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New project aims to establish Palestine’s place in the broader progressive movement

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Justice For All is a joint project recently launched by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) and Adalah Justice Project, which aims to end U.S. military funding to Israel and uphold progressive policies rooted in historical justice. The cornerstone of the project is a vision and set od demands called Freedom Is the Future, which was developed and authored by Palestinians in the United States.

“With the Freedom Is the Future vision and policy demands, Palestinians in the U.S. lay out a vision of justice that demands an end to U.S. complicity in the Israeli oppression of their people, as well as a set of policy demands grounded in universal aspirations for freedom, justice, and self-determination,” reads the project’s website.

Yousef Munayyer is the Executive Director of USCPR. He spoke with Mondoweiss’ correspondent Michael Arria about the project and why it’s so important.

Arria: So let’s start with you just describing how this campaign/vision came about.

Munayyer: This came about in part because there was a recognition that there was an absence of a framework and reference points within progressive organizing here in the United States that was Palestinian-authored and Palestinian-centered about what the policy discourse should be like. That was really the genesis of this.

There has been, for a number of years now, growing sympathy and connections within other communities that are marginalized here in the United States and targeted with Palestinians. But there has been, again, a void when it comes to this reference point and framework about how policy advocacy on behalf of Palestinians should be. And I think too often what has filled that void is a lot of what we have seen in the past: a traditional liberal, Zionist dominated narrative around policy, both in terms of options and outcomes. So, this was an effort to say, here’s what Palestinians are asking for and what Palestinian demands are. You know, in a way that is accessible and clear to progressive audiences.

Arria: Could you speak to who developed these demands?

Yousef Munayyer

Yousef Munayyer (Photo: USCPR)

Munayyer: The vision and policy demands were authored by a group of Palestinians in the U.S. and emerged as part of the joint Justice for All campaign of Adalah Justice Project and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. AJP spearheaded a process of conversations and convenings of Palestinians in the U.S., in consultation with Palestinian organizers across historic Palestine, to draft the Freedom Is the Future document. It was a collaborative process that focused on centering universal and historic Palestinian demands that are common to marginalized and displaced peoples across the globe: the demands for safety, the right of refugees to return to their homes, self-determination, and others. 

Arria: On your website it says that the demands were partially inspired by groups like Vision for Black Lives, the Red Deal, and the disability rights movement. How did these groups and movements shape your specific demands?

Munayyer:

The Freedom Is the Future vision and policy demands, and the larger Justice for All campaign, borrows the concept of an invest/divest framework from the Vision for Black Lives in particular. It demands that the U.S. government divest from harm and Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, and instead invest in the safety and wellbeing of our communities. The authors of Freedom Is the Future chose to name three movements whose frameworks are directly cited in the vision and policy demands: 

The Movement for Black Lives’ principle of invest-divest frames the overarching demand – that we must demand our government divest from Israel’s human rights abuses against the Palestinian people and instead invest those resources in community needs at home, so everyone can live with safety, dignity, and justice. M4BL has helped transform justice work towards demanding not only an end to oppression, but the creation of alternative systems to build a better world with justice for all.


The Red Nation’s Red Deal inspired the authors with its strategy to challenge the progressive movement to move from the bold start of the Green New Deal towards an even bolder agenda including justice for Indigenous people. It funds the promises of the Green New Deal by divesting from militarism at home and around the globe. The Red Deal also inspired Freedom is the Future as a contemporary re-articulation, in the most inclusive terms possible, longtime demands for historical justice for indigenous peoples, whether they be in Palestine or in the U.S.


While the relationship of the organizers behind Freedom is the Future and the disability rights movements—and its more transformative wing, the disability justice movement—is nascent, the authors felt it was important to cite that it was disability rights activists who created this declaration that those impacted by oppression should lead the response to it.

 

Arria: A lot has happened this year, with political events mainstreaming the BDS movement a lot more. Now some Democratic lawmakers are even broaching the subject of conditioning military aid to Israel. Did this kind of momentum lead you think it was a good time to lay out these demands?

I think there’s definitely things about this political moment that are unique but, having said that, I don’t think there is ever a wrong time to have clear and coherent demands coming from Palestinians.

