Tuesday 13 January 2009

We Support the Resistance in Gaza

The recent massacres in Gaza demonstrate the zionists' capacity for violence. They also reveal their fear and weakness in the face of Palestinian armed resistance. Still humiliated by their defeat by Hizballah in Lebanon in 2006, they have chosen to inflict massive casualties on easy targets. The deliberate bombing of schools stands out among the atrocities, which now include the bombing of mosques, hospitals, ambulances, universities and all other forms of civilian infrastructure.

Because the assault comes after a regime of mass starvation–with people forced to eat animal feed in the months before the military attack–we can predict that the secondary casualties from lack of food, clean water and medicine will dwarf even the staggering numbers from the attack itself.
The current attack can only be seen as the culmination of a deliberate plan to starve and kill the people of Gaza. The portrayal of zionist actions in corporate media as "retaliatory" and Palestinian resistance as "provocation" falsifies the nature and history of the zionist state.

“Israel” is a colonial settler state founded on the racist ideology of zionism. It has followed the expansionist and genocidal logic of white supremacist, settler-colonialism for over 60 years: its aim is to completely eradicate the indigenous population — either by “transfer” or by total annihilation.

Historically, the only force that has stood between the zionists and the completion of this goal has been the armed resistance. It was the armed resistance of Palestinians in the 1930s that first forced the British to reconsider their goal of establishing a zionist state in Palestine. Armed resistance forced Ariel Sharon to scrap his plan in 2000 of bringing a million new settlers into the West Bank. Armed resistance drove Israel out of South Lebanon, and forced 5,000 settlers out of Gaza.

In the absence of armed resistance, zionist expansion has continued unhindered and without international attention–as in the case of the Naqab, where Bedouins have been driven from their traditional lands. As the collaborationist Palestinian Authority increasingly tightens its repression against resistance forces in the West Bank, settler atrocities against Palestinians —aimed at driving them from their land— now escalate unchecked.

Rockets fired from Gaza on settlements in ‘48 occupied Palestine (e.g. Sderot, Ashkelon) are not mere acts of symbolism: they have defeated the capacity of the zionist state to offer settlers "security." Since "security" is now the main promise which the state holds out to its settler population, this defeat is quite significant. It has prevented the zionists from achieving their “demographic” goals: deluging Palestine with fresh new waves of colonial invaders.

We recognize that Palestinian resistance follows in the tradition of many other indigenous peoples who have had to survive and defend themselves against colonialism. First Nations peoples in the Americas, enslaved Africans in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin and South America, the Zapatistas in Mexico, the Herero in Namibia, the Mau Mau in Kenya, Aborigines in Australia, Arabs in Iraq, and the Macheteros in Puerto Rico have all had to, and continue to, defend themselves against white supremacist violence and land theft.

All in the international community who support the Palestinian people in their fight against zionist oppression must also support their struggle against the colonization of their land. This means supporting not just the right to resist, but the resistance itself— recognizing both its legitimacy and its viability.

The resistance has issued statements asking all supporters worldwide to state their support for the legitimacy of the Palestinian resistance and recognize it as the sole alternative for Palestinian liberation. This was their only request.

We, the undersigned, answer this call:

1. We reject zionism as a white supremacist colonial ideology.
2. We recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian resistance as an expression of the will of the Palestinian people. This includes the right to decolonize all of historic Palestine by any means necessary.
3. We support the Palestinian resistance and acknowledge that it is the sole legitimate alternative in the fight for Palestinian liberation.
Long live the Palestinian Resistance!

Qawem Coalition
We are encouraging organizations to sign this statement by sending an e-mail to qawem@riseup.net . Names will be posted to the statement on our website: http://qawemcoalition.org

Pro-Resistance Coalition in Support of Palestine

People of good-will have been horrified by the most recent genocidal zionist assault on Gaza. Many have felt powerless to have any significant impact on it, but have still used the means at their disposal to express their outrage. Since neither the anti-war movement nor the Palestine solidarity movement have developed more serious forms of organized, oppositional power, these expressions of grief and anger have followed a well-worn pattern:

- Emergency demonstrations in front of the “Israeli” consulate

- Candle-light vigils for the people of Gaza

- Marches and rallies

With hundreds murdered within the first days of the bombing, and almost a thousand massacred by the third week, the sheer magnitude of atrocities committed by the zionist military in Palestine has brought groups together around the narrow call for an “end to the massacre in Gaza.”

