Shortly before this year’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 164 countries voted in favour for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination at a session of the UN Third Committee held on 19 November. Remarkably, Brazil voted to support self-determination for the Palestinians after voting against in two consecutive years following the start of Jair Bolsonaro’s term of office in October 2018. With this latest vote, Brazil returned to the position it had taken regularly towards the conflict in occupied Palestine.
“Brazil’s vote for the Palestinian right to self-determination is commendable and appreciable, but there is no self-determination without specific borders, natural resources and a clearly defined territory,” explained Ualid Rabah, the president of the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL).
— URGThinkTankNYC (@URGthinktankNYC) November 19, 2020
Even though Bolsonaro’s foreign policy promotes Brazil’s relationship with Israel, the Brazilian people still keep their promise to the Palestinians and show their solidarity on 29 November every year. The date was chosen by the UN in 1977 as it was on 29 November 1947 that the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, the UN Partition Plan for Palestine.
The International Day of Solidarity reminds the world that the question of Palestine remains unresolved and that the Palestinian people are still waiting for the fulfilment of their national, civil and human rights.
“We reaffirm our commitment to upholding the rights of the Palestinian people,” said Rabah. “It is a day for humanity to renew its commitment to the Palestinian people. We must never allow such ethnic cleansing to happen again”.
The measures in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 meant that this year’s solidarity events took place online. “We will concentrate on activities throughout a week of action to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” explained Rabah. “A series of graphics and videos will circulate on social media. We have experience in this regard with great results.”
Last year, FEPAL had a public exhibition of photographs and posters in Porto Allegro, called “Palestine: from Ethnic Cleansing to Resistance and International Recognition”. This year, the exhibition is online, and cites public statements from well-known figures like Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela and Roger Waters.
The Israeli Federation of Rio Grande do Sul reacted strongly and tried to censor the exhibition in 2019 by putting pressure on the media and the Legislative Assembly. According to Rabah, such efforts were unsuccessful. “The exhibition was visited by thousands of people, who took photographs and posted the images on social media. This increased the exhibition’s reach exponentially.”
FEPAL has also launched a free online Geopolitics Course for the first time, in partnership with the Palestinian Arab-Brazilian Youth SANAUD. The objective is to increase awareness about Palestine over the next few years. The course contains four modules covering the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, the Post-Oslo Arab world, the “deal of the century” and normalisation with the Israeli occupation.
Furthermore, FEPAL has designed a few frames and asked the people of Brazil to use them as social media profile pictures on solidarity day with the message, “Help Palestine by applying the frame of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”. The campaign has received a lot of positive responses.
In 2019, FEPAL and 210 Brazilian parliamentarians, including senators and federal deputies, celebrated the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia. Working for Palestine should not be limited to just one day every year, though. There are several things that Palestinians in the diaspora should encourage.
“We must maintain our traditions, culture, language and identity,” said Rabah. “If we do not, then our children and our children’s children and so on will no longer recognise their Palestinian ancestry. We must also take up places in parliaments, governments and civil society, including trade unions, political parties and other associations, schools and universities.”
The dream of an independent Palestinian state has not seen the light of day yet, but the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People provides an occasion to celebrate their incredible resilience, strength, and resourcefulness. They remain determined to stay on their land, while the refugees remain determined to exercise their legitimate right of return, despite Israel’s ongoing efforts to erase Palestinian identity and obliterate the very existence of the Palestinian people. This will happen, with global support, as long as hearts beat with love for Palestine, regardless of what governments do and say. The late football legend Diego Maradona put it very succinctly: “My heart is Palestinian.” We need more people like Maradona.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.