We Must Raise Popular Consciousness on Palestinian Resistance
This year marks 75 years of Nakba – 75 years since the violent expulsion of up to one million Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist militias for the creation of the state of Israel – a by-product of a broader imperial project that attempts to oppose Arab Unity and to create an imperial outpost in the region. To date, the loss and defeat of the Nakba has framed and defined Palestinian history. However, historical and contemporary Palestinian resistance is part of a legacy of ongoing struggle that predates this.
Today’s resistance efforts receive mass support in Palestine through Al-Hadena Al-Sha’biya (The Popular Cradle). The Popular Cradle works as the organ of our struggle by conceptualising resistance as both a normal and necessary state of being and creating a resistance-enabling environment in which the popular masses financially, socially, and politically sustain the resistance and readily accepts the consequences of supporting armed struggle against Zionist settler colonialism.
This is by no means a new phenomenon: the Popular Cradle has mobilised the Palestinian people from as early as the 1920s, with Palestine’s popular classes providing a base of mass support, resources, and protection for key revolutionary fighters like Abu Jilda. The Popular Cradle as both a historical and present reality, highlights a relationship between the resistance and the masses: that the Palestinian people rally around resistance to Zionism and imperialism, and that it is through this support that Palestinian resistance is sustained.
The Popular Cradle
Despite the historical and contemporary existence of a Popular Cradle in Palestine, conversations in the West continue to be dominated by liberal notions of victimhood, peace-building, humanitarian aid, and equal rights. These frameworks do not incorporate (and often contradict) the reality and the spirit of resistance on the ground in Palestine.
The Palestinian Youth Movement is a transnational, grassroots movements of Palestinian and Arab youth in exile dedicated to the liberation of our homeland and people. We believe that we have a critical role in the far diaspora (that is, the diaspora currently residing in the West) to historicise, politicise, and legitimise Palestinian resistance, and to oppose the narratives which rob us of our commitment to revolutionary optimism and struggle. We understand that our dispossession is a product of the colonial project and that we are therefore active agents in confronting Zionism in the service of struggle, wherever we may be.
This year, as Palestinians around the world were preparing to mark Nakba Day, the Zionist entity that is Israel, launched an assault on Gaza, killing at least 34 Palestinians. Social media platforms were understandably flooded with messages of heartbreak and outrage, but largely missing from this coverage is an analysis of the developments of resistance. Yet, amongst both the Zionist occupation forces and the wider Israeli population, there was an acknowledgment of significant reduction in the effectiveness of the Iron Dome, with some reports citing a 29% decrease in the success rate during the recent rounds of escalations.
Images emerged of the destruction of infrastructure in Tel Aviv and its surrounds, indicating the strength of the Palestinian resistance in terms of the long-range and precision of resistance weaponry. The absence of these facts in mainstream discourse reflects an ongoing humanitarian narrative on Gaza that has prevailed since 2008: of the territory being defenceless and of Gazans only as victims.
For us, while Gaza has been victimised by the Zionist violence, it is the heart of Palestinian resistance: placed under siege precisely because its people choose to resist.
The news headlines on Palestine in 2008 and 2009 were dominated by the casualties of Israel’s attacks on Gaza in which 1383 Palestinians were killed and, later, the Goldstone report that documented Israeli war crimes and other human rights abuses. Absent from Western reporting was the fact that the Israel’s stated goal for the attack (that is, to destroy the military infrastructure of the resistance and rescue a Zionist soldier who had been captured by the Palestinian resistance) was changed during the course of the battle as the Zionist entity did not anticipate the military strength and precision of Palestinian resistance.
In military science, victory is understood as a condition in which the enemy’s ability to enter battle, resist, or resume hostilities is destroyed. The 2008 and 2009 wars on Gaza saw massive loss of Palestinian life, but it also saw a weakening of the enemy by Palestinian resistance efforts. A large part of the success of the resistance then and now, can be attributed to the formation of the Joint Operations Room which houses all major Palestinian resistance factions.
The unity of Palestinian resistance, as made manifest in the Joint Operations Room, is also absent from Western reporting on Palestine.
Likewise when in 2012 Israel’s Zionist regime mounted a war on Gaza that began with the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the chief of the Qassam Brigades, the strength with which the Palestinian resistance responded led to a new deterrence equation being developed during ceasefire negotiations. This was known as ‘quiet for quiet’ – the idea that the resistance would remain ‘quiet’ (i.e. not launch any rockets) if the occupation forces also remained ‘quiet’.
In May 2021, when protest chants from Jerusalem called on the Palestinian resistance to defend them against mounting violence by occupation forces, the Palestinian resistance responded, asserting that ‘quiet for quiet’ is not limited to Gaza, but is a deterrence equation that extends across Palestine.
Unity of All Fronts
The legacy of this, which became known as the ‘Unity of All Fronts’ or ‘Unity of the Fields’ approach lives on today. In fact, the unity of resistance is not limited to Palestine: May 2021 saw the formation of a new joint operations room that includes non-Palestinian and regional actors. Palestinian resistance factions have long been supported by regional actors, but the developments of the 2021 uprising signalled a formalisation and strengthening of this support.
The incorporation of other regional actors into resistance coordination reflects the unity of the axis of resistance and the growing strength of anti-imperialist resistance in the region. Indeed, just this April Palestinian resistance forces in Lebanon and Syria launched rockets in defence of Jerusalem – a development which further highlight the unity of Palestinian resistance across the geographical confines of historic Palestine.
The popular support for Palestinian resistance that we see in Palestine has yet to be reflected in organising efforts and messaging in the wider diaspora. It is therefore our role, as Palestinian and Arab youth organising and mobilising the far diaspora, to raise popular consciousness on the contemporary role of resistance in our struggle and, in doing so, re-orient our organising efforts to mirror the politics of the Palestinian streets – it is only through this that we will be able to create the critical mass necessary for Palestinian liberation. •
This article first published on the New Arab website.