You need to read about Palestine

The Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation and decolonization cannot be just an afterthought for North American leftism, as Angela Davis succinctly puts it. In the same page, Davis points out an insidious catchphrase and deterrent to the Palestinian cause – “It’s so complicated” (read: too complicated to deal with, to read up on, to speak up about).

Davis’s proposed answer to the question of how we might garner solidarity for Palestine in scattered global arenas is to emphasize a social consciousness that insists on and identifies not only the settler-colonial, militant, and violent atrocities committed against Palestine by the Zionist state, but also the structural formations of such violence and their direct ties to freedom struggles in North America.

This blog post briefly contextualizes the radical texts I’ve been reading and reflecting on in recent weeks. Each text has been chosen for its accessibility (the links lead straight to PDFs and web articles, ready for reading!), digestibility, and potential to form conducive dialogue with one another.

  1. Zionist Colonialism in Palestine by Fayez A. Sayegh is an easy-to-follow 1965 monograph outlining the political and historical contexts of Palestine’s colonization, a good primer for anyone unfamiliar with it.
  2. The New Zionism” by Alex V Green is a short Gawker article addressing contemporary ideologies and Zionist myth-making strategies perpetuating oppression, chock-full of helpful links to further contextualize the occupation.
  3. The Palestinian Left Will Not Be Hijacked” by Samar Al-Saleh and L.K. is a denser and more theoretically advanced article containing a Marxist analysis of the Palestinian national question and a critique of ahistorical criticisms levelled against the Palestinian left.
  4. Necropolitics” by Achille Mbembe does not focus solely on Palestine, but frames Israel’s colonization of Palestine as “the most accomplished form of necropower” at work, particularly in the second half of the essay.
  5. Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis (in conversation with Frank Barat) is another easy text – a full book, but a short one with very readable and conversational writing.
Mbembe in “Necropolitics”

As Al-Saleh and L.K. emphasize, Palestine’s struggle may be inextricable from global systems of oppression, but it retains its contextual and historical specificities. This means that slogans like “Our struggles are connected” being used as surface-level platitudes are not only useless in weakening imperial institutions but also preclude productive and geographically specific anti-imperialist work. That being said, it’s helpful to situate the struggle for freedom among oppressed classes being choked by border regimes, imperialism, and colonialism.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle lays some groundwork for a political framework centering solidarity movements and the power of the people, with a Black feminist and prison abolitionist lens. The book is rooted not in an obfuscating conflation of ontologically distinct activisms but in the necessity of collective action against individualism, and a fundamental connection between US and Israeli violence. It ponders how we can “make the struggle a truly global one, one in which everybody on the planet has a part to play and understands that role.” One of the first steps toward such a global struggle is to actively integrate Palestine into our analyses through information and dialogue.

Angela Davis in Freedom is a Constant Struggle

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