Resist the Muslim Ban, DAPL & deportations.
Fight the Wall from Palestine to Mexico.
Less than 1 month into the Trump administration…
On Friday, February 3rd, Seattle Federal judge James Robart temporarily blocked Trump’s Executive Order banning citizens of seven countries from entering the US through a ruling on the basis of damage to Washington State and its residents. Driven by xenophobia, Islamaphobia and racism, the Muslim Ban was an unprecedented denial of entry to migrants and refugees that led to more than 60,000 revoked visas in the less than two weeks since it was issued. The halt on the Executive Order is at least a brief relief for visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The U.S. has played a central role in making countries like Syria and Yemen unlivable for a vast number of the population.
While Judge Rodard’s stay plays out in the court system and was upheld by a federal appeals panel on February 9th, it is clear that popular and public presence, actions and organizing is powerful. Judge Robart’s decision came one week after a large rally against the Muslim Ban at the SEA-TAC airport along with similar demonstrations around the country that are continuing. Public protest and presence contributed to the environment in which the stay could be issued and on behalf of Washington State residents. Sustained civil disobedience over the coming months and throughout the U.S. will be key.
For those of us in the U.S. and involved in organizing our communities to achieve social justice, the slew of Executive Orders issued by Trump in the first days of his term along with absurd cabinet confirmations, an evident campaign of mass deportations and further announcements this week feel like the inauguration of an Orwelian world.
From the Nakba to the Intifada, Palestinians have a long and varied tradition of resistance, one that we can draw lessons from for the fight that is ahead in the U.S., not just in these coming months and years of Trump’s term, but into the administrations to follow. We need a strong grassroots community-based civil society in order to create lasting fundamental social change in this country whether under an Obama or a Trump. In building on the momentum generated early and planning for the long run strategically, we can draw from the decades-long and inspiring history of resistance by the Palestinian people as well as the role of solidarity that Rachel Corrie exemplified.
The Palestinian resistance to oppression and displacement is long and varied. A new digital pedagogical resource on Palestinian revolutionary culture from the 1950s through the 1970s provides photos, videos, oral histories and a 12-week syllabus about the intellectual thought, organizational methods and key events of that history. High points from the Palestinian history of resistance provide inspiration and guidance, such as the massive rally of Land Day on March 30th, 1976 challenging the confiscation of Palestinian land by the community of Palestinian citizens of Israel. In another example, the massively popular and grassroots participation in the first Intifada (1987-1993) shows that sustained and inclusive civil disobedience can bring all-powerful seeming forces to a standstill. It is especially pertinent to emphasize the intersectional struggles and comparative lessons in 2017 as the Occupation enters its 50th year.
[Image from Land Day 1976 via “The Palestinian Revolution” website]
Rachel was motivated by a strong moral compass and responsibility towards realizing justice. January 27th, 2003 was the first day she entered the Gaza Strip where she worked with local communities like that of the pharmacist Samir Nasrallah and his family. Rachel was killed by Israeli soldiers on March 16, 2003 while putting her body between the bulldozer and the Nasrallah family home. Her commitment was underwritten by a philosophy of solidarity that was made up of the small everyday acts of support and resistance, a philosophy we can all work to develop in our practice of solidarity.
The time has come for mobilizing, organizing and resisting. This is not only crucial for this moment when the U.S. is headed by an openly xenophobic president, but for future administrations, too, whether Democrats or Republicans. From the grassroots, what we are seeing is an inauguration of communities of struggle that will be necessary for creating the just world we require.
As Rachel wrote in January 2003 when she was on her way to Rafah, Gaza:
“This realization that I will live my life in this world where I have privileges.
I can’t cool boiling waters in Russia. I can’t be Picasso. I can’t be Jesus. I can’t save the planet single-handedly.
I can wash dishes.”
In this time, it is important to keep in mind that sustaining community organizing is based on the small acts like ‘washing dishes’ as well as showing up for multiple intersecting struggles.
For the fight ahead, see some of the following resources for ideas on the many ways to be involved wherever you are located:
2. #NoDAPL Week of ActionFebruary 12-17th. There are many ways to respond to the call for global solidarity form the indigenous leadership at Standing Rock.
3. Click here for a comprehensive #MuslimBan resource guide created by the Palestinian Youth Movement among others.