(UPDATED) 10 Talking Points On Palestine For Arab-Americans

palestine

[Ikhras Editors Note: The 10 talking points on Palestine for Arab-Americans were first published on August 25, 2014 just two days before Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza was coming to an end with the announcement of an open-ended-cease-fire between the Zionist occupation regime and the Palestinian resistance forces.  The ikhras talking points were received with great approval. In addition to the positive feedback we also received constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. As a result the following talking points were updated and republished September 4, 2014.]

California State University Political Science Professor As’ad Abukhalil recently shared (originally in Arabic on Facebook but subsequently translated and published on his Angry Arab blog in English) his “Tips for Arabs About Speaking (about Palestine) to Western audiences.” We highly recommend Arab-Americans study it. We at ikhras have formulated a comprehensive set of ten talking points on Palestine that Arab-Americans will also find helpful. They would be most effective when used in conjunction with Professor Abukhalil’s recommended preparation and presentation style and methods.  Undoubtedly there will be those who will not use these talking points because they offend the sensibilities of the US political class and fall outside the strictly defined parameters of acceptable public discourse on Palestine. To those people unwilling to challenge the dominant and rigid narrative that prevails in the US and are more concerned with garnering mainstream acceptance than speaking truthfully and forcefully, you have already rendered yourself useless before uttering a single word. You cannot be an effective advocate on behalf of the Palestine cause unless you’re willing to challenge the false assumptions and lies about the Zionist settler-colonial entity and the supposedly virtuous US imperial project that undergirds it. If you’re unwilling to do so it’s preferable to just ikhras rather than join the mealy-mouthed blathering which serves only to reinforce false narratives and assumptions. Remember, you don’t have to talk about Palestine, but should you choose to do so, these talking points will help you do it properly.

[1] On Gaza

With Gaza under siege since 2007 and with repeated Israeli massacres in this small strip of Palestine, the most recent ending just a few days ago, it’s natural that Gaza often becomes the focus of world attention. However, it is critically important to remind your audience that Gaza is not a separate political entity or geographic unit, but an inseparable part of occupied Palestine.  Remember to point out that 75-80 percent of the population trapped in the Gaza open-air prison is made up of refugees ethnically cleansed from their towns and villages in 1948 and their descendants.

[2] All Of Palestine Is Occupied

When you speak about occupation you must make clear you are referring to the occupation of all of Palestine. This can be done by simply referring to the 66 year occupation. The phrase “from the river to the sea” is also effective in providing proper context and clarity. Remember to point out no foreign government or International body ever had a right to partition Palestine or establish any entity in that country without the consent of the Palestinian Arabs, the original inhabitants of Palestine, its only indigenous population and the sole owners of the land. Therefore, there is no moral or legal distinction between the colonization and occupation of the regions of Palestine conquered in 1948 (an area larger than what the null and void 1947 partition plan allocated to the usurping Zionist entity) and 1967.

[3] Palestinians’ Right To Self-Defense And Resistance

You should not hesitate to defend the right of the Palestinian people to self-defense and resistance, including armed resistance. Your role is to defend this basic right without expressing a preference for any one form or method of resistance. That is entirely up the occupied Palestinian people. Make sure to point out there is no moral or legal equivalence between the violence of the occupier/colonizer and the resistance of the occupied/colonized.

[4] You Can And Should Defend Resistance Groups Without Violating US Law. 

Many people will want to focus on HAMAS. You should point out that while HAMAS is not the issue, it is not the terrorist organization that is portrayed by US regime media and the Zionist propaganda machine. Point out that HAMAS is the largest of several Palestinian resistance groups in occupied Palestine that are currently operating under a unified command with the full support of the Palestinian people. Understandably, in a climate of fear and intimidation and with the increase in civil rights violations of recent years, many Arab-Americans will hesitate to defend a Palestinian resistance movement the US Government has designated as a “foreign terrorist organization.” You can and should defend HAMAS and all Palestinian resistance groups within the bounds of the law. US law prohibits providing “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.” While the phrase “material support” is arguably ambiguous and has been subject to varied legal interpretations, it certainly does not encompass your right to express your opinion and challenge the terrorist designation. You should forcefully emphasize HAMAS and the other Palestinian factions are not terrorist groups, but resistance organizations fighting against foreign invasion and occupation. Activists should be fully aware of relevant US laws, and the potential legal ramifications of Palestine solidarity activism. If you’re not sure about any course of action please consult an attorney. 

[5] Disproportionate Use Of Force

Do not invoke the argument of disproportionate use of force by Israel. The principle of proportionality is a norm of customary international law applicable to armed conflict, but any reference to this principle includes an inherent presumption that Israel is entitled to the use of proportionate force. You should remain focused on the fact Israel is a foreign invader and occupier with no right to use any level of force in defense of its military occupation and colonial regime.

[6] US Regime Complicity In Israel’s War Crimes  

Point out US complicity in all of Israel’s past and present war crimes. Demand a complete halt to US political, economic, and military support for Israel. Make sure to have done your homework and provide accurate and detailed information about the extent and scope of US economic and military assistance. Remember that during the most recent massacre US regime officials endorsed Israel’s actions, repeatedly defended “Israel’s right to defend itself” and replenished Israel’s ammunition supplies.

[7] Palestine, Arabs And Universal Human Values

Remind your audience this is not solely a “Palestinian-Israeli conflict”, but an Arab-Zionist conflict. Just as different regions of Palestine (48 & 67) and Palestinians under occupation and in the diaspora should not be divided, nor should Palestine be separated from the rest of the region.  Point out Israel has been in a state of war with all its Arab neighbors since its inception, and in addition to occupying Palestine, continues to occupy parts of Lebanon and the Syrian Golan Heights. Emphasize that while the liberation of Palestine remains the central cause of the Arab world and the Arab-American community, it is ultimately a morally compelling cause that rests on universal human values.

[8] Religion: A Distractor And An Opportunity

You will inevitably run into those who, either out of ignorance, emotion, ideology, or propagandizing motives, will want to frame the conflict in religious terms. Point out this is not a religious conflict and remind your audience the conflict is about colonialism, ethnic cleansing, military occupation, and apartheid. Inserting religion into the discussion does not have to be distractor. An informed activist can approach the insertion of religion into the discussion as an opportunity to dispel religiously-based mythologies that underpin the Zionist claim system. Most importantly, sufficient knowledge of the ancient history of Palestine will enable the activist to expose and discredit the connection between present Jews and ancient Jews, as well as to discredit the connection present Zionists want to make with biblical ancient “Israelites” and “Hebrews.”  Before Zionists appropriated the land of Palestine they appropriated its ancient history, an educated activist is essential in reclaiming this history. (You may contact ikhras for resources and helpful tools.)

[9] Don’t Waste Time “Peace-Processing”

Reject all discussion about any “peace process” or “solutions.” Tell your audience a mystery, riddle, or puzzle requires a “solution”, but colonization and occupation requires decolonization and liberation. This is another opportunity for you to stress that Israel has no right to exist, and the conflict will end only with the dismantlement of the settler-colonial entity, the return of all Palestinian refugees to their land, towns, and villages, and the reintegration of Palestine into its natural, historic, geographic, and cultural environment. Avoid elaborating on the post-liberation political architecture of Palestine. Such discussions are premature and should be left to the Palestinians to determine after the liberation of Palestine and the return of all refugees. Also, do not waste time responding to any legal arguments. You should just mention that although International Law is on the side of the Palestinians, the struggle for the liberation of Palestine does not need to be couched in any legal framework.

[10] Accountability Is A Moral Imperative

It is not enough to condemn Israeli war crimes and US regime complicity in those war crimes. You should demand accountability which means nothing less than the arrest and trial of all war criminals. Even if the global political landscape and current distribution of power will preclude these demands from being realized in the near future, you should nevertheless insist upon them as a moral imperative.