What is unique about this political moment is there is an energy today within progressive spaces to do more on this issue than I think at any point in recent memory. So, I think this framework is really shaped with that in mind, and shaped with allies who also have that in mind. There’s political space in this moment to elevate Palestinian voices and advance their demands into the mainstream.

So, yes, in that sense, I think it is fortuitously timed. But like I said, there’s no no wrong time to be advancing what have always been core Palestinian demands that are in line with both Palestinian aspirations, but also basic human rights.

You can learn more about Freedom is the Future at the project’s website.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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11 Responses

  1. brent on December 13, 2019, 2:38 am

    It is good to read that Palestinians in America and Palestine are collaborating on how to achieve safety, the return of refugees and self-determination. Demanding the Congress stop sending Israel money will take an awful lot of work to achieve. It may be worth considering goals that don’t require such heavy lifting by progressive supporters. Turning around the established order is a tall task. American progressives would be far more helpful in advancing civil rights, human rights, and self-determination campaigns. That may be more achievable by/for Palestinian citizens before those in the occupied territories.

    • Talkback on December 13, 2019, 9:26 am

      brent: “Turning around the established order is a tall task.”

      Let’s not forget that this wasn’t the “established” order from the get go.
      1956: Eisenhower threatens Israel with ecomonic sanctions to get it to withdraw from the Sinai.
      1975: President Ford refuses to provide Israel with new arms deals until it agrees to another withdrawal from the Sinai
      1977: Carter indidcates that the US is going to stop ts military assistance if Israel did not immediately evacuate Lebanon

      Without this pressure Israel has been NEVER interested in peace (and will never be) and would have never withdrawn. The cost of ending this occupation is far higher then the cost of maintaining the occupation. And Apartheid comes for free.

      But this is the problem of the Palestinians! They still dream about the two state solution. As long as they maintain their puppet goverment and cling to Oslo nothing will change to the better. It will only get worse. And the other countries will not accept the idea that Palestinians are even fighting against Apartheid as long as there is a slim chance that Oslo remains a transitional phase to an indepedent state. Which Israel is neither interested in nor has ever been. So either the Palestinians will go for a real one state solution, disbandon their goverment and Oslo or Israel will maintain its Apartheid forever with no real outside pressure. And Israel will continue to rule over Palestine with a minority of Jews until it has mangaged, with the help of the PLO and Oslo, to reduce the nonjewish majority into a minority and will THEN annex all rest of Palestine until the 1942 Biltmore program has finally been implemented: A Jewish state in all of Palestine.

      • brent on December 14, 2019, 3:14 am

        Talkback: Israel is sensitive to its political standing and what influences it. Little doubt the practice of taking territory by force will only change through pressure. The question is which pressure will work best?

        Which are the most effective, easiest to create, and most powerful? A campaign for civil rights in Israel would alter the victim narrative and get around demographic fears and have implications for the overall resolution. If a sustained campaign was ruthlessly suppressed, Congressional support for independent states would become serious.

        About a year ago Abbas said if negotiations failed he’d shift over the original PLO position, one secular state. Palestinian citizens within Israel have a powerful card to play to influence American politics by campaigning for equal civil rights.

      • Nathan on December 14, 2019, 5:17 am

        It might be true, Talkback, that pressure could be applied on Israel to force her to make concessions. You bring to our attention, for example, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai under pressure from the Eisenhower administration. And, now, you raise the idea of applying pressure upon Israel in order to bring into being the “real one-state solution”.

        Well, maybe you might consider the possibility that not all pressure situations are comparable. Your “real one-state solution” means that the State of Israel will be replaced by another state and will no longer exist. It should be obvious (even to the most obsessed anti-Israel activist) that it’s quite a different historic setting when you apply pressure on a government to change its policy on the one hand, and when you apply pressure on a government to end the very existence of the state altogether on the other hand.

        Alas, for the anti-Israel crowd, it’s not obvious. It’s strange for the non-anti-Israel (general) public that an intelligent person who has a high school diploma is incapable of seeing the world through the eyes of others. Maybe a little example could help you understand the absolute absurdity of your concepts of pressure, so here it is. You might be able to apply pressure on someone to hand over his wallet, but you probably won’t be able to pressure him to take a jump off the bridge.

        It’s one thing to be hostile to Israel, wishing to see her disappearance from the map of the world. However, it’s quite another thing to present such hostility as a “solution”, believing that someone on planet earth might take you seriously. A peace plan (a solution) which is based on the total negation of the one side is simply a declaration that you think that everyone is stupid.

