How Gaza’s struggle reignited global indigenous and anti-colonial movements
A mural depicting George Floyd on Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, April 2021.| Maya Alleruzzo / AP

For decades, the struggle for national liberation in Palestine was rightly understood to be part and parcel of a global struggle for liberation, mainly in the Global South.

And since national liberation movements were, per definition, the struggle for indigenous people to assert their collective rights for freedom, equality, and justice, the Palestinian struggle was positioned as part of this global indigenous movement.

Alas, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the growing dominance of the United States and its allies, and the return of Western colonialism in the form of neocolonialism to Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere, have localized many of the indigenous movements’ struggles.

This proved costly, as it allowed France, the U.S., Britain, and others to, once more, sectionalize the Global South into regions of influence, controlling them through whatever military, political, and economic strategies they had in mind. Similar to the scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, recent decades wrought a new kind of colonial scramble for the Global South.

In the Palestinian context, in particular, the struggle was multi-faceted: The demise of global powers, like the USSR, which created some kind of geopolitical balance, isolated Palestinian resistance movements. This forced these movements, namely those involved in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO),  to seek political “compromises,” without achieving much tangible in return.

For Washington, these concessions on the part of a once national liberation movement in Palestine were consistent with the U.S.’ regional agenda and the quest for a “New Middle East.”

Ultimately, this resulted in the wrongly termed “Palestinian division,” factional clashes in 2007, and a state of political paralysis which defined the so-called Palestinian leadership.

And, while Palestinians were busy sorting out their political and leadership crisis, Israel’s settler-colonial process accelerated, at the expense of whatever remained of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Of course, this does not, from an intellectual and historical point of view, alter the essential nature of the Palestinian struggle, which remained that of an indigenous nation fighting for its rights. However, it did confuse the political definitions and discourses surrounding the so-called “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

This confusion was a direct outcome of the misrepresentation of the Palestinian struggle through Israeli propaganda and U.S.-Western media, which remained committed to elevating the Israeli line. Israel invested in presenting Palestinians as a divided people who have no vision of peace and all their resistance movements as essentially terrorist groups hellbent on the destruction of Israel and so on.

But things began to change in recent years, with the revival of indigenous movements around the world, from Black Americans’ struggle in the U.S. to the indigenous resurgence in North and South America, to the ultimate rise of an actual global movement centered around landless societies and indigenous rights—which heavily invested in global solidarity and intersectionality, allowing it to multiply its powers several times over.

The common element of “decolonization”—in all its manifestations—has created intersectional links among various struggles around the world which allowed the Palestinian struggle for liberation to fit perfectly into the new global narrative.

“Black Australians and Palestinians share a history and reality of erasure that has lasted far beyond the anticolonial era of the early last century when most colonized peoples gained independence from colonial powers,” Eugenia Flynn and Tasnim Sammak wrote in an IndigneousX article, “Black Australia to Palestine: Solidarity in decolonial struggle.”

The Black Lives Matter Movement also played a central role in recentering Palestine around urgent and revived struggles in the United States and even beyond U.S. political geography.

“Palestinians played a crucial role in the (2014) Ferguson, Missouri, uprising that flared that year in the wake of the police killing of Black teenager Michael Brown,” Russell Rickford wrote in an article in Vox.

“Palestinian activists used social media to share with African American protesters tactics for dealing with tear gas attacks by militarized police forces—an experience with which many subjects of Israeli occupation are all too familiar,” Rickford added.

This was only the beginning, however, as, over the years, Palestine began featuring as a staple in the Black struggle discourse in the U.S. Both movements fed on each other’s popularity, conceiving new networks and connecting other global struggles together in a most harmonious fashion.

All of this has been propelled forward by the growing connectivity of activists and their struggles around the world, thanks to the utilization of social media, along with independent indigenous media as critical components in organization and mobilization.

While the credibility of mainstream media is being increasingly questioned by people living in Western societies, social media now appears to be a reliable source of information and news when it comes to popular mobilization and direct action.

The ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza has demonstrated the power of social media in terms of its ability to overcome the intentional lies and deception of corporate media, thus greatly diminishing its traditional role in shaping public opinion around Palestine, the Middle East, the U.S.’ “war on terror,” and many other issues.

It would not be an exaggeration to state that there is a parallel war to the one happening in Gaza now, one that engages millions of people around the world, working diligently to defeat Israeli-U.S.-Western propaganda and to demand accountability for those carrying out war crimes in Gaza.

It would be inaccurate to say that Western governments have been “silent” in the face of Israeli atrocities in Gaza. As indigenous struggles around the world ally with the struggle of the Palestinians, colonial and neocolonial powers have no other option but to ally with colonial Israel.

This means that Western powers are active participants in the Israeli war on Gaza through their generous military support of Israel, the sharing of intelligence information, and political and financial backing.

Whether the war lasts for another week, another month, or a year, the consequences of this war will certainly be felt for many years to come, not only in Palestine or even the Middle East but worldwide as well.

The war in Gaza has galvanized global solidarity movements, especially those who are invested in indigenous rights. All of this is reminiscent of the height of the anticolonial national liberation movements of decades ago.

Thus, this historic moment must be seized, not only for the sake of Gaza and the Palestinian people but also for the sake of freedom and justice everywhere else in the world.

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Ramzy Baroud
Ramzy Baroud

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about Palestine, the Middle East, and global issues for over 20 years. He is an internationally syndicated columnist, an editor, an author of several books, and the founder of The Palestine Chronicle. His books include 'The Second Palestinian Intifada', 'My Father Was a Freedom Fighter' and 'The Last Earth.' His latest book is 'These Chains Will Be Broken'. Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter. He is currently a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University.

Romana Rubeo
Romana Rubeo

Romana Rubeo is the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. An Italian writer, her articles appear in many online newspapers and academic journals. She specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation and holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature.