Mohammed Khatib, the European coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, spoke at a series of events that were part of the Anaireseis Festival in several cities in Greece, including Patsas, Athens and Thessaloniki on 2, 3 and 4 June. These events came as Samidoun is playing an active role in Greece in mobilizing for an upcoming protest in Thessaloniki on 15 June against the planned visit of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Anaireseis Festival is organized by the NAR (New Left Current) and the Youth for Communist Liberation, as well as the involvement of the ANTARSYA radical left coalition. Thousands of people attended the festival in various cities, which combines musical performances with political analysis and discussion on key issues facing the Greek movement and international strugglers for justice.
Khatib was part of one of the main panels repeated in the three cities: “War in our neighborhood: For an anti-war, internationalist response.” Alongside Khatib, one of the highlighted international speakers was Levent Tuzel of the Labor Party (EMEP) in Turkey; however, he was forbidden by the Turkish state from traveling outside the country and blocked from participation. Instead, Mustafa Tas, representing EMEP in Greece, participated in the panel with sharp denunciations of the ongoing repression of the Turkish state against progressive activists, journalists, politicians, labor organizers and parliamentarians.
On behalf of Samidoun, Khatib thanked the festival organizers and emphasized the solidarity of the Palestinian people and the revolutionary Palestinian left with the Greek people against the current SYRIZA-ANEL government that broke its promises to the Greek people to instead play a subservient role to the EU, European banks and capital , the United States and Israel. He also expressed solidarity with the people in Turkey facing ongoing oppression at the hands of a reactionary state.
Khatib emphasized the call to protest the war criminal Netanyahu, who will be in Greece on 15 June for a so-called economic and security summit in Thessaloniki. “This visit is a threat to the Palestinian people and the Greek people. We fully condemn the growing relationship between the current Greek government with the Israeli apartheid state as a threat to the wealth, resources and fundamental human rights and solidarity of all people in the region,” Khatib emphasized.
He noted the statement of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on the visit of Netanyahu, in which the PFLP:
“urged all friendly Greek forces and parties to fight the intensifying political, military and economic ties between Greece and the Zionist entity, which necessarily come at the expense of the Palestinian and Arab people whose resources and rights have been confiscated by the occupier, while opening the wealth of the Greek people to looting by the U.S. and Zionist state. The Front denounced the role of the Syriza-ANEL government in escalating this relationship between Greece and the Zionist occupation state to unprecedented levels at the expense of the Greek and Palestinian peoples and their gas and water wealth and resources. The Front confirmed that this path of betting on the U.S. and Zionism to solve the economic crisis will fail.”
Khatib emphasized that “The growing relationship does not only mean that war criminals will come to meet and then go home. Instead, our people are paying a big price and a price in blood. The gas the Greek police use against the social movements is also used in Israel and the security technologies of repression and oppression used here are exported from Israel.” He denounced the intensified gas deals between Greece and the Israeli occupation, noting that “The gas deals are stealing the wealth of our people to pay off the EU to solve their crisis at the expense of the Greek and Palestinian people. Academic cooperation between Greek and Israeli universities and study centers are based on serving systems of repression and developing weaponry to be tested on the Palestinian people.”
He urged all present to come to Thessaloniki on 15 June to demonstrate that the Greek people reject the presence of Netanyahu and the ongoing SYRIZA-ANEL deals with the occupation state. He also emphasized the importance of building the boycott of Israel, starting with these gas and water deals expropriating the wealth of the Palestinian and Greek people for the benefit of exploiters and oppressors, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Khatib also provided an overview of the current situation in Palestine. He emphasized the struggle of the Palestinian prisoners, recalling the “40 days of empty stomachs” in the Battle of Freedom and Dignity carried out by 1500 Palestinian prisoners. “Our people in the West Bank are struggling every day for their existence against the settlers and the brutal occupation army that is killing our children and sending them to military court. There are nearly 400 Palestinian children in Israeli jails today,” Khatib said.
He also focused on the siege on Gaza and throughout Palestine. “Our people in Gaza are struggling in daily life after more than 10 years of siege by the apartheid state, with the assistance of the reactionary Egyptian regime. Despite this, they are building resistance by all means in everyday life through a culture of resistance from generation to generation,” Khatib said. “Our people in 1948 are struggling for their rights and identity under a Zionist state that is attempting to erase their very existence through its colonial war machine.”
“Today, as we struggle for the rights and protection of refugees here in Greece, we are also more than seven million Palestinian refugees in diaspora struggling for our rights in exile and for our right to return and to liberate our homeland, Palestine,” Khatib said.
He emphasized the united role of Zionism, Israel, US imperialism and local reactionary regimes in suppressing popular movements. “Israel is attempting to promote itself in the region as a ‘modern’ settler colonial state like the US, Canada and Australia, especially amid war in the region – in which Israel is deeply involved, alongside NATO, the EU and the US as colonial powers. The US and other colonial powers maintain military bases or engage in direct military intervention throughout the region. Colonialism and imperialism takes different shapes from Syria to Jordan to Egypt and to Morocco. In fact, the NATO base in Greece was used to bomb Syria just last month.”
Khatib noted that 2017 marks 100 years of the Balfour declaration and European colonization in Palestine, but also marks 100 years of the October Revolution and a promise of struggle for liberation. “Palestinians have been struggling for 100 years and even before then in rejection of the Ottoman empire,” Khatib said.
He noted the speech of right-wing Greek defense minister Panos Kammenos in occupied Jerusalem at the Begin-Sadat center in which he called for a regional alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel to stretch throughout the region. “Our response should be the same – one revolutionary front that we must organize, from Palestine to Turkey to Greece to Ukraine, defending and struggling for our independence, self-determination and liberation against fascism, racism, Zionism and colonialism.”
Many organizations, including political parties, trade unions, social movements and the Palestinian community, are participating in the call to action to confront Netanyahu with mass movement in Thessaloniki on 15 June. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all supporters of Palestine in Greece to join the mobilization in support of the Palestinian people and the action to confront Netanyahu and declare that he is not welcome in Greece.