Monday, April 16, 2012

Paint Bombs in Quebec Student Strike

From the pro-police media:

Vandals armed with suspected Molotov cocktails and red paint hit several buildings in Montreal overnight, in an hour-long spree that left windows damaged and buildings defaced.

Montreal police say there were at least four attempted firebomb attacks at buildings containing provincial government offices after 3 a.m. ET Monday.

The buildings hit include:

750 Marcel-Laurin Bvld.
3269 Saint-Jacques Blvd.
7077 Beaubien St. E.
7171 Beaubien St. E.
"Once police arrived on scene, they found bottles [containing] liquid," said Montreal police Const. Yannick Ouimet, adding that the bottles were tossed through smashed windows.

Police haven't confirmed what was inside the bottles, but they believe they were meant to be incendiary devices.

None of them ignited, however, and no one was hurt.

At some of the scenes, police found red squares painted on buildings or sidewalks. The red square has become the symbol of the student movement opposing the province's tuition hikes.

Two weeks ago, a similar attack coated the Montreal offices of Quebec's Education Ministry in red paint.

Wrong building likely hit
Police believe that one of Monday's attacks, on a building at 7171 Beaubien, was made in error since it was on an apartment building.

The building "had nothing to do with the Quebec government," Ouimet said. Police believe the vandals realized their error and moved down the street a short time later, where they hit the office of Quebec Labour Minister Lise Thériault.

A fifth attack was also reported at 5456 Côte-des-Neiges Rd., but it involved only paint. No incendiary device was found.

Police are still investigating and haven't identified any suspects.

The attacks come one day after Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp said she's ready to discuss university governance with student groups opposed to the planned tuition hikes.

Many of the province's post-secondary students have been on strike for more than two months in protest of a tuition increase that will see them paying $1,625 more in fees over five years.

Students have been staging near-daily demonstrations in Montreal and across the province since March.

Beauchamp said at a news conference Sunday she is ready to meet with students to discuss the creation of an independent committee to oversee university spending.

But tuition increases, scheduled to take effect in September, aren't up for discussion, Beauchamp said.

Friday, April 13, 2012

They Will Not Let Us Mourn Our Dead

The following account of Joel Olson's funeral march in Flagstaff was written by Geoff; i saw it on a listserv and thought it was a poignant account of how the life of someone who worked to make the world a better place is being remembered, and how "Even in the most intimate moments such as mourning there is no escape from this system and the collective struggles that it creates" ...
This last weekend hundreds of people from around the U.S. Arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona to mourn the passing of Joel Olson: father, lover, friend, teacher, mentor, and comrade in struggle. From editing the punk rock magazine Profane Existence, to community organizing, to teaching critical race theory in the classroom, Joel touched countless lives with his brilliant intellect and deep love of people.

In addition to the official memorial at Northern Arizona University, where he taught, there was another gathering to celebrate his life and mourn his death. Folks in the local Latino community organized a rally and march to remember Joel, who was a founding member of The Repeal Coalition, a group of undocumented immigrants and their allies.

On sunday April 8 a crowd, dressed in white, gathered at Flagstaff's city hall. It was mostly comprised of Flagstaff's Latino community, as well as other friends, family, and comrades from far and wide. The event began with a prayer, spoken in Spanish and translated to English. Friends, family, and comrades, then spoke about Joel's work, life, and legacy. By the time the dance troupe performed, most of us were in tears.

We then proceeded to march peacefully down the sidewalk through downtown. An ad-hoc security team worked with march organizers to block traffic at intersections and communicate with drivers to keep the march safe and together. The drivers upon hearing, “Thanks for your patience. This is a funeral procession” all expressed their condolences and willingness to wait until the march passed.

However, as the march was returning to City Hall the police arrived and began aggressively demanding that the march obey traffic signals. They ignored the march organizers as they tried to explain that this was a funeral procession and that they were trying to keep the march safe and together. The police began screaming at the marchers and when they were ignored they pulled aside a Chicano organizer and demanded his ID. As a small crowd gathered around the police declared the organizer under arrest.

