Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gaza: Symbol of Resistance

I referred to it earlier this year, in the context of the popular uprisings in Egypt and other Arab countries and the promise they hold for boosting the Palestinian struggle, but now that I actually have a published (as opposed to pre-publication proof) copy in my hands I want to draw attention to the new book Gaza: Symbol of Resistance, edited by the brilliant Joyce Chediac and issued by World View Forum.
This is an important book. This is a unique book. This is an informative book and this is one of those rare books that are intended to contribute to the struggle, and succeed in doing so. You should buy and read this book.

Why? Because the people of Gaza are suffering, they are suffering terribly, bombed, blockaded, consigned to terrible conditions without adequate food, water, means of sanitation, medicine--and because this suffering is sponsored by your tax dollars, which fully fund and sponsor the Zionist state's ongoing war against the Palestinian people, whose land it has occupied for 63 years.

Here is the truth, written by partisans for Palestine, about Israel's bombardment and occupation of Gaza in December 2008-January 2009, about what came before, about the endless vicious attacks since. Most important, two truths you'll never get from the bourgeois press: what's really behind this criminal campaign against the people of Gaza, and what the people of Gaza themselves are doing, saying, thinking. For me, it is the heroism of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in Gaza--their resistance, their defiance in the face of what would seem to be unbearable conditions and relentless pressure, their steadfast refusal to deny their own history or abandon their right to self-determination--that comes through strongest in these pages and is most inspiring. This is why the title is so apt.

There's another reason I'm so glad this book is out and why I hope it gets out to many readers, especially now as we approach the big LGBT Pride march here in New York City. Every year on the last Sunday in June, hundreds of thousands gather to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion that gave rise to the modern gay movement. This year, spurred in large part by a political struggle that's broken out, a new contingent, organized by LGBT Palestine solidarity activists, will be marching: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. QAIA has already marched this month, in the Queens and Brooklyn Pride parades, where they and their message urging our community to stand with our Palestinian sisters and brothers were well received. Now it's on to the big event next Sunday.

At Queens Pride
The political struggle I refer to is over the right of pro-Palestinian queer groups to meet at the LGBT Center on 13th Street in Manhattan. I blogged about this issue when it first broke out in early March. Sadly, since then the position of the Center's officialdom, after a number of flip-flops, has gone from bad to worse. Its latest and supposedly final edict was to permanently ban all groups having anything to do with "the Israel/Palestinian issue." This fake equating of "both sides" is of course patent nonsense--the ruling is nothing more or less than a racist attack against Palestinian queers and their supporters, and a craven cave-in to the most brazen reactionary forces who mobilized a racist pressure campaign on the Center's board and director, a campaign to whose every demand these sorry stooges have acquiesced. Well, the friends of Palestine know a thing or two about mobilizing themselves, and this struggle is far from over, won't end, in fact, until the Center is once again a free, open space for all of our community. For more on this whole matter, check out Queers for an Open LGBT Center. On their site, every step over the last few months is documented, allied groups are listed, and plans--including a protest at this Monday's annual fancy-shmancy Garden Party and then the contingent at next Sunday's big march--are offered.