Uprooting Death From Palestine

Palestinian People’s Party member Arwa Abu Hashhash gave an impassioned speech this week about the assault on her country, writes Vijay Prashad. Here it is, updated as of Oct. 18.

Malak Mattar, Palestine, “Last Painting Before the 2021 War,” 2021.

By Vijay Prashad
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

This week, from Oct. 14–18, the Dilemmas of Humanity Conference brought together political leaders, activists and organic intellectuals from around the world to discuss the central problems facing humanity today and strengthen proposals to address them.

Gathered in Johannesburg, participants watched in horror as Israel escalated its war against the Palestinian people. On Oct. 17, the 11th consecutive day of its bombardment, Israel stunned the world by bombing the al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City, where thousands of civilians were receiving medical treatment and seeking shelter from the attacks.

According to the initial estimate of Gaza’s Health Ministry, over 500 people were killed, though that number is certain to rise in the coming days. One day before the massacre, the U.N. Security Council had the opportunity to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which may have averted the hospital bombing. This resolution, however, was blocked by the United States, United Kingdom, France and Japan.  [A second ceasefire resolution sponsored by Brazil was vetoed by the U.S. on Wednesday, a day after the hospital attack.]

[Related:WATCH: US Vetoes UN Resolution for Ceasefire in Gaza]

During the opening session of the Dilemmas of Humanity Conference, in the midst of what many have referred to as a second Nakba, Palestinian People’s Party member Arwa Abu Hashhash gave an impassioned speech about the assault on her country, updated as of Oct. 18 to reflect current figures and sources.

“Allow me to speak on behalf of the Palestinian delegation that was supposed to be among us now but was unable to attend because of the difficult circumstances and the suffocating blockade that the Palestinian people are currently enduring.

At this moment, as I address you, the besieged people of Gaza and Palestine are facing an operation by the fascist Zionist occupation forces. For the 12th consecutive day, the Israeli war machine continues to massacre Palestinians, resulting in the killing of children, women, youth, and the elderly. Since Oct. 7, more than 3,400 Palestinians, many of them children, have been martyred. Dozens of families have been completely wiped from the civil register after multiple generations were martyred, and there has been a horrific destruction of infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, government buildings and media houses.

Malak Mattar, Palestine, “Olive Harvest,” 2019

This has led to the displacement of over one million people in Gaza from their homes, along with a suffocating siege and an attempt to starve the more than 2 million inhabitants of the region by cutting off all food, medicine, fuel supplies, water and electricity.

This assault on the Palestinian people today has the unequivocal support of the imperialist powers of the world, primarily the United States and some allied Western countries. These countries are making a terrible yet futile attempt to re-define the essence of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an issue of terrorism, likening the Palestinian people and their resistance to ISIS and placing Hamas and the Palestinian people as a whole within what they call the War on Terror.

In their deliberate effort to establish this narrative, these powers first aim to legitimise the killings and daily crimes committed by Israel. They seek to blind the world to the truth behind the ongoing conflict and continue to ignore and evade the reality that the Palestinian cause is a matter of national liberation.

Malak Mattar, Palestine, “Mother Nature Embracing the Boy and His Horse,” 2023.

As we gather today from all over the world to discuss the crisis of the capitalist system — so that we can propose alternatives to overcome this system and formulate a socialist alternative — we are faced with one of the most fundamental tasks, which requires us to accurately identify the tools of this system.

In order to understand the nature of the ongoing conflict in Palestine today, it is crucial to understand the Israeli occupation in the Arab and Maghreb region as a fundamental tool and an advanced military base that serves imperialists’ interests in the region and ensures their control and hegemony. This is part of the battle of ideas that we have repeatedly emphasised in our ongoing work through Dilemmas of Humanity.

Israel, which did not exist 75 years ago, was established through one of the most violent acts of ethnic cleansing in modern history with the unwavering support of British imperialism at the time and later U.S. imperialism alongside French and other European imperialist forces.

As these imperialist powers sought to seize the region’s resources and exploit its wealth, their interests converged with those of the Zionist movement, which proposed to address the issues of Jews in Europe by establishing the state of Israel and colonising Palestinian land, displacing its people.

Malak Mattar, Palestine, “Giving Birth in a Prison Cell,” 2022.

These imperialist forces, with the United States at the fore, have continued to support and justify the state of Israel’s daily brutal aggression against Palestinians. This aggression includes stealing land; demolishing homes; building illegal settlements; and arresting, detaining, humiliating and killing innocent young people, women and the elderly in Palestine every day.

Israel, after seizing the majority of Palestine in 1948 and — in an act of ethnic cleansing known as the Nakba — displacing nearly 800,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of the population at the time, reoccupied what remained of historical Palestine by capturing the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967.

