never before

rania sent me these videos from a new lebanon-based group called the “never before campaign.” the videos are very powerful. i don’t know any other details about this new group, but it looks promising.

and rami sent me this the other day from beirut, which also seems promising as it articulates so many of the strategic resistance discussions we had when i was there a few weeks ago:

From January 16 to 18 an international gathering of trend-setting importance took place in Beirut, Lebanon. About 1.000 delegates from Lebanon, the Arab world, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia from the most divers resistance organisations found together in the “Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-imperialism, Peoples’ Solidarity and Alternatives” vibrantly exchanging experiences and forging a common struggle.

In the opening session Hezbollah’s deputy-secretary Sheik Naim Kassem excellently expressed the common spirit: Today there are only two camps in the world. The one of US imperialism and its allies and the other one of the resistances regardless of their ideological, cultural or religious affiliation. The resistances must be unified against its common enemy which is only possible by respecting the diversity.

All of the speakers from the European anti-war and anti-imperialist movements, from Venezuela (which had a massive presence), form India and even from the United States in person of former US attorney general Ramsey Clark strongly confirmed this idea of an anti-imperialist alliance – which is an achievement of utmost importance. Only some years back this had been unthinkable. The resistance movements were mistrusted especially the Islamic ones and the Western antagonist forces still believed to play a global protagonist role.

Although planned long ahead of the Zionist aggression on Gaza, the entire event was marked by the deep support to the Palestinian resistance struggle in Gaza. Nobody, also the forces from non-Islamic countries, took the leadership by Hamas as a pretext to reject the support to the resistance as it had been common in the past. On the contrary, also in Europe massive solidarity demonstration with Gaza with hundreds of thousand participants took place indicating a clear shift in important sections of the antagonist forces. (Which should not deceive us from the fact of a powerful and growing anti-Islamic campaign and sentiment in the West.)

An indicator for the changed climate in favour of anti-imperialism was the participation of what could be called the left wing of the Social Forum. One should recall the times when the vicious formula “no war, no terror” was predominant equating imperialism with the resistances and taking “politically correct” equidistance. Those forces which still hold such a position have decisively lost their influence and do no more lead mass movements.

Careful participants of the Beirut Forum could, however, notice a certain wariness of some participants to lend the same support to the Iraqi and Afghan resistance as they do for Palestine. This might be due to the interests of Iran as a regional power which do conflict with these resistances. In this sense the message by the Iranian president to the forum rightly denouncing the Arab regimes which follow Israeli and US interest as traitors appears somewhat vapid given Iran’s record of support to the Iraqi regime installed by the US occupiers.

Next steps

The signal sent by this conference to form an international anti-imperialist front was already very bold given the fact that it was the first such event of that scale. Nevertheless the organisers were keen to develop some concrete agreements for the next steps. It is clear that new activities and meetings will be needed to go ahead on that track. As Anti-imperialist Camp we draw following conclusions and put forward following proposals in the spirit of the forum:

1) Insist on the campaign to boycott Israel on all levels.

2) Send brigades and delegations to Gaza and other places of resistance to build solidarity from below and allow a direct touch to the reality on the ground in order to counter the distortions of the Western corporate media.

3) Hold an anti-imperialist conference in support of the resistances in Europe as a continuation of Beirut forum. The main axis could be:

a) give voice to the resistances

b) rebuff raging Islamophobia which provides the ideological backing to the ongoing imperialist war

c) propose as the only solution to the Palestinian problem on single democratic state.

4) Build a permanent but open body of global co-ordination of anti-imperialist forces.

Anti-imperialist Camp
January 24, 2009

in contradistinction i received another email from several friends this week about a new campaign in jordan called “voices for palestine.” here is the text of their website:

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our group ‘Voices for Palestine’. We are Arab women from Jordan who have come together in response to the appalling attacks of Israel on Gaza and its people. We are women who come from different backgrounds and affiliations, to speak against the violations that are taking place against the Palestinians and give voice to the victims of these atrocious and disproportional attacks.

Through both our website and our youtube channel, we plan on reporting the realities on the ground in Gaza and share with you our thoughts on how you can make a difference.

We, like many of you, have been glued to our television screens, trying to grasp what in the world is happening over there and why the whole world is silently watching as Palestinian children, mothers, and male civilians have been killed in the hundreds over the past three weeks.

As believers in human rights and dignity, Voices for Palestine, seeks to present what is really happening in Gaza. To speak about this issue with no reservations is our goal, hoping that after you hear what we have to say, you will feel compelled to stand up and speak against what is happening, and act in whatever capacity you can to end the destruction of a nation and its people. We cannot idly watch and allow this genocide to take place.

In solidarity,

Voices for Palestine

they are asking people to go to their youtube site and watch their videos. i’ll post one of them here:

i’m not going to comment on the difference in tone and strategy between this lebanese and jordanian initiative. those who know me know what i think.

oh, did i mention that jordan sent back its ambassador to the terrorist state of israel?

contrast this with the principled position of mohamed el baradei in response to canceling his interviews on bbc:

The head of the UN”s nuclear watchdog has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the corporation’s decision not to air an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee.

