Dyab Abou Jahjah
When the French minister of interior declares a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations and by doing so committs a serious infringement against the political rights of the citizens of the republic where the rights of the citizens were supposedly born, you know something serious is taking place. The excuse that the Police is incapable of protecting the manifestation against attacks by Jewish extremists is ridiculous. Video evidence shows that the police was protecting the Jewish extremist thugs of the Jewish defence league who attacked the demonstrators violently from the retaliation of the demonstrators. Zionism is, as a matter of fact, the ally of the French regime, and of many other European regimes, in a fight against a new and growing majority in urban Europe. A new majority that is demanding a real change in the way Europe positioned and defined itself for centuries.
The mobilization for Palestine that we have been witnessing all across European big cities has bypassed the expectation of many people including the traditional pro-Palestine movement. It is not just the outrage over the continuous onslaught on Gaza that sparked this mobilisation and made it more successful than what we witnessed during previous Israeli attacks. Certainly the violence and crimes of Israel are outrageous, but this has been the case in 2012, in 2008, in 2006 and before. In fact, Israeli crimes, killings, abductions, ethnic cleansing, land grabs and apartheid, are a continuous super-crime against humanity that is on-going for more than 66 years.
Various factors made mobilisation this time more impressive. First of all, we are witnessing the rise of a new population of immigrant decent. They are originally from Arab, Muslim and third world countries and they feel a strong bond with the Palestinian people. They Identify with the Palestinian cause for religious or national or thirld worldist reasons, and consider the Palestinians as their kin. This population is now mature, established and urban. Among its ranks, a steadily more visible and politically more aware middle-class is growing. Unlike the oppressed and marginalized under-class, this is a class that possesses the necessary tools for political mobilisation and is eager to manifest itself and make its claim upon a part of the public sphere in the large cities. This group is connecting with other groups in the urban environment, from different ethnic backgrounds, immigrant or native, and interacting on many levels to form together a new urban majority with a hybrid culture, and new political sensitivities.
Palestine, more than any other issue, constitutes the ideal cause for this new urban majority to rally around. Palestine is an anti-colonial struggle, an anti-racist struggle, an anti-apartheid struggle. It is a fight against all the anti-thesis of the new urban community in Europe. That’s why when these communities mobilize for Palestine they are actually at the same time mobilizing for their own citizenship and equal rights in the face of racism and islamophobia and colonial reflexes. Israel is a product of European colonialism and its methods are the same methods colonialism used in Algeria, Indonesia, Congo, South Africa, etc… When the new Europeans manifest their support for Palestine against Zionism, they also break with the colonial heritage of Europe and they write the first letters in a decolonization act that is yet to be implemented in Europe itself.
As a matter of fact, European armies may have left the colonies, but Europe never abandoned its colonial paradigms and is still applying them in its foreign policy on all levels from economy to culture to diplomacy. More so, Europe is applying these colonial paradigms in its relation with its own non-native citizens. Racism, discrimination, second rank citizenship, are all symptoms of the old European colonial psyche. A counter-narrative, is today being created by the new urban Europeans, non-native and native alike, but under the leadership and the impulse of the non-natives.
A Europe that is inclusive and super-divers cannot be colonial at the same time. It has to be decolonized and nothing symbolizes decolonization in our time more than the Palestinian cause.
However, the European colonial “ancien regime” did not say its last word yet. Conservative politics is on the rise, and so is the far right as an extreme manifestation of it. Old stories tend to hang around long past their validity date. The French deicision is part of a futile resistance against change that will little by little be supplanted by embracing these new realities. It will no more be possible for the old colonial narrative of Europe of which Zionism is a part, to monopolise the main stream. The new European emancipated and decolonized urban majority is no more a marginal story told by dissidents and pariahs, it is forcing its way into the circle of power in a bottom up mobilisation. By standing for Palestine, the new urban Europeans are emancipating themselves, and decolonizing Europe, in a long due liberation process that we all should embrace.