At this point it was clear that the police on the scene (all of whom were white) were unwilling to accommodate and respect our collective expression of grief. As the comrade was tackled to the ground, the marchers around him expressed their outrage. The police attempted, and failed, to arrest others. As they stuffed the arrested man into a cruiser, the police berated the angry crowd. “Is this how you honor Professor Olson's memory?” “Professor Olson is watching you act this way,” and “What would his family think of what you're doing?” Joel's sister, who was in the crowd, seemed particularly unimpressed by this last comment. Joel was a revolutionary and spent his life struggling against the police and the racist system they enforce. It was clear to all of us that he would have been proud of our resistance.

We walked the one block back to city hall shocked and in tears. Even in our attempt to mourn our fallen comrade we were not safe or immune from the violence of the state that Joel spent his life fighting. As we dispersed it was clearer than ever that resistance is not a hobby or a part time activity. Even in the most intimate moments such as mourning there is no escape from this system and the collective struggles that it creates. On saturday we were reminded that there is no dichotomy between the personal and the political. As long as oppression exists life is war. They will not let us mourn our dead.

April 19 in Montreal: Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners

Thursday April 19, 2012
6:30pm at Concordia University
Hall Building, Room H-110
1455 de Maisonneuve West
Metro Guy-Concordia
Montreal, Quebec

Since 1967, it is estimated that approximately 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel as part of its repression of the popular resistance. As of March 2012, there were 4,637 Palestinians behind bars in Israeli jails, among them 5 women and 183 children. In addition, there are currently 320 Palestinians being held under six month administrative detention orders, without charge or trial, which can be and usually are renewed.

While imprisoned, Palestinian political prisoners from the West Bank face a military justice system that is often characterized by trumped up charges, low standards of evidence, a lack of due process, an acceptance of torture, as well as sentencing that is disparate and far harsher than that encountered in the Israeli civil justice system. As such, the vast majority experience some form of mistreatment during their detention, including torture, coercive interrogation, isolation, food and sleep deprivation, along with the frequent denial of family and legal visits.

If Palestinian political prisoners have experienced considerable oppression in the occupation’s jails, they have also remained active participants in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination. In recent months, Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi have captured the attention of many worldwide, staging lengthy hunger strikes to courageously confront Israel’s military justice system and protesting administrative detention practices.

On February 11, 2012, Khader Adnan issued a call, requesting that solidarity groups make April 17th - Palestinian Prisoner’s Day - an international day of action. With this in mind, during the week of April 17th, prisoner support groups and Palestine solidarity networks around the world will be gathering to demand justice and freedom for political prisoners. Please join us for a panel discussion and screening to highlight prisoner struggles, affirm our support and stand in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners.


  • Issam Al-Yamani
    A founding member of the Palestinian Left, Issam Al-Yamani is a Palestinian activist, writer and political commentor. Currently, he is also the Executive Director of Toronto’s Palestine House, which was defunded by Minister Jason Kenney in February 2012.
  • Serin Atiani
    A Palestinian researcher and activist, Serin Atiani has advocated for Palestinian human, civil and political rights for over a decade.
  • The event will also feature a screening of a video produced by Addameer, featuring an interview with Suha Barghouti, wife of Ahmed Qatamesh. A prominent Palestinian writer, academic and activist, Qatamesh is currently under an administrative detention order and has been held without charge since his arrest on the night of April 21, 2011.

Organized by Tadamon! Montreal and SPHR Concordia

For more information:
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organisation
Tadamon! Montreal
Solidarity For Human Rights (SPHR)-Concordia

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

David Gilbert's Love and Struggle: the Videos!

Here is the official trailer for David Gilbert's Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond, recently published by PM Press. As many of you know, David is an anti-imperialist political prisoner serving a 75-year-to-life sentence in New York State - he has been locked up since his capture in 1981. (For more about David, click here.)

Some comrades of David's put together a youtube video trailer to accompany the book, to give a taste of what it's all about. Enjoy.

