On 1 May 2021, the Alternative Palestinian Path (Masar Badil) and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network organized an online event on Arab and international dimensions of the liberation of Palestine, in the context of the vision for an alternative revolutionary path of Palestinian struggle on International Workers’ Day.
The speakers at the event were Charlotte Kates, Samidoun’s international coordinator, and Aimen Rumeida, a member of the local preparatory committee for the Alternative Palestinian Path conference in Germany, and of Samidoun Deutschland. The event was moderated by Mohammed Khatib, Samidoun’s Europe coordinator and a member of the Preparatory Committee of the conference.
The event took place over Zoom with English, Arabic and Spanish translation. The video above presents the English language audio (Charlotte Kates spoke in English originally while Aimen Rumeida spoke in Arabic. To watch the original video with English/Arabic mixed audio, please see this Facebook video)
The full text of both speeches in English is below:
Thank you to the Masar Badil – the Alternative Palestinian Path – and our comrades in Samidoun for organizing today’s event. And thank you to the comrades who are providing live interpretation today. Many comrades were out on the streets today in cities around the world, holding high the Palestinian flag, the banners of struggle, and the promise for justice and liberation, and this meeting today is a further continuation of this work.
It is important that we meet today, on 1 May, International Workers’ Day, the day of the oppressed of the world recognizing their power, strength and ability to confront and overturn the systems of capitalism, exploitation and imperialism that cause so much misery to the world. It is also an opportunity to reflect upon, draw lessons from and strategize for the international movement that is necessary as part of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and for the Arab movement that is necessary. Since comrade Aimen will be focusing on the Arab dimension of the struggle, I will focus primarily on the international dimension outside the Arab region.
Of course, we begin with the famous quote of Ghassan Kanafani, “The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary, wherever he is, as a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.” This was not only a rhetorical call to action for the people of the world, but also a recognition that the Palestinian struggle was and remains Palestinian, Arab and international, reflecting the array of enemies faced by the Palestinian people and the necessary forces that must be mobilized to challenge those enemies.
The Zionist regime was not imposed on Palestine and could not have been without the active involvement, armament and financial and logistical support of the British colonizer. Today, the “Israeli” regime receives $3.8 billion each year from US imperialism, making the Zionist project essentially a U.S. military base by which to threaten the Arab people and all surrounding peoples. Theodor Herzl himself sought out Cecil Rhodes to pursue “a colonial matter.” The history of Zionism is one of European colonialism and Western imperialism imposed upon the Palestinian people and the Arab people more broadly, and it is critical to assert a clear anti-imperialist movement that stands with the Palestinian people and their resistance to bring down and defeat that bulwark of imperialism in the region.
May 1 is international workers’ day, and it is the workers of the world who are the greatest targets of imperialism, of exploitation of their labour and the resources of entire nations for the benefit of the ruling class in the imperialist countries of the center. The devastation of the planet, the confiscation of land and resources, and the brutal exploitation of labour is part and parcel of imperialism and capitalism. It is not possible to imagine an international movement for the liberation of Palestine that is not fundamentally anti-imperialist, that does not firmly reject all forms of U.S., Canadian or European-sponsored regime change initiatives, sanctions wars, and military interventions, all of which are based on maintaining that devastating global imbalance of power. It must be clear to those of us organizing in the imperialist core that the enemy is at home, and that enemy is the greatest enemy of all peoples in the world seeking a future of freedom, justice and liberation.
In this context, when we think about an international movement for Palestine, we often think first of expressions of solidarity that are de-linked from this broader struggle, expressions that may be symbolic in nature.
However, the first and foremost international alliance of the Palestinian movement are the liberation movements of the world, of the global South, of those who are resisting imperialism and exploitation. These include the mass movements in places like Brazil, who while confronting land confiscation, anti-indigenous violence, and incipient fascism, insist on holding high the Palestinian flag as a sign of their global commitment to resistance and solidarity. But it also includes those states fighting back against imperialism. Let us look at Bolivia. The victory of the MAS over the US-sponsored coup in Bolivia was a victory for Palestine, as well as for the people of Bolivia, and for everyone in the world seeking justice and liberation.
The same is true for the liberation movements inside the countries of the imperialist core, for example the Black liberation movement and the fight for Indigenous sovereignty and liberation in North America. These are critical examples of mutual solidarity that were not forged in the past five or six years but in fact involve shared histories of struggle going back decades. The alliances built today are built on the framework of the relationships between the Palestine Liberation Organization (at the time when it was a different PLO than the one we know today), the Palestinian revolutionary movements and organizations and these liberation movements.
