2017 National SJP Conference
Saturday, October 28th, 2017
Workshop Block A 10:00am – 11:30am
“Workshop Block A: Allyship – Intro”
Muhammad Nabulsi: But we can talk about it later. So for now, we’re going to go ahead and get started with this panel. We have two panelists with us and I’m going to let them introduce themselves because I don’t have a bio on them.
But, I’m just gonna play the role of moderating this panel, which means that I’m going to pose questions to the panelists and they’re gonna respond. And, the way that we formatted it is that we have one question, then each is going to take 10-15 minutes to respond to that question for a series of questions. And, if y’all get lost on a series of questions you can just look back at me and be like what question am I on next? And, they can respond to each other as well.
And so, this is a panel, as I’m sure you all know, about Allyship and Solidarity, the various limits and mandates of that type of relationship. So, we’re gonna start with Noura.
Noura, can you introduce yourself?
SJP Activist: “You Have a Lot of People Talking About BDS As an End All be All…And Then They Ignore The Aspect of Armed Liberation'”
Hossam Gamea: Um so, basically, when it comes to solidarity I think um a part is like the three knows that we should keep in mind is not know like no, know as in K-N-O-W, is know your role, know your place, and know your privilege. So when it comes to like knowing your role, knowing your role and very specifically as a Palestine. You’re not, especially if you’re not Palestinian, you’re not gonna be deciding policy for Palestinians. You’re not gonna be dictating how Palestinians live their lives. You’re not gonna be dictating a post-liberation government, et cetera, et cetera.
Um. Understanding the role here is not to speak for Palestinians, but to allow Palestinians to speak through us. And not to call out their business. Use their movement to open up to Palestinians to push I guess our own personal politics, push our own ambitions, et cetera, et cetera. So, we use, we don’t use Palestine. We’re just. We’re here as messengers for Palestinians and to get their message across. Um.
The other thing is to know your place. So, you know, if you’re a, a lot of, if you’re in America most likely you didn’t start supporting Palestine until relatively recently, right? So you probably do not have historical understanding, or do not have religious understanding, or do not have cultural understanding of Palestinians. And, you know, I’m just gonna talk from like things I’ve noticed. You’ll have a lot of people, even within the Palestine solidarity movement, who will talk about things they are completely ignorant about and are very confident with. Whether it’s, you know, related, relations to like Islam like religiously. Like you’ll talk about… You’ll have people talking about like sectarianism with regards to like Shia or Sunni or however many. They don’t understand the differences. They don’t understand the complexities or like, talking about like, Wahhabi or Salafi. They don’t understand the differences between these words. They start like uh misrepresenting these different concepts. You could use their lack of understanding.
Also, knowing your place when it comes to like Palestine history, understanding Palestinian history. If you don’t understand Palestinian history and the history of um pre-colonial, pre-colonialism in Palestine as well. Um so inform your opinion about Palestinian and Palestine without that kind of context, that’s an incomplete context or uh, or uh… Yeah, that’s an incomplete context start speaking on what Palestinians believe, why they believe what they believe, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
And the last thing is, know your privilege. And I think knowing or understanding your privilege is that, you know, we’re in the US, right? So, the most we do I would say is, you know, pushing like BDS phrasing. But, you have a lot of people talking about BDS as an end all be all because that’s where, what how… that’s the capacity beacon of Palestinians. And then they ignore the aspect of armed liberation, armed resistance in Palestine and just focus on this non-violence aspect and say this is the movement when it’s not the movement. This is just an aspect of the movement where Americans can help. Where we push our government stuff on Israel and that’s it.
SJP Activist Attempts to Justify Anti-Semitims: “So When They Talk About Yahood, They Don’t Mean Jews. They Mean The Zionists.'”
Hossam Gamea: And all that aspect of knowing your privilege is… You know, I’m going to give another example where it’s not like anti-Semitism. That’s all Palestinians. You’ll have people uncomfortable sometimes with relaying to the things Palestinians say because sometimes when they say Yahood, or like Jews instead of like Zionists, right? And understanding your privilege you’re in the US. Your experience with uh… Our experience with Jews is more informed by, you know, we’re talking about like the Holocaust. Um. We have more uh… we’re not directly oppressed by people who like call themselves Jews, et cetera. So when we’re talking about in Palestine, I don’t actually argue with any Arab country. The only context that they really have in experience with people calling themselves Yahood is through Israel, which calls itself the Jewish state. So when they talk about Yahood, they don’t mean Jews. They mean the Zionists.
The issue is that Israel identifies itself as Yahood. They say what, even the IDF when you enter a Palestinian occupied Palestine, they’ll call themselves the Yahood. Like they’ll call themselves that. And this is obviously a strategy, a tactic to then be like oh, look at the Palestinians, they’re practicing anti-Semitism. Kind of like this concept of anti-Semitism within the movement that it doesn’t really fit because how can Palestinians be anti. What kind of power do they have to be anti-Semitic? And this like, this, this, misrepresentation or this linking of Palestinians to like anti-Semitism that may make people think about is like Nazism or Nazis. Arabs have nothing to do with the Nazis. Palestinians have nothing to do with the Nazis. They have nothing to do with the Holocaust.
Misogynist SJP leader: “If You Talked to People in Palestine … I’m Pretty Sure None of Them Fit That Qualification of Being a Proletariat Feminist”
Hossam Gamea: I think recognizing the different between their analysis and Palestinian’s corporal all you know. You can have um like this Palestinians, you can have Islamic Palestinians, what have you, what have you. But recognizing you know when you’re speaking you don’t misrepresent the reality on the ground, you know. Like that’s the most important thing. You don’t misrepresent the reality on the ground. Be honest about it.
So for example, um I think one way people uh… I mean this goes into co-opting specifically. Um. I… From my perspective with an S… within many SJP’s and from discussions I’ve had with many Palestinians, part SJP’s around the country. There’s um al-Sham people of the like people from al-Sham. Um. There’s a monopolization or a report of monopolization of the Palestinian cause to push certain politics. Um. And push a certain analysis that is not necessarily consistent with the analysis of Palestinians on the ground. Um. And this is being presented as the primary voices of Palestinians or the primary voice of Palestinian liberation. And that’s not the case.
So um I’m gonna give a very concrete example. Um. I remember there was one uh SJP and they had their points of view to be was uh you have to be a proletariat feminist or this proletariat feminism. If you talked to people in Palestine or Gaza for example, I’m pretty sure none of them fit that qualification of being a proletariat feminist. So, if your solidarity is excluding Palestinians under the Israeli occupation itself, you need to stop and think about who are you showing solidarity for? Are you showing solidarity for yourself, for what your beliefs are? Or are you showing and using Palestine as a recruitment tool to your beliefs, your politics in the US or wherever your analysis is? Or are you genuinely um attempting to create a space where you can have multiple diverse opinions or analyses and come to agreements with those people?