In a statement to the Guardian, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner, unleashed a stinging denunciation of the BBC, deepening the damage already caused by the controversy.

meanwhile in qatar of all places a boycott campaign is underway:

Students of Qatar University will participate in an international campaign to mobilise the public for a boycott of goods produced by American and other Western firms that support Israel, a local Arabic daily reports.

Eleven countries are participating in the campaign.

The student co-ordinator of the campaign at Qatar University, Ibrahim Saad of the faculty of engineering, said there were six firms known to be outright supporters of Israel. “We will mobilise public support and see to it that these firms close down their business operations in Qatar.”

He said he had received overwhelming support from the university students. Starbucks and Coffee Shop are among the immediate targets, says the report. “How could these outlets exist in Qatar and do business with our money while it has been confirmed that they are funding Israel to build Jewish settlements? How could this happen when children are brutally killed in Palestine,” he said.

Starbucks has two outlets in the Qatar University campus, one each in the girls’ and boys’ wings.

However, a memorandum submitted by the students to the university administration seeking the closure of these outlets has received a response that the university is bound by official decisions taken by the government.

and there is yet another petition from the united states calling for a boycott. this one is from academics and cultural workers:

International Writers and Scholars Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

by Steven Salaita / January 27th, 2009

We stand in support of the indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza, who are fighting for their survival against one of the most brutal uses of state power in both this century and the last.

We condemn Israel’s recent (December 2008/ January 2009) breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip, which include the bombing of densely-populated neighborhoods, illegal deployment of the chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities, and places of worship. We condemn Israel’s restriction of access to media and aid workers.

We reject as false Israel’s characterization of its military attacks on Gaza as retaliation. Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is part of its longtime racist jurisprudence against its indigenous Palestinian population, during which the Israeli state has systematically dispossessed, starved, tortured, and economically exploited the Palestinian people.

We reject as untrue the Israeli government’s claims that the Palestinians use civilians as human shields, and that Hamas is an irredeemable terrorist organization. Without endorsing its platforms or philosophy, we recognize Hamas as a democratically elected ruling party. We do not endorse the regime of any existing Arab state, and call for the upholding of internationally mandated human rights and democratic elections in all Arab states.

We call upon our fellow writers and academics in the United States to question discourses that justify and rationalize injustice, and to address Israeli assaults on civilians in Gaza as one of the most important moral issues of our time.

We call upon institutions of higher education in the U.S. to cut ties with Israeli academic institutions, dissolve study abroad programs in Israel, and divest institutional funds from Israeli companies, using the 1980s boycott against apartheid South Africa as a model.

We call on all people of conscience to join us in boycotting Israeli products and institutions until a just, democratic state for all residents of Palestine/Israel comes into existence.

Mohammed Abed
Elmaz Abinader
Diana Abu-Jaber
Ali Abunimah
Opal Palmer Adisa
Deborah Al-Najjar
Evelyn Azeeza Alsultany
Amina Baraka
Amiri Baraka
George Bisharat
Sherwin Bitsui
Breyten Breytenbach
Van Brock
Hayan Charara
Allison Hedge Coke
Lara Deeb
Vicente Diaz
Marilyn Hacker
Mechthild Hart
Sam Hamill
Randa Jarrar
Fady Joudah
Mohja Kahf
Rima Najjar Kapitan
Persis Karim
J. Kehaulani Kauanui
Haunani Kay-Trask
David Lloyd
Sunaina Maira
Nur Masalha
Khaled Mattawa
Daniel AbdalHayy Moore
Aileen Moreton-Robinson
Nadine Naber
Marcy Newman
Viet Nguyen
Simon J. Ortiz
Vijay Prashad
Steven Salaita
Therese Saliba
Sarita See
Deema Shehabi
Matthew Shenoda
Naomi Shihab Nye
Magid Shihade
Vandana Shiva
Noenoe Silva
Andrea Smith
Ahdaf Soueif
Ghada Talhami
Frank X. Walker
Robert Warrior

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2 thoughts on “never before

  1. I wish I could have gone to the forum this Jan. Went to the one in Bruxelles (and this is where I heard Rania speak, one of the best presentations ever, and i wrote reports on the conference). When i have time, Marcy, I will read all of this content.

    Just quickly wanted to say, i thought all the videos were good. Yes, the tone is very different. However, compassion is just as important as armed resistance (when there is no other choice), so both have an important message and I am glad to see these new voices.

    1. yes, you’re right, compassion is important, too. but what i have been hoping for from jordan is also action. not necessarily armed resistance, but an end to jordan’s normalization with the israeli terrorist regime. an economic boycott. removing the ambassador. these are things i think that jordanians can do, and quite frankly should do.

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