There have been book launches and discussion groups across the united states and canada celebrating this book, and also celebrating David and his place in our communities and movements. Below are a few videos of some of these. Worth watching!

Naomi Jaffe introduces the event "Weather Underground Meets Occupy Wall Street" on March 3, 2012 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY.

Victorio Reyes reads a selection from "Love and Struggle" during the event "Weather Underground Meets Occupy Wall Street" on March 3, 2012 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY.

Panel at Brecht Forum discussing Love and Struggle; Kazembe Balagoon (standing; facilitator), Kenyon Farrow, Monifa Bandele, Terry Bisson, Alan Grieg, Aazam Otero, Matt Meyer.

If you can think of any other similar videos that belong here, don't be shy, let me know!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Friday, April 13, in Philly: Love and Struggle: A Celebration of Our Movements

DOWNLOAD POSTER (black and white or color)

723 Chestnut Street at the Goldilocks Gallery, Philadelphia PA
Friday April 13th at the Goldilock's Gallery, 723 Chestnut Street
Doors open at 6:30, Program starts at 7:00

In honor of the publication of “Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground and Beyond” by longtime organizer and political prisoner David Gilbert, a group of activists and artists will gather to toast the pursuit of social justice. Speakers will include former prisoners who were involved in 1960s and 70s liberation struggles, friends of David’s, and younger activists carrying the work forward, all of them reflecting on life and liberation in the context of Arab Spring, the Occupy phenomenon, and the modern world.

The event, in addition to several brief talks, will include short musical performances and a video of David and others reading excerpts from the book. The event will be free, with donations for the speakers & performers gratefully accepted. Books will be available for purchase.

Adolfo Matos, a former political prisoners who served almost 20 years in prison for his role in the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and one of the 11 independentisas pardoned by Bill Clinton in 1999,

Ashanti Alston, a Black Panther, anarchist and writer who served 11 years in prison for his participation in the Black Liberation movement,

Kazembe Balagun, writer and cultural activist who serves as outreach coordinator for the Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School,

Theresa Shoatz, anti-prison activist and daughter of political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz,

Hakim Ali, an anti-prison activist and one of the founders of Reconstruction, Inc.,

and Dan Berger, a local author and anti-prison activist and a longtime friend of David's.

There will also be messages from Mumia Abu-Jamal, Laura Whitehorn and Russell Maroon Shoatz, music by G.-L.A.W. and a beautiful quilt on display that was made men incarcerated at SCI Chester.

We hope you will join us!

Brought to you by the Wild Poppies Collective

Gabriel Kuhn Reviews David Gilbert's "Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond" (Oakland: PM Press, 2012)

The following review is reposted from the Alpine Anarchist:

David Gilbert mentions the documentary film The Weather Underground by Sam Green and Bill Siegel, released in 2002, on the very first page of his book Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond. Gilbert relates how the film has made many activists of a younger generation aware of his case, leading to very rewarding and inspiring correspondence. Fittingly, my own awareness of David Gilbert’s role in the Weather Underground and of his subsequent involvement with the Black Liberation Army is strongly tied to watching the movie about a decade ago.

Armed Struggle
I got politicized in the radical European left of the late 1980s, when the urban guerrilla movements that had formed in the 1970s – the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, Action Directe, and others – had already succumbed to state repression and internal friction or were making their last stand. I remember defending the Red Army Faction in my high school after the assassination of the Deutsche Bank chairman, Alfred Herrhausen, in November 1989. I didn’t necessarily condone the killing, but argued that the group’s political motivations were honorable. I’m sure I said things that were self-righteous, insensitive, and pretty stupid, but still believe that the moral panic I caused was worth the exercise. There is no fault in reminding people that not everything in this world is rosy, even if you go to a good school in a First World country and have plenty of opportunities.

In my late teens, politics replaced sports as my number one passion and I became obsessed with people dedicating their lives to armed struggle. The willingness to pick up arms seemed to distinguish the most serious, most committed, and most heroic of all revolutionaries: people who had made the ultimate sacrifice and put the struggle for a better world above all else, especially decadent bourgeois ideals such as financial security, professional career, and nuclear family.

