Struggle Together for a New World of Justice, of Liberation, of Socialism, of Real Democracy
by Charlotte Kates
Comrades and friends, all of you attending the 6th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, I greet you in solidarity and struggle, on the road to liberation, on the road to justice, for all of our causes, and for all of our global struggles to confront Capitalism, Racism, Zionism, Imperialism and reaction.
I know that you were waiting today to hear from a Palestinian keynote speaker, from Khaled Barakat, the Palestinian fighter, activist, leftist and struggler. You were waiting to hear his analysis and what he has to say about the critical tasks of resistance today amid the ongoing crimes of Imperialism, not only in Palestine but around the world. And I know that he would love nothing more than to be speaking with you today whether in person or even over video. But there is a reason why you’re not hearing from Khaled today, and that’s because he’s been prevented from speaking to you. Just days ago, he was slapped with a political ban, prohibiting him from speaking at any events, political activities and demonstrations, so long as he remains in the Federal Republic of Germany where we live. That’s right, for nothing more than his speaking out consistently over the years for justice in Palestine, Khaled Barakat has been banned from speaking, and of course the German Imperialist state never hesitates on an international level to speak about human rights or democracy, but when it comes to stripping the rights of oppressed people who represent national liberation movements, this same government has no qualms about imposing the most repressive, reactionary and fascist measures, in an attempt to gag the voices that stands for Palestinian rights, and not only for Palestinian rights, but for international struggles, for liberation and confronting all forms of exploitation, oppression and injustice.
The imperialist states along with the Zionist state of Israel are engaged in a massive siege upon the Palestinian people. We see this in Gaza, the killer siege that has been taking place for over 12 years, the ongoing imprisonment of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails struggling to achieve their most basic rights, the daily night raids and attacks, the arrests of children, the extrajudicial executions, the shooting and sniping of people in Gaza who marched to the border to demand nothing more than their right to return to their homes, the attacks on fishers and farmers in Gaza, the intensified siege on Palestine, the attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem, the intensified ethnic cleansing, the ongoing new passage of further and further discriminatory and racist laws targeting Palestinians, those who hold Israeli citizenship, from 1948 occupied Palestine. And so when we see actions like these: the political ban on Khaled Barakat, the attempts to pass laws around the world to criminalize support for the Palestinian movement; these are also part and parcel of the same siege that’s being imposed by Zionism, Imperialism and reactionary regimes against the Palestinian people.
Why are Palestinians being subjected to this siege and why is Palestine solidarity being besieged? This is because Palestine continues to stand as an example of resistance and rejection to imperialism, refusal to concede to 70 years of settler colonialism, refusal to surrender, to put off the cause and the people, and a vision of justice for sale. Palestinians continue to refuse and they continue to set an example that rejects everything that the imperialist powers wish to impose upon the peoples of the world. And so, wherever we march, wherever we protest, whether we’re doing so in Brazil, or New York, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Manila, Hong Kong, or here in Berlin, Brussels, London, everywhere where the Palestinian flag stands, it’s not just a national symbol. Instead the Palestinian flag is an international symbol; an international symbol of resistance, of revolution; an international symbol that despite killings, despite 70 years of dispossession, ongoing racist attacks, despite a massively armed colonial power backed up by the most massive militaries of the imperialists in the world, the people can continue to resist, organize, fight and struggle for a revolutionary future for justice, equality, self-determination, and national liberation. Palestine is an example that must be stopped. The Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people are those who must be liquidated.
We see the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations writing in the New York Times and calling for the national suicide of Palestinian culture and identity. We see this kind of genocide being openly espoused in the papers of record of the imperialist world, and of course, it is no surprise that we see imperialist powers like Germany imposing a political ban on Palestinian leftists who speak out on an international level, on an Arab level, or on a Palestinian level, about how people can in fact fight and resist imperialism, and how people can in fact imagine, fight for and realize a truly revolutionary and liberated future.
In addition, internationally, despite the rise of the far right wing, despite the fact that the Israeli state clearly has an alliance with every far-right reactionary and fascist force in the world today, from Bolsonaro in Brazil to Trump in the United States, to the far-right forces here in Europe like AFD here in Germany, that are building their political lives on racist attacks on people in migration, on refugees, on communities of color, these are the forces that are lined up around the world with the Israeli state today. And so it’s very important to know that this silencing of Palestinian activists in Europe is not only something that’s being done at the behest of the Israeli state, it’s also something that is deeply racist. And it’s working hand in hand with the most reactionary and fascist forces to silence those who are organizing oppressed communities around the world and inside the imperialist powers themselves.
Internationally, despite the power and despite the military might invade on behalf of the colonial settler apartheid state of Israel, despite its backing by the United States, by the European Union, by the Canadian state, by the Australian state, all of the settler colonial and imperialist powers are lining up alongside the state that is essentially a military base for imperialism in the region. Despite that fact, and perhaps because of that fact, international solidarity with the Palestinian people, including within the imperialist powers themselves, is growing. More and more people, trade unions, churches, student movements are joining the ‘Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement”, the international movement for the economic, military, political isolation of the Israeli state. They’re joining the academic boycott, the cultural boycott; they’re calling for military embargo. And the fact is, the Israeli Apartheid in colonialism is being exposed before the people of the world for what it truly is – a threat to peace, a threat to justice, and an apartheid system that cannot be allowed to continue to repress Palestinians.
