Mohammed Khatib, European coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, urged Greek popular movements and left organizations to fight back against the growing threat of gas deals with the Israeli state, including the “EastMed” pipeline, to market stolen Palestinian and Greek gas at the Resistance Festival on 30 September.
The Resistance Festival, organized annually by Dromos newspaper in Athens, Greece, included several programs and events focusing on the Palestinian struggle for liberation as part of its international program. The event brings together Greek movements for justice together with delegations from Puerto Rico, Argentina, Lebanon, Palestine, Bolivia, Norway, Italy, Spain, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Scotland and elsewhere.
Carlos Latuff, the Brazilian cartoonist well-known for his many iconic images on the Palestinian liberation struggle, was a featured speaker at the festival, which ran for two days and included musical performances and films as well as political events. Held at the University of Fine Arts in Athens, the festival drew 5,500 participants. Álvaro García Linera, the Deputy President of Bolivia, was also featured at the event.
Khatib spoke on 30 September on a panel discussing events in the Arab world and the region along with Palestinian lawyer Jehad Abu Raya, Lebanese activist Nabil Hallak and Yemeni organizer Yahya Saleh, as well as the presentation of a letter to the Festival from imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Saleh began the panel by speaking about the Kanaan organization for Palestine in Yemen as well as the historical, mass solidarity with Palestine among the Yemeni people. He also denounced the Saudi “coalition” attacking Yemen with the support of the U.S. and other imperialist powers, urging action to stop the bloody war on Yemen.
In his presentation, Khatib focused on the growing relationship under the SYRIZA government between Greece and Israel, especially in military and economic cooperation. “The gas deal is a tool to steal Palestinian resources and exert control over Greece and its people. It aims to tie Greek resources to a colonial power to benefit the elite and multinational corporations,” he said. He saluted the Yemeni people who continue to come out and demonstrate in massive numbers for Palestine while under bombs. “This is a lesson to us and to all Arab peoples engaged in struggles..in Yemen they know how much the Palestinian struggle is related to their struggle to defeat the Arab reactionary regimes, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt,” Khatib said.
He discussed the current situation in Palestine and the struggle of the political prisoners in Israeli jails, noting that there are over 6,200 Palestinians jailed in occupation prisons, including hundreds of child prisoners. He also touched on the recent reconciliation agreement between Fateh and Hamas, noting that what was needed for the Palestinian people was national unity, including “unity in struggle and on the ground,” and not simply “power sharing in the Palestinian Authority between the major parties that represent the right-wing of Palestinian politics for the benefit of Palestinian capitalists. What we truly need is to unite all Palestinian political organizations and institutions, social movements and parties in one front to liberate our country and people and achieve victory.”
“The Palestinian people are not divided in their national goals, but we are physically divided, isolated and besieged, in cities, camps and villages, in Palestine and in diaspora, because of apartheid, occupation and Zionism,” said Khatib.
“Palestinians in Europe, in exile and diaspora, are struggling here for our rights as refugees and for our right to return and liberate our country and our people,” he said. “The name of this festival is the Resistance Festival, and this – resistance – is the only path forward for us as a Palestinian people, for the Greek people, the Yemeni people and every social movement and people struggling for justice and equality in the world.”
Abu Raya, in turn, spoke about the Balfour Declaration and the role of British colonialism in creating the Zionist colonial occupation in Palestine. He also emphasized the role of Palestinians in occupied Palestine ’48 in the national liberation struggle and provided a close examination of the current situation and apartheid policies of the Israeli state, including racism, ghettoization, land theft and criminalization.
Khatib presented Sa’adat’s letter to the Festival, as follows:
We are writing to you today from the depths of the prison cells in occupied Palestine to salute the struggling people of Greece and to salute the organizers, comrades and participants of the Resistance Festival, a critical framework for international solidarity. We are pleased to participate in this important festival every year, as we did last year when Comrade Leila Khaled was your guest.
Needless to say, the relationship between our two peoples, the Palestinian people and the Greek people, is unshakable, historical, strong and deeply rooted. We know that it will always remain such so long as we stand together on the side of justice, liberation, democracy and equality.
Our two peoples have sacrificed so much in order to achieve these goals and guarantee peace and justice in our homelands. The working class of Greece and the working class of Palestine have been on the front lines of confrontation of imperialism, Zionism and reactionary and fascist forces. We also want to salute all those who participated in the demonstrations confronting Israeli war criminal Netanyahu and responding to our call to reject such visits with a symbol of racism, Zionism, apartheid and occupation. The demonstrations that took the streets in Athens and Thessaloniki resonated here behind prison walls in Palestine and showed clearly that the heart of the people of Greece is in one valley, and the position of your current government is in quite another.
We know that we have a common and important task today, to confront and struggle against the imposition of exploitative gas deals for the benefit of gas corporations that seek to exploit and plunder the resources of both of our people. Israel wants to steal the gas resources of the Palestinian people to serve as an instrument of domination and hegemony across the region, imposed via its “special relationship” with the United States and backed up by threatening military might. It seeks to align with European and international corporations to not only confiscate the wealth of the Palestinian people, but also to exploit the resources of the Greek people, not to fund the needs of Greece but to line the pockets of the capitalist exploiters.
Today, our people are entering 100 years of struggle against Zionism and imperialism. Since 1917, our people have been confronting colonization, settler occupation, apartheid and reactionary regimes. Throughout these years, we have accumulated a historical experience that will ensure the continuation of this struggle until our complete and inevitable victory ? the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea. Once again, we extend our salute to every Greek worker and student, to every struggler, to every political prisoner, to youth and women organizing, to the children of Greece. We send our strongest solidarity in common struggle to achieve all of the goals of the Greek people’s movements for true justice.
We salute the leadership of the labor movement and the student organizations in popular movements confronting capitalism and imperialism in Greece, and we also express our appreciation for the warm embrace that the people of Greece have shown for refugees and displaced peoples amid the context of the harsh economic conditions created by the policies of the European Union and international financial institutions in order to devour the wealth of the Greek people. All of our peoples are standing together, as victims of imperialist aggression and attack who together seek not only survival, but freedom, resistance and liberation.
The event was attended by Greek supporters of Palestine, including the Ghassan Kanafani Front, as well as Palestinian community organizers in Athens, including members of Jafra Foundation, the Palestinian Workers Union and a group of young Palestinian refugees from Syria.