Given the power that is currently organized in the US on the side of maintaining the zionist project, it is understandable that people who are earnestly searching for some way to intervene strategically on the Palestinian side would want to see the broadest possible coalition of forces around key goals. Regardless of political differences, and however conflicting the long-term goals of these forces may be, the crisis is felt to call for the broadest possible immediate action to stop an unfolding act of mass-murder.

As the zionists outdo themselves in the brutality of their military actions, this crisis-driven unity rears its head every few years. One thinks most immediately of the mass mobilizations that took place in 2002 after the bombing of Jenin and 2006 during the sustained air-assault on Lebanon.

But this unity not only fails to lead to more serious sustained action, it presents fundamental obstacles to the struggle for Palestinian liberation. These obstacles include:

1)A failure to denounce and reject zionism

2)A narrow reliance on marches, rallies, vigils and protests that have no impact

3)A co-opted and dangerous call for ‘unity’ between colonizing zionists and colonized Palestinians

4)A diffusion of resistance by channeling opposition into forms of protest that do not threaten the status-quo of occupation and war.

1. Failing to Denounce Zionism

By ignoring the implicit white-supremacist foundations of zionism, people are able to protest massacres while silently accepting the larger pattern of colonization. The message at the root of these actions seems to be one that denounces how Israel oppresses Palestinians (with ‘disproportionate’ violence) while silently accepting the racism, colonialism and violence implicit in “Israel’s” very existence.

As the violence of “massacres” becomes the exclusive object of protest, the violence of colonial settlement can be portrayed as “peace.” This also serves as one more weapon in the zionist propaganda arsenal: Palestinian resistance against the ordinary, daily violence of colonial oppression can be presented as “provocation,” and zionist violence as “retaliation.”

The failure to denounce zionism itself also means that zionists who object only to the most extreme policies of aggression are tolerated within a movement that should be guided exclusively by those who are fighting zionist oppression.

2. Rallies, Marches, Protests

Protests, marches, and rallies can be effective when they are part of a larger strategy of building and exerting power. This can take place when movements have a strong base and clearly articulated visions. If a union is considering a strike to enforce its demands, a mass demonstration of unity by workers is a direct threat to management. A million people mobilizing on the streets of Lebanon to demonstrate their opposition to foreign intervention aimed at disarming Hizballah was enough to scuttle a number of NATO plans. In both of these cases, the tactical meaning of demonstrations is an implicit threat: there is a next step after demonstrations, a threat that the powerful cannot ignore.

In both the anti-war and in the Palestine solidarity movements, there is no next step after marches and rallies, except more marches and rallies. Usually these marches and rallies will get big, then will taper off into smaller marches and rallies, and then will get big again in the face of the next crisis.

The marches and rallies alone fail to:

1) send a clear message in support of the Palestinian struggle for liberation through active resistance
2) have an immediate tactical impact on the machinery of genocide and war here where we live
3) become the launching point for more serious, sustained initiatives.

This is at least partly a consequence of the political forces involved in the current broad coalitions.

3. Unity between whom?

“Unity” in this case is not just the unity of more and less radical forces or of different social forces with limited shared goals. Because unity is formed around the call to “end the massacre,” it tends to include organized groups whose fundamental interest is in maintaining the state of “Israel”. They tend to be groups who think that massacres are a bad idea tactically (a real PR nightmare). For these groups, it is important to maintain support for “Israel” while at the same time objecting to the “cycle of violence” and calling for more “dialogue.”

In our current situation, these groups include people here who are tied to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority exists to administer the occupation and is now preparing to reap the benefits of the recent assault on Gaza. They are complicit in this US backed, zionist attempt to destroy the resistance. They have imprisoned and tortured members of the resistance. They have received guns and training from the “US” while promising not to use them against zionist invaders­that is to say, exclusively against Palestinians. Abbas has prepared an emergency cabinet to take control of Gaza when the zionist assault is over. While those tied to the Palestinian Authority need some kind of a stage from which to publicly proclaim their opposition to the attack, their condemnation of ‘Israeli’ attacks in Gaza keep them legitimate, but do not make them implicitly pro-resistance or pro-Palestinian liberation.

