgeography
    7 June, 2007

    You’re welcome Michael. Wish I had time to blog on this right now, but these link picks are certainly worth people’s time in that stead

  3. Servant
    7 June, 2007

    Thanks for the goose! :D

  4. peoplesgeography
    7 June, 2007

    Thanks for learning me that new colloquialism, Serv. Its added to my edyoumacation. ;)

    Slang A poke, prod, or pinch between or on the buttocks.
    tr.v. goosed, goos·ing, goos·es Slang
    1. To poke, prod, or pinch (a person) between or on the buttocks.
    2. To move to action; spur: goosed the governor to sign the tax bill.

  5. Pingback: Rallies For Justice « Complex System Of Pipes

  6. JamieSW
    9 June, 2007

    Cheers for this!

  7. peoplesgeography
    9 June, 2007

    Cheers Jamie and keep up the great work

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"