I feel embarrassed for these thoughts today, as they express elitism, a very masculine glorification of violence, and rather poor political analysis, but at the time they framed my worldview. Reading Love and Struggle, it appears as if I wasn’t the only one dealing with that kind of problem; David Gilbert speaks of “making a fetish out of violence” in the early Weather days. Had I read the book twenty tears earlier, I might have at least understood that machismo was not only a moral problem, but a tactical one as well: “When someone takes risks mainly to prove his manhood or her womanhood to peers – when one doesn’t feel a deep political and humanitarian basis for facing new challenges – he or she often makes dumb mistakes and has trouble maintaining commitment over the long haul. Macho is not only a male-chauvinist style; it doesn’t work, at least not for us, going up against such a powerful enemy and needing to build a long-term struggle.” (131)

Perhaps luckily, I never faced the decision of intensifying militant confrontation. Going on the offensive was not in the cards for my activist generation. In the Europe of the 1990s, we managed little more than organizing modest resistance against capitalism’s claim to historic victory and the new wave of nationalism and racism that swept over the continent. We were mainly busy keeping left-wing culture alive at all in the midst of socialism’s apparent demise and a deep collective identity crisis. Entertaining the thought of urban guerrilla struggle was so outlandish that it provided little more than moments of amusement in otherwise depressing times.

The Weather in IsraelIt was not least due to these circumstances that, by the mid-1990s, I increasingly framed my politics in individualistic terms, that is, expressing my values and principles in everyday life became more important than commitments to any specific community or collective. For over ten years, I traveled nonstop, doing my best to live up to the moment, meet activists in various countries, and join actions and campaigns if I happened to be at the right place at the right time.

It was towards the end of this decade that, after a year-long overland trip from Cape Town, South Africa, I visited Israel/Palestine for a third time. During some weeks in the spring of 2004, I lived in a squat with Israeli anti-occupation activists in Jaffa, next to Tel Aviv. One night, some of us went to a friend’s apartment to socialize and watch movies – one of them being the Weather Underground documentary.

I was excited to see the film as I only knew the basics about the Weather Underground Organization. It wasn’t one of the militant movements of the 1970s that we had paid much attention to in Europe. One reason was that its history was simply further removed from us than that of its European counterparts. Another reason was that we, correctly or incorrectly, held the belief that some of the European movements had come closer to shaking the foundations of the capitalist nation state. If there was an interest in militancy in the U.S. at all, it almost exclusively focused on the Black Panthers. Unfortunately, this interest contained – besides much genuine respect and support – elements of a patronizing mystification and romanticization of Black culture, something that still requires serious analysis in anti-racist movements in Europe today.

I enjoyed the Weather Underground documentary with a particular feature standing out. I was deeply impressed by the interview excerpts with David Gilbert. I remember thinking that I had never seen an imprisoned veteran of the armed struggle exuding such warmth and openness. The images of armed struggle prisoners I was used to were those of earnest and guarded folks. Not that I ever expected anything else; I rather regarded this as an inevitable consequence of their circumstances. Whether Gilbert’s circumstances differ vastly from those of other armed struggle prisoners across the world I cannot say. In any case, I was intrigued by his composure and, taking authoritative control of the remote at 4 a.m., I instantly switched to the full-length Gilbert interview once the movie had ended. The DVD extra confirmed my impression: here was an armed struggle prisoner who you’d want to have a cup of tea with and chat about anti-imperialism, revolutionary strategy, or, what the heck, the Denver Broncos at the next best opportunity – and I know nothing about American Football.