Since then, Israel has persistently violated all international agreements by building over 200 illegal settlements, each containing thousands of housing units where more than 700,000 settlers now reside. The construction of these settlements involves not only the seizure of thousands of acres of Palestinian land, depriving many Palestinians of their land and basic livelihoods, but also the separation of Palestinian cities and towns from each other, hindering the movement and mobility of Palestinians and undermining the possibility of establishing a contiguous state, even in the areas that the entire world recognises as Palestinian territory.

Moreover, Israel continues to detain more than 5,000 Palestinians, including 1,264 “administrative detainees” held without charge or trial — a practice prohibited by international law — as well as 170 children under the age of 16 and 30 women.

More than 1,000 of these prisoners suffer from various health conditions, including 200 with chronic diseases, and face deliberate medical neglect by the Israeli prison authorities. This includes failing to provide necessary medications, denying essential surgical procedures and keeping ill detainees in confinement rather than providing them with medical care in clinics or hospitals.

Malek Mattar, Palestine, “When Family Is the Only Shelter,” 2021.

Gaza, upon which Israel is brutally deploying massive amounts of heavy explosives and internationally prohibited weapons, has been under a suffocating siege for over 16 years.

During this siege and blockade, Israel has launched more than six bloody wars, resulting in thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of wounded individuals, many of whom have permanent disabilities, and the displacement of many families.

Gaza has been turned into an open-air prison for 2 million Palestinians. Hundreds of homes, schools, universities, places of worship and health centres have been shelled and destroyed, leading to a persistent crisis of displacement for Palestinians, most of whom were already refugees driven from their lands during the Nakba of 1948.

Today, there is an explicit attempt by Israel to forcibly displace the residents of Gaza, which they do not conceal but express openly in various television broadcasts.

Faced with the consequences of the brutal colonisation that the Palestinian people have endured for over 75 years, Western imperialist and Zionist powers have propagated a multitude of falsehoods in order to justify their unwavering support of Israel.

This ranges from portraying Palestinian land as “a land without a people,” attempting to depict the conflict between Palestinians and Israeli settlers as a religious struggle, and, most recently, framing the conflict as a war on terrorism.

Today, we have the fundamental task of dismantling this Western imperialist narrative and replacing it with the true story of the Palestinian people, their legitimate struggle, and their resistance for their liberation and rights.

Today, we are also engaged in another battle, the battle of emotions, which we have always emphasised in our work in the International Peoples’ Assembly.

In this battle, imperialist forces seek to strip humanity, including the Palestinian people, of its belief in the feasibility and potential of resistance and instead spread a discourse based on frustration and defeat. What happened on Oct. 7 is an integral part of the Palestinian people’s struggle over the past 75 years.

Resistance against colonialism and occupation is a just human right that is protected by all international laws. Any attempt to portray what happened as an “attack” or “terrorism” is a cover-up for the terrorism of the occupying state and an attempt to legitimise it. [Ed.: The Oct. 7 operation targeted not only Israeli soldiers but also civilians, undermining the right to resist.]

Malak Mattar, Palestine, “When Peace Dies, Embrace It. It Will Live Again,” 2019.

The Palestinian people today are in dire need of the widest possible solidarity from all free peoples. This call for solidarity is not made from a position of humanitarian or symbolic solidarity but is an integral part of our shared struggle. What is happening in Palestine today is not isolated from what is happening in India, Iraq, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba or elsewhere. The defeat of imperialist assaults in one region is a victory for all of us.

Allow me to thank all the social movements that are acting in solidarity with the Palestinian people and extend my thanks to the International Peoples’ Assembly, which has always embraced the cause of Palestine.

It is true that the Israeli killing machine continues to take Palestinian lives, but we believe that this will only strengthen our determination to continue resisting. Allow me to conclude with a quote from the Palestinian communist poet Muin Bseiso: ‘Yes, we may die, but we will uproot death from our land.’ 

Victory to the resistance! Liberty and freedom to Palestine!”

Heba Zagout, Palestine, “Jerusalem Is My City,” 2022.

We hope that this message from Arwa is both informative and inspirational. Much of the art in this newsletter is by the Palestinian artist Malak Mattar, who began painting at age 14 after a quarter of her neighbourhood was destroyed in an airstrike during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza.

The last painting is by the Palestinian artist Heba Zagout, who, along with her two children, was killed on Oct. 13 by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The terrible violence against the Palestinian people must stop now. Palestinians will be a free people. In fact, they are already free.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations.  His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and, with Noam Chomsky,  The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and the Fragility of US Power.

