The importance of the Palestinian struggle against apartheid, ethnic cleansing, colonialism

The attack by Sam Charles Hamad on the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement & his proposal for a bantustate solution for Palestinians has made me think about why the importance of the Palestinian struggle cannot be overstated. When I became involved in solidarity after the 1967 Six-Day War, my teachers were Palestinians, Arab student activists, older Jewish socialists, & activists from Matzpen, the Israeli socialist group (now defunct).

They elaborated the history & political character of Zionism, the history of terrorist war against Palestine, the colonial partition of Palestine, the establishment of Israel as a colonial-settler state, & the role of the US in militarizing Israel. Grounded in that history & theory from uncompromising supporters of Palestine, I have never questioned the just demands of the Palestinian people nor wavered in my commitment to them. But as the socialist movement began to fall apart & move to the right after the Vietnam War ended, there was a noticeable shift to the right on the question of Palestine among activists of my generation. Many became Zionists, opposed & campaigned against BDS, & some came right out & began calling Palestinians terrorists.

To my mind, turning your back or going all equivocal on the Palestinians is a staggering betrayal of the most fundamental principles of international solidarity, as unthinkable as turning one’s back on the Vietnamese during that war or on the Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Somalis, Yemenis, Kashmiris today. But of course, it’s of a piece because those who moved to the right & became Zionists also stopped organizing or participating in the antiwar movement.

It could be said that what makes Palestinians so important to Americans is the military role of the US in arming Israel as a fortress against democracy in the Middle East. But to my mind, what makes their struggle so monumental is that in 69 years of colonialism, apartheid, occupation, ethnic cleansing, they have never bent the knee to colonialism & militarism but have fought intransigently against all odds even though vilified as terrorists. Like the Kashmiri struggle, a Palestinian victory against colonialism would alter the relationship of forces around the world to the advantage of the oppressed. Long live Palestinian Intifada.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Palestine. Honor the economic & cultural boycott (BDS) of Israel. Buy nothing with barcode beginning 729.