Love and StruggleUndeniably, one aspect of being taken with Gilbert was a certain identification factor. I, too, come from a white upper middle-class family and have long wrestled with the question of how to meaningfully engage in revolutionary politics based on the privileges I was born with. Furthermore, just like Gilbert and apparently other Weathermen (Gilbert describes a class interruption at a Brooklyn community college, 128), I find it hard to be impolite – not always the best foundation for intervening in messed-up conditions. Finally, I’m also prone to the “most anti-racist white activist” or “exceptional white person” syndrome, which, as Gilbert rightly points out, “usually undermines any serious effort to organize other people against racism” (304). This was one reason for my excitement when a collection of Gilbert’s political writings appeared as No Surrender: Writings from an Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner in 2004, as I hoped to learn important lessons from those texts – and not in vain.

I was equally excited about the release of the autobiographical Love and Struggle. The book left the same impression as the abovementioned interview: a nuanced, balanced, and self-reflective account of Gilbert’s involvement in revolutionary politics. The absence of all polemics, finger-pointing, and bashing of other left factions – a rare feat for any of us – is a real treat. In addition, Gilbert’s prose is remarkably clean of both radical and theoretical jargon. Plenty of different views and opinions are portrayed, but always evenhandedly, leaving it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Gilbert’s fair-minded approach seems to be rooted in his own experiences. With respect to the conflict that split the SDS in the late 1960s, he writes: “The situation called for open, healthy debate, but more often we responded with posturing, quote-plucking, and name-calling. … In challenging, heady, scary periods, we need ways to keep our grounding, to try to always base decisions on the interests of the oppressed, to always stay in touch with the humanist basis for our activism.” (109-110)

Gilbert also offers crucial advice on how to handle one of the revolutionary’s biggest nemeses, the ego: “Looking back I’m amazed at how many times I thought everything I was doing was about making revolution, but my actions were self-aggrandizing… I now believe it is healthier to be conscious and explicit about self-interest… It’s not inherently evil to have self-interest, and in any case it’s not completely avoidable. What messed me up was when I couldn’t admit it to myself and then unconsciously maneuvered in dishonest ways. My method now is to try to be open and explicit about my personal concerns and then to rigorously evaluate them relative to collective principles and goals. Sometimes my personal needs are a legitimate consideration; at other times I’ll want to subordinate them to what’s needed by everyone.” (110)

Learning from HistoryThe final chapter of Love and Struggle might be the most captivating. This is no big surprise: the ill-fated Brink’s robbery, the arrest and subsequent separation from wife and son, the trial, and the prison experience all contain elements of tragedy that have been captivating audiences for millennia. (Gilbert only tells about his pre-trial detention. In general, he states: “For a number of reasons, I’m not yet ready to write about prison”, 7).

This, by no means, takes away from the rest of the book. Gilbert’s account is engaging throughout and provides a precious insight into the U.S.-American left of the 1960s and 1970s, its hopes, debates, conflicts, and disappointments. After introductory remarks on his childhood and youth, with two headstrong sisters paving the way for politicization, Gilbert takes the reader through his activities at Columbia University, the anti-war movement, the SDS, the emerging Weather group, and his six years underground. He describes a steady path of increasing radicalization: “Compared to many people in the ‘60s – when some leaped from Republican families to militant radicals in a matter of months – I was as slow and deliberate as a turtle, grappling with every step in the process: from liberal Democrat, to social democrat (hoping to bring about moderate socialism through elections), to nonviolent civil disobedience, to building resistance through street militancy and draft defiance, to supporting revolutionary armed struggle.” (86)

A detail of special interest to me was that Gilbert’s first arrest came at a solidarity demonstration for Rudi Dutschke, the charismatic leader of the 1960s German student movement, who was shot by a right-wing youth in April 1968. (The incident would eventually cost Dutschke his life: he drowned in a bathtub on Christmas Eve 1979 after an epileptic seizure related to his injuries.) The fact that such a demonstration was held in New York at all confirms the internationalism of the era’s struggles. The shooting of Dutschke was a key moment in the radicalization of the German protest movements of the 1960s, out of which the urban guerrilla movements of the 1970s emerged.

