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All that we long for is justice and equality

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Great March of Return founder Ahmed Abu-Artema gave the following speech via video to the 2019 Palestine Expo held in London, England on July 6 and 7.

Thank you dear friends. Peace be upon you all.

At this very moment over two million Palestinians are confined in the besieged Gaza Strip from which I’m speaking to you. We, the Palestinians of Gaza, have been blockaded by the Israeli occupation for over 11 years during which we have been denied our right to freedom. Hundreds of sick civilians have died due to the lack of lifesaving medicines, and due to the Israeli restrictions on medical referrals outside of Gaza. At the same time Israel bans the entry of goods and construction materials. Hundreds of facilities and factories have been destroyed by the Israeli attacks. Meanwhile tens of thousands of youth live with no jobs, no hope. Their dreams for a promising future have quashed by the miserable conditions.

Dear friends, the situation in the West Bank is not so different. Israel continues to tighten the military grip around the Palestinians’ neck. The occupation soldiers humiliate the Palestinians at the checkpoints. The Israeli government continues to annex more lands. It arrests thousands of Palestinians; some of them have spent more than 20 years in prison. The trauma and suffering inflicted by such practices are just beyond words, and represent another chain in a series of crimes that date back to 1948. Back in 1948, Israel aided by the world’s superpowers announced the establishment of a Jewish state on occupied Palestinian land; providing a shelter for Jews and paying no heed to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians that it killed, displaced, imprisoned, and traumatized. What has become an undeniable fact of history since 71 years is that the establishment of the state of Israel has caused a tragedy on an entire people. Over the years, Israel has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, sent hundreds of thousands to jail, and demolished tens of thousands of homes. Today, over 6 million Palestinian refugees have been scattered across the globe awaiting the moment when Israel green lights their safe return to their homes as dictated by international law. Despite all the pains inflicted on us we have shown an unyielding commitment to our dream to return to our motherland and retrieve our freedom and dignity.

Dear friends, stability cannot be achieved in a place where millions of people are denied the right to return to their homes from which they have been forcibly displaced. Their only fault is that they are not Jews. There is no way to achieve stability in a world where millions of people are locked up behind bars, subjected to discrimination, and deprived of their rights to travel, work, and healthcare. Stability will only come true if all peoples are allowed to live freely and with dignity regardless of their color, religion, and race.

Dear friends, over recent months I have met dozens of Jewish friends who are against the Israeli occupation. I have kept telling each of them that we are sharing the same aspirations for justice and equality. Jews are not our enemies. Our sole enemy is the occupying force that took away our land from us, and forced us out of our homes. To my Jewish friends, and every free human being on the globe, I shall say all that we long for is justice and equality. Aren’t you striving for the same rights? We share the same goal and same struggle. Our enemy is one and the same — racial discrimination.

Let us combine forces. Let us struggle together. Cross the mountainous road together, and strive together for a better world for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren. A world where all human beings are equal, safe, and free.

Thank you.

Ahmed Abu Artema

Born in Rafah, Gaza Strip, in 1984, Ahmed Abu Artema is a Palestinian refugee. An independent Gaza-based writer and social-media activist, he has written the book "Organized Chaos" and numerous articles. He is one of the original founders and organizers of the Great Return March.

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9 Responses

  1. eljay on July 22, 2019, 3:48 pm

    … To my Jewish friends, and every free human being on the globe, I shall say all that we long for is justice and equality. Aren’t you striving for the same rights? …

    Zionists may strive for justice, accountability and equality elsewhere in the world but, hypocrites that they are, all they want for I-P is a resolution to the conflict that:
    – allows Israel to remain a supremacist state;
    – allows Israel to keep as much as possible of what it has stolen, occupied and colonized;
    – absolves Israel of its obligations under international law; and
    – absolves Israel of responsibility and accountability for its past and on-going (war) crimes.

    Zionists like jon s refer to this as “peace”.

    • Stephen Shenfield on July 22, 2019, 8:58 pm

      The people to whom the speaker refers as his ‘Jewish friends’ are not Zionists, surely.

      • eljay on July 23, 2019, 7:21 am

        || Stephen Shenfield: The people to whom the speaker refers as his ‘Jewish friends’ are not Zionists, surely. ||

        I imagine that they are not and I wasn’t implying that they are. The same cannot be said of “every free human being on the globe”, (tens of?) millions of whom are Zionists.

  2. brent on July 25, 2019, 6:35 pm

    What a sad read.

    Sadly, too many have not been persuaded the goal is equality and peaceful co-existence. The campaign for equal rights has not overcome the notion Israel is to be replaced and is a victim with the full right to defend itself. So long as this ambiguity exists, I doubt if much will change.

    Isn’t it time to put down rocks and refine a campaign for equality and move into a future with placards instead and reject all acts of violence as a means of resistance?

    • annie on July 25, 2019, 7:30 pm

      zionism isn’t about equality and peaceful co existence. it’s into wiping out palestine.

      • brent on July 25, 2019, 11:32 pm

        annie, no doubt. Zionism is not about equality and co-existence.

        Zionist are likely quite pleased with their progress to date. Palestinians are the ones needing to change the game to gain political support, especially in the US Congress and among American Jews, the parties most likely to make a difference. A game change would not be welcome news for Zionists, quite the opposite. They likely would react even more violently to an organized campaign for equality or independence, so the cost of moving from violence would be high for Palestinians but it would hold promise. The Zionist main tool, victimization/self-defense, would be “trumped”/neturalized. True non-violence is the most powerful/effective resistance, especially in this case given the existing cultural, political, media, and historical realities.

    • Mooser on July 25, 2019, 11:01 pm

      “Isn’t it time to put down rocks and refine a campaign for equality and move into a future with placards”

      The Palestinians have been throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers? Don’t the Palestinians realize that at some point the frustrated Israelis may start throwing them back at the Palestinians?
      Then where are we?

    • Mooser on July 25, 2019, 11:12 pm

      “Isn’t it time to put down rocks and refine a campaign for equality and move into a future with placards”

      Although it seems almost impossible to conceive, if the Palestinians keep up their placardless campaign, the Israelis may become exasperated enough to use violence against them. Or even get guns. Of course, I get the feeling from your comments it hasn’t happened yet, but it could!

    • Talkback on July 26, 2019, 1:44 am

      brent: “Sadly, too many have not been persuaded the goal is equality and peaceful co-existence.”

      Sadly, settler colonialists and their supremacist supporters can be easily “persuaded” to give up colonization, supremacism and an exclusionary settler state and choose a peaceful co-existence with the native population.

      brent; “and is a victim with the full right to defend itself,”

      An occupying state is not a victim, but an aggressor and has no right to “defend” itself att all against those he keeps under its occuapion. It has the obligation to protect the people it is occupying and defend them against the violence of occupation soldiers and illegal settlers. And if the occupation is prolonged, because the occupier is more interested in colonizing the occupier territory than peaceful co-existence which and Apartheid state understands to be segregation the occupation itself is illegal and violates the occupied people’s right to self determination.

      brent: “Isn’t it time to put down rocks and refine a campaign for equality and move into a future with placards instead and reject all acts of violence as a means of resistance?”

      Sadly, too many have not been persuaded to give up even more rights, including the right to resist occupation and alien domination by any means.

      But wouldn’t it be time to put down the gun, implement equality and move into a future by ending the occupation and reject all of acts of violence that is needed to maintain it?

      Nope. An

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