Palestinian camps engaged in military training of revolutionaries from around the world, from Ireland to South Africa. And this was a responsibility that was well illustrated in the classic poster – translated into many languages – by Ismail Shammout – of the Vietnamese fighter handing off the flag of victory to the Palestinian fedayee or freedom fighter – that is, Palestinian resistance and revolution receiving support from the revolutionary fighters of the world and continuing to extend that support to the revolutionary fighters challenging imperialism everywhere.
Of course, these ties were not only military in nature or related to training! Far from it — in an example of how international advocacy in fora like the United Nations could be used for liberatory practice rather than acceptance of imperialist control, Palestinians at the United Nations offered their office, space and representative voice to Native Liberation organizations in the United States fighting for indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. The nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America, rejecting colonialism, also raised their voices in support of Palestine. This is the context that produced UN Resolution 3379, the famous resolution that “determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”.
And of course, this was not only the case for the movements of the Global South or even the liberation movements of colonized peoples within the imperialist core. There is a very strong history of meaningful solidarity with Palestine from the Left throughout Europe and also in North America. I want to encourage everyone to read the historical documents available of this period. Not because we want to copy and paste from history into today’s context; it is not possible to do that. We cannot simply idealize the past, we need to put into practice what is necessary today. But there was a tremendous movement of solidarity with Palestine that recognized the centrality of the Palestinian struggle to defeating imperialism and capitalism, of international joint struggle and alliance, and it has significant lessons for our movement today.
The Palestinian refugee camps, in Jordan and then in Lebanon, were a point for global interaction between revolutionary movements – much as Cairo and Algiers also were. Activists, organizers and revolutionaries came to the camps to organize medical clinics, plan kindergartens, and join the Palestinian revolution. It must be noted here that these were not charity projects or NGOs, these were revolutionary mechanisms of serving the people, created by the Palestinian Revolution, with international support and participation based not on grants and program officers but simply on mutual struggle for a better world. It was in this context that Marc Rudin became the graphic designer whose work symbolized the Palestinian struggle for many. It is in this context that revolutionaries in Europe in some cases took up arms together with Palestinian freedom fighters, or built solidarity movements, or expanded boycott campaigns and solidarity actions, all proudly and openly proclaimed in support of the Palestinian Revolution or the Palestinian revolutionary left, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
And here is where we must ask: What happened? Why is this relatively recent history often seen as so inaccessible and distant?
And of course, we can answer this with the Madrid-Oslo path.
The years of Madrid and Oslo, however, are not accidental. When we look back in 2021 on 30 years of Madrid, we are also looking back on 30 years of the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc in Eastern Europe. We are looking back on 30 years of the Iraq War or the “first Gulf war”. We are looking back on 30 years of the proclamations of inevitably victorious capitalism and the “end of history.” Madrid and Oslo were, in large part, also products of the same series of imperialist attacks and illusory integration into the capitalist system of their time. The revocation of UN Resolution 3379 was a condition for Israel’s participation in Madrid, and that participation itself was not a step toward peace or security for Palestinians or for the Arab people or people more broadly – it was an attempt to impose defeat upon the Palestinian people. Madrid and Oslo and the “peace process” are the products of imperialism, and as much as by this point, 30 years later, almost everyone speaks of the death of Oslo or its failure, noting the catastrophic escalation in settlements, deprivation of Palestinian rights, mass incarceration, fascist violence, Zionist supremacism, exploitation and siege of all forms, but the question remains? Was Oslo, was Madrid, a failure? Certainly, for the Palestinian people. But for Zionism and imperialism?
They did not attain the goals they sought to achieve: the permanent dismantlement, counter-insurgency, pacification and erasure of the Palestinian people and their revolutionary struggle for return and liberation, from the river to the sea. Palestinians continue to rise, to resist, to fight back. People around the world continue to struggle, to seek liberation, to fight capitalism and exploitation. On International Workers’ Day, the workers of the world are striking, organizing and fighting. They take up arms in the countryside in the Philippines and they march in the millions in India and they join a Bolivarian commune in Venezuela and they take up a union organizing drive in an Amazon warehouse.