      • Talkback on December 15, 2019, 9:51 am

        brent: “Which are the most effective, easiest to create, and most powerful?”

        Israel’s primary concern: Maintaining the status quo, buy time to illegaly settle even more, create fact on the grounds and even illegaly more territory in order to create a Jewish state in all of Palestine and maintain Apartheid.
        Israel’s fall back option: Two-state solution, the Zionist version aka Bantustans.

        Palestinian’s primary concern: Real Two state solution
        Palestininian’s fall back option: Real one state solution.

        Palestinians going for the one state solution could pressure Israel in accepting a real two state solution.

      • Talkback on December 15, 2019, 10:04 am

        Nathan: “It might be true, Talkback, that pressure could be applied on Israel to force her to make concessions. ”

        It has always been true. Whether American pressure or Palestinian resistance. It was the first intifada that let to Oslo. Unfortunately Oslo created the PA which is more effective in combating Palestinian resistance then Israel has ever been.

        Nathan: “Your “real one-state solution” means that the State of Israel will be replaced by another state and will no longer exist.”

        The problem is not the “state,” but it’s Apartheid regime. South Africa still exists, but without its Apartheid regime. But it’s understandable that you cannot envisage a one state in historic Palestine without it being a Jewish Apartheid state.

        Nathan: “… anti-Israel crowd, …”

        I don’t care for your labelling that you have to fabricate to distract from your Jewish exclusivism. I allready know that you cannot formulate a single argument based on universal principles, human rights and international law that applies to all people. But this is about justice and equality for all citizens in historic Palestine and those who are kept expelled.

    • Mooser on December 13, 2019, 2:05 pm

      Shorter “Brent”: ‘The Palestinians could do so much more by doing less, and will be sure to win by doing nothing’

  2. brent on December 14, 2019, 11:07 pm

    Nathan… raises concerns for the survival of the state under the secular state concept. Whatever solution is found will require ironing out wrinkles. I suspect there are ways to protect both cultures as well as majority and minority rights. This is an important challenge that could advance all peoples. Perhaps via an enlightened constitution.

    Also, bringing civil rights and equality under the law within Israel proper, the demographics would not pose a problem and doing so would provide insights for the larger solution down the road.

    Mutual respect can do wonders to bring about change. The harmonious relationship that existed in Palestine for the 500 years prior to political Zionism, provides encouragement.

    • Nathan on December 15, 2019, 9:14 am

      Brent – no, I didn’t raise any concerns regarding the survival of the state. I explained to Talkback that it is absurd to believe that pressure could be applied on Israel in order to convince her to end her own existence.

      There’s a lot of talk here at Mondoweiss about the two-state solution being dead, and therefore there will be a one-state arrangement. It’s fun to argue the point, but it doesn’t mean that the idea of replacing Israel with a new political entity (the single state) is really a topic on the agenda. It’s not. There is quite a significant public that is absolutely determined to maintain the State of Israel, and so it will be.

      • eljay on December 15, 2019, 10:07 am

        || Nathan: … There is quite a significant public that is absolutely determined to maintain the State of Israel, and so it will be. ||

        The state of Israel exists and IMO he should continue to exist but he shouldn’t exist as a colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state because no state has a right to exist as a colonialist, (war) criminal or supremacist state.

        Instead, he should:
        – end his decades-long and occupation and colonization of territory outside of his / Partition borders;
        – reform into the secular and democratic state of and for all of his citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally;
        – honour his obligations under international law; and
        – accept responsibility and accountability for his past and on-going (war) crimes.

      • Talkback on December 15, 2019, 10:07 am

        Nathan: “I explained to Talkback that it is absurd to believe that pressure could be applied on Israel in order to convince her to end her own existence.”

        You mistake pressure for convincing. And you also mistake a state for its Apartheid goverment.

        Nathan: “There is quite a significant public that is absolutely determined to maintain the State of Israel, and so it will be.”

        Maybe within the Apartheid state. But its international support will decline as it declined for the Apartheid regime in South Africa. And then we will see if Israel can leave solely on its own or accepts at least a two state solution. Maybe you should listen to the intelligent voices in Israel and not the racist mob.

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