Ismail Hanneya at a prisoners’ rights rally in Gaza, 2012. (Photo: Joe Catron)
The open letter below was posted anonymously the online forum Paste Bin, on September 3, 2012. I verified the authenticity with Stanley L. Cohen Esq. who indicated Hanneya drafted the statement with the intent of Cohen reading the letter in Charlotte, North Carolina, to Occupy Charlotte on Sunday, September 2, 2012, one night before the Democratic National Convention. Due to extenuating circumstances, Cohen did not read the letter.
Hanneya signs the letter “Prime Minister,” although Mahmoud Abbas replaced Hanneya as Prime Minister with Salam Fayyad in 2007. Hanneya had been appointed Prime Minister following a Hamas victory in the March, 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, however leaders from Fatah carried out a soft coup three months later, effectively splitting the West Bank and Gaza into separately administered regions.
To the Bradley Manning Peace Camp at the Democratic Party Convention in North Carolina:
I wish that I could be with you today to read these words to you myself, but obviously I cannot, as I remain unwelcome in the United States. Instead I have asked my friend of many years Stanley Cohen to deliver this message of solidarity on my behalf.
I send the heartfelt greetings of the Palestinian people, as we salute you in your fight against the American military machine, against its secrets and lies, and against its vision of an American world order maintained through coercion and control. You bring your protest straight to the heart of the political system, there in Charlotte, and we are there with you in spirit, we Occupy Charlotte with you!
Gaza and the West Bank stand in solidarity with you, as we have stood against US military might for decades—we have been on the ugly receiving end of American policy for so long, fighting for our own freedom against Israeli and US control, that to know of your efforts gladdens our hearts. We understand that you have designated your Peace Camp as a sister-city to Gaza. On behalf of almost two million people who live in Gaza, we thank you for this honor, to know that others in the world stand with us gives us strength!
It has been seven years since we drove the settlers and the military from Gaza. It has been six years since the first free and fair elections in the history of our nation occurred, and in which the people in Gaza and the West Bank chose Hamas to act as the elected representatives of the Palestinian people. And it has been almost four years since we repelled the latest full-scale attack by the Israeli occupation forces. During this time, our people have been subjected to a systematic effort to break our will, to destroy our spirit, and to isolate us from the world. This Israeli-US agenda has failed, as surely as my words in your ears prove today.
In the seven years since the complete blockade of Gaza, the Israelis have attempted to create the world’s largest outdoor concentration camp. Living constantly under siege and attack, we are denied access to sufficient medicine, fuel, foodstuffs; we are subjected to the destruction of our infrastructure—our roads, water treatment and sewage facilities, ports and buildings; we are victimized by criminal phosphor weapons, mines, and the rape our environment; we live with unemployment over 30 percent; and hundreds of our men women and children have been killed, with many more injured—this is collective punishment, and we live it every day in our struggle. Yet we remain defiant and determined to prevail.
But we are not alone in this struggle—as your camp reminds us. The world is joining our resistance—we welcome with open arms the flotillas on the sea, the convoys on the land, and those solidarity activists who have stood shoulder to shoulder with our people. We hail the memory of Rachel Corrie, and the courage of her family. Rachel gave her life trying to stop war crimes against our people, and she is a martyr to our struggle. The injustice done to her memory by Israeli courts last week makes her even more one of us—it reminds the world how Israeli law does not give justice to Palestinians or anyone who struggles with them. We salute another American, Tristan Anderson, who bravely opposed occupation troops in the West Bank, and has paid a horrible price for standing for justice.
Like you, we want a stop to the endless wars promoted or fought by the United States; no more attacks on the Muslim world by American troops! We Palestinians want people to know the truth about US power, and its dirty deeds exposed to the sunlight. Palestinians hail all those courageous truth-tellers and activists everywhere who have shattered the veil of secrecy, for making information public at terrible risk to themselves and their families, so that those who struggle for independence can know the truth.
Our struggle against Israel and its massive, high-tech military bought and paid for by US taxpayers will not be defeated. Today there are more than nine million Palestinians who are stateless—six million of them are refugees living in camps throughout the Middle East. More than three million of us live under apartheid. The West Bank remains occupied by Israel’s army; Gaza remains blockaded. Despite this, we have no choice but to resist and demand our rightful position at the table of nations. Palestine will have justice, and it will need people of good conscience in America to stand up for us, and for the truth. Your presence and your voices there in Charlotte give American voters an alternative to the corrupt narrative of US power—you say, there is another way, there is another story, and you challenge the official secrets and lies of this government.
The American political process is now a global process—and we watch it from our corner of the world, waiting for some sign of change at the top. But meanwhile, it is the growing force from below that gives us hope. This movement is a global movement–our numbers are vast, we are legion, and we do not forget.
September 1, 2012
h/t Joe Catron.