Palestinian Political Prisoner Ameer Makhoul to the World Education Forum Palestine
Brothers and sisters in the International Council of the World Social Forum
Brothers and sisters in the Palestinian National Committee of the World Education Forum
My greetings and yearning to you all,
First, I send you my warmest greetings and appreciation for all your efforts in preparation for the World Education Forum in Palestine. It is an honor for Palestine to host this forum, accompanied by such notable international mobilization and solidarity. However, it is also an honor for the World Education forum to be hosted by Palestine.
Second, from behind the bars of an Israeli prison I welcome you to Palestine on both sides of the so-called Green Line of occupation. I also welcome you in the name of Ittijah — the Union of Arab Community-Based Organizations in Palestine 48 — and in the name of civil society and the Palestinian social movement here and in exile.
Together we marched forward and laid the foundations for the World Education Forum, and shoulder to shoulder we began our preparations internationally and in Palestine and the Arab World. It was during this process that I was arrested, in the beginning of May 2010 – an intimidation arrest that targeted us all. Five months have passed since then, but everything I face today – in the form of an unjust imprisonment, judicial procedures and trial – is no less oppressive than the physical and psychological torture I endured. However, what distinguishes us Palestinians is our free-will and steadfastness, which are used to resist oppression and the oppressors and their so-called justice. We are not deceived that there exists an Israeli justice; on the contrary, we view the court as an opportunity to consolidate the popular and international mobilization and struggle that already exists – these are the cornerstones of our defending of our rights and the tools that prevent their robbery by the occupation state.
Wherever we may be, we are brothers and sisters in values – the values of justice, freedom and human dignity. We share a common vision – that of the oppressed peoples, nations and individuals; of the victims of state terrorism, aggression and neo-liberalism and imperialism; of victims of all forms of exploitation, violence and discrimination; of all the wretched of this Earth – individuals and collectives – who yearn for dignity. We meet in Palestine, this nation and land that has become the meeting point of the free in spirit and of all those who believe that a different world is possible.
As I write you from Israeli prison, I permit myself to send greetings from this sector of the Palestinian people, that represents the entire Palestinian society – that of the prisoners of freedom in the prisons of occupation and apartheid. These 8,000 prisoners are in their homeland. Yet, at the same time, they are barred from this land. However, no matter how hard the walls of the prison may be, they will not stand between them and their right to have a nation. It’s important that you know that these 8,000 prisoners are not a just statistic or a number, but each and every one of them has a name, a dream, a father, brother, sister, son or daughter. Each has his or her own suffering, notwithstanding the collective one, and that of their families who endure the great and exhausting suffering of seeing their children on the other side of the wall. I don’t speak of that famous apartheid wall that we all know – this wall is less famous, for it is made of glass and prevents the Arab and Palestinian prisoners from touching their parents, allowing them to talk to their families only once every two weeks, for 45 minutes, through the phone receiver and the humiliation behind the glass barrier.
These prisoners are prohibited not only from freedom, but also from their families, Arabic newspapers, and all but a few books. They are prohibited from building a family, from obtaining an education, and from everything else but their dream of their coming freedom, which is the product of steadfastness and will: for in them lies the core of the hope and humanity of the oppressed that are targeted by the oppressor. The oppressor knows very well that he would lose the battle if the Palestinian will is not defeated.
There is an Israeli prisoner in Gaza, a soldier of the occupation and the forces of murder. The whole world knows his name and age, and feels the pain of his family. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. But where is the international community when it comes to the 8,000 Palestinian prisoners who are imprisoned for their struggle and human dignity, and the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian prisoners who were forced into Israeli prisons in the past? Do they not have a story too?
The globalization of the media, in addition to the hegemony of neo-liberal values, are what create the imaginary military and economic equality between colonization and its victims, an equation of “values.” Suffering becomes the share of the oppressor, while the oppressed becomes the accused, and, in the best-case scenario, a statistic without a name, story or suffering. After all, Palestinian suffering has been subjected the same fate as that of the land: confiscation.
However, social movements are capable of creating an alternative and another world. This is our dream, for we all share the dream of freedom, humanity and a world without oppression.
I urge you, my brothers and sisters, to come to Haifa on the day of my trial [Thursday, October 28th 2010] so that you can see for yourselves that the Israeli court and legal system are mere manifestations of the Israeli state’s injustice. Thus, we do not seek justice in these systems, but we choose to confront and resist them, and to accuse them to be instruments of oppression, not righteousness. A Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli prison can never be found innocent.
They target us, the 48 Palestinians, and our relations with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip and in exile, as well as our relations with the Arab world. For according to the myths of Israeli security, these are considered to be “relations with the enemy.” However, our enemy is not and will never be any people or national, religions or ethnic group. As much as they would like to accuse us as such, the Jews are not our enemy. Our enemy is the enemy of humanity: the oppressor. Our enemy is the colonizing, racist Zionist project in Palestine in all of its forms; our enemy is imperialism, the hegemony of force and neo-liberal exploitation wherever it may be. Accordingly, I ask you to beware of the dangers of the aggression against Islam and accusing everything that is Muslim of terrorism; the aggression against everything that is Arab or Oriental, and against the peoples of the southern part of our Earth. The greatest terrorist operation that exists today is the globalized and internationalized state terrorism; it is the occupation and colonization of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan; it is neo-liberalism transcending continents. The greater the crisis of neo-liberalism becomes, the greater its exploitation, and the graver the consequences of its acts that aim to protect its profits, exploitations, thefts and hegemony over the riches of the Earth – riches that should belong to the peoples of the Earth.
The World Education Forum in Palestine is a special occasion and a wonderful demonstration of solidarity. The WEF forms part of the international campaign to lift the blockade on Gaza, Jerusalem and the Naqab, and to defend the rights both of Palestinians and of Palestine itself. The WEF constitutes a local and international mobilization in defense of justice; it is a source of hope, power, and steadfastness, confirming that Palestine is not yet forgotten and its people are not alone; this empowers and makes us stronger.
I salute you for choosing the road of freedom, justice and human dignity for the people of Palestine and all peoples of the world.
Another world is possible, and it is our duty to achieve it.
Member of the International Council of the World Social Forum
Member of the Palestinian National Committee of the World Education Forum
General Director of Ittijah- Union of Arab Community-Based Organizations in Palestine 48