Israel is gearing up for the “Welcome the Palestine” campaign. Five activists have already been detained and deported, and El Al Airlines barred two Dutch journalists from boarding a flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv to cover the protest and the flotilla to Gaza.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, a professor at Bethlehem University, author of Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment and international coordinator for the Palestine Justice Network which has helped organize the protest, writes about the importance of the”Welcome to Palestine Campaign” and how it fits into the history of Palestinian popular resistance for the Electronic Intifada:
This week, hundreds of activists plan on challenging Israel’s apartheid apartheid by flying in to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative. Heraclitis once stated that “There is nothing permanent except change,” and indeed human history is a chronicle of change — and the Welcome to Palestine project follows that tradition.
No change happens without challenging the status quo. Few people reflect even on modern history to understand how we achieved things like civil rights in the US, enlightenment in Europe, ending slavery, giving women the right to vote and establishing democracies around the world. All these changes from an unjust situation (the status quo) required the agency of mass movement.
On our horizon today is of course the mass movement of Arab people yearning for freedom from decades of dictatorships — many of those structures created and supported by the West.
Rebellion against injustice of course is also a hallmark of the struggle against apartheid in Palestine, a struggle that can be traced back to the first Zionist colony built 131 years ago and that took a giant leap forward by the 1948 founding of the racist state of Israel as a culmination and embodiment of this colonial venture, and the subsequent expansion of this state in 1967 to occupy the rest of Palestine . . .
Our next step toward freedom is a series of events are the plans taking place between 9-16 when hundreds of men, women and children are planning to fly into Tel Aviv to visit us in Palestine. The international community must recognize our basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment.
With the delay in the sailing of the Freedom Flotilla, these two initiatives may coincide temporally. As Israel works to isolate us, we invite you to join with us openly and proudly as the decent human beings you are. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force you to speak less than with the honesty you are used to.
Guests will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages. Local activist groups in Europe and in the United States have organized delegations and hundreds have booked their flights. Once here, much can be done. But whether you volunteer or participate in any of these initiatives or any others, the key word is participation. There are ongoing revolutions everywhere against tyranny. Human spirits cannot be enslaved forever. We must all join in the struggle for freedom because silence is indeed complicity.
Read the entire article “Challenging Israeli apartheid — by plane” here.