intifada!

I don’t really have time to produce new content for this blog until the semester is over, so I will be using this to collect all the halfway decent writing I’ve done in one place. This is an editorial from The Daily Texan on November 9, 2015, after Texans for Israel accused the Palestine Solidarity Committee at UT of supporting terrorism and violence for using the phrase “Long Live the Intifada!” 

Texans for Israel is clearly excited to condemn the Palestinian Solidarity Committee-UT for “condoning” violence. But we have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Israel was founded on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and can only perpetuate itself through continual oppression of the native population. Palestinians have the right to resistcolonialism, occupation and aparthied by any means necessary.

As the scholar Ilan Pappe has shown, Zionist forces expelled about 1 million Palestinians in 1948 and even more in 1967 when Israel seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Moreover, as Patrick Wolfe has stated, “invasion is a structure, not an event” insofar as Israel must perpetually struggle against the native population it seeks to displace. This occurs through “silent transfer,” in which Israel expels “small numbers of people on a weekly basis” through demolishing homes, denying construction permits, revoking residency rights, etc.

Furthermore, as many legal scholars have demonstrated, Israel is beyond a settler-colonial state. It also represents an apartheid regime under international law. This includes spatial segregation, denial of the freedom of movement, an ID system, differing legal regimes on the basis of identity, etc.

Meanwhile, attacks by “well-armed, well-organised and ideologically driven” Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their lands are a constant reality of life, of which the firebombing of the Dawabsheh family home this summer is only one horrifying example. These settlers’ express aim is to expropriate Palestinian land, but only Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to military courts with a near-100% conviction rate.

Thus, Palestinian youth have revolted, rejecting both “military occupation and an ineffectual Palestinian leadership.” Israel has responded with mob violence and extrajudicial killings, including the lynching of the Eritrean asylum-seeker Haftom Zarhum. In the recent uprisings, from mid-September to Oct. 31, 69 Palestinians were killed and almost 7,400 injured, compared to 8 Israelis killed and 115 injured.

This is not to say Palestinians are in the right simply because they are weaker but to induce a sense of reality about who is terrorizing whom. If one wants to condemn violence, one should start with Israel, which, two summers ago, unleashed a brutal onslaught against Gaza, slaughtering over 2,200 Palestinians, 500 of whom were children. As TFI directly calls for people to materially support the IDF, the institution responsible for this carnage, we find any moralizing about violence from TFI to be hollow.

Moreover, one cannot equate the violence of the oppressor and the oppressed. As Lina Alsaafin argues, “[o]ppressed people do not and should not have to explain their oppression to their oppressors, nor tailor their resistance to the comfort of the oppressors and their supporters.” And, as we saw in the divestment campaign last spring, even an extremely moderate call to divest from specific companies profiting from human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories is fiercely resisted. Any form of Palestinian resistance, no matter how nonviolent, is rejected outright. Palestinians deserve liberation and justice, not lectures on moral failings. And so — long live the intifada!

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