A liberatory demand from Queers in Palestine

This statement from Queers in Palestine has over 275 signers as of Nov. 11.  Go to queersinpalestine.noblogs.org/

We write this as workers, students, farmers, parents — as Palestinians, as queer Palestinians. We write this not because our queerness exceptionalizes our positions but because, in the same way, we have been othered as queers, we are now facing patriarchal colonial tactics that seek to further alienate us as queer Palestinians. To gather our words and energies requires an enormous effort. We are sickened that amidst these moments of spectacular brutality and carnage projected onto Palestinian bodies, including rape, torture, mutilation, and maiming, we are diverted from grieving and organizing to make a demand.

Since Oct. 7, we have been witnessing an accelerated genocide unfolding in the Gaza Strip and in all parts of Palestine, blatantly and publicly declared on numerous occasions by Israeli governmental and military figures. The brutality and lethal magnitude of the atrocities committed by the Israeli state and its supporters produce increasingly harrowing conditions for those who remain alive in Palestine, every day, everywhere. This brutality has been sustained through the continued economic, military, diplomatic, and political support of world leaders historically and presently.

We note, document, and narrate the hundreds of catastrophic massacres for the past 75 years at the hands of the annihilatory wrath of the Zionist regime; from Deir Yassin to the Tantura Massacre (1948) upon which Israel’s foundation is based, to the Kafr Qassem Massacre (1956) to Sabra and Shatila (1982), and this is just to name a few. There is no possibility of any liberatory political and social movement to achieve life and dignity if it is aligned with the genocidal death machine of Israel. Israel is founded on blood and is sustained through blood.

During these times, and in line with its long-standing exploitation of liberal identity politics, Israel has been weaponizing queer bodies to counter any support for Palestine and any critique of its settler-colonial project. Israelis (politicians, organizations, and “civilians”) have been mobilizing colonial dichotomies such as “civilized” and “barbaric,” “human” and “animal,” and other dehumanizing binaries as a discourse that legitimizes the attacks on Palestinians.

Within this settler-colonial rhetoric, Israel seeks to garner and mobilize support from Western governments and liberal societies by portraying itself as a nation that respects freedom, diversity, and human rights, that is fighting a “monstrous” and oppressive society, illuminated clearly through the declaration of the Prime Minister  [Benjamin Netanyahu] of Israel: “There is a struggle between the children of light and children of darkness, between humanity and law of the jungle.” (Prime Minister of Israel on X)

While these blatantly racist genocidal declarations take the stage, activists in Palestine and internationally are being silenced, harassed, detained, criminalized, workers fired from their jobs, and students suspended from universities. International feminist and queer activists, in solidarity with Palestine, are facing attacks and harassment by Zionists under the premise that those who support Palestine will be “raped” and “beheaded” by Palestinians for merely being women and queers. Yet more often than not, rape and death are what Zionists wish upon queers and women who stand in solidarity with Palestine.

Zionist fantasies of brutalized bodies do not surprise us, for we have experienced the reality of their manifestation on our skin and spirit. Yet they never cease  to accelerate in their explicit vehemence. It becomes evermore absurd when such framings are constructed against Palestinian society, in light of countless testimonies, reports, and documentations of sexual violence Palestinians have been facing throughout Israel’s 75 years of military occupation.

From the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, men and women, who are subject to sexual torture and rape since Israel’s inception to this very day, to daily and escalating settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, to Israeli “civilians” filming themselves torturing kidnapped Palestinians as a TikTok trend, and the most recent harrowing footage published on social media platforms by Israeli soldiers which document the lengths of torture and sexual abuse soldiers and settlers inflict on our bodies regardless of their sexual orientation and gender.

All forms of violence, including sexual violence are systematically and structurally part of Zionist domination over Palestinian life. And yet Israeli society continues to weaponize queerness for the purposes of justifying war and colonial repression, as if their bombs, apartheid walls, guns, knives, and bulldozers are selective of who they harm based on sexuality and gender.

We refuse the instrumentalization of our queerness, our bodies, and the violence we face as queer people to demonize and dehumanize our communities, especially in service of imperial and genocidal acts. We refuse that Palestinian sexuality and Palestinian attitudes towards diverse sexualities become parameters for assigning humanity to any colonized society.

We deserve life because we are human, with the multitude of our imperfections, and not because of our proximity to colonial modes of liberal humanity. We refuse colonial and imperialist tactics that seek to alienate us from our society and alienate our society from us, on the basis of our queerness.

We are fighting interconnected systems of oppression, including patriarchy and capitalism, and our dreams of autonomy, community, and liberation are inherently tied to our desire for self-determination. No queer liberation can be achieved with settler-colonization, and no queer solidarity can be fostered if it stands blind to the racialized, capitalist, fascist, and imperial structures that dominate us.

We call on queer and feminist activists and groups around the world to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their resistance to displacement, land theft, and ethnic cleansing and their struggle for the liberation of their lands and futures from Zionist settler-colonialism. This call cannot be answered only by sharing statements and signing letters but by an active engagement with decolonial and liberatory struggles in Palestine and around the globe. Our unequivocal demands are as follows:

  • Reject Israeli funding, refuse collaborations with all Israeli institutions, and join the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement.
  • Strike: Silently or publicly, refuse that your exploited labor be used for the silencing of Palestine activism or the funding, support, and endorsement of military settler-colonization and genocide.
  • Do what anti-colonial queers have done for decades: Reclaim the narrative, and set the terms of the conversation, this time about Palestine. What is happening in Palestine is Genocide. Israel is a Settler-Colony. Palestinians are a Militarily Occupied and Colonized Society. Under international law, Israel Does Not have the right to “defend” itself against the population it occupies, while Palestinians Have the right to Resist their occupation. Demanding a Cease-fire is the first step in holding Israel accountable for its crimes against humanity. We must also demand to break the siege on Gaza and the dismantlement of the Zionist settler-colony.
  • Contact your local representatives to pressure them into defunding the genocide, ending their military, diplomatic, and political support with Israel. Speak up against the ongoing and complicit criminalization of solidarity with Palestine and the colonial and Islamophobic projection of European Antisemitism on Palestinian and racialized voices, as we are witnessing particularly in France, the U.K., the U.S., and Germany.
  • Shut down main streets. Organize a sit-in in your local central station. Interrupt the flow of commerce. Complacency is a choice.

We, queer Palestinians, are an integral part of our society, and we are informing you: from the heavily militarized alleys of Jerusalem to Huwara’s scorched lands, to Jaffa’s surveilled streets and cutting across Gaza’s besieging walls, from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

 

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