âJustice and Freedom for Palestine!â and âGet the Troops Out of Iraq Now!â were the dominating slogans and placards of the over one hundred thousand protestors that went to the streets at the end of the 3rd European Social Forum (ESF) held in London from the 15th to the 17th of October. This powerful demonstration against war and occupation reflected the centrality of Palestine and Iraq in Europeâs largest annual gathering discussing global justice. The speeches made at the stage in Trafalgar Square, the end-point of the demonstration, highlighted the common call in each of the plenary, seminars and workshops on Palestine: the demand for Sanctions and Boycott against Israeli Apartheid.
***image2***Jamal Jumaâ, coordinator of the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and speaking on behalf of the Palestinian delegation at the demonstration, emphasized the importance of the great solidarity expressed by the Social Forum attendees for the Palestinian struggle and in encouraging the resistance: âWe promise you, our resistance will continue and with your support we will free Palestine and Iraq!â George Galloway, British MP and outstanding campaigner for the end of the occupation in Iraq added: âFalluja will become the new Stalingrad!â
The unanimous support of the ESF participants and the social movements for the Palestinian calls is put forth in the final declaration of the Social Movements Assembly which gathers the majority of the organizing and attending organization under one umbrella:
âFollowing the judgment of the UN International Court of Justice and the unanimous vote of the European countries in the UN General Assembly we call for an end to the Israeli occupation and the dismantling of the apartheid wall. We call for political and economic sanctions on the Israeli government as long as they continue to violate international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people. For these reasons we will mobilize for the international week of action against the apartheid wall from 9 to 16 November, and for European days of action on December 10 and 11, the anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.â
The six seminars, various workshops and the plenary on Palestine that were organized during the weekend have discussed the Occupation of Palestine from different angles: the Apartheid Wall, the political prisoners, the Right of Return, and others. The focus in all discussions was on strategies to adopt for effective solidarity with the Palestinian people, including how to start boycott and sanctions campaigns that exert concrete pressure on European governments.
The Apartheid nature and policies of Israel were highlighted throughout the weekend as a common ground to discussions. The testimony and analysis given by Dennis Brutus, South African veteran-activist in the Anti-Apartheid Movement, further encouraged participants to strengthen the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people that seeks to isolate Israel by comprehensive sanctions and boycott: âWhen they tell me today that we will not succeed, that Israelâs ties and lobby are too strong, it makes me laugh â I have heard exactly the same words when we started the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa. We have won that time and we will win again.â
In the plenaryâthe opening session for the ESF–the call for sanctions and boycott against Israeli Apartheid were repeated by Mustafa Barghouti and Jamal Jumaâ as well as by all other speakers. In this spirit, and at the workshop on Boycott, the foundations of coordination for a European Boycott were laid.
During comments and questions from the floor/audience, in the plenary as well as in several other seminars, the feasibility of a two-state solution in the face of Zionism and its policies was raised more than once. In addition to exposing the real meaning behind the âOslo Processâ as a project of the continued colonization of Palestinian land, the Apartheid Wall has surfaced once again the struggle for a free Palestine in all of its aspects. This was underlined as well by the high attendance of the seminar on Zionism, which clearly exposed the racist and colonialist nature of the ideology, calling upon open criticism of the true meaning of Israeli ideology.
At the very same time of the ESF mobilization, the European Union prepares this month the âEuropean Neighbourhood Policyâ (an agreement that seeks to blur any dividing line among EU countries and certain ânieghboring countriesâ through political, economic and cultural cooperation) with plans to include Israel â clear proof of the hypocrisy of the vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations earlier this year where the majority of EU countries supported the endorsement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling condemning Israelâs construction of the Wall, the associated regime and its occupation. The ICJ decision highlighted the need for active international participation in ensuring the dismantling of the Apartheid Wall; in the face of the continued EU support of Israel, the European civil society is being asked to build powerful pressure form the ground.
It is now up to movements, trade unions and organizations to ensure that the calls to tear down the Apartheid Wall do not remain mere declaration but to make the call for boycott and sanctions a real campaign that forces European governments to change their policies towards Israeli Apartheid.