As Palestinian demonstrators built barricades to protect the Al-Aqsa mosque compound from right-wing settler organizations and Zionist police on Monday, a collage was made on the street out of empty shell casings, rubber bullets, and gas canisters. On the street they were occupying, the collage depicted the famous dome of the mosque. Above it in Arabic they wrote the words “¡No pasarán!” (They will not pass). This slogan was born in 1936 during the Spanish Revolution, in the defense of Madrid against the fascist siege. Today it connects these historic acts of resistance on the basis of an internationalism, steadfastness, and solidarity that we need to build upon. As we look toward the Palestinian resistance, let us follow them into the street in solidarity, and against our own rulers.
While the bombs rain down on Gaza, and Palestine rises up against the Israeli occupation, what will transpire is uncertain. Nonetheless, the past few days have demonstrated yet again the brutality of the racist project of Zionism and the tremendous power and courage of Palestinian resistance.
For months, Palestinians—through mass protests and steadfast refusal to succumb to the Zionist state—have resisted violent attempts by settler organizations and the Israeli state to forcibly expel families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. This resistance to ethnic cleansing was the cornerstone of a global campaign to bring light to the cause and bring pressure on Israel. The combined pressure forced Israel to postpone the expulsions.
However, Israel dramatically increased its repression of Palestinians in the subsequent weeks. This has included attempts to restrict access to Al-Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan, violent police raids on the holy site, and then, in the past few days, a bloody bombing campaign on Gaza—one of the most densely populated places on earth.
At the time of writing of this statement, 48 Palestinian civilians have been murdered, 14 of them children, with more than 300 hundred injured, according to the Gazan Health Ministry. The settler-colonial violence waged by the state of Israel is a regular occurrence—and the project of ethnic cleansing has been ongoing since 1948—but these events represent an escalation that should be condemned unequivocally.
And yet, amid the rubble, smoke, and horror of bombs and bullets Palestinian resistance has emerged forcefully again with the sumoud (steadfastness) that has long been central to the Palestinian struggle. They pushed back settler organizations and Zionist police in Sheikh Jarrah. They pushed through barriers to enter Al-Aqsa, and built their own barricades to defend against the police and right-wing settler organizations’ attempt to march—promising mob violence—into the holy site. These provocations were timed around the so-called holiday of Jerusalem Day, which commemorates when settler-colonial Israel furthered its ethnic cleansing project by taking control of Jerusalem in 1967.
And in response to the Sunday assault on Al-Aqsa, Palestinians have erupted in demonstrations both in the occupied West Bank and in Palestinian cities within the Green Line (the part of Palestine claimed in the 1948 Nakba). At the time of writing, more than twenty cities behind the Green Line have seen mass protests and confrontations with the Israeli occupation, including Haifa, Nazareth, Majd Al-Kurum, Ramle, and others. Palestinians succeeded in raising the flag of Palestine in Rahat, Um al Fahem, and al-Lyd, where a state of emergency was declared after the Palestinian people took control of the city. Similarly, demonstrations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza fill the streets.
At this critical juncture there is an urgency for full-throated global solidarity with Palestinians struggling by any means necessary. Palestinians have found no allies among the rulers of both Arab and western states. Protests against the immediate violence in Sheikh Jarrah and the question of Jerusalem have to be tied to the expansion of forcible expulsions and the complete failure of the so-called peace process. Palestinians need working people and all opponents of apartheid violence to rise up and fight with them.
To meet that challenge we must demand an end to all U.S. support of the Zionist state and an end to complicity in Israeli crimes. The billions of U.S. dollars in material aid to Israel should not be “conditioned” but cut, fully and immediately.
In addition to stopping all material support, socialists in the United States must wholly reject the bipartisan political theater that has served for decades to give political cover to the the Zionist project. Both Trump’s and Biden’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the apartheid state is but one example.
We need a re-dedication to building the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Campaigns of public exposure and pressure in the United States against all corporate, state, and institutional complicity in the Zionist state need to be reignited. It also must spread beyond the campuses and into the U.S. labor movement, into our communities.
We must completely reject the narrative of this being a “conflict” between two sides, to be resolved by reaching common understanding. We must not mince words. It is not a “conflict” but ethnic cleansing. There are two sides, but they are oppressor and oppressed. We must stand on the side of the oppressed—for justice, for the right of return, the end of the occupation, and one state with equal rights for all.
We reject the notion that there is any equivalency to the violence of the Israeli state, carried out by one of the most advanced militaries on earth, and the armed resistance of Palestinians carried out from the open-air prison of Gaza. We must support the right of occupied peoples to resist occupation in whichever way they see fit. International law finds this resistance to be legal, and it finds the Israeli occupation to be illegal. Politically, the left must argue that when people are occupied, resistance is justified.
Our hope is that the popular resistance in Palestine swells, and that the intifada endures. We hope that the wave of international revolts that spread in 2019 throughout the world from Hong Kong, to Sudan, to Chile and beyond— partly diminished by the pandemic—erupts again in a contagion of revolt from below. It is this kind of uprising, global solidarity with Palestine and against imperialism that it will take. The resistance in Myanmar and Colombia, and indeed the rebellions in the U.S. against anti-Black racism and police violence, show the potential for mass action. We must build organization to prepare for this, work to incite its spread, and stand in solidarity with this struggle. May the revolutionary fires reignite and catch ablaze.
Glory to the martyrs!
Free Palestine, from the river to the sea!
Long live the intifada!
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brian bean is a socialist organizer and writer based in Chicago, a member of the Tempest Collective, a part of the Rampant Magazine editorial collective, and an editor and contributor to the book Palestine: A Socialist Introduction forthcoming from Haymarket Books.