Caption: Charlotte Kates on the steps leading to the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 14, 2023, during a rally commemorating 75 years of Palestine’s Nakba. She is holding a poster that says, “Victory to the Resistance/Glory to the Martyrs.”
In the image above, the three martyrs on the poster held up by Charlotte Kates, the international coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, are Khalil Al-Bahtini, Jihad Ghannam and Tariq Izzedin, three Islamic Jihad leaders killed during Israel’s latest strike on the Gaza Strip. News sources generally describe Islamic Jihad as “an Iranian-backed group that is on terrorism watchlists in the West.” But this poster, which was designed and published by Masar Badil — Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, proclaims: “Victory to the Resistance/Glory to the Martyrs.”
The success of Zionist hasbara in the West in designating Palestinian and Lebanese armed groups that threaten its security as “terrorists” has finally met a challenge, and not only by pro-Palestine networks and movements such as Samidoun and Masar Badil. On 9 April 2023, The New York Times (NYT) published a “brief guide to the armed group that saw three leaders killed” in which NYT Jerusalem correspondent Raja Abdulrahim explains: “Islamic Jihad was founded in the 1980s in the Gaza Strip to fight the Israeli occupation and maintains a presence in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank… Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the most important members of the joint operations room which coordinates most military activity among the various armed groups in the tiny coastal enclave of Gaza.”
This year, during rallies around the globe commemorating the 75th year of the Palestinian Nakba, popular outcries were remarkably assertive and fearless. A friend describing this year’s Al-Quds march in London wrote: “I’ve been on many marches over the years for Palestine, but this was the first time a chant of ‘intifada revolution’ was included.” A few days ago at the Nakba Day rally in Toronto, a young organizer wore a t-shirt with the image of martyr Ibrahim al-Nabulsi and the caption repeated many times: “No one should let go of the gun.”
Ibrahim was killed at the age of 18 by the Israeli army in August of 2022. Although his image holding a gun was scrubbed clean from Meta platforms, Ibrahim has become a symbol of heroism and resistance to a young generation of Palestinians who have faith that armed struggle against Israel is not only legitimate, but it is also effective.
Caption: An organizer at Toronto’s Nakba Day rally on May 13, 2023 wearing a t-shirt with the image of martyr Ibrahim Nabulsi holding a gun. Arabic says, “No one should let go of the gun.”
The most dramatic example of the trend among Palestinian youth of publicly espousing armed resistance as an integral part of the struggle for liberation comes from Germany, as shown in a video clip posted on YouTube by Samidoun Deutschland titled, “Resisting the Silencing of the Palestinian Voice in Germany #Nakba75.”
The clip depicts protestors chanting (in Arabic), “Let the olive branch fall; and long live the gun.” The chant is a defiant reference to Yasser Arafat’s UN speech on 13 November 1974, in which he is said to have “moved the international body-politic” by attesting: “Today I come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”
Such are the “shared values” of colonialism and imperialism, the “international body-politic” in the West continues to cover over, deny and shamelessly support the activities of a racial settler-colonial state engaged in a long-standing and merciless project of violent dispossession of the Palestinian people.
In the US, we see this today in the outrage over Rashida Tlaib’s Palestinian Nakba event; we see it in Canada’s boycott of the United Nations’ first ever official commemoration of the Nakba and in Germany’s relentless campaign to silence pro-Palestinian voices.
In London, at the Nakba 75 march this last Saturday, chants of “revolution” were not included, likely because a new Public Order bill has just been given royal assent in the UK. In Leicester, at the Elbit arms factory where activists have been camping outside for a couple of weeks now, forty people have been arrested and tents confiscated by a large number of heavy-handed police.
Nevertheless, the pushback by Palestinian armed resistance is strong and continues to destabilize Israel’s control and desire to preserve the status quo. According to political analyst Nur Arafeh, this kind of pushback “may terminate the Oslo Accords of 1993 and lead to a new stage in Palestinian-Israeli relations, characterized by even more bloodshed, until a new political framework is devised that ends the occupation, achieves Palestinian self-determination, and guarantees rights for all.”
Claiming to be cracking down on Palestinians it suspects of belonging to “terrorist” resistance groups, Israeli troops have for almost a year been attacking towns and villages across the West Bank, killing and detaining hundreds of Palestinians. In 2023 alone, at least 150 Palestinians have been murdered by Israeli forces and Jewish so-called “settlers.”
On 16 April, 2023, Palinfo reported that “at least four Palestinian citizens were injured and four others were kidnaped on Tuesday morning after the Israeli occupation forces stormed Jenin refugee camp.”
Nur Arafeh concludes her analysis by saying: “The fact that the Israeli system of control is facing strong Palestinian pushback, and that the possible ways open to Israelis to escape from this situation would only make matters worse for them, shows that their strategy cannot prevail indefinitely. The problem is that Israeli decisionmakers are unwilling to consider the only viable option that would satisfy Palestinians in the long-term. This would involve ending the occupation; fulfilling the Palestinians’ longing for freedom, justice, and dignity; and guaranteeing the right to political, civil, socioeconomic, and cultural equality for all citizens.”
In one more sign that Palestinian armed resistance is an effective strategy of destabilization, the United States and Israel are now looking for ways to “‘confront the security situation’ concerning the conflict between the Israeli forces and the Palestinian resistance.” Unfortunately, they are looking in all the wrong places. Apparently, under the auspices of the US, Egypt is planning yet another “security meeting” with the usual suspects to be convened in Sharm al-Sheikh.
Note: First published on Medium
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.