It is our generation's mission to resolve the struggle for Palestine. Will we fulfill it? Or betray it?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

ARA Ends Divestment Campaign

It is with some regret that ARA announces that we have officially decided to end our Palestine solidarity campaign at Wayne State University’s campus. We have militantly pursued divestment for almost two years now. We have had many successes, met many inspiring individuals and groups, made all the necessary enemies, and, hopefully, set an example for the future. This blog will continue as a way for us to comment on events pertaining to Palestine solidarity in the US and around the world.

This announcement comes on the heels of an approximately six-month period of relative inactivity at Wayne State. Our proudest moment was perhaps our confrontation of Daniel Pipes in October of last year, but since then, we have had little success meeting interested and committed Palestine solidarity activists.

Already in the activist community, our commitment and courage has been called into question, as word of this announcement has circulated. We would like to stress that ARA was always an expression of an important strand of militancy both in the Arab and Muslim community and in the anti-imperialist and anti-racist social justice community. If our campaign ends today, it is not because that strand has vanished from our own hearts, but because it has not met with a similar strand in the hearts and minds of others.

The reality is that too many people looked to us to lead the struggle, and saw in our activity a validation for their own inactivity. As long as ARA was around, “fighting the good fight,” it seemed others could simply go about their lives, not really worrying about Palestine. As a result, the ranks of ARA have depleted over time, and continuing our campaign has no longer become tenable. But we are not ending our campaign because we are tired or bored or afraid. We are ending it because we simply have not met enough people with the courage to confront Israeli apartheid, US imperialism, and popular opinion in the United States. In spite of this, we hold out hope and confidence that at a future time, we will meet courageous people willing to say, “enough is enough,” and who will join us in the struggle for Palestine.

In solidarity,


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Where Walt and Mearsheimer Fear to Tread

While the entire nation seems gripped in the euphoria of hope lately, Palestine solidarity and anti-war activists found little to be hopeful about in Walt and Mearsheimer's talk in Ann Arbor last Friday. Far from a principled stand against Israeli apartheid or US imperialism, Walt and Mearsheimer argued for a reformed occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, stripped of its excesses. While they admitted that a "Jewish state" was fundamentally at odds with democratic principles (such as those the US preaches but rarely practices), they argued that any solution to the conflict that does not leave the Jewish apartheid state intact was unacceptable. We ask how a "Jewish state" will be created without ethnically cleansing the Palestinians living within Israel? What kind of sovereignty will two open-air prisons connected by some kind of "monorail" and under Israeli lock and key have? What vision, what hope do Walt and Mearsheimer offer to Palestinians and Palestine solidarity activists? The answer is simple, they offer none.

Walt and Mearsheimer's fatal flaw is their inability to see support for Israel as part and parcel of white supremacy and imperialism in the United States. They argue that the Israel lobby has led US interests around by the nose for the last forty years, as if the Zionist project of colonizing Palestine is not in the interest of Western imperialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Theodor Herzl, spiritual and ideological father of the modern-day Zionist movement, stated explicitly in his founding text of the Zionist movement, "The Jewish State," that his goal in creating a Jewish state in Palestine was to create "a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism." Here, Herzl concisely summarizes the racist assumptions underlying the Zionist colonial project. Europeans, Herzl argues, have a right to the land that supersedes that of the indigenous people. Further, the colonial project is part and parcel of the historical “burden” that has fallen upon Europeans to bring “lower cultures” up to the level of civilization Europe has achieved.

In spite of such clear statements, Walt and Mearsheimer argue that US support for the Zionist project is an aberration. To do so is to ignore the entire colonial history of the United States from its very inception! And lest we forget, the US was founded on the basis of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous people of the Americas in ways that strikingly parallel the founding of the state of Israel and its practices against the indigenous people of Palestine, using much the same racist logic. Far from an aberration, support for Israel is part and parcel of the long white supremacist history of the United States, and lines up nicely with the interests of US imperialism. One important service Israel provides in the region is its attempts to disrupt and destroy grassroots movements throughout the region that threaten to overthrow client states of the US, or disturb business as usual in the region.

This is what is perhaps most disturbing about Walt and Mearsheimer and the argument they make. Far from a principled stand against US imperialism in the Middle East, their opposition to the "special relationship" Israel enjoys with the US represents their belief that supporting Israel is harming the ability of US imperialism to achieve its objectives in the region. For example, they imply that the occupation of Iraq could be better achieved with the help of Syria and Iran, and that the Israel lobby's opposition to both states makes it far more difficult than it otherwise would be to work with both states to crush the resistance in Iraq. Sincere anti-war activists must surely cringe at the suggestion that Iran and Syria be recruited to assist the US in continuing, and better managing, the occupation of Iraq.

In short, Walt and Mearsheimer are imperialists who do not fundamentally oppose the white supremacist basis of American foreign policy. They seek to lead sincere Palestine solidarity activists down a road of ruin that criticizes the excesses of Israeli apartheid, but does not fundamentally challenge its premises.

So where do we go from here? Walt and Mearsheimer, in spite of their best intentions, showed us the way forward when they quoted Ehud Olmert, speaking at the Annapolis "peace" talks a couple months ago. At that time, Olmert noted that "if the two-state solution collapses, and [Israel] faces a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then the state of Israel is finished." ARA agrees and welcomes the development of such a struggle whole-heartedly. We must do our part to develop such a movement in the United States. Wherever two or three of us are gathered, we have tremendous strength. We must exercise that strength by demanding divestment in our city councils, universities, and workplaces. We must oppose imperialism and white supremacy in their entirety, and not just their excesses. We should begin where Walt and Mearsheimer fear to tread, by challenging the right of Israel to exist, by objecting not only to current ethnic cleansing operations in the West Bank and Gaza, but also to the ethnic cleansing that led to the foundation of Israel, by demanding the return of all refugees to their historic homelands, by demanding democratic rights to all people living within historic Palestine. These are not utopian demands, but basic, simple rights that all people should enjoy, and many have fought and died to achieve.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Walt and Mearsheimer to Speak at U of M

Students Allied for Freedom and Equality is hosting a discussion on the Israel lobby this Friday. Anyone who needs a ride should contact ARA at Further information follows.

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

with Professor John J. Mearsheimer
Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

and Professor Stephen Walt
former Academic Dean, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

When: Friday, March 14th @ 7:30pm

Where: Natural Science Auditorium, Rm. 2140
830 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI

Professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt will discuss the impact of The Israel Lobby on US Foreign Policy. Their presentation will focus on their widely-renowned book "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy", a New York Times bestseller. There will be a question and answer session and a book-signing immediately following the event.

This event is hosted by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Our Black Shining Prince

43 years ago, Malcolm X, the "greatest Muslim of American birth" as some have referred to him, was struck down by an assassin's bullets. Today, in remembrance of his important contributions to our struggle, we recall the words Ossie Davis spoke at his funeral.

Here—at this final hour, in this quiet place—Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes—extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought—his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are—and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again—in Harlem—to share these last moments with him.

For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought for her and have defended her honor even to the death. It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us—unconquered still.

I say the word again, as he would want me to: Afro-American—Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men.

Malcolm had stopped being a Negro years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American, and he wanted—so desperately—that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans, too.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times.

Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man; for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them:

Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did, you would know him. And if you knew him, you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood!

This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: My journey, he says, is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States.

I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our human rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a united front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.

However we may have differed with him—or with each other about him and his value as a man—let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.

Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man—but a seed—which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us.

And we will know him then for what he was and is—a prince—our own black shining prince!—who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.