For a Democratic Secular Palestine
By Musa Al-Hindi
Al-Awda Representative Speaks to September 24 Antiwar Rally in Washington DC.
It is an honor to be with you on this historic day.
As you know, there were attempts to exclude Palestine from today’s events, even though the role played by Israel and its U.S.-based functionaries in the destruction of Iraq is well known.
The developments of the past few months in Palestine had made the understanding of the Palestinian Arab-Zionist conflict difficult. This difficulty was made worse by the lack of clarity in the discourse of some in the antiwar movement, especially those who insist on defining the conflict with Israel in terms of its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, to the exclusion of other components of the Palestinian national struggle, namely:
1. The struggle by Palestinians in 1948 Palestine to assert their national Arab identity in the face of attempts to “Israelize” them. Their resolute efforts to preserve their organic unity with the reminder with their brethrens in exile are an integral part of the Palestinian national movement for liberation.
2. The struggle by Palestinian refugees to return to their original towns and villages in areas of Arab Palestine occupied in 1948. It is of utmost importance to keep in mind that while our people in the West Bank and Gaza are the vanguard of the Palestinian national movement, the refugee camps in exile are its strategic depth. It was the refugees who nourished the seeds of the modern Palestinian Revolution with their tears and blood. It was the refugees who turned their wretched camps and bodies in Jordan and Lebanon into barriers to protect the national movement whenever it came under attack.
Palestine is the refugees and the refugees are Palestine.
These are not mere slogans. Rather, they are principles that ought to guide our work, both as Arab as well as solidarity activists. Our work ought to be based on an analysis that simultaneously addresses all components of the Palestinian struggle rather than parts of it.
Our discourse and analysis ought to be consistent with the Palestinian narrative, rather than on a selective reading of it. Only when the Zionist State is exposed for what it actually is (a settler-colonial entity that came into being as a result of a systematic campaign of murder and ethnic cleansing) would we be able to move forward.
Simultaneously, we ought to advance a progressive and humanist vision of a democratic, secular state over the entirety of Palestine in which all enjoy equality of rights and duties.
The establishment of such a state would not only allow for the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees and free the 1948 Palestinians from the tentacles of occupation and Apartheid, but would also ensure a lasting peace in the region. Anything less is destined to be temporary and short-lived.