Gilbert’s account touches on numerous issues of ongoing importance for radical debate such as free love, drugs, security culture, and movement infiltration. Gilbert also shares enlightening, and amusing, memories about the formation of the Progressive Labor Party, the origins of the LaRouche movement, Enver-Hoxha-touting Maoists, or the working process behind the 1974 Weather manifestoPrairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism. Love and Struggle is certainly not bereft of humor. In his recollection of the Chicago “Days of Rage” in October 1969, Gilbert writes about missing a handful of cops with a bottle thrown from not more than a few feet, only to escape arrest a second later by a swift and unpredictable move. He concludes: “That moment was fairly emblematic of my brief ‘streetfighting days’. My offensive reflexes were close to nil, but my defensive reflexes were spectacular.” (133)

Common Ground
Particularly interesting from a German-speaker’s perspective are Gilbert’s final remarks on national liberation and anti-imperialism. Gilbert concedes that the former is no “adequate form of struggle in itself to build socialism and to spearhead world revolution” and that the latter can take on “right-wing forms”. Yet, he continues to see imperialism as “the main source” of much global strife and does not regard anti-imperialism as per se reactionary. This is a refreshing perspective in the light of the rifts that the national liberation and imperialism debate has caused among German-speaking leftists, with one side stubbornly clinging to simplistic anti-imperialist doctrines and the other accusing all anti-imperialist analysis of anti-American resentment, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, and nationalist chauvinism.

It is hardly astonishing that the big questions the left is facing today are essentially the same that Gilbert and his comrades faced in 1970: “Did we support independence for various peoples of color within the U.S., or should we strive to forge a multinational working class? Did an independent women’s caucus give needed power to the oppressed or create divisions diverting us from the overall struggle? Should our limited resources be devoted more to big national demonstrations or to community organizing? Were election campaigns a good arena for organizing or a diversion from building a movement in the streets? Should you organize people based on immediate bread and butter concerns or was it essential to emphasize the major issues for society as a whole? Do we respond to growing repression with increased militancy or by restricting the movement to nonconfrontational tactics.” (109) Also many of the personal conflicts described by Gilbert resemble tensions faced by contemporary activists. Gilbert tells us, for example, how his commitments to solidarity work with El Comité, a Chicano/a organization in Denver, and his involvement in the city’s feminist movement and the group Men Against Sexism (MAS) created a situation that felt like “an unbridgeable gap” even if shouldn’t have (251) – the difficulty to unite different struggles against oppression rather than having them compete over center-stage positions haunts the left to this day.

Naturally, Gilbert is not able to provide definite answers to any of these questions – this being a task of utter impossibility. However, Gilbert provides numerous important guidelines that are essential for resolving the related challenges in the only way possible, that is, by drawing specific conclusions from analyzing specific circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, Gilbert reminds us that focusing on what unites us as radicals is far more important than fights over superior ideology, tactics, and revolutionary identity. The following words should be taken to heart: “As revolutionaries, our commitment isn’t to our own status but rather to advancing the struggle.” (292)

While, as Gilbert rightly points out, “we still don’t have that foolproof method for distinguishing crucial debates from competitive bickering” (109), it is easy for petty squabbles to turn a movement of the many into an egotistical battlefield of the few. Differences in opinion and perspective are fruitful and productive for any movement, but we need to stand on a common ground that allows us to nourish the indispensable requirements for true revolutionary action: compassion, solidarity, and love, as there will be no strength, determination, and perseverance without it.

The willingness and the ability to self-criticize are key aspects of the process. Gilbert points this out several times. Yet, he does not mistake self-criticism for self-deprecation and achieves the rare feat of writing a revolutionary memoir staying clear both of denouncing one’s past and of glorifying it. He writes: “I’ve … tried my best to carry on that dual responsibility of upholding basic principles while being open about errors and flaws.” (323) He has been hugely successful. Gilbert’s honesty is one of the book’s main appeals.

