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LeftEast Statement in Solidarity with the Palestinian Struggle

Original graffiti by Social Centre Dunja.

We unequivocally condemn the recent escalation of the Israeli state’s persisting settler-colonial violence against Palestinians, which has most recently manifested itself in the forced expulsions of families from the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the attacks on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan, the brutal aerial bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, and the racist police and mob violence targeting Palestinian communities within Israel. We demand an immediate end to the blatantly asymmetric violence of recent days, and insist that the only just solution to the situation in the region lies in the recognition of the fundamental human rights of Palestinians, including self-determination and the right of all refugees to return.

We recognize that this violence is unfolding in the context of the on-going ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and expropriation enacted since the foundation of the settler-colonial state of Israel, which emerged from the British colonial mandate over Palestine. This process of colonization culminated in the Nakba, or ‘the catastrophe,’ resulting in the deliberate and systematic mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1948. This process of dispossession has continued to the present through successive rounds of military aggression, occupation, and settlement, and through the legal fictions upheld by the Israeli state’s legal apparatus. These acts of legislated discrimination and violence echo the ‘Grand Apartheid’ vision of the former South African regime, designed to deny fundamental human rights to Palestinians in their historic homeland and engineer a demographic and legal reality that privileges Jewish inhabitants of the area over Palestinians. This strategy effectively means creating conditions for the out-migration of Palesinians, through their confinement to narrow ghettoized Bantustans controlled by the Israeli state’s coercive apparatus. The existing decades-long ‘peace process’ – in so far as it even exists – has done little to change this reality, entrenching instead the dynamics of apartheid and allowing for settlement activity to intensify.

We also recognise the past and present of fascism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia in our own region, East Central Europe, as contributing to the ways that the Israeli state was established. This history informs current state policies in our region towards Israel/Palestine. As progressive Jewish voices have always pointed out, however, Zionism’s colonial and reactionary character has often translated into collaboration with right-wing and often explicitly anti-Semitic regimes during the Cold War and in its aftermath. Since the early 1990s, diplomatic alliances and military ties worth billions of US dollars have implicated dozens of post-socialist governments in the militarisation of the Israeli state and its ability to impose and maintain a permanent state of exception over Palestinians. Israel has similarly armed regimes engaged in ethnic cleansing and genocide in our region, from the Balkan wars of the 1990s to the most recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, while also providing border security technologies implicated in the racist management of the present refugee crisis in Europe. It is instructive that the bulk of bilateral military aid between Israel and the region involves right-wing regimes in places like Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania that have systematically denied their own societies’ roles in the Holocaust and that often perpetuate anti-Semitic discourses about ‘globalist elites’ in the present. 

Against this background, we see the Palestinian struggle not as a particular cause, but rather as a focal point in today’s anti-colonial struggles for a more just and equitable world. Speaking from a region with an on-going history of violent ethnic conflict and expulsions, we recognize that the path to justice in Palestine is complex, and we see self determination for the Palestinian people as the only path to creating safety and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis alike. To this end, LeftEast is committed to supporting the Palestinian people’s justified struggle to end apartheid, and for freedom, self-determination, and refugee return. Along these lines, we encourage progressive collectives and movements in the postsocialist region: (1) to continue to combat anti-Semitism and Islamophobia domestically and throughout Europe, since these forms of racism are a key fuel for the resurgence of right-wing and fascist politics and movements in our region; (2) to study and consider adopting the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a concrete act of solidarity; and (3) to continue to research and advocate for an end to existing military trade with Israel that simultaneously contributes to human rights abuses in both East Central Europe and Israel/Palestine.

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