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The April 20 Mobilization: Context Of Palestine

The April 20 Mobilization: The Context Of Palestine

A Public Statement from the Free Palestine Alliance


May 2002

On April 20, 2002, Palestine carved itself a permanent imprint in the history of the Peace and Justice Movement in the United States. The convergence of the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people, best epitomized by the steadfastness of the Jenin Camp, with the consistent political and organizational efforts of principled Palestinian allies in the Peace and Justice Movement produced an unprecedented climate of solidarity with a qualitative distinction.

In short, the synthesis of the Palestinian people's struggle with the indispensable role played by the solidarity movement shouldered in no small part by non-sectarian organizing of Palestinian, Arab and Islamic communities, culminated into a critical mass that mobilized more than 100,000 in Washington, D.C. and at least 35,000 in San Francisco, simultaneously.

But the sheer magnitude of numbers, overwhelming and historic as they are, should not be the only recognized qualitative characteristics of the April 20 Mobilization, nor should it be seen as the most important factor influencing future work on Palestine in the US.

Many other characteristics and factors should be considered:

1. On April 20, Palestine occupied center stage for the first time after many years of marginalization by many currents and trends in the Peace and Justice Movement in the US. The positioning of Palestine in this manner ushered in a new phase for all, and announced that the anti-colonial nature of the Palestinian struggle was a cornerstone of any emerging anti-war movement. The FPA considers the insistence that Palestine occupy center stage helps the movement as a whole to propel forward. In this context, we take the opportunity to salute the principled solidarity with the Palestinian people granted over the years by the constituents of the International ANSWER Coalition and many others. We also salute all organizations and coalitions who made the decision to recognize the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and their imperative centrality to the struggle for justice.

2. The type of participation of the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim political activists mirrored that in the Palestinian national liberation movement, where all sectors of the population in all of their political, organizational, and ideological variations stand united as they face the Israeli colonial onslaught.

In D.C. and San Francisco, it was clear that our community came out as a whole in the same populist manner. As some commented, our living rooms marched in the streets of the United States. Grandparents held the hands of their little ones as they stood shoulder to shoulder with fathers and mothers, in a fantastic mosaic never seen before in the US, all demanding "Free . Free . Palestine!"

Contrary to some in the Peace and Justice Movement who saw in the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim participants as welcomed guests, our communities clearly comprised the majority of those present, as they assumed ownership of their issues. Arabs and Muslims are, after all, primary targets and victims of today's "war against terror." It is time for the Peace and Justice Movement in the US to fully recognize that we are full and equal partners in the struggle for justice and against colonial control. We are not guests in anyone's space. In fact, on April 20, we announced our irremovable presence as we took the reins of our movement and narrated our story rather than be the object of narration. On that day, as many others have done before us, we challenged and defeated the false and racist assumption that the agenda of peace and justice can be set independently of its victims.

3. The compelling and crowning presence of Palestine in D.C. and San Francisco is a reflection of the manner with which the Palestinians are regarded today worldwide. As a people in totality, we remain steadfast in our opposition to the US-funded Israeli war of liquidating Palestine and its people. Through our struggle, our people became one of the final custodians of the principle of self-determination and anti-colonial struggles. Aware of our role in Palestine, and that in exile, including the US, the Palestinian people have also assumed a leadership position in the struggle against the misappropriation of political language and victories. It was for the purpose of consciously safeguarding the totality of the Palestinian narrative that the FPA articulated from the helm of the movement a clear language and program of unconditional liberation on behalf of all segments of our people, in the West Bank and Gaza, within the 1948 borders, and in exile.

The FPA recognizes the clear and imminent danger posed by the rising discourse of obliterating Palestine as a single unit of history, land, people, and cumulative struggle. We regard the replacement of the national liberation of the Palestinian people with the Bantustan Project as a dangerous program of defeat. It is a program that invokes the prevailing sense of urgency and expediency to empty the Palestinian movement of its fundamentals.

4. The sheer magnitude and popular character of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim participation was a direct result, among others, of 3 very important organizational factors:

a. The principled role played by the International ANSWER Coalition in forging a partnership of solidarity with a multiplicity of community organizations that transcended religious, political, and national divides. This partnership was manifested in the joint leadership, participation, and preparation for the Mobilization. As a result of this principled partnership, and recognition of the primacy of Palestine in the anti-war movement, the call to mobilize became a joint call effectively owned by all.

b. As the Palestinian constituency within the International ANSWER Coalition, the FPA recognized that for this mobilization to parallel and mirror the urgency and historical seriousness of the struggle in Palestine, a collective unified participation by all community and solidarity organizations was a prerequisite. This emerged as the guiding slogan for the majority who locked arms and poured in their organizational resources to make history.

c. Like all historical events, the April 20 Mobilization and its phenomenal success should be seen in the context of the historical continuity of the struggle, and the accumulation of awareness and consciousness in the solidarity movement. The organizational development of many campaigns and programs from coast to coast had a direct contribution in the making of the mobilization, ranging from students to community centers, and from political organizations to places of worship. The success of the April 20 Mobilization and that of any future programs, is directly linked to the cumulative synthesis of the various programs and struggles, provided that the total sum remains on a clear strategic course of anti-colonial liberation.

On April 20, 2002, the movement took a significant step in the transformation of the dominant political lexicon on Palestine. Zionism, in all of its variations, was appropriately positioned for what it is, an abhorrent ideology outside the construct of socio-economic justice.

Long Live International Solidarity!

Long Live Palestine!

The Free Palestine Alliance - USA May 2002

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