Pushing Ahead
Love and Struggle is a gift to all activists, not least those of younger generations. We often fail to adequately pass on experiences acquired in struggle. Longtime comrades leave the movement or can’t be bothered to engage with newcomers; at the same time, a mixture of insecurity, youthful arrogance, and misconceived anti-authoritarianism complicates efforts to hand down knowledge in empowering and democratic ways. As a result, new generations of activists often have but a vague idea about what others did just a decade ago (let alone several), reinvent the wheel, and make the same errors. In light of this, a book like Love and Struggle – rousing and instructive, yet far from pretentious and obtrusive – is tremendously valuable. This alone confirms that David Gilbert, also an insightful commentator on current political affairs and a prison activist, remains as much part of the struggle as he has ever been.

Gabriel Kuhn
(March 2012)

For more information on David Gilbert, a selection of his essays, and a link to the interview from the Weather Underground documentary, please see his profile at

Monday, April 02, 2012

Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

As a follow-up to the last post, which was a public statement endorsed by over a hundred anti-imperialists, condemning the views of Gilad Atzmon, i am also re-posting this statement by 23 Palestinian activists, "Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon". This statement was first posted on the U.S. Palestinian Community Network:

Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

For many years now, Gilad Atzmon, a musician born in Israel and currently living in the United Kingdom, has taken on the self-appointed task of defining for the Palestinian movement the nature of our struggle, and the philosophy underpinning it. He has done so through his various blogs and Internet outlets, in speeches, and in articles. He is currently on tour in the United States promoting his most recent book, entitled, ‘The Wandering Who.’

With this letter, we call for the disavowal of Atzmon by fellow Palestinian organizers, as well as Palestine solidarity activists, and allies of the Palestinian people, and note the dangers of supporting Atzmon’s political work and writings and providing any platforms for their dissemination. We do so as Palestinian organizers and activists, working across continents, campaigns, and ideological positions.

Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.

Palestinians have faced two centuries of orientalist, colonialist and imperialist domination of our native lands. And so as Palestinians, we see such language as immoral and completely outside the core foundations of humanism, equality and justice, on which the struggle for Palestine and its national movement rests. As countless Palestinian activists and organizers, their parties, associations and campaigns, have attested throughout the last century, our struggle was never, and will never be, with Jews, or Judaism, no matter how much Zionism insists that our enemies are the Jews. Rather, our struggle is with Zionism, a modern European settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new European societies on their lands.

We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of Jewish identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity.

Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.

The goal of the Palestinian people has always been clear: self determination. And we can only exercise that inalienable right through liberation, the return of our refugees (the absolute majority of our people) and achieving equal rights to all through decolonization. As such, we stand with all and any movements that call for justice, human dignity, equality, and social, economic, cultural and political rights. We will never compromise the principles and spirit of our liberation struggle. We will not allow a false sense of expediency to drive us into alliance with those who attack, malign, or otherwise attempt to target our political fraternity with all liberation struggles and movements for justice.

As Palestinians, it is our collective responsibility, whether we are in Palestine or in exile, to assert our guidance of our grassroots liberation struggle. We must protect the integrity of our movement, and to do so we must continue to remain vigilant that those for whom we provide platforms actually speak to its principles.

When the Palestinian people call for self-determination and decolonization of our homeland, we do so in the promise and hope of a community founded on justice, where all are free, all are equal and all are welcome.

Until liberation and return.


Ali Abunimah
Naseer Aruri, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Omar Barghouti, human rights activist
Hatem Bazian, Chair, American Muslims for Palestine
Andrew Dalack, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
Haidar Eid, Gaza
Nada Elia, US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Toufic Haddad
Kathryn Hamoudah
Adam Hanieh, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon! Canada
Monadel Herzallah, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
Nadia Hijab, author and human rights advocate
Andrew Kadi
Hanna Kawas, Chair person, Canada Palestine Association and Co-Host Voice of Palestine
Abir Kobty, Palestinian blogger and activist
Joseph Massad, Professor, Columbia University, NY
Danya Mustafa, Israeli Apartheid Week US National Co-Coordinator & Students for Justice in Palestine- University of New Mexico
Dina Omar, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine
Haitham Salawdeh, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network
Sobhi Samour, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London
Khaled Ziada, SOAS Palestine Society, London
Rafeef Ziadah, poet and human rights advocate