Posted by: r.m. | August 17, 2014

my August 2 talk: Gaza (and Palestine) in context: racism and need for BDS

On August 2, I spoke at an event sponsored by the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights in Austin, Texas.  I spoke about the impacts of the Israeli assault on Gaza, its relationship to the rest of Palestine, relationship with Egypt, and the ways that concerned individuals – in Texas, nationwide, and around the world – can work to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, with special attention to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and can connect the struggles.   Of all the long talks I’ve given recently, this is the talk that is most comprehensive.

Here is the audio of that talk:

And here is the video of that talk: 

(Unfortunately, the video is not complete. The audio, however, is complete.)

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“There has become such an ingrained racism against people of color – not just against Palestinians – that even when our children die – even when they are being killed –  we are told that we have a culture of martyrdom and a culture of death. That is why one of the narratives that has become popular is that Hamas is using human shields – although there is no evidence of that – but it fits within the narrative that we must love our children less, which is basically racism.”

“We remember the children. … We remember the families…As a woman and as a feminist and as an Arab, it upsets me very much when we constantly talk about the women and children, as if women should be placed with children.  And I refuse that. We talk about men and women, and we talk about children. And we remember our women, but we seem to have forgotten our men, as if when Israel kills our men, it is okay. It is not okay. So I have to remember our men. Our men are also innocent … the journalists …  the paramedics … brothers … fathers…  We remember those shot by snipers …  We remember those killed by Israel outside of Gaza – those killed in the West Bank … We remember those killed by Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlers… All these men, women and children were unarmed, and much attention has been given to the fact that approximately 85% of the Palestinians killed have been civilians. … I don’t like the fact that we seem to accept that if you’re a combatant, then your death is okay, but it is not okay. Because if we recognize the basic aspect here, that the Israeli state has no right to claim self-defense — an occupying State cannot claim self-defense against a territory that it occupies – and yes, Gaza is occupied territory — and we also recognize as the UN General Assembly reaffirms the legitimacy of the people’s struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle, and if we recognize the moral and ethical and legal right for an occupied population to resist occupation, then we have to remember those brave men that are resisting. I will not condone their murder, just as I salute their resistance and their bravery. So we remember the fighters … 

… “On the one hand, we have Israeli crimes and Israeli murder, and on the other hand we have something magnificent – truly magnificent – coming out of Gaza and extending to the West Bank and to Jerusalem and to Haifa and to Yaffa and all parts of Palestine – and that is Palestinian unity

…. “We have been here before.. 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012…  

“Palestinians in Gaza have been given two choices: either die silently through the siege, or die loudly through the bombardment”

“We need to include Egypt when we are protesting. Demand that Egypt open up its borders.”

“We need to connect the struggle. Ultimately, our struggle against the Zionist State of Israel is a struggle against racism and a struggle for justice. So we connect it here. The very same construction company that built the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank built it here in Texas – along the border with Mexico.”

This is a human rights struggle. All those who believe in human rights must work in solidarity to dismantle apartheid there and to dismantle racism here.

We need to change the narrative.  This is a struggle for liberty, for equality. It is a struggle against racism, against segregation in its most vicious forms.

Remember in our language that Gaza is Palestinian, the West Bank is Palestinian, Jerusalem is Palestinian.

Fundamentally, we have to continue to remind people that if Israel chooses to be a Jewish State cannot be a democratic State.  It cannot be a Jewish State and be peaceful.

No level of discrimination is acceptable.

I may post the transcript of the talk soon. (I typically speak from notes rather than from a word-to-word text)


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