And so it is clear: Yes, an alternative revolutionary path is needed! For Palestinians, but for the international left. And let us be clear here, it is obvious that it is not the Left leading the Palestinian movement today. And there are many reasons for that. But we in the Left, particularly in the imperialist core, are not doing all that we need to do to be a real partner for the Palestinian revolutionary Left or for the Palestinian resistance more broadly, which encompasses a far broader framework and must be supported by all progressive and revolutionary forces in the world. And that is putting it mildly. We have a responsibility to do all we can to learn from those movements who came before, who dedicated themselves to the international revolution, and who always were clear on the need to fight the real enemy, which can only be found at home.
The devastation of Madrid and Oslo and their nature as a product of imperialism makes it all the more clear why an international leg of this alternative revolutionary Palestinian path is necessary. This is the alternative to Madrid and Oslo, and the alternative to the Palestinian Authority, which we must not make the mistake of considering a solely or even primarily Palestinian project. The PA is created, funded and trained by the United States on the “security” side – that is, the side that imprisons and tracks the Palestinian resistance and engages in security coordination with Israel – and on the social side by the European Union.
This Palestinian initiative is based on reclaiming, upholding and recognizing – for a 21st century world – the international revolutionary legacy and leadership of the Palestinian revolution, towards return and liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea, and as a leading role in the international movement confronting capitalism and imperialism. Further, we must also recognize and build upon the active engagement of Palestinians in exile and diaspora in popular social movements around the world, in terms of building alliances, upholding the rights of migrants and refugees, and confronting fascist attacks.
I look forward to continuing the discussion. Before I conclude, I want to address: What can we do? What do we see as the future, as what is necessary, as Samidoun? We organize to defend Palestinian political prisoners because we organize to defend, uphold and affirm the Palestinian resistance. This is a political defense, and it also means engaging with and building mass movements. We invite you to join Samidoun, and we also invite you to donate to support our work. I’ll put the links in the chat.
As imprisoned Palestinian leader Kamil Abu Hanish wrote in 2017, “The sons and daughters of the popular classes of Palestine, the workers, the farmers in the villages, the refugees of the camps, have always been the leaders and the driving force of our Palestinian national liberation movement. The Palestinian popular classes have been the freedom fighters, the strugglers and the resisters on the front lines, confronting the occupation and Zionist colonization in Palestine. And so it is the case that the popular classes of Palestine fill the ranks of the Israeli prisons, the builders of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement continuing on the front lines of resistance, building the ongoing Palestinian revolution.”
Further, this also means turning the siege onto the occupier, the colonizer, the oppressor. This means also building the boycott of Israel, the international isolation of the Zionist project. On International Workers’ Day, one of the most important places for that struggle is inside the Labor movement. Particularly the boycott of the Histadrut, the Zionist “labor union” that in reality is aligned with the Zionist ruling class at the expense of Palestinian workers and therefore, the workers of the world. The boycott of Israel should and indeed must be aligned with supporting all of Palestinians’ rights – to liberate their land, to return home, to defend their lives and people and resist colonization and oppression. It is not an alternative to Palestinian resistance, it is an international mechanism to support the Palestinian people and their resistance movement and to put a brake on the war machine. Some people doing great work in this regard are Palestine Action in the UK with their direct actions against Elbit, Israeli arms manufacturer.
This also certainly means organizing to confront imperialism. To push back against the war drives against China. To fight the sanctions, invasions, war drives against Syria, Iran, Venezuela and one-third of the people of the world. To stand together with those fighting the greatest force for devastation today, US imperialism and its partners in Europe, Canada and elsewhere. This is the path to the liberation of Palestine.
I began with one quote from Kanafani and will close with another: “Imperialism has layed its body over the world, the head in Eastern Asia, the heart in the Middle East, its arteries reaching Africa and Latin America. Wherever you strike it, you damage it, and you serve the World Revolution.”
1 May 2021
Palestine and the Alternative Revolutionary Path: Towards an Arab and international vision — Aimen Rumeida (Translated from Arabic — download the original Arabic file here)
Friends and comrades, greetings to the victorious Palestinian revolution, greetings to the Arab liberation movement, greetings to the progressive international forces, greetings of struggle on the path to liberation and return.
On behalf of the local committee for the revolutionary Alternative Palestinian Path (Masar Badil) in Germany, I am speaking with you today on International Workers’ Day, 1 May, in which the voice of the workers is heard everywhere in the world, the voice of the impoverished and marginalized classes, announcing the continuation of struggle against the forces of injustice, exploitation and subjugation, and against the brutality and barbarism represented by the capitalist, imperialist and reactionary forces, the enemy of humanity, and the most dangerous of those, the Zionist racist forces.
