Saturday, August 05, 2006

Zapatismo and the Levant

I promised you a big piece this week on the "intergalactic" nature of the zapatistas with a focus on the US, but it's gotta wait because I can't have this space and not use it to speak out against what is happening to the people of Lebanon and Palestine at the hands of the Israeli State.

Keeping in the spirit of this blog, I draw here some connections between the Zapatistas and resistance to (US tax-funded) Zionist colonization and aggression in the region sometimes still referred to as the Levant.
Let's start with a picture...this is the Israeli Apartheid Wall under construction in Bethlehem. In October and November of 2004, Mexican artists travelled to Palestine to paint murals on it expressing resistance to the Israeli occupation and solidarity with the palestinian people. The artists, at least one of whom was an indigenous Mexican active in the Zapatista movement, were aided by international activists and local Palestinian youth.

More recently, the Other Campaign held a national assembly in Mexico City at the end of June/beginning of July from which they released a collective statement. The statement was penned by region. The members from the Northern part of the country finished their statement with "From Chiapas to Chicago, the Other Campaign Goes!" -thus highlighting the real geography of this new Mexican rebellion. But it's really what the members from the Central region wrote that I want to highlight here:

From here, from Mexico, we greet all the people of the world that resist, fight and do not surrender nor sell out. To all the people of the world that suffer, from its palpitations throughout all the latitudes of the planet, the attacks of Capitalism. That they are invaded territorially and/or culturally, that are done violence to in an unequal, unjust, and shameful war, and that resist and survive and are organized and defend themselves. Today we wish to greet them all, the adherents to the Sixth International and also, in a particular way, the Palestinian people.
Indeed, the "sumoud" or steadfastness of the Palestinians resonates with oppressed people around the world, including the Zapatistas and the movement of "the other Mexico" known as the Other Campaign. And vice-versa as there are currently international adherents to the Zapatistas' Sixth Declarationfrom Palestine and Israel. And it was in Lebanon, from the Beirut chapter of the Zapatista-inspired network known as Indymedia, that their Sixth Declaration was translated into Arabic.

And since the two international locations mentioned in the Other Campaign collective statement I quote above are Chicago and Palestine, it goes without saying that I should highlight here the work of Bill Templer, a Chicago-born Israeli scholar and activist. Explicitly inspired by the Zapatista struggle, Templer has produced some incredible explorations of what that inspiration might mean for the struggle for peace with justice in Palestine/Israel...check out these two pieces:
1. "From Mutual Struggle to Mutual Aid: Moving Beyond the Statist Impasse in Israel/Palestine"
2. "The Hamas Breakthrough and Pathways Forward, Beyond Apartheid to Convivencia: 'Walking We Ask Questions.'"

With respect to activism, The International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles, is very much in the spirit of zapatismo and the global justice movement. In response to Israel's latest actions against Lebanon some participants involved in the ISM have joined with Lebanese activists to found the Campaign for Civil Resistance.

A few years ago, members of the zapatista-inspired global network Peoples' Global Action, along with others, founded Tadamon!, a solidarity project between Montreal and Beirut.

Much more personally, I need to say that my heart and thoughts reach out right now to Bilal El-Amine, the original editor of Left Turn magazine. He was the person that first encouraged me to write and we've felt his absence ever since he decided to leave NYC to return to Lebanon. Currently, he continues to inspire many of us here as he risks his life to remain in Southern Lebanon and give nightly reports on what is happening, as they say, on-the-ground.

And to my friend and housemate, Jackie, who is in Israel/Palestine right now and, with great difficulty, attempting to finish filming on SlingShot HipHop...check out the trailer and support the film.

One of our unofficial fifth housemates, Waleed Zaiter, who is editing SlingShot HipHop with Jackie, just completed a PSA for Electronic Lebanon...pass it on...

Also want to recognize fellow New Yorker and comrade, Fernando Reals, who is in the West Bank right now and whose blog, apuntes palestine, is beautiful and heartbreaking.

I'm dedicating this entry to my partner, Ora, as it is reflective of our daily experience in each others lives. She's a jewish-american activist in the palestinian solidarity movement and her life's work is a beautiful example of what it means to "be a zapatista in your own community." Amongst other things, she currently coordinates the Palestine/Isreal Education Project.

For excellent up to date information on the struggle in Lebanon check out Electronic Lebanon (a project of ei: The Electronic Intifada).

1 comment:

fernando reals said...

shout outs to you RJ, i am heading home soon and needed to observe a different location than the community i have been committed to for weeks. i am in balata refugee camp now and the contrast is intense. i will try and write soon and when i come home, surely will write some more... palante, fernando reals.