Palestinian response to the G8-Info-Tour

Dear friends from Germany,

Greetings from the Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.

We have been the "object" of your "Info-Tour" to Palestine and three of us spent one or two hours with you discussing G8 mobilization. I guess we should have saved our time. I guess you could have saved your time and money and just not come in the first place if your intention really was to involve those in the first line affected by the occupation (as you state in your summary, see:
Your report effectively states that you have not been able to take seriously the struggle of the Palestinian people, let alone understand it. If our political understanding and action was dependent on your efforts, your report would have been good enough to discourage even those Palestinian organizations that have been involved in protesting international summits for years.

Fortunately the Palestinian political consciousness is far deeper, far more understanding and, unfortunately, has long enough an experience with colonial mindsets within the western "global activism" to know it has to go its own way in cooperation with all those capable of and building on genuine solidarity, respect and equality.

After a lengthy account of meetings with Israeli groups, praising their deep understanding for veganism and animal rights, you start to voice your opinions about the Palestinian struggle.

You say "In Ramallah and Jenin we did not manage to meet grassroots, anarchist or communist groups." Well, you spent quite some time in the coordinating office of a grassroots campaign with "meeting" two of its key activists. Apparently not you, but others may be interested to know that the Campaign is based on the struggle of dozens of local committees formed in resistance to the apartheid wall.

You didn't find communist groups? Well, that's curious considering that communism and socialism in Palestine have a history of almost 100 years and have lead the vision of our struggle for the major part of its history. If you had studied for half an hour the history of our struggle before coming here, or maybe asked a Palestinian refugee in Germany, you would have got the names and contacts of the Palestinian communist and socialist parties. (By the way, you don't need to play "refugee chair games" with Palestinians, they know what being a refugee means, considering that they are the biggest and most longstanding refugee community in the world. Further, even the people in Beer Sheva should know as they are the reason for the diaspora of two third of our people. ) Anarchists, I agree, it would have been a bit more difficult. You should have made your way to Birzeit University to find a small group. Anarchism doesn't have a deep rooted history within the Palestinian struggle.

Your judgement then continues on our struggle: "The occupation seems to leave no ground for non-institutional movements.". Did you ever bother to ask yourself in what kind of movements the first as well as the outbreak of the second intifada were grounded? Did you ever bother to ask yourself how villages organize themselves in demonstrations against the occupation, the wall and all the forms of oppression, dispossession and expulsion? If there is one thing that drives our resistance since almost 60 years now it is the non-institutionalized steadfastness and determination of our people not to surrender.

To finish up your overall "analysis" of our movements and Palestinian consciousness you point out that you didn't find organizations or groups "working on a more global view of the conflict or even being open to other global issues." That's a pity. You might have stopped in front of the first refugee camp (there are quite some all over the West Bank and Gaza, including Ramallah and Jenin) and asked a school boy what he thinks about the US, Europe or the UN. He would have given you a fairly clear description of the role those powers play in the expulsion and occupation of the Palestinian people. Palestinians find global politics on their dinner table when the money is not enough for something better because the US and EU impose sanctions on us, apparently for having held a democratic election they have asked for. They see the UN distributing food supplies instead of upholding their own resolutions and international law. They are born into a" more global view" of the occupation that is propped up by an intricate system of global powers.

We are not open to other "global issues"? I am not sure what those issues are. No, veganism is not an issue here, we still try to achieve minimum rights for human beings - and share this with the great majority of the people in the world. The Palestinian struggle has a long history of solidarity and joint struggle with Latin American movements; the PLO has issued long ago a statement in solidarity with the South African struggle against apartheid stating that "Palestine will not be free until South Africa will be free" (and the South African movements thankfully remember that today); today Palestinian groups, parties and organizations join the calls for food sovereignty and stand in support of many different struggles of the oppressed.

If you had listened to the activists at our office you would have heard that we have participated at the last G8 protest in Scotland and the WTO protests in Hong kong. You might have heard that - without your help - a campaign activist had already discussed and built relations during his visit to Germany and Austria in preparation for the G8 in Germany.

You might have remembered that instead of importing "direct action" from Germany (we do know a lot about direct action ourselves, never mind what we call it here.), the activists with you have discussed ways to integrate the issues of war and occupation within the wider context of anti-militarism and anti-globalization. We do have analysis and understanding of these dynamics. We are living in a system of "globalized occupation". In case you ever might be interested, we could explain this concept to you in more depth.

But this all might not have fit in your seemingly pre-conditioned view of what Palestinians are and think.

In your report you bypass this in order to delve in our "worries" about you working with "pro-zionistic" groups that don't oppose the settlements in the West Bank. You seriously think we should accept "co-ordination" (as you proposed at our office) with organizations that believe it is the right of the Jewish people (or any other people) to steal and colonize our lands, to expel our people and to destroy our society? But you got it wrong even this time, our worries go much further. How can we work together with people that oppose the right of return of the majority of our people that since 60 years struggle to go home to their houses and properties? How can we work together with people that believe in a "Jewish state" that necessarily relegates the 20% of its population - the Palestinian indigenous population that have resisted expulsion - to third class citizens?

Apparently you came here to bring clowns and Samba bands and "refugee chair games" to Palestine. Palestinians have a history of grassroots struggle and direct action and we are happy to exchange experience in mutual solidarity with the people in struggle, but we are not here "to learn the lessons". Maybe the Israelis in Sderot and Kiryat Shmoneh have listened more attentively to your analysis of global politics. Had they ever tried to admit the meaning and implications of their domestic policies carried out on our land, it would have been more helpful for all of us. At the end of all this, we did learn, however, something more about global politics. Your report is an extreme example of the degree to which colonialism and racism is not only a system of institutions that exploit, expel and occupy all over the world but how deeply it is rooted within the consciousness of many that pretend to combat it.

Welcome to Palestine and Merry Christmas,

Jamal Juma', Coordinator of the Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign