Two nights ago, a few friends and I shared a number of constructive criticisms about solidarity activism for Palestine. We now hope to share these with you and anyone else interested in efficiently taking advantage of the momentum this movement has seen over the last few years.
Guest contribution by Roqayah Chamseddine
There is much to be said in respect to the organization of the Palestinian solidarity movement: identity politics, the neglect of parallel struggles, natural allies etc.; there are the positives and negatives, but it is certainly recognizable on all fronts that there is room for change, in order to build a stronger and more unified movement.
Much of the movement’s networking involves circadian association with the Arab and/or Muslim community to such an extent that events are often solely focused on Arab and/or Muslim identities. These types of events, though important, are intended to boost the morale and bolster self interest associated with a specific bloc, therein becoming slightly ethnocentric. There is no need for the Palestinian solidarity movement to be branded with either an ethnic or religious identity, but this does not mean that distinctive cultural qualities associated with Palestine are to be ignored.
There should be no sacrificing of any ounce of any movements dignity for the sake of attracting outsiders so that they may join; this being said, events (re: Palestine) should discuss culture, language etc. all without forcing upon the movement an identity, as this should not be the sole avocation, as events will simply become massive orchestrations where one is preaching to the choir. Another obstacle facing dissidents is with “activist” events and the amount of socialization or party atmosphere present. Of course these events should be enjoyable, but there should be a line drawn in the sand against making it all so overtly party-esque. The aim should be creating events that are engaging, that leave you with a goal in mind, something stimulating; a movement with a strong, dignified message should not be be cheapened and turned into a social-club.
There should be frequent coordination with local Mexican-American, Chicano and Black groups; they are able to join the struggle while at the same time not sacrificing the unique messages of their own; we must also do away with tokenization, making it clear that we are in solidarity with one another while not undermining characteristics of each struggle which are sui and exclusive.
All in all there is much work to be done and much reworking. Palestine, in this case, is not solely an Arab problem—it is a human problem, it is an issue which draws in people from all walks of life and this should be our message. The daily struggle should be a forceful reminder that the liberation of Palestine is about the resilience of the human spirit.
Roqayah Chamseddine is a US based Lebanese-American journalist, commentator and international activist.