It has become clear that “unity” in this context includes forces who are against the resistance in Gaza and who oppose any real liberation for Palestinians. In any given coalition, these groups are more likely to have resources and sustained organizational infrastructures that put them in a much better position to project the message of collective action.

The main focus of political activity has been symbolic demonstrations that send a political message. That message fails to articulate unambiguous support for the Palestinian resistance, in this case military resistance in Gaza. These dangerous omissions negate the significance that such action might have. This is a crucial failure: political support for the legitimacy of the resistance is the single most important request that the Gaza resistance has asked of the broader international community.

4. Impact: Diffusing Resistance

Mass mobilizations in the streets carry with them the potential to disrupt the machinery of war and business.

One could better sympathize with limited calls for protest aimed at maximizing numbers if those numbers were being mobilized to do something to impede the infrastructure of mass murder. In six years of organizing against the war in Iraq, this goal has not crystallized. Any attempts at disruption of the imperialist war in Iraq have been limited to smaller groups in a few locations.

Here, once again, it is possible to see how the organizations involved in broad coalition work have functioned to keep anti-war actions on terrain that is safe and unthreatening to the war. These include groups who have functioned as appendages of the Democratic party who have used demonstrations as another stage for electioneering and self-promotion. At the root of their protests is not support for the Arab resistance and struggle for freedom, but alternately, progression of their own political and economic fortunes. Included in the types of coalitions who participate in co-opting sustainable, effective activism are left-wing party organizations that have used demonstrations primarily as a means of recruitment.

These types of coalitions diffuse resistance by providing avenues through which people can protest massacres while ensuring that these protests do not disrupt wars. These coalitions and their demonstrations allow people who feel ‘uncomfortable’ with massacres the ability to express this discomfort. Not organizing or supporting resistance beyond that, centralizes these demos within the consciousness of the demonstrating protestors. It becomes more about protestors’ feelings and anxieties than it does about stopping violent institutions and the states that perpetrate the bloodshed being protested.

Marches and rallies, if they did nothing else, could potentially be a way of getting new people involved in a movement with strategic goals. This is something different from mere recruitment to existing organizations and parties: it requires the building of credible initiatives by groups and individuals with shared goals that would allow us to exert power.

What We Can Do

Such strategic initiatives will not arise from coalition work with any of the forces already mentioned above. Zionists have a long history of involving themselves in “pro-Palestine” work in order to prevent Palestine solidarity from having any real consequences. Liberal democrats have worked hard to ensure that the anti-war movement does not organize demonstrations that might potentially harm the interests of Democratic Party war-mongers (Kerry in 2004; Obama in 2008).

Despite these ideological and structural obstacles, we need to build coalitions. In those coalitions, we need to hold serious strategy discussions, and from those strategy discussions, to build initiatives with both short-term and long-term goals. These initiatives cannot be the initiatives of any one group, but must be owned by a larger movement.

1) We need a coalition that is both anti-zionist and pro-resistance. Whatever immediate strategic action or initiative we may form, it must be guided by those who share the consensus that Palestinians have a right to reclaim all of their historic land by any means necessary.

2) We need a coalition that supports not only radical principles but radical actions. Such a coalition must be willing to look for ways to intervene tactically and to move beyond the script of rallies and demonstrations.

3) Out of that coalition, we need to set both short and long term goals and build movement infrastructure for achieving them.

The Qawem Coalition has come together to advance these goals:

- Supporting the resistance in its struggle to liberate all of historic Palestine
- Providing aid to Palestine that is not tied to political parties and organizations whose primary goal is to undercut support for the resistance
- Ending all “US” aid to “Israel”: military, economic and political
- Fighting colonialism and “US” imperialism here where we live If you are interested in joining the Qawem coalition (qawemcoalition.org), please write us at qawem@riseup.net. FREE PALESTINE!!!

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