This article is from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Please Donate Today to CN’s Fall Fund Drive 


10 comments for “Uprooting Death From Palestine

  1. Deb Russell
    October 20, 2023 at 10:25

    Vijay Prashad,

    Such a beautiful testament to the truth. Please know that not everyone in the Imperialist USA supports Israel. I’m (USA citizen) outraged by what is and has been happening to Palestinians during my entire life. My heart and prayers are with your people. One only has to read the history books to understand what is going on, but alas, many people apparently don’t. I’m ashamed of my country’s leaders. The direction my country has taken in the past few decades is shocking.


    • George Philby
      October 22, 2023 at 02:50

      I agree, Deb.
      ‘Resistance against colonialism and occupation is a just human right that is protected by all international laws.’
      That is 100% correct.
      But tell that to the ignorant (or willfully ignorant) voters at the UN Security Council, who trot out their ritual condemnation of Hamas for its “horrific” and “unprovoked” attack on “Israelis” (who live comfortably in the homes they stole from the Palestinian refugees Hamas defends). Hamas is a freedom-fighting body like the French Resistance, which Hollywood glorifies in film after film.
      The ignorance of history shown by voters at the Security Council is scary. There is hardly a mention of “Israel’s” transgressions or those of White terrorist Jewish colonizers in Palestine back to the 1920s. It’s like talking about Ukraine but not mentioning NATO, Obama/Biden/Nuland 2014, Poroshenko, or 14,000 dead Russian-speakers.
      Sadly, representatives from the global South are now Zionist/US/UK mouthpieces. The gentleman from Mozambique urged the Palestinians to “negotiate”. (Haven’t they done that?) I was briefly in Mozambique when it fought – and I mean fought – for freedom from White Portuguese colonizers. Now, it seems, Palestinians must fight, yet again, at a negotiating table loaded against them.

  2. October 19, 2023 at 15:32

    At times , I have great difficulty in accepting the fact that my country, Canada , gives such unbridled support to the most brutal countries in the world. We always have and continue to support the colonizers, and exploiters We never have supported countries trying to rid their colonial masters.
    We support the Ukrainian Nazi’s , and Zionists fascists with unspeakable fervor..Canada , I’m sorry to say, is very comfortable being in the company of the Imperialist neigbor to our south.Glen Hedley

    • Robert Moore
      October 19, 2023 at 16:25

      Mr. Hedley:
      Thanks for your response. This comment response is from a fellow Canadian who is angered by Canada’s stance and the recent behavior here (not to mention that it is somewhat expected). You stated my anger and shame better than I could have. Thankyou.

    • Laurie Hobrook
      October 21, 2023 at 20:49

      Yes Glen I too am ashamed of my country’s support colonial, Neo-colonial and imperialist powers just as you are. To put it crudely, Ottawa is so far up Washington’s butt GPS can’t find it. Enough said.

  3. Valerie
    October 19, 2023 at 15:21

    Beautiful artwork. Thankyou for a visual perspective. I would like to propose a written perspective:

    “I think about what my gravestone would say if I died during this horrendous period. I find it impossible to come up with a statement – I don’t even know what I want to achieve, what I want to say. I lay my body on the couch in the living room and close my eyes. Then, suddenly, I remember a poem I read one day and loved – I even kept it in my Notes app on my phone:

    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there. I did not die.”

    Ziad, a 35 year old Palestinian who is keeping a diary. This is from yesterday’s entry, 18th October 2023.

    • SH
      October 19, 2023 at 16:18

      I got a small poster of that poem after my brother died 21 years ago – and framed it – I have sent a copy to the husband of a friend who died some years ago … , for me it is an expression of my “cosmology” – the universe is composed of consciousness, like matter/energy, neither created nor destroyed, simply “recycled” – we are temporary physical instantiations of that consciousness – and contribute to its “content” in our brief sojourn here – our physical forms inevitably melt, but our “consciousness” remains, persists, and can be found in the winds, the sun, the rain, the rest of “creation”

      Can I “prove” it, no, but i “know” it, more than i know anything else …

    • semi-obedient son
      October 19, 2023 at 20:41


    • Eileen McGlynn
      October 20, 2023 at 10:44

      I hope Ziad is safe. Did he write that poem just recently? The speech/essay and Guernica like painful paintings evoking universal humanity show dire need to end this Zionist madness by tossing out all our Western leaders who fund, benefit and back their cruelty. Palestine is the canary of our morality and a litmus test. The West gets a F. A new world order is erupting.

      • Valerie
        October 20, 2023 at 15:42

        Ziad’s safety depends on the israelis and the west. Ziad did not write that poem. He just remembered it. SH above might be able to tell us the author. You can keep up with Ziad and his diary here:


        I do hope we hear from him every day. (In this instance though Eileen, i believe the canary is dead.)

Comments are closed.