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by DAN BERGER & NAVA ETSHALOM Friday, Jun. 01, 2007 at 4:40 PM

WE LOVE YOU DAN & NAVA !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dan Berger" <>
'Coming Out' for the Palestine Solidarity


'Coming Out' for the Palestine Solidarity Movement

By Dan Berger and Nava EtShalom, WireTap
Posted on June 1, 2007, Printed on June 1, 2007

Issue: Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Why? Forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 and Israeli
occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the
Golan Heights in 1967.
Action: The first, ever national march and lobby day in the U.S.
exclusively focused on ending the Israeli occupation, reshaping
discourse, and expressing international solidarity.


Anniversaries are wonderful, terrible things. They mark moments of
celebration and commemoration. Anniversaries cement old stories, but
they also give us a chance to turn long-accepted stories inside out --
to ask questions, pose challenges, resist dominant narratives. On the
fourth anniversary of "Shock and Awe," people across the United States
took to the streets to call for an end to the Iraq war. In Iraq, people
mourned the hundreds of thousands killed in the past four years -- and
the millions killed in more than a dozen years of U.S. involvement in
their country.

June 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation
<> of the Gaza Strip,
the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. (Despite the highly
publicized 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Israel continues
military actions there and maintains a hermetic seal over the region.)
Next May will be the 60th anniversary of the Nakba
<> , the catastrophic
events of 1948 in which Zionist paramilitaries destroyed more than 500
villages through massacre and intimidation, and at least 750,000
Palestinians became refugees. These are terrible anniversaries. These
are anniversaries which call our attention and demand our response.

Israel's supporters celebrate these anniversaries with Israeli
Independence Day every May. Around the world, celebrations obscure the
Nakba experienced by Palestinians in the form of ongoing isolation,
economic devastation, and military violence aided by the erection of a
730-kilometer concrete wall. Enabled by U.S. military aid, this massive
construction project further confiscates Palestinian territory and
isolates Palestinian communities throughout the region.

Condemned by much of the world as an "apartheid wall," Israel's cheekily
named "separation fence" divides Palestinians from their agricultural
land, their friends and family -- even, in some cases, their next-door
neighbors. Israel's unilateral boundary-making is designed to make as
big an Israeli state as it can with as few Palestinians in it as
possible. It turns Israel into the ultimate gated housing development,
armed and exclusive, leaving Palestinians a bisected, militarily
monitored mouse hole of a home outside the wall. Whether these
Bantustans ever become a state is immaterial: the wall makes it a place
where simple municipal services are monumental tasks, where water is
scarce, and where hospitals and schools in neighboring towns can be
impossible to reach.

As the Wall grows, it impedes networks among Palestinians, including
deep-rooted networks of nonviolent resistance. Despite the increasing
difficulty of organizing in Palestine, the Bethlehem-based BADIL
Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
<> has issued an international call
<> for activists to creatively mark
both the 40- and 60-year anniversaries in 2007 and 2008. The timing of
this "40-60 campaign" is crucial: "This may well be the last decade
anniversary when Palestinian eye-witnesses from the 1948 Nakba are still
living," wrote BADIL organizers in their call. "Now more than ever,
Palestinians are counting on local and global society to build pressure
for the enforcement of international law -- the foundation for a just
peace." The 40-60 anniversaries offer the chance for a range of creative
action across borders: a chance to renew and rethink international
solidarity. It reminds us that visionary thinking often comes first from
those whose lives most depend on it. And yet, we all have roles to play
in realizing such a world.

Solidarity for U.S. organizers starts with our own government's
complicity. This has had particular resonance for Palestinians: Israel's
military actions are made possible almost entirely by the United States.
Israel Defense Forces speak Hebrew, but they demolish Palestinian houses
and agriculture using U.S.-made Caterpillar bulldozers, drop Boeing
missiles from Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets, and shoot at
demonstrators with Colt-manufactured M-16s. U.S. tax money supports
Israel to the tune of over $2 billion in annual military aid. This
money, together with the Israeli government's manifest destiny land-grab
ideology, make the ongoing occupation possible.

