Gord Hill – Indigenous Intifada? From Gaza Strip to Six Nations
Watch a video for Gord Hill from the kwakwaka’wakw nation speaking at a Under the Volcano 2009 workshop about Indigenous Intifada? From Gaza Strip to Six Nations
Hanna Kawas – Colonization and Aparthied in Palestine
Watch a video of CPA Chairperson Hanna Kawas, speaking at a Under the Volcano 2009 workshop about Colonization and Apartheid in Palestine:
Watch also a video of Llanna Weaver, an Israeli anti-Zionist from the U.S., who protests apartheid with Hip-hop chants, speaking at a Under the Volcano 2009 workshop about Israel.
This video also begins with the conclusion of CPA Chairperson Hanna Kawas’ talk on colonization and apartheid in Palestine.
See below articles by Gord Hill and Hanna Kawas written in the program of Under the Volcano 2009:
From Gaza to Gustafsen
By Hanna Kawas
(From 2009 UTV guide pages 36,37)
The Link Between the Intifada & Indigenous Sovereignty
The objective of settler colonialists in Turtle Island and Palestine was to conquer the land (Steal It), ghettoize the indigenous people (Apartheid) and reduce the native population by committing genocide, spreading disease and ethnically cleansing the territory from its indigenous population. All this was carried out under the immoral pretext of a supremacist culture that looked upon other humans as inferiors and less worthy of compassion.
Zionism: A Settler Colonialist Movement
Zionism is a settler colonialist movement that started in Europe in the late nineteenth century with the objective of creating a homeland for the Jewish people. Zionist founders such as Leo Pinsker (1831-1891) and Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), although they started as assimilationists, argued later in their lives that Jews can not coexist in their respective nations due to anti Semitism and the only safe place for them would be their own state. Both these Zionist leaders argued for any piece of land, for example Pinsker wrote: “The goal of our efforts must not be the Holy Land, but a land of our own.” Herzl in his book the Jewish State suggested the possibility of a Jewish state in Argentina, and stated: “Shall we choose Palestine or Argentine? We shall take what is given us”. And the Sixth Zionist Congress (Basel, August 1903) accepted by a majority vote (295:178, 98 abstentions) to investigate the British offer called the “Uganda Project”.
All Zionist leaders and organizations never hid their objective to colonize other peoples’ lands but also justified it by invoking the suffering of the Jewish people. In so doing, they not only cheapened this suffering but also gave comfort to the anti-Semites who have been proclaiming that Jews do not belong to their respective nations.
The Zionists used the colonialist logic to try to legitimize their project, labelled the Asians as barbarians and called for a “civilized post” to further European interests in the region.
Herzl was quoted as saying:
“For Europe we would constitute over there part of a bulwark against Asia as well as the advance post of civilization against barbarism. As a neutral state we would have relations with all of Europe, which would guarantee our existence.”
—Theodore Herzl, Judenstaat, French translation, publisher La Découverte, Paris, 1989, p. 47.
And Chaim Weizmann, then President of the British Zionist Federation, used the colonialist argument that “a Jewish Palestine would be a safeguard to England, in particular in respect to the Suez Canal.” (Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, NewYork, 1949 p. 243)
Zionism and Similarities with other Settler Colonialist Movements
Early Zionists also realized that the only way to establish and maintain their colonialist project was by force, similar to most other colonialist projects. The Revisionist Zionist founder Vladimir Jabotinsky clearly stated this in his 1923 article “The Iron Wall” by saying:
“There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between us and the Arabs, not now, and not in the foreseeable future.
Try to find even one example when the colonization of a country took place with the agreement of the native population. Such an event has never occurred.
The natives will always struggle obstinately against the colonists – and it is all the same whether they are cultured or uncultured. The comrades in arms of [Hernan] Cortez or [Francisco] Pizarro conducted themselves like brigands. The Redskins fought with uncompromising fervor against both evil and good-hearted (sic) colonizers. The natives struggled because any kind of colonization anywhere at anytime is inadmissible to any native people…
Each people will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hope that they can avoid the dangers of conquest and colonization is extinguished. The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope…
All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy…
Force must play its role – with strength and without indulgence….” (Bold emphasis was added – H.K.)
The colonialist logic that was applied to the indigenous people of North America was also applied to the “new colonies”, with the same racist vigour. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations of 28 June 1919 stated:
“Article 22. To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization (sic!) … The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.”