These imposed an illegitimate entity in the heart of the Arab nation as aa spearhead for a Western imperialist project, targeting the presence of our Arab people on their land, working to exterminate and destroy them and not only control and subjugate them, one of the most severe crimes in history.
In this intervention, I will mainly address the issue of the Arab dimension of the alternative revolutionary Palestinian path, which cannot be separated from the Palestinian dimension of the Arab cause or from the international dimension of this cause. Equally important is the issue of the Arab liberation movement, which must be discussed in line with its local, regional and global levels. This intervention will be based on three main points: 1) the dialectical relationship between the liberation of Palestine and the liberation of the Arab world; 2) the role of the Arab revolutionary vanguard in the current stage of struggle; 3) Practical steps to achieve victory.
1) The dialectical relationship between the liberation of Palestine and the liberation of the Arab world:
There is no time here to delve into the historical considerations, which are necessary preludes to understanding the Arab-Zionist conflict, because deep awareness of historical facts necessitates a return to distant eras, from Rome’s conflict with Carthage, to the European renaissance, the Crusades and the Ottoman occupation. In this context, we should emphasize cultural and epistemological issues of the utmost importance, such as the conditions that shape Arab identity through the fusion of ancient civilizations due to common language, geographical location, and other natural characteristics in formulating a material or scientific understanding of events and developments.
All of this, despite its importance, does not prevent us from moving directly to the central thesis, in two parts: 1) the Arab struggle for freedom, dignity, justice, progress and prosperity is one struggle throughout the Arab world. The question that was asked in the 1960s and 1970s – and by the way, the stage is in many ways very similar today: Will the liberation of Palestine lead to Arab unity, or vice versa? This question jumps to the issue of liberating the Arab world. Because whoever asked it presupposed the independence of the Arab countries, a slogan that history has proven invalid. We in the Arab world, in all Arab countries, are still in a stage of national liberation. We do not have an independent decision or sovereignty over our homeland, because we are subjected to reactionary client regimes hostile to the people, working to serve the goal of foreign projects. This new, indirect or neo-colonial imperialism is prevalent in the region, with the exception of Palestine, where we face direct expulsion, settler-colonialism and destruction – and with the exception of what we have witnessed and are witnessing in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, of direct foreign invasion.
And for the second part of the thesis: 2 – the Palestinian revolution is the vanguard of the Arab national liberation movement. This is because it stands on the front line against the enemy camp, whch consists of Zionism and the Zionist entity, the imperialist and colonialist powers and the Arab reactionaries. Based on all of this, the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine from the river to the sea, it is not only the duty of every person dedicated to freedom in the world, considering that the defeat of the Zionist project is a major blow to capitalism and imperialism. The liberation of Palestine is a national duty of every Arab, to defend themselves from imminent danger, as the Zionist project is an existential threat to the Arab nation that works diligently to prevent every Arab project for meaningful development and destroy all Arab hopes for progress and prosperity. The Zionist enemy is an enemy of Arab existence and an enemy of all sectors of Arab society, especially the impoverished classes who have a material interest in revolution against injustice, exploitation and subjugation.
Examples that can be enumerated here that confirm this role of the Zionist project in the crises and tragedies of the Arabs world, include direct air strikes, the assassination of scholars, the industry of sabotage and violence, economic conspiracies of corruption and unemployment, forced migration, and even can be felt from the Renaissance Dam to the prot of Beirut. We are clear that the Zionist project will not pass without consequence, facing an Arab nation of half a billion people, with thousands of years of strength. Our victory is a historical inevitability, without a doubt.
2) The role of the Arab revolutionary vanguard in the current stage of struggle
First, we must clearly see that the historical task of the Arab people in our time is the task of liberation as a condition for the possibility of long-term construction: the liberation of Palestine and the liberation of the Arab homeland in their comprehensive meanings, that is, the liberation of humanity, the liberation of the mind, and the liberation of the land. This inclusiveness and interdependence logically lead to the importance of the comprehensive Arab revolution against all forces of the enemy camp and all their consequences of subjugation, dependency and backwardness. The path to emancipation, liberation and progress is to declare a relentless path of struggle against the Zionist project, which affects everything in the Arab nation. The absence of this revolutionary awareness that we are facing an imminent danger represented by the Zionist entity with all its extensions, is centrally connected for the end of the project of the Arab revolt which erputed in late 2010 and early 2011, with effects in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria, with recent repercussions in Lebanon, Iraq and Sudan. A central reason for the victory of the counter-revolution and the incursion of foreign aggression against the Arab people in all countries lies in the decline of revolutionary awareness of the role of the Zionist enemy in tearing the Arab homeland apart and waging all forms of wars against it.
