The following article is translated and republished from the original French at ACTA.
In this interview, a former activist of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra reacts to the dissolution of the group initiated at the end of February by French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, and ratified on March 10. Retracing the main stages of their steps of struggle centered on supporting the resistance against the Zionist state and the campaign for the release of Palestinian prisoners, he puts into perspective the repression and targeting of the collective amid the broader context of the authoritarian turn of the French state and its strategic alliance with Israel.
Can you review the history of your organization, its birth, its main lines of work and its political strategy?
The Collectif Palestine Vaincra was founded in March 2019 following ten years of work in support of the Palestinian resistance in general and Georges Abdallah in particular, in the Toulouse region. The work of the collective was to develop anti-imperialist solidarity with the Palestinian people who have been fighting for more than 70 years against one of the last settler colonial projects on the planet: the Zionist state. This involved regular activity in the city center and in several popular neighborhoods of Toulouse, building solidarity and mobilization campaigns, for example for the boycott of Israel, for the defense of the legitimacy of the resistance against the occupation, for the release of Palestinian prisoners and Georges Abdallah, or even locally against the twinning of Toulouse with Tel Aviv, etc. This reflects a line and commitment that has existed in France for more than 50 years through many organizations and which is now seriously criminalized.
You were dissolved a few days ago: how were you informed?
We were informed of this by a tweet from the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, on Thursday February 24, in the late afternoon. This was followed by the submission of a document announcing the government’s desire to initiate a dissolution procedure which was validated by the Council of Ministers on March 9th. The following day, Thursday March 10, the decree of dissolution was published in the Official Journal, making the ban on the collective effective in France.
Prior to the CPV, other organizations, notably those fighting against Islamophobia, had been targeted by dissolution procedures. How do you see the procedure targeting the CPV in the context of the authoritarian turn of the state on the one hand, and the criminalization of support for the Palestinian cause on the other?
Since the beginning of Macron’s five-year term, we have seen an authoritarian shift take place, in particular through the dissolution of many Muslim and/or anti-racist organizations as well as the adoption of draconian laws, such as the law on so-called “separatism” or the so-called “global security” law. The dissolution of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra is obviously part of this reactionary dynamic, but it has a particular dimension around the criminalization of the solidarity movement with Palestine.
Indeed, France is a strategic ally of the Israeli occupation and is developing in this context a serious policy of repression against supporters of justice in Palestine. This involves the prosecution of activists from the campaign to boycott Israel or attempts to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. But for several years, we have observed a radicalization of the French position of support for Israeli apartheid. The latest is the speech of Jean Castex at the dinner of the CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France) which affirms that “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people”, a statement that confirms an alignment with the Israeli far right as it pursues its policy of ethnic cleansing in the occupied Palestinian city, particularly in the neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
In the decree of dissolution, support for the PFLP and for Georges Abdallah is particularly highlighted. What do you think about this?
The fact that support for Palestinian prisoners, in particular Ahmad Sa’adat and Georges Abdallah, is invoked as grounds for dissolution speaks volumes about the political nature of such a decision. Not only is the Zionist state and its allies imprisoning Palestinians who are fighting for their right to self-determination, but it is now the turn of the organizations that support these prisoners to be criminalized. It should be recalled that recently, two support organizations for Palestinian prisoners were classified as “terrorist organizations” by Israel: the international Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and Addameer. It is therefore today the Collectif Palestine Vaincra which is dissolved in France, for similar reasons. These are extremely serious attacks that must be widely denounced. This highlights the importance and centrality of the cause of the Palestinian prisoners who today embody the true leadership of the Palestinian resistance for the return and liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.
What strategy will you adopt for the future?
At the legal level, the group is appealing to the Council of State to challenge this dissolution. In parallel, a committee against the dissolution of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra is being formed. It brings together many political organizations, trade unions, and collectives who have decided to develop a solidarity campaign to denounce these attacks and the criminalization of the Palestine solidarity movement. This dissolution is indeed an attack against all the organizations engaged in struggle against colonialism, racism and imperialism. We must therefore form a common front to fight against this repressive offensive! Soon, solidarity initiatives should take place in several cities in France and abroad.