Solidarity & Historical Parallels Between Chicano Nation and Palestine
The Republic of Aztlan extends our arms in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Why should the liberation of Palestinian people be so important to us Chicanos? It is because we share the legacy of colonialism; a struggle for national liberation; a common destiny when it came to empire-building of white nations; we share the common experience of forced expulsion from our homelands; and we share the same oppressor – world imperialism.
We will examine the five reasons that the Chicano nation should find solidarity with our oppressed nation brothers and sisters in Palestine:
We share a common thread of 100+ years of colonization;
We share a common thread of a struggle for national liberation;
The commonality in our histories is that both Palestinians and Chicanos share a common destiny and historical role when it comes to world imperialism. In the U.$. the doctrine of manifest destiny justified land theft and genocide as a divine right of a specific nation’s people. In the U.$. those people were the Euro-Amerikan settlers. In Palestine, the Arabs face land theft and genocide which is based on a belief that I$raelis have the religious right to said land and therefore exterminating Palestinians and taking their land is an unfortunate necessity in creating a supposed Jewish state.
With this idealist religious justification, forced expulsion has been unleashed on the Palestinian people. We recall that in the 1950s, Operation Wetback expelled 1-2 or more million Mexican people whether they were born in the U.$. or Mexico didn’t matter.
Our oppressors are the same - world imperialism. At this point, the primary contradiction in the world is with imperialism and the oppressed nations. This is how Chicano liberation is inextricably linked to Palestinian liberation.
The I$raeli-Palestinian conflict is not the product of ancient ethnic nor religious hatred, nor is it about modern religious hatred either. It is the tragic clash between two peoples with claims to the same land – one claim being idealist and the other being historical materialist. It is the outcome of a 100-year-old colonial occupation by Zionists and later I$rael, backed by the British, the United States, and other major imperial powers. This project is about the national bourgeoisie of a persecuted religious minority in Europe speaking for all Jews in every corner of the world (from Russia, Iraq, Ethiopia, Spain, the United $tates, etc.) into building a powerful homeland granting them protection which will be gained through eradication of an indigenous population. It is about the rendering of the Palestinians as non-people, writing them out of the historical narrative as if they never existed and denying them basic human rights. It depends on the metaphysical idea that all Jewish groups from all around the world all with different history, language, culture, territory, and psychological make up all belong to one nation because of religion. It feeds off of the anti-semitic idea that Jews are outsiders in the various respective countries they reside. Yet to state these incontrovertible facts of European colonization — supported by innumerable official reports and public and private communiques and statements, along with historical records and events — sees I$rael’s defenders level charges of anti-Semitism and racism. We ask the question: what is more anti-semitic? The claim that says zionism requires an ethnic cleansing and assimilation of various historically Jewish communities around the planet into the model European Jewish groups? Or the claim that says Jews don’t belong in our country and they should live in their own place where no one has to deal with them?
Edward Said, a Palestinian intellectual of the famous book “Orientalism” who grew up in British occupied Palestine summarized: “This is a unique colonialism that we’ve been subjected to where they have no use for us. The best Palestinian for them is either dead or gone. It’s not that they want to exploit us.”
Zionism was birthed from the evils of anti-Semitism. It was a reaction to the discrimination and violence inflicted on Jews, especially during the savage pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe in the late 19th century and early 20th century that left thousands dead. The Zionist leader Theodor Herzl in 1896 published “Der Judenstaat,” or “The Jewish State,” in which he warned that Jews were not safe in Europe, a warning that within a few decades proved terrifyingly prescient with the rise of German fascism.
Britain’s support of a Jewish homeland was always colored by anti-Semitism. The 1917 decision by the British Cabinet, as stated in the Balfour Declaration, to support “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” was a principal part of a misguided endeavor based on anti-Semitic tropes. The British elites, including Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, also believed that Jews could never be assimilated in British society and it was better for them to emigrate. It is telling that the only Jewish member of Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s government, Edwin Montagu, vehemently opposed the Balfour Declaration. He argued that it would encourage states to expel its Jews. “Palestine will become the world’s ghetto,” Balfour warned.
This partially turned out to be the case after World War II when hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, many rendered stateless, had nowhere to go but Palestine. Often, their communities had been destroyed during the war or their homes and land had been confiscated through fascist brutality. Those Jews who returned to countries like Poland found they had nowhere to live and were often victims of discrimination as well as postwar anti-Semitic attacks and even massacres.
These first Jewish settlers knew they needed an imperial patron to succeed and survive just like the early Euro-Amerikan settlers needed sponsors from their old countries. Their first patron was Britain, which sent 100,000 troops to crush the Palestinian revolt of the 1930s and armed and trained Jewish militias known as the Haganah. The savage repression of that revolt included wholesale executions and aerial bombardment and left 10% of the adult male Arab population killed, wounded, imprisoned or exiled. After the British left after the contradiction between the settlers and the British became antagonstic, the Zionists’ second patron became the United States, which now, generations later, provides more than $3 billion a year to I$rael. I$rael, despite the myth of self-reliance it peddles about itself, would not be able to maintain its Palestinian colonies without its imperial benefactors. This is why the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement historically frightened I$rael. It is also why Chicanos should support the economic boycott of I$rael as well.
