Palestinians Hope Social Protests Will End ‘Occupation'
A group of Palestinian organizations – some left-wing political parties and movements – has issued a joint statement of support for the J14 social protest movement in Israel, including expressing hope that the recent wave of mass street protests here will also bring an end to the “Israeli occupation.”
“We believe that what is happening in Israel is similar to what is going on in the Arab world,” commented Khaled Mansur, a member of political bureau of the Palestinian People’s Party, which was one of more than a dozen left-leaning Palestinian groups that sent out a statement with left-wing Israelis supporting the socioeconomic protests that started on July 14.
“Of course there are obvious differences, but in terms of the social and economic problems there are similarities.”
He added: “We are hopeful that the State of Israel will stop supporting the settlements and instead focus on taking care of the middle- and lower-class people who took to the streets to ask for justice.”
In the statement, which was issued earlier this week by 20 political and social rights organizations from both sides of the Green Line, the social protests are clearly seen as part of the “struggle against Israel’s occupation and colonial policies.
“The protest movements and the winds of change blowing in the Arab world have aroused excitement throughout the world amongst freedom seekers, encouraging many to adopt the model of popular struggle. These protest movements have had a deep impact on various groups in Israel, amongst both Jews and Palestinians, and made an important contribution to the rise of the popular protest movement within Israel for social justice,” wrote the organizations in the joint statement.
Mansur said he is hopeful that this realization means Israelis will also understand the need for the Palestinians to have full democratic rights, and even help their bid for a UN declaration on Palestinian statehood two weeks from now.
“For us, the mere fact that Palestinian-left activists support the social protest in Israel, recognize the importance of struggles for social change in Israel out of a joint conviction that social justice is essential for Arabs and Jews alike, is an enormous moral support,” commented Gadi Algazi, an activist for the left-wing social change organization Hithabrut-Tarabut (Come together), one of the Israeli groups that signed the declaration.
“Our future is here, in the Middle East, and here, in this country; it’s based on understanding between the peoples of this region. We need partners that share ideas of mutual recognition and respect, and a vision of democracy and social justice.”
He added: [Their support] means that they recognize the complexity of Israeli society – that although they have no chance of seeing Jews other than as soldiers or settlers, they recognize social suffering within the society of the occupying power. This is important because we need partners who share our vision of democracy and social justicein the Middle East, and especially in Palestine,” continued Algazi. “This is why the signature of women’s organization, trade unions and youth groups from the West Bank is so essential.”
He added that while the support was important, what was even more significant in Mansur’s statement was that it would help build the basis of a “political alliance.”
“There have been no joint statements by political formations from both sides of the Green Line since 2000,” he pointed out. “Joint documents of this sort are unprecedented.”
Algazi added: “I also believe that the protest has created a new bridge to the Middle East – to the Middle East of popular protest in Egypt, Tunis, Syria, not the Middle East of dictatorships and tycoons. We had something to learn from Egypt – and we did.”