killing denouement

solidarity forever? (كلنا فلسطين؟ او كلنا غزه؟)

What does it mean to say ‘we are all Palestinian’, or ‘we are all Gaza‘? (And for many now, ‘we are all Hamas‘ – is this a popular semantic de-bantustanising?) Because we’re not. I really don’t know what I understand by the concept of solidarity anymore. There’s different forms and gradations, sure, ranging from statements and Facebook updates, to protests, boycotts and direct action, perhaps all the way to using your passport privilege to plant yourself in front of an Israeli or Mexican tank or bulldozer. And not to knock or denigrate that in any way, but I wonder if there can be real solidarity until you’re standing at either end of a gun? Or perhaps solidarity must instead be defined by its very passive nature – of relative privilege and thus allyship – always in solidarity but never in the struggle? (With an emphasis on the relative as opposed to absolute, tied to [blank] oppression – there’s of course cross-solidarity between differently oppressed peoples).

Maybe this is stemming from frustration, at being in Dubai-not-DC tomorrow, at lacking the aforementioned passport privilege and protection that my decidedly not navy blue passport will never afford. (If you’re not Rachel Corrie, that is). Thinking of the ‘we are all’ standard phrasing though, where does it come from? I can’t seem to find out, though there are suggestions of it coming from Paris 1968, with the denizens of the Quartier Latin’s slogan, “We are all German Jews” in solidarity with the banned Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Or maybe it comes from anti-Nazi peace activist Rev. Martin Niemöller’s famous statement?

The site from which it is quoted provides an interesting location of solidarity in the fear of being next. The images above – which greeted me yesterday morning in the UAE daily Gulf News – are among the most horrifiying I’ve seen in a long time. I wonder what opinion they would instill in the average American today? Fear unlikely, perhaps satisfaction with strong Zionazi tendancies, most likely wrenching sympathy? Or maybe I have too much faith in humanity

When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church — and there was nobody left to be concerned

Regardless, there’s a difference between sympathy and empathy. Which makes the results of the latest Rassumen poll placing Democratic opposition to the offensive at 55% to 33%, and Republican support at 62% for, 27% against, especially surprising when given the breathily consensual support among US leadership across the board. Interesting then, are the community specific calls to end the occupation that draw parallels to past struggles, like this 2007 Letter to Black America, and yesterday’s “concentration camp” remarks by the Vatican (not to mention the earlier Papal rebuke). And, unrelatedly but unusually, the Red Cross‘ castigation.

So it is that the cartoons here are from Carlos Latuff’s thought provoking series “We Are All Palestine. The scenes depicted run the gamut from post Civil war America and Native Americans in the 19th century, through the Warsaw Ghettos, Apartheid, Vietnam, Tibet and Chiapas. In each, being Palestinian becomes a shorthand for brutally violent discrimination, systemic segregation, massacre and extermination. They’re especially striking in that many of them occurred on a similar timescale to Palestine. How different would it have been if in each of these situations, the oppressed had cried “I am Palestinian”, I wonder?

Back to the question of solidarity, though. Does saying “we are all Gaza” mean saying “we are all Hamas”? I want to say I don’t like Hamas’ terroristic activities any more than I like Israel’s terroristic activities? But more and more, that’s jsut not true. Does supporting a resistance that I in part disagree with amount to self-determination-uber-alles, at the price of indusgent cultural relativism? I was especially struck by this man in the NY Times today.

Abdel Minaim Hasan, 37, knelt, weeping, next to the body of his eldest daughter, Lina, 11, who was wrapped in a Hamas flag. “From now on I am Hamas!” he cried. “I choose resistance!”

Maybe it’s the difference between blind solidarity and a principled one – or blind, and principled rage. Perhaps I’m pretty blinkered with rage right now, but a principled if solidarity right now seems more and more like a distant pipe dream.

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