Philip Ferguson, national organiser, Workers Party
The Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip at the start of 2009 brought home to many people around the world the brutality of the state of Israel. Hopefully it spurred a lot more people to get involved in supporting the cause of Palestinian liberation. In New Zealand, although there are activists campaigning around issues in Israel/Palestine, the campaigning remains both numerically and politically weak.
There is a strong tendency in New Zealand, for instance, to emphasise justice for Palestinians rather than solidarity with Palestinians. The differences between these few words , which may seem trivial, are actually immense at a political level.
If you are in favour of something for people, it suggests that they cannot fight for it themselves and so you are campaigning for it on their behalf. This essentially portrays the oppressed as passive victims. But the Palestinians are not passive victims – they are an oppressed people and they are fighting every day for their liberation, regardless of what people sitting comfortably in the West are doing or not doing. The notion of doing something for people is essentially condescending.
On the other hand, if you are in solidarity with people, it suggests that these are folks struggling for their rights and you are providing active support for their struggle. You are not replacing their struggle, you are not the struggle, you are carrying out your own struggle as a form of active support of their struggle. Read the rest of this entry »