By Eitan Grossman
‘Only Free Men Can Negotiate’ – Nelson Mandela
This Friday (July 15, 2011), thousands of Palestinians and Israelis will march together in Jerusalem to express their support for international recognition of the unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence.
Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis will take part in a historic march organized by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement and the popular committees of East Jerusalem. Marchers will set out from Jaffa Gate and walk along the border between the two parts of the city. The march will culminate in a rally in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood that symbolizes the joint struggle against occupation and apartheid.
Friday’s march, which has been compared by Yael Sternhell to civil rights marches in the American South, will mark a high point of cooperation between the progressive forces on both sides of the border. The participants will call for unconditional recognition of the Palestinian right to national self-determination, and for peaceful, non-violent direct action as the only alternative to the paralyzing ‘peace talks’ that Netanyahu’s government is so cynically manipulating. Ishay Rosen-Zvi recently wrote in Haaretz ‘This way is unequivocally better than yet another statement of support for negotiations, which in turn is nothing more than the continuation of the occupation by other means, that of negotiations without end.’
It’s no secret that these endless negotiations are nothing but a disingenuous front for unilateral expansion of the occupation. How can a people negotiate with a boot on their neck and a gun in their face? Israel exercises a perpetual veto on any meaningful progress, turning negotiations into anything but a source of hope for a resolution of the conflict. While parts of the left remain bogged down in pointless theoretical arguments, a new political culture is emerging, one in which Palestinians and Israelis have decided enough is enough. Halas.
The only “solution” at hand is not an abstract and permanently deferred political arrangement, but rather the commitment of Palestinians and Israelis to struggle together, in equality and solidarity, for full civil equality of all peoples between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and for the right of all peoples to be free on their own lands.
This Friday’s march shows that there is a way out of harmful dichotomies entrenched in the Israeli political discourse, from both right and left, foremost among them is the ethnic division into “them” and “us”: the marchers are those Israelis and Palestinians that have a common dream of equality, partnership, and independence, as part of a vision of a sustainable civil society, and are willing to act in order to achieve it.
The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement supports the Palestinian leadership’s decision to appeal to the United Nations to recognize an independent Palestinian state along the lines of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. We support this initiative, not only in words and in Tel Aviv rallies, but as part of the ongoing nonviolent joint struggle against the regime of privileges based on violence and occupation.
We call upon Israelis and Palestinians to be on the right side of history and to take part in this historic march. We call on the Israeli left to put aside speechifying and theorizing, and to join the grassroots resistance movement.
We call upon our supporters in Israel, Palestine and abroad who cannot participate in the march to show their support by signing up as virtual marchers and following our live feed.
It is time to take matters into our own hands.
The march will set out from Jaffa Gate at 2:00 pm on Friday July 15, and will culminate in a rally in Sheikh Jarrah, finishing at 5:00 pm. For details, see here, or contact: Shira (0544-790797) or Hillel (052-3808530).
The writer is a post-doctoral researcher at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also an activist in the Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah movement.