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International Workers' Day and imperialist oppression of Palestinians

May 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Israel and imperialism have ascertained that International Workers’ Day remains an elusive anniversary for Palestinians. The celebrations, marking the historic struggle for workers’ rights and dignity, is also a reminder of incomplete liberation from imperialism, especially within the context of Palestine – a land mutilated by Israel and its settler-colonial project.

As long as the definition of the word international remains sabotaged by imperialism, resistance is imperative. Professing solidarity with Palestinians necessitates the recognition that international complicity in maintaining Israel’s settler-colonial state has created consequences that give precedence to dependency and need. In the absence of unified resistance between the leaders and the people, Palestinians have been subjected to the indignity of unwilling compliance in order to ensure survival.

For Palestinians, workers’ rights cannot be isolated from the dynamics that bolster the settler-colonial state. Incarcerated within a system that leaves little alternative apart from the options of exploitation or forced displacement, Palestinians have to contend with the fact that, in absence of unity within resistance, their struggle for land remains conditioned by the inherent need to survive.

Additionally, survival is hindered by the fragmenting of oppression within selective timeframes that aid Israel’s manipulation of history. Excessive focus upon 1967 and the West Bank is a violation of memory and historical reclamation that aids Israeli and imperialist impunity. If solidarity with Palestinians is to be professed, it has to be divested from any adherence to hegemonic discourse that sustains itself upon misrepresentation. Solidarity with Palestinians should also focus upon exposing imperialist dependency upon manipulation and acquiescence – a dynamic best combated by liberating history from external, malignant constraints and giving space for Palestinians to articulate their own history.

Rhetoric about Israel’s obligations towards Palestinians is nothing but a reminder of colonisation and imperialist complicity. Since the recognition of Israel’s fabricated state there has been ample evidence of imperialism determining the interpretation of international law in a manner that grants impunity to the perpetrators. Reminders about Israel’s obligations are futile exercises unless accompanied by an internationalist approach which entails a conscious divestment from Israel and imperialism; a confrontation that, primarily, is capable of defending history and its relevance to the present.

Such an approach requires the struggle against imperialist-supported settler-colonisation to take precedence above any other fractured definition, especially the emphasis upon 1967 and the West Bank while neglecting the ongoing Nakba and its repercussions upon Palestine and Palestinians, regardless of their current whereabouts. Israel’s settler-colonial project is defined by the quest for continuous murder and displacement of Palestinians, condoned willingly by imperialism as a necessity to safeguard the Zionist state’s self-imposed, fabricated legitimacy.

Israel’s prolongation of the Nakba requires solidarity to move beyond its usual manifestations and assert resistance as a unifying force. Hence, International Workers’ Day in relation to Palestine should extend to a commemoration of all Palestinians murdered, displaced, imprisoned, tortured, exploited and who have disappeared at the hands of the settler-colonial state. The remembrance should transcend our understanding and perception of Palestinian memory; in a manner that allows an authentic rendition of unity to provide an effective resilience against all forms of oblivion imposed by Israel and imperialism.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.