The Zionist movement since its inception allied itself with other similar settler colonialist movements and imperial powers of the day. In 1917 they succeeded to extract a promise from the British government to establish a Homeland for the Jews in Palestine, which manifested itself in what is known as the Balfour Declaration. Then in 1923, the League of Nations blessed and adopted this colonialist venture and the mandate for Palestine was submitted by Britain in July 1922 and confirmed on Sep. 29, 1923.
It is worth noting that Britain issued the Balfour declaration, in which it promised to give away Palestine with no regard for the indigenous population, five years before their colonialist venture was even approved by this so-called League of Nations.
For the past one hundred and twelve years, since the first Zionist congress was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897, the Zionist movement has fabricated lies, erased total towns and villages from the map of the world, committed massacre after massacre, built an apartheid system of roads, towns and walls, and continued with its economic siege and “iron wall” policy to ethnically cleanse the rest of the Palestinian people from their homeland Palestine.
The Palestinian people reacted to this settler colonialist project with the same vigour that the indigenous people of Turtle Island reacted to the British and other colonialist powers’ occupation and aggression. And in both cases, the people never recognized this occupation, never ceded their lands nor accepted compensation from the settler colonialist authorities.
Palestinians have resisted the Zionist settler project with one Intifada (uprising) after another since the 1920s. The latest Intifadas were in 1987 and the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000. The indigenous people of Turtle Island also waged un-relenting resistance to the settler colonialist project for over five hundred years; the example of the Secwepemc Nation attempting to reclaim their ancestral lands at Gustafsen Lake in Sep.1995 is another example of the rekindling spirit of resistance to the unjust and imposed conditions of settler colonialism.
Ilan Pappé, one of Israel’s new historians that challenges the Zionist narrative, stated in the documentary movie “Memory of the Cactus” that if Palestinians tried to go back home, even peacefully, they are labelled as terrorists. This also applies to legitimate and peaceful acts of resistance like the one at Gustafsen Lake, which then British Columbia Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh, branded as a “criminal matter”.
There are of course Palestinians and indigenous people who have sold out to the settler colonialists and their friends. A clear example is the so-called President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas who has allied himself with Israel and the U.S. to suppress the resistance of the Palestinian people. The corresponding example is the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, who not only allied himself with the Canadian state, but also with the Zionist settler colonialists in Palestine (see Open letter to the Assembly of First Nations). No Palestinian or Indigenous quisling, mercenary or puppet will stop the resistance to both these forms of brutal settler colonialism.
The spark of hope (to quote Jabotinsky) will never be extinguished nor will the spirit of resistance to the unjust and inhumane conditions imposed on both indigenous peoples. We are certain that both peoples will regain their national and human rights and sooner or later they will regain their dignity and freedom.
Justice will prevail and it will reach all those who have been and are still committing genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Hanna Kawas was born in Bethlehem, Palestine and is a long-time Palestinian activist and broadcaster. He is the chair of Canada Palestine Association www.cpavancouver.org and founder and cohost of the Voice of Palestine on Vancouver Coop Radio www.voiceofpalestine.ca Hanna has been without a Canadian passport for over 10 years due to the refusal of Canadian authorities to inscribe Palestine as his country of birth on his document. See: Birthright Denied, Canadian complicity in Palestinian Dispossession http://cpavancouver.org/bdenied.pdf
From Gaza Strip to Six Nations
By Gord Hill, Kwakwaka’wakw nation
(From 2009 UTV guide pages 32, 33
On July 1, 2009, as the country celebrated ‘Canada Day’, Omar Shaban, executive vice-president of the Canadian Arab Federation, wrote on his Facebook status “F*** Canada Day.” Although it was his personal opinion, the subsequent media controversy & position of the CAF prompted him to resign, stating he did not want to be part of an organization that refused to acknowledge “Canada’s colonial & shameful history,” labelling Canada a “genocidal state.”
In early February, 2002, then-Vancouver MP and junior minister for Indian Affairs Stephen Owen also caused controversy when he compared young natives in Canada to Palestinian militants:
“Canada’s native communities represent a “tinderbox” full of restless native youths ready to explode in violence if progress isn’t made in treaty talks… Owen likened young natives in Canada to Palestinian militants in Israel in his startling warning.
