The following text is adapted from speeches held at an “Artists against Apartheid” event by Layla Hazaineh, a Palestinian women’s rights activist, student and writer, and Abdelwahab Albakri, an activist and co-founder of “Kalam Aflam,” a cultural association dedicated to celebrating and uplifting Palestinian (and more largely Arab) history and culture through film. Both authors are based in Paris. The following words do not necessarily represent the opinions of E&M as an organisation.

We are at the point of no return. Nothing can ever revert to how it was. This momentum must be sustained; the boycott must persist, and the acknowledgment of Israel as a colonial settler cannot be compromised.

What is most frustrating as Palestinians is how we discuss reality in Palestine and the language used in our “debates” here in France. While debating is not necessarily bad, there are a few points that should be considered before discussing Palestine, points that are not up for debate.

Firstly, the Palestinian people’s struggle is for decolonization and the liberation of the entire Palestinian territory from fascist, zionist, and racist occupation. It’s essential to clarify that it is not an anti-Semitic struggle. Anti-Semitism is a crucial subject, but one that needs separate discussion. Linking the Palestinian struggle to anti-Semitism is a distraction from the real issue.

Secondly, what is happening in Palestine is not a war or a conflict; it’s genocide. There’s no debate about that. It should be emphasised that it was never a “conflict,” even before October. Palestinians have been occupied, oppressed, massacred, and humiliated by the fascist state and its allies from the Nakba of 1948 to the genocide of Gaza.

Thirdly, the Palestinian people have resisted colonial occupation from the beginning, using every possible means. Organising demonstrations, internal strikes, peace marches—none of these efforts were heard. Turning to international law, with over 100 resolutions adopted against Zionist atrocities, yielded no results. International law has failed the Palestinian people, and foreign governments and the Western media have let us down. Given this context, no one has the right to dictate how Palestinians should resist their oppressors.

Finally, the primary objective now is an immediate ceasefire. However, we must not forget that the massacres and bombings are just the first part of this barbaric genocide. After the massacres, there will be famine in Gaza, infections, untreated wounds, lack of resources, institutions, and essentials of daily life. Rebuilding what has been lost will take years and a lot of money. This is the real aim of the occupation—to make life unbearable until Palestinians face an impossible decision: leave their land or die. This is the definition of ethnic cleansing.

These points mean that the fight doesn’t stop after a ceasefire; it’s just the beginning of our battle. A ceasefire is the first step on a long road to decolonization, liberation, and justice.

And now, let’s remember that when we fight, with all means available, we fight for the full freedom of Palestinians, the liberation of our entire land, the right of every Palestinian in the diaspora to return, the release of all prisoners, the full dismantlement of the occupation and its institutions, from the occupation’s racist and fascist ministries down to every part of the illegal settlements, the last brick of the separation wall and the last wire in every checkpoint.

It is important to remember that talking of pragmatism and “realistic” solutions must never come at the expense of our full rights. You will hear talks of two state solutions,with no real army, no real sovereignty, and no right of return. No Palestinian will accept living in twenty percent of their land, the twenty percent that have been disfigured by settlements, checkpoints and segregated streets. Just as we won’t accept twenty percent of our freedom, of our dignity, of our sovereignty and our right to self-determination. These things cannot be presented in pieces, but can only be obtained whole.

The ethnic cleansing and genocide have been happening for two months and 75 years. Liberation is not easy, but it’s not impossible. Even in my darkest moments of weakness, I believe that the liberation of the entirety of Palestine, from the river to the sea, is not impossible. And this must always be the compass of our collective struggle.

As evidenced by world history, it is realistic to end settler colonialism, it is realistic to end apartheid, it is realistic to return. The struggle is long and exhausting but it must never be abandoned, and we must never identify what is realistic and possible based on what the occupier is willing to give, but based on what justice demands to be returned to its rightful owners.

So please, keep this in mind when you help in making our narrative be heard and when you join the Palestinians in a cause that has become the cause of every free person, and always be careful as to not feed into harmful narratives that demand us to give up on our full rights.

Palestinians have proven over and over again during the past 75 years that nothing will ever force us to abandon our cause. This is the time for you and for the rest of the world to prove that nothing will make you give up on your solidarity until we are all free.

Long live Palestine. Long live the resistance.

Feature image by Hossam el-Hamalawy (Creative Commons licence).

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    Layla Hazaineh is a Palestinian women’s rights activist and writer based in Paris, and currently pursuing a master’s degree in Human Rights with a focus on Middle Eastern and Gender Studies.

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