On Palestine (BWR)
On June 30, 2021, Istanbul&I hosted a discussion event on the Palestinian struggle and resistance movement. It was held in light of the media breakthrough of the #SaveSheikhJarrah campaign to save thirteen families in East Jerusalem from being forcibly expelled out of their homes at the hands of the occupation forces, the eleven-day bombing and onslaught of Gaza by Israel in May, and various other Palestinian neighborhoods and villages facing ethnic cleasning such as Beita, Silwan, and Yaffa.
The event was hosted through the book club Because We’ve Read Istanbul, which is a chapter of the international book club started by Iranian-American Writer and Activist Hoda Katebi. The Istanbul chapter was established by Istanbul&I’s Executive Coordinator Amber Erkan in October 2020, holding meetings every month on a selected radical reading related to the topics of Islamophobia, racism and slavery, orientalism, and more. This June, Because We’ve Read Istanbul chose to read and discuss the book Zionist Colonialism in Palestine written by Palestinian-Syrian-American Writer and Researcher Fayez Saddegh who founded the Palestine Research Center in Beirut in 1965. This center has published several works of Palestinian writers such as Edward Said, Ghassan Kanafani, and Leila Khaled until it was destroyed during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.
Fayez’s book helped contextualize the campaigns of villages and neighborhoods all over Palestine within the framework of resistance to Zionist colonialism. It further helped connect the discussion of what Palestinians are experiencing right now in 2021 to the history of Palestine’s occupation and ethnic cleansing since the twentieth century. From our understanding of Zionism’s goals through Fayez’s book, we are able to see that the case of East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is not a matter of real-estate property but instead is a political forced expulsion to further occupy all of Palestine. Further, we can also see that the case of occupied Nablus’ Beita is not a matter of land dispute but an organized attempt to erase Palestinian history through ethnic cleansing. Thus, understanding the history of Palestine’s colonization allows us to understand Zionism as an ongoing project as Palestinians continue to fight for their liberation.
As June is Pride month, the event also focused on Israel’s use of pinkwashing. The queer Palestinian organization Al-Qaws defines pinkwashing as a term adopted by Palestinian activists to “describe how the Israeli state and its supporters use the language of gay and trans rights to direct international attention away from the oppression of Palestinians.” The event discussed how pinkwashing is a form of colonial violence targeting and orientalizing Palestinians as well as principally erasing the queer Palestinian movement. In addition, it shed light on the importance of fighting against pinkwashing in our resistance and fighting for Palestine’s liberation.
Osama Hijazi – 04/7/21