Across the United States, people have already marked
<> the 40th and 60th
anniversaries with protests, vigils, concerts, poetry readings, letter
writing and other projects. The commemorations kick into high gear in
June: thousands of people are expected to turn out in Washington, D.C.,
on June 10 as part of a Global Day of Action Against the Israeli
Occupation <> ,
followed by a lobby day on June 11. The June 10-11 protest, teach-in,
and lobbying are the first ever national actions specifically about the
Israeli occupation. Sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli
Occupation and United for Peace and Justice, and endorsed by dozens of
religious, peace, student and Jewish groups, the weekend of events will
bring a broad constituency to the nation's capitol to oppose occupation
in any form. It is, says one of the organizers, a "coming out" for the
Palestine solidarity movement in the United States -- a protest, a
party, a program for change.

Two weeks later, thousands of people will converge in Atlanta for the
first U.S. Social Forum <> , which will bring
together an array of issues, campaigns, and projects. Social forums are
new political spaces, where incipient movements gather to plot and plan,
build networks of trust and camaraderie, and find ways to affirm that
the only way forward will be together. Palestine solidarity organizers
will be running workshops and panels at the forum along with the
hundreds of others. But what the forum truly allows is another stepping
stone toward forging a twenty-first century radicalism that is
democratic, internationalist and rooted in a politics of solidarity. The
horrors of home demolitions, mass incarceration, militarized policing
and lack of quality education are what empire looks like around the
world -- no matter the ghetto, reservation, barrio or Bantustan. The
social forum creates a space for those connections to blossom.

The first anti-war march doesn't end the war. But national mobilizations
and projects like the 40-60 campaign could change our basic public
assumptions about what is at stake in Palestine and how that relates to
our lives and work in the United States. We can change common sense
about the roots of the conflict, highlighting U.S. funding, weapons and
colonial mindset as the tools that enable Israel's ongoing land grab.

Sixty years is too long for exile. Forty years is too long for
occupation. But besides marking the passage of terrible time and events,
these anniversaries remind us that 60 years and 40 years are relatively
recent. Despite the racist spin we tend to see in the United States --
ancient conflict, time out of mind, clash of civilizations -- this is a
new political conflict with roots some of us can still remember,
sponsorship our own government funds, and solutions we all have a
responsibility to imagine. That is the power of the 40-60 campaign and
the potential of the June mobilizations. Each one reminds us to think
broadly, creatively and collaboratively -- to mark also the
anniversaries of conquest within our communities and to forge new
memories of freedom.

Done right, an international response to these anniversaries could
imagine solutions beyond two unequal states. It could break the enforced
silence and narrowness of ideas in U.S. popular discourse on the
subject. It could interrupt the myths that Palestinian
self-determination is anti-Semitic and that Israel speaks for Jews. It
could challenge more than the occupation: by taking on the Nakba of
1948, we could challenge the power of states to mobilize racism and
nationalism in destroying lives -- in Palestine, in Puerto Rico, in
prisons, in manifest destiny and genocide in the United States. It could
give life to a vibrant international solidarity that takes practical
steps toward the realization of a way out of empire -- and into the
realms of the only peace that is possible: one that is built on justice.

For more information on the anti-occupation March on Washington Sunday,
June 10, visit <>
or <> . For more on the
40-60 campaign, see <> . For more on the
U.S. Social Forum, check out
<> . For news about Palestine, see <> .

Dan Berger and Nava EtShalom are writers and activists in Philadelphia.
Dan Berger is the author of Outlaws of America
<> (AK Press, 2006) and
co-editor of Letters from Young Activists
<> (The
Nation Books, 2005). Nava EtShalom is a poet and currently a Pew Fellow
in the Arts. They are each involved in an array of Palestine solidarity
and other organizing projects.

(c) 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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More Real Issues tired of the whining Monday, Jun. 04, 2007 at 7:23 PM
The march is failing to garner attention from the public and the media feedback? Saturday, Jun. 02, 2007 at 10:50 AM
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