Militant Journalism

Los Angeles Palestinians and supporters reject Trump and Netanyahu’s ‘Joke of the Century’

On Feb. 8, more than 50 students, workers, and activists protested in front of the Wilshire Federal Building to protest the “peace plan” unveiled by U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just a few days earlier.

The event was organized by Al-Awda, The Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, the ANSWER Coalition, Jews for Palestinian Right to Return, and LA4Palestine, and was further endorsed by the Palestinian American Women’s Association, Code Pink, March and Rally Los Angeles, Korea Peace Alliance, Los Angeles Greens, Relief for Yemen Club, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and  U.S. Support Committee for Korean Prisoners of Conscience.

‘Deal of the Century’ called ‘Joke of the Century’

Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb, an attendee of the rally, the director of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at CSU San Bernardino, and co-director/executive producer of “1948: Creation & Catastrophe,” was unsurprised by the announcement of what she and Al-Awda Coalition called the “Joke of the Century.” Muhtaseb explained to Liberation News:

“I mean it was nothing out of what we expected from the alliance of Trump and Netanyahu. It just confirmed what we knew already: a continuation of land appropriation and theft, continuous genocide against the Palestinians in the form of more settlements and endorsement of settlements, more chunking of Palestinian land, where there is no room for a ‘Palestinian state,’ as they claim. Other problems with the plan are that it denies the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their ancestral homeland, it allows for more land grab, and it totally erases Palestinian existence as a negotiator, as a part of whatever kind of peace deal that has to be made.”

Nader Jalajel, giving Al-Awda’s statement on the “Deal of the Century,” pointed out:

“ … international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Resolution 194, come under particular attack in this document. Not only do Trump, Netanyahu and Kushner seek to deny Palestinians their right to return to their homes and lands from which they were expelled in 1948, it encourages their resettlement, specifically in ‘Muslim countries.’ It also demands that Arab regimes fund this ‘resettlement project,’ while calling for the elimination of UNRWA, the UN Relief Works Agency responsible for providing services to Palestinian refugees.”

Palestinian resistance exposes crimes of global imperialism

Mike Prysner spoke of Palestinean resistance as a “bright fire” for global anti-imperialism:

“U.S. imperialism seeks to overturn any aspirations for freedom and national liberation of the world, and especially for Palestine, which is a beacon for hope and resistance for colonized people all around the world. It is the Palestinian people’s bravery and resistance that has been such a bright fire that the U.S. wants to put out, and they are all connected.”

Rhianna Shaheen, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, explained how Palestinian oppression is connected to the suffering of the U.S. working class:

“We have more in common with the Palestinian people than we do with our own government. Last year, Democrats and Republicans voted to increase our annual military aid to Israel by $3.8 billion. That’s 3.8 billion of our tax dollars going towards home invasions, military occupations, and war crimes. Meanwhile, they tell us that we don’t have money to feed the poor or house the homeless, that we don’t have money for our schools and free lunches for our children. But somehow, we have the money to detain and torture Palestinian children? Is that right? No! The fact is that the people driving the mass displacement and evictions in Los Angeles are the same people profiting off of home demolitions in Palestine. The same people brutalizing and murdering black and brown communities over here are being trained over there by Israeli soldiers on how to better do so. It is only the ruling class that benefits from the illegal occupation of Palestine, and has a vested interest in us not making these connections.”

When Liberation News asked Sami Wassef, a retired engineer from Jerusalem and one of the attendees, about the deal, he linked the proposed policy to the historical policies of the United States and South African ruling classes:

“It’s an imposition of continuing occupation, making the occupation legal, making the settlements legal, putting all of the Palestinians in big cities, in Bantustans the way apartheid South Africa tried to do with what they called homelands for the Africans, what America in its founding tried to do with Native Americans, putting them on reservations, and now they want to do that with us in our own country.”

Wassef then connected Palestinian oppression to British imperialism:

“When Israel was created, it was first an implement of British colonialism, and this is what Britain did throughout the world. I mean, look what they did in Ireland. They divided India and Pakistan. Look what they did throughout Africa. Look what they did to Greater Syria, they divided it into Lebanon and Jordan and Syria and Palestine, and then they took Palestine and divided it some more.”

Reaction condemned, resistance upheld

Wassef recalled: “Years ago, the Arab leftists equated occupation and U.S. imperialism with Arab reaction. A lot of people said, ‘Arab reaction? What is that?’ And now we see it.”

Jalajel also highlighted the complicity of U.S.-allied regimes in the Middle East:

“The ambassadors of Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates attended the announcement and were praised by the colonialist authority, Trump, for their presence. Egypt under Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s monarchy issued statements welcoming the plan. Meanwhile, the streets of Sanaa, Yemen, teemed with hundreds of thousands rejecting this deal, reflecting the true spirit of the Arab people who are so bitterly misrepresented by these reactionary regimes and monarchies. Of course, the Yemeni people have themselves suffered under brutal bombardment and siege directed by these very same forces that line up with imperialism and Zionism in their war on the Palestinian people.”

Shany Ebadi, an Iranian-American member of the ANSWER Coalition and a labor organizer, further related the solidarity with Palestinians and condemnation of the U.S. expressed by the working and oppressed people of the Middle East:

“In Jordan, massive sit-ins occurred at the U.S. Embassy in Amman with protesters rejecting Trump’s plan for its denial of the right to return for Palestinian refugees, and the declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a holy site for millions of people of different religious and cultural backgrounds, while they’re pushing millions of Palestinians out of their ancestral homes.”

Ebadi continued:

“So do not be fooled. The Republicans and Democrats all want Americans to believe in their narrative. They want to portray us as deserving of U.S. state-sanctioned violence. They want to pretend as if they care about peace and human rights while the U.S. military remains the largest perpetrator of war crimes. We are not the terrorists that the U.S. media wants you to believe we are. We are not the aggressors of a settler-colonial system of subjugation. We are workers living paycheck to paycheck while the rich get richer. We are mothers aching for the day when our children return home from war. We are students standing up for justice and peace. We are communities fighting the militarization of police forces. We are immigrants escaping the violence that U.S. imperialism created in our countries. We are here to say no to war in the Middle East, no to sanctions that starve and kill the people of a nation, and no  to military occupation in Iraq, Palestine, and around the world.”

Hope emerges as contradictions sharpen

Regarding the future of Palestine after the proposal, Muhtaseb told Liberation News:

“I always like to see the positive side of everything. In a way, it just leads us to one conclusion, which is the impossibility of a two-state solution, and the ultimate eventual march towards the only reasonable solution at this point, which is a one-state solution for everyone with equal rights, a secular state that is not an exclusive Jewish state, which would guarantee the right of return to all Palestinian refugees from around the world and compensation for their losses over the years, and also to have one state with one man, one vote; equal rights to everyone.”

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