Recently, a group of pro-Palestinian activists signed a letter condemning Gilad Atzmon (Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon). The letter states in part:
Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.
This inspired me to write the following letter on another Jewish, pro-Palestinian activist, Noam Chomsky. It is an exercise in analogy, based on the ideas and phrasing of the anti-Atzmon letter:
For many years now, Noam Chomsky has taken on the self-appointed task of defining for the Palestinian movement the nature of our struggle, and the philosophy underpinning it. He has done so through his various blogs and Internet outlets, in speeches, and in articles.
With this letter, we call for the disavowal of Chomsky by fellow Palestinian organizers, as well as Palestine solidarity activists, and allies of the Palestinian people, and note the dangers of supporting Chomsky’s political work and writings and providing any platforms for their dissemination. We do so as Palestinian organizers and activists, working across continents, campaigns, and ideological positions.
Chomsky’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with his Jewishness. He claims that all European Christian politics are racist. To Chomsky, the existence of European Christians, whether in their homelands in Europe, in the United States, Canada or Australia, is not a normal human historical project, but a trans-historical racist one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a White. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a White or Christian and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a White or a Christian is to be a racist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Chomsky’s argument is itself racist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be White or a Christian is to be a racist.
Palestinians have faced two centuries of Jewish, Zionist, colonialist and imperialist domination of our native lands. And so as Palestinians, we see such language as immoral and completely outside the core foundations of humanism, equality and justice, on which the struggle for Palestine and its national movement rests. As countless Palestinian activists and organizers, their parties, associations and campaigns, have attested throughout the last century, our struggle was never, and will never be, with Whites, or Christians, no matter how much Jews and Zionists insists that our enemies are the Whites. Rather, our struggle is with Zionism, a modern Jewish settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new societies on their lands, like that of Muslim settler colonialists in Europe.
We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our White allies, Christians, or Christianity; nor denying the mass murder of 60 million Russian, Ukrainian and other Christians by the Judeo-Bolsheviks in the USSR; nor allying in any way shape or form with any Jewish conspiracy theories, far-right, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of White Christian identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on White-Christian identities, nor the demeaning and denial of European and trans-European histories in all their diversity.
Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt Christophobic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-racist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism as a system of world domination. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of specifically Jewish imperialism and specifically Jewish colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.
The goal of the Palestinian people has always been clear: self determination. And we can only exercise that inalienable right through liberation, the return of our refugees (the absolute majority of our people) and achieving equal rights to all through decolonization. As such, we stand with all and any movements that call for justice, human dignity, equality, and social, economic, cultural and political rights. We will never compromise the principles and spirit of our liberation struggle. We will not allow a false sense of expediency to drive us into alliance with those who attack, malign, or otherwise attempt to target our political fraternity with all liberation struggles and movements for justice.
As Palestinians, it is our collective responsibility, whether we are in Palestine or in exile, to assert our guidance of our grassroots liberation struggle. We must protect the integrity of our movement, and to do so we must continue to remain vigilant that those for whom we provide platforms actually speak to its principles.
When the Palestinian people call for self-determination and decolonization of our homeland, we do so in the promise and hope of a community founded on justice, where all are free, all are equal and all are welcome.
Until liberation and return.