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As a struggle for indigenous people’s rights, Gaza has united the world

November 22, 2023 at 9:02 am

Solidarity protest with Palestine on November 12, 2023 in Krakow, Poland [Klaudia Radecka/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

For decades, the struggle for national liberation in Palestine was rightly understood to be part and parcel of the worldwide struggle for liberation, mainly in the Global South. And since national liberation movements were, by definition, the struggle for indigenous people to assert their collective rights for freedom, equality and justice, the Palestinian struggle was positioned as part of this global indigenous movement.

Alas, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the growing dominance of the United States and its allies, the return of Western colonialism in the form of neo-colonialism in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, have all localised many of the struggles of indigenous movements.

This has proved costly, as it allowed France, the US, Britain and others to, once again, sectionalise the Global South into regions of influence, controlling them through whatever military, political and economic strategies they had in mind. Similar to the scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, recent decades have wrought a new kind of colonial scramble for the Global South.

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In the Palestinian context, in particular, the struggle was multi-faceted: the demise of global powers, such as the USSR, which created some kind of geopolitical balance, isolated Palestinian resistance movements, especially those involved in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). This forced them to seek political “compromises”, without achieving anything tangible in return.

For Washington, these concessions on the part of the one-time national liberation movement in Palestine were consistent with the US regional agenda and the quest for a “New Middle East”. Ultimately, this resulted in the wrongly-described “Palestinian division”, factional clashes in 2007, and a political paralysis which has defined the so-called Palestinian leadership. Moreover, while Palestinians were busy sorting out their political and leadership crises, Israel’s settler-colonial process accelerated, at the expense of whatever remained of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Of course, this does not, from an intellectual and historical point of view, alter the essential nature of the Palestinian struggle, which remained that of an indigenous nation fighting for its rights. However, it did confuse the political definitions and discourses surrounding the so-called Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This confusion was a direct outcome of the misrepresentation of the Palestinian struggle through Israeli propaganda and US-Western media, which remained committed to promoting the Israeli narrative. Israel invested in presenting Palestinians as a divided people with no vision of peace, and their resistance movements as essentially terrorist groups, hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, and so on.

However, things began to change in recent years, with the revival of indigenous movements around the world, from the Black struggle in the US to the indigenous peoples’ resurgence in North and South America, to the ultimate rise of an actual global movement, centred around landless societies and indigenous rights, which invested heavily in global solidarity and intersectionality, allowing it to multiply its powers several times over.

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The common element of “decolonisation” — in all its manifestations — has created intersectional links among various struggles around the world, and allowed the Palestinian struggle for liberation to fit perfectly into the new global narrative.

“Black Australians and Palestinians share a history and reality of erasure that has lasted far beyond the anticolonial era of the early last century, when most colonised peoples gained independence from colonial powers,” Eugenia Flynn and Tasnim Sammak wrote in their article “Black Australia to Palestine: solidarity in decolonial struggle”.

The Black Lives Matter Movement also played a central role in re-centring Palestine around urgent and revived struggles in the United States and even beyond North America.

“Palestinians played a crucial role in the [2014] Ferguson, Missouri, uprising that flared that year in the wake of the police killing of Black teenager Michael Brown,” wrote Russell Rickford in Vox. “Palestinian activists used social media to share with African American protesters tactics for dealing with tear gas attacks by militarised police forces — an experience with which many subjects of Israeli occupation are all too familiar.”

This was only the beginning, however, as, over the years, Palestine began featuring as a staple in the Black struggle discourse in the US. Both movements fed on each other’s popularity, conceiving new networks and connecting other global struggles together in a most harmonious fashion.

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All of this has been propelled forward by the growing connectivity of activists and their struggles around the world, thanks to the utilisation of social media alongside independent indigenous media as critical components of organisation and mobilisation. While the credibility of mainstream media is being questioned by Western societies, social media is now appearing as a reliable source of information and news about popular mobilisation and direct action.

The ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza has demonstrated the power of social media in terms of its ability to overcome the intentional lies and deception of corporate media, thus greatly diminishing the traditional role of the latter in shaping public opinion around Palestine, the Middle East, the US self-serving “war on terror” and many other issues.

It would not be an exaggeration to state that there is a parallel war to the one happening in Gaza now, one that engages millions of people around the world, working diligently to defeat Israeli-US-Western propaganda and to demand accountability for those carrying out war crimes in Gaza.

It would be inaccurate to say that Western governments have been “silent” in the face of Israeli atrocities in Gaza. As indigenous struggles around the world ally with the struggle of the Palestinians, colonial and neocolonial powers have no other option but to ally with settler-colonial Israel. This means that Western powers are active participants in the Israeli war against Palestinians in Gaza, through their generous military support, the sharing of intelligence and political and financial backing.

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Whether the war lasts for another week, another month or a year, its consequences will be felt for many years to come, not only in Palestine or even the Middle East, but also worldwide.

Israel’s war in Gaza has galvanised global solidarity movements, especially those which are invested in indigenous rights. All of this is reminiscent of the height of the anticolonial national liberation movements of decades ago. Hence, this historic moment must be seized, not only for the sake of Gaza and the Palestinian people, but also for the sake of freedom and justice everywhere else in the world.

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