By ERNIE GOTTA
In February, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Mohammed al-Qeeq, an imprisoned Palestinian journalist on his 85th day of hunger strike. Al-Qeeq had asked to be transferred to a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank. Directly following this decision, however, a partial victory was won in the case of Palestinian American activist Rasmea Odeh as a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted her defense the possibility of bringing testimony that had earlier been thrown out.
In Rasmea’s case, the goal for those in the Palestinian solidarity movement, remains to completely overturn the bogus conviction handed down by an unjust legal system. Any victory will be due to the tireless work of groups like the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and activists around the country.
This unjust system has jailed outspoken critics of the U.S. government—like Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and Lynne Stewart—and will stop at nothing to intimidate people and movements that speak out for social change. The defense of all political prisoners is important for the defense of the entire working class.
Palestine has been a central question for working people confronting imperialism for over half a century. Of course, this movement is bolstered when celebrities like musician Brian Eno use their public platform to bring attention to Israeli apartheid. In Salon, Eno said about the Oscars, “The Israeli government has attempted to detract from this harsh reality over the years through its “Brand Israel” campaign, which is aimed at using artists, among others, to obscure its human rights violations—whether by paying performers handsomely to play in Israel or by otherwise associating our “brands” with brand Israel.”
Eno’s comments come at a time when the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement is being discussed in activist circles around the world. In Britain, legislation is being proposed in an attempt to sideline BDS and Palestine solidarity. Boycotts were an important part of the fight against apartheid in South Africa, and Israel’s imperialist allies want to stop any idea that such efforts can be successful today.
A real mass BDS effort could mean the loss of billions of dollars in profit to Israeli-based companies and foreign corporations that profit from apartheid. Popular opinion stands with the Palestinians, but Britain’s rulers aim to repress free speech by criminalizing opposition to the occupation and making it illegal to boycott Israel.
Solidarity efforts should get a boost from Palestinians living inside the 1948 borders of Israel. For the first time, major Palestinian groups inside Israel have held a meeting to discuss their relationship to the BDS movement (see the in-depth article about the conference in Portside). The Israeli government is known for its brutality and suppression of grassroots efforts by both Israelis and Palestinians who oppose war and occupation This conference marks another important moment, when Palestinians again stand up to occupation and apartheid despite relentless racism and daily murders of their people by Israeli security forces.
Central Connecticut State University’s Youth for Socialist Action, working with Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association, is helping to organize a campus showing of “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” a one-woman show about the murder of a young American activist by the Israeli Defense Forces in the West Bank. The performance on March 13 will be part of the ongoing work to build a pole of working-class and student opposition to U.S. aid to apartheid Israel.
Photo: Rasmea Odeh, branded a “terrorist,” faces deportation from the U.S.