The early Zionists bought up huge tracts of fertile Palestinian land and drove out the indigenous inhabitants. They subsidized European Jewish settlers sent to Palestine, where 94% of the inhabitants were Arabs but once colonialism began to look bad in the post-World War II era of decolonization, the colonial origins and practice of Zionism and I$rael were whitewashed and conveniently forgotten in I$rael and the West. In fact, Zionism — for two decades the coddled step-child of British colonialism — re-branded itself as an anti-colonial movement.”
“Today, the conflict that was engendered by this classic nineteenth-century European colonial venture in a non-European land, supported from 1917 onward by the greatest Western imperial power of its age, is rarely described in such unvarnished terms,” Khalidi writes. “Indeed, those who analyze not only I$raeli settlement efforts in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights but the entire Zionist enterprise from the perspective of its colonial-settler origins and nature are often vilified. Many cannot accept the contradiction inherent in the idea that although Zionism undoubtedly succeeded in creating a thriving national entity in I$rael, its roots are as a colonial settler project (as are those of other modern countries: the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). Nor can they accept that it would not have succeeded but for the support of the great imperial powers, Britain and later the United States. Zionism, therefore, could be and was both a national and a colonial settler movement at one and the same time.”
Much like the United $tates, I$rael too was started by the outcasts of the old world who were more useful in the new world (North America and Palestine respectively) than the old (Europe). Through venturing through North America old colonialism was able to gain a major section of primitive accumulation (land conquest and enslavement of our First Nation and New Afrikan brothers), and transform itself into modern imperialism; and through the outpost that is I$rael, modern imperialism was able to export its finance capital safe and sound into middle east proper.
One of the central tenets of the Zionist and I$raeli colonization is the denial of an authentic, independent Palestinian identity. During the British control of Palestine, the population was officially divided between Jews and “non-Jews.” One time I$raeli Prime Minister Gold Meir said:
“There was no such thing as Palestinians … they did not exist.”
This erasure, which requires an egregious act of historical amnesia, is what the I$raeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called the “politicide” of the Palestinian people. Khalidi writes, “The surest way to eradicate a people’s right to their land is to deny their historical connection to it.” Chicanos have been subjected to the same name erasure by the U.$. government’s push to call us Hispanics, Latinos, or Mexicans and erase our Chicano name which is fundamentally based on national identity.
The creation of the state of I$rael on May 15, 1948, was achieved by the Haganah and other Jewish groups through the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and massacres that spread terror among the Palestinian population. The Haganah, trained and armed by the British, swiftly seized most of Palestine. It emptied West Jerusalem and cities such as Haifa and Jaffa, along with numerous towns and villages, of their Arab inhabitants. Palestinians call this moment in their history the Nakba or the Catastrophe.
Since 1948, Palestinians have heroically mounted one resistance effort after another, all unleashing disproportionate I$raeli reprisals and demonization of the Palestinians as terrorists. But this resistance has also forced the world to recognize the presence of Palestinians, despite the feverish efforts of I$rael, the United States, and many Arab regimes to remove them from historical consciousness. The repeated revolts, as Said noted, gave the Palestinians the right to tell their own story, the “permission to narrate.”
I$rael is an apartheid state that rivals and often surpasses the onetime savagery and racism of apartheid South Africa. Modern I$raeli society is infested with metaphysical racial chauvinism with “Death to Arabs” being a common popular chant at I$raeli soccer matches. I$raeli mobs and vigilantes, including thugs from right-wing youth groups such as Im Tirtzu, carry out indiscriminate acts of vandalism and violence against dissidents, Palestinians, I$raeli Arabs. The government of I$rael has promulgated a series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews that eerily resemble the racist Nuremberg Laws that disenfranchised Jews in Nazi Germany. The I$raeli educational system, starting in primary school, is an indoctrination machine for the military. The I$raeli army periodically unleashes massive assaults with its air force, artillery and mechanized units on the largely defenseless 1.85 million Palestinians in Gaza, resulting in thousands of Palestinian dead or wounded.
The Zionists could never have colonized the Palestinians without the backing of Western imperial powers whose motives were driven by anti-Semitism. Many of the Jews who fled to I$rael would not have done so but for the virulent European anti-Semitism, that by the end of World War II saw 6 million Jews murdered. I$rael was all that many impoverished and stateless survivors, robbed of their national rights, communities, homes, and often most of their relatives, had left. It became the tragic fate of the Palestinians, who had no influence in the European pogroms or the Holocaust, to be sacrificed on the altar of hate.
Don’t forget that the Obama administration resupplied I$rael in the middle of their slaughter of innocents in Gaza in 2014. Obama, Biden, Trump the democrats and racist corporate media are all complicit with the war crimes against humanity that I$rael is committing. On top of this, the various police forces of Amerikkka utilizes exchange programs with the state of I$rael to trade intelligence and train in I$raeli tactics of suppressing Palestinian resistance in the urban areas. Those same tactics will be implemented on the ghettos, barrios, and reservations to discipline entire communities of oppressed nations. Back in the George Floyd uprisings, the streets were littered with gas canisters which claimed “Made in I$rael.” It got to a point Palestinian activists were sharing counter-police tactics online for us in how to deal with those tear gas and police tactics.
As revolutionary nationalists, we highlight the necessity for solidarities for not only our nations but for all oppressed nations to gain their self-determination. We also call to combat anti-semitism and metaphysical views of what nations are which give to movements like Zionism in the first place. For these reasons, the Republic of Aztlan and the Chicano Nation finds solidarity with Palestine. From the river to the sea, Aztlan and Palestine will be free!