Naturally, this reason complements other causes in order to lead us to the gravity and seriousness of the current situation. The other reason for this temporary defeat is the absence of a revolutionary organization capable of leading the rising masses of our people and capable of deterring the regimes of betrayal and shame that would not have dared to ally with the enemies of the Arab people had it not been for the absence of revolutionary organizations to strike back against betrayal.
Here, the task of building revolutionary organization emerges as the beating heart and living essence of the mission of comprehensive liberation. Here, the role of the Arab revolutionary vanguards is evident in mobilizing all energies and providing all the ingredients for success in the process of building modern Arab revolutionary organizations that lead the Arab national liberation movement in general and its Palestinian vanguard in particular in order to achieve the goals of the Arab people, chief among them, the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea, the dismantling of the Zionist entity, the overthrow of reactionary Arab regimes, the enemies of the Arab people and servants of imperialist projects.
A detailed examination of the historical role of the Arab revolutionary vangguards – whether they are struggling within the Arab world or in exile and diaspora – requires more time. But the history of the Palestinian, Arab and international struggle is full of lessons, indications and ideals that are guided today by tens of millions of strugglers and militants. It is enough for us to mention the concept of the struggling intellectual of martyr Basil al-Araj, in order to discern the white thread of reaction from the red thread of revolution in the darkness of our current reality, which is dissipating little by little through action and movement of the living forces of the Arab people, at the forefront of which are the forces of the alternative Palestinian revolutionary path.
3) Practical steps in order to achieve victory
Revolutionizing the current Arab situation — in awareness, discourse and practice — requires a focus on the working and popular classes as the mainstay of the revolution, with their real material interests in the desired revolutionary change. At the heart of this revolutionary process lies the tasks of the Arab revolutionary vanguards in raising awareness of the need to move from the mindset of emotional sympathy and emotional reactions, which often eacerbate the phenomena of dependence and the absence of confidence and initiative – to a mindset of conscious, organized action confident in the ability of the means to achieve its ends.
This leads directly to the necessity of determining sprecific programs to direct and lead the forces gathered around the priority of the liberation struggle, to bring them to the masses of the people in all countries of the Arab world and everywhere they are present in the world. These programs should not exclude the fields of knowledge, culture, society and economy, where a direct link is made between overcoming the dilemmas of development, advancement and communication and the struggle to confront the Zionist project, as it is the greatest obstacle to the Arab people achieving their goals and aspirations.
The practical steps required for the current stage of struggle must be linked to the main points of the Palestinian cause, atop which is the prisoners’ cause, the refugees’ rights and the cause of Jerusalem. Among the possibilities for activating the Arab dimension of struggle for these issues, we mention the following links:
1. The link between liberating the prisoners of the Palestinian revolution in Zionist prisons with the liberation of Arab revolutionary prisoners in the prisons of Arab reactionary regimes and jailed internationally. Indeed, the cause of the prisoners may take on further dimensions if we examine the concepts of “class imprisonment” and “mental imprisonment” that are no less burdensome than physical imprisonment.
2. The relationship of the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and lands with the return of Arab refugees and displaced persons to their homeland, stopping the “brain drain” and uniting Arab energies around the world in popular, effective organizational framworks that pose a revolutionary alternative to the subordinate institutions of the official Arab regimes.
3. The connection o the struggle in Jerusalem to resisting all manifestations of normalization with the Zionist enemy and deterring and holding accountable those responsible for betrayal, considering Jerusalem is not only the eternal capital of Palestine but the civilizational capital of the Arab nation and the foremost symbol of the Arab people’s determination to win the war of existence waged against it by imperialist and Zionist forces.
Ebarking on the implementation of these practical and other steps mean intensifying communication between the Arab revolutionary forces everywhere on the basis of common denominators proposed by the alternative Palestinian revolutionary path, which not only represent the constants of the struggle for the liberation of all of Palestine, but also build bridges betwene various components of the Arab national liberation movement.
Returning to the Palestinian National Charter is the return of all Arabs to the approach of resistance and confrontation against the brutal and continuous aggression against the Arab nation. Raising their enthusiasm and taking the general mobilization seriously are urgent tasks in order to prepare new generations of strugglers with courage and knowledge to overturn the current balance of power and write a new history for the entire Arab people and civiization.
1 May 2021