On a daily basis, the Israeli state is really imposing a true state of terror upon the Palestinian people. Even marchers who participate in mass peaceful marches to the so called colonial borders in Gaza can be shot down by snipers; medics, journalists, reporters, people participating every week going to protest for the right of return denied to Palestinians for 71 years are risking deaths simply to say, that we demand for our most basic fundamental human rights. Every night, Palestinian homes are invaded and young people, mothers, fathers and children are taken from their homes and thrown in the back of military jeeps and interrogated. Palestinian universities are invaded and hundreds of students thrown behind bars because they continue to study and believe in a liberated Palestine. And yet, the label of terror and terrorism is not imposed on the Israeli state by the imperialist powers. Instead, we see it imposed on the Palestinian people, the Palestinian resistance, and the political movements that are part of Palestinian liberation, or have been part of the Palestinian liberation movement. It’s important to note that the majority of the Palestinian people are living in exile and in diaspora; that in 1948 over 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes and lands by Zionist forces in the Nakba, and that those refugees continued to struggle for the right of return that they’ve been denied until the present day. So when Palestinian liberation movements and organizations are listed on the Terror List of the United States, the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom – this is an attempt to criminalize the very forces that are fighting for liberation and justice in Palestine; and to say that the terrorized are the terrorists is to turn reality on its head.
This is also what we’re seeing in these attacks on Palestinians speaking out when we see the Palestinians like the Holy Land 5 thrown in jail in the United States for up to 65 years at a time; when we see Arab Communist revolutionary struggler for Palestine George Abdullah jailed in France for 35 years; and we see a political ban imposed on Khaled Barakat, preventing him from meeting, speaking and participating in international events, or even gathering with more than 10 people. And it’s being done under the label of preventing terror. What’s actually being done is promoting Israeli terror against the Palestinian people and promoting Zionist and state terror against the Palestinian people. It’s also an attempt to violently and forcibly cut off Palestinians in exile inside the imperialist countries from the very forces and movements that are at the core of their national liberation movement. This is one reason why it is so critical that we fight against these so called terror lists, that we fight to bring them to an end, because the fact is that the forces of imperialism are the greatest terrorists in the world today, and if the peoples of the world were to write their own terror lists, it would be almost exactly the opposite of the ones that we see created by these powers and states. Instead, these lists are a way to attack liberation movements, to attack peoples in struggle from Colombia to the Philippines to Palestine, and these lists provide a pretext for the ongoing criminalization and persecution of our movements, and it’s more important than ever that we continue to organize and fight to bring this kind of listing and red tagging and terror baiting to an end.
Here in Germany, the political ban on Khaled Barakat is only the latest in a series of attacks. We’ve seen the deportation of Rasmea Odeh, the former Palestinian prisoner and community leader who was also deported from the United States; anti BDS movement motion passed by the Bundestag, the German Parliament, labelling the movement anti-Semitic; at the same time the Jewish organizations and individuals that reject Zionist-racism, or even its most extreme forms are also facing state attacks, so we see the Jewish Voice for Peace organization in Germany had its bank account shut down, the director of the Jewish Museum was forced to resign because of simply sharing a Tweet criticizing the anti BDS motion. So any attempt to frame this as a response to anti-semitism is essentially completely false. In fact we see police protecting Nazi marches in Berlin, at the same time we see dozens of police sent to shut down a Palestinian to stop him from speaking about the so called deal of the century that Donald Trump and his cronies and the reactionary Arab regimes in the Israeli state are attempting to impose upon the Palestinian people.
I want to conclude by saying this: as the International Assembly of ILPS is taking place, there’s another conference taking place in Bahrain. It’s being called the economic conference or the economic peace conference. What it essentially is, is an ultra-capitalist program designed to liquidate the cause of the Palestinian people in exchange for a few crumbs of dollars mostly at the behest of US business people, reactionary Arab regimes and monarchies, and other kinds of ultra-capitalist exploitative forces. The response of Palestinians has been very clear that Palestine is not for sale, and its response has been united and across the board. And when Khaled received the political ban, the event that we were going to, the event that he was going to speak at, was an event about how Palestinians and Arabs and internationals are resisting the so called deal of the century in the Bahrain conference. So it’s this message in particular that the German state did not want to be heard.
As the ILPS International Assembly is happening and as the Bahrain conference is happening, what we see here are two choices, not just for Palestine but for the world. They are the opposites of one another. In one we see the most reactionary forces in the world, the most right-wing forces in the world, the most ultra-capitalist, ultra-exploitative, the monarchies that behead people, and the imperialist powers that continue to live through extracting the resources and blood and sweat and tears of the peoples of the world. And here we see the ILPS assembly representing peoples and movements in struggle for justice and for liberation. So the choice is clear that this is the choice of the enemies that we are facing, this is the choice of the imperialist powers. Its intent is to liquidate the struggles and the peoples that refuse their hegemony and power. But that despite their military might and their millions and billions of dollars, the true power of the people is what we see here in Hong Kong; and it is the kind of organizing and the kind of mobilizing that we see in ILPS that can enable all of our struggles to grow stronger, to defeat the very same forces that are meeting in Bahrain now, in attempt to start a war against Iran, in attempt to confiscate the rights of the Palestinian people. We know that they will not succeed, and we know that through our organizing and our struggle, that we can defeat all of these forces, that we can break down the walls, that we can stop political bans, that we can stop terror-baiting, and that we can fight to achieve our goals; that we can confront Capitalism, Imperialism, Zionism and racism, and we can confront reaction, repression and colonialism, and we can struggle together for a new world of justice, of liberation, of Socialism, of real democracy.
Thank you very much.
From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
Freedom for all political prisoners everywhere around the world!
Justice, freedom and liberation for all!
*Charlotte Kates is the international coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, an international network of activists that work to support rights and freedom for Palestinian political prisoners. She spoke on behalf of Khaled Barakat, Palestinian writer and coordinator of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, who was suddenly slapped with a repressive political by German authorities one day before the beginning of the ILPS 6th International Assembly.