A Palestinian half buried in rubble in Gaza signals to rescuers. As Israeli missiles pound Gaza, Palestinians everywhere seem more united in their determination to resist than ever. A nation-wide strike by Palestinians living every part of historic Palestine (West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza and inside Israel) has been called by civil society organizations. It is endorsed by all the main Palestinian political organizations including Hamas and Fateh. Because it is planned to be a non-violent demonstration of national unity it will be a challenge to Israel. It will also be a challenge to Canada. Read more.
“Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel live under different governments and have increasingly developed separate identities. But on Tuesday, Palestinian activists hope to unite people across the three territories in a general strike to protest Israel’s air campaign in Gaza and other measures targeting Palestinians”, wrote the New York Times.
Can the Palestinians pull off a “national non violent demonstration of resistance to 73 years of Israeli displacement and dispossession? If they are successful, it will be the first Palestinian general strike since 1936, which was put down ferociously by British troops. Thousands of Palestinians, including most of the political leadership were killed, jailed or exiled.
“The strike is to “protest Israel’s massacres in Gaza and settler-colonial and apartheid repression and ethnic cleansing against Palestinian communities everywhere”, according to the US digital publication Mondoweiss.
The strike appears to have been organized at the last moment from the bottom up. While both Fateh and Hamas have endorsed, it does not appear to have been initiated by them. Instead it is supported by a broad range of Palestinian civil society organizatins, including the BDS national committee.
On Monday, social media was flooded with calls on Palestinians to participate in the strike and a billboard encouraging Palestinian citizens of Israel to take part was seen in Nazareth, the largest Arab-majority city in Israel.
A challenge to Israel…
If the call for a strike is followed massively by Palestinians everywhere, it will be a significant challenge for Israel, more accustomed to dominating by military force. A non violent strike by tens or even hundreds of thousands will be more of a challenge.
For many years Israel has succeeded in separating Palestinians into geographical groups – Gaza, West Bank, Jerusalem, those living inside Israel not to speak of the millions of refugees living in neighbouring countries – making contact between the groups very difficult. This “divide and conquer” strategy has served Israel well. When Palestinians in Gaza organized the “Great March of Return” in 2018 for example, there were a few very limited acts of solidarity by Palestinians outside Gaza.
This time around, however, Israeli actions seem to have galvanized the whole of the Palestinian nation. Many Palestinians who have never supported Hamas in the past, now see Hamas as the only effective resistance organization capable of bringing world attention to their cause.
But also a challenge to Canada
On May 16th, after the meeting of the UN Security council, Canada’s foreign affairs minister Marc Garneau issued a statement in which he called on “all parties to take steps to immediately end all violence”. Will minister Garneau therefore endorse the non-violent Palestinian general strike? And if Israel used its overwhelming military advantage to try to break up the non violent expression of anger, will Garneau dare criticize Israel?
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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