“If you see kids in an impoverished native village, with three generations of welfare behind them and no hope for the future, and they’re even moved to perhaps that most horrible statistic of despair, which is youth suicide, they are very vulnerable to someone coming in with a gun and a warrior ethic and saying ‘Why waste your life? Be a martyr…’”“That hasn’t happened. But if it’s happening in the Gaza Strip, if we are tolerating similar conditions of despair that will drive kids to commit suicide, that’s a tinderbox.” (Vancouver Sun, Feb. 5/02).
Owen’s comments are similar to other “warnings’ routinely issued by the RCMP, CSIS, politicians, and even band chiefs. Their purpose is to legitimize state repression of Indigenous struggles and marginalize our movement. They are also used to promote government policies– or the neo-colonial Aboriginal elite themselves– as the ‘reasonable’ and therefore ‘peaceful’ means to resolve issues (as opposed to the dark and sinister militants waiting in the shadows…).
Are we ready to “explode in violence” if progress isn’t made in treaty talks? Hardly. Most Native militants are opposed to treaties to begin with. Duhhh!
Owen’s comparison of Natives to the Palestinians deserves a closer look, however. There are indeed parallels between our struggle as Indigenous peoples and the Palestinians. Both are struggles being waged against colonization, apartheid, and genocide!
Despite some Jewish claims of an ‘historical right’ to the state of Israel, it is a colonialist regime, set up first as a British interest and now a US fortress in the Middle-East. Jews were expelled from the Palestinian region by the Romans in the Second Century, AD. Settling in Europe, they experienced both prosperity and persecution. Beginning in the late 19th Century, European Jews began organizing a Zionist movement aimed at settlement and eventually control of Palestine. Zionism is a political-religious movement that asserts a spiritual and historical right to the Holy Land.
The Nazi Holocaust of WW 2 served to reinforce the Zionist plan, as did Western interests in Mid-East oil. This was accomplished in 1947, when the United Nations divided Palestine and created Israel. In 1948 there was war as Arabs resisted
the partition of their territories. With Western backing, Israel took control of nearly 77 per cent of Palestinian land. Thousands of Palestinian homes were demolished, and entire towns relocated or forced out as refugees.
Whether or not one agrees with a ‘spiritual and historical’ right to territory, the colonial and apartheid regime established over Palestinians by Israel is oppressive and genocidal. As it is, Israel only exists as a geo-strategic interest of the United States, who fund and equip Israel’s powerful military.
The Occupied Territories
In 1967 Israel went to war with neighbouring Arab states, including Egypt, Syria and Jordan. During this Six Day War, Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They have come to be known as the Occupied Territories, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live under Israeli military control.
Once Israel had secured the occupied territories, they imposed curfews, check-points, detentions, imprisonment, and deportations. The Israeli government and military set up administrative control of the Occupied Territories, imposing control over land, resources, education, media, and travel. Palestinians were required to have special ID passes issued by Israeli military in order to travel from one area to another.
These special laws & restrictions imposed on Palestinians have been denounced as forms of colonialism and apartheid, and are similar to methods used by Canada and other colonizing states to control Indigenous peoples, to remove them from their land and open up regions to settlement and resource exploitation.
In Canada, this was accomplished largely through the 1876 Indian Act, which established the band council & reserve systems. It also laid out special & seperate laws that impacted every aspect of Indigenous life, authorized the forced indoctrination
of Native children into the Residential Schools, prohibited traditional culture & social organization, & controlled the movement of Natives with a special pass system.
By 1987, two generations of Palestinians had lived under Israeli occupation. In December of that year, following the death of four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, an uprising began which saw thousands of Palestinian youths fighting in the streets, with sticks and stones, against Israeli soldiers. This was an uprising of an entire generation and was known as the Intifada (uprising).
The tactics of the Intifada included organized boycotts of Israeli
businesses, strikes, public demonstrations, radio, leaflets, direct action, and riots. One observer compared it to a “fairly sophisticated strategy for urban guerrilla warfare, without the usual weapons.”
Concentration of Forces
In the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in refugee camps, villages, towns, and cities. In the Jabalia refugee camp, where the Intifada first began, approx. 65,000 people live in 2 square kilometres of land. In Canada, Native populations are far more dispersed, and it is difficult to concentrate large numbers into one area.
The concept of an ‘Indigenous Intifada’-form of resistance was first discussed after the 1990 Oka Crisis. At that time, some warriors questioned the usefulness of armed confrontations and standoffs. They suggested it might be more effective
to adopt the Palestinian-style of “low-level conflict.”
By its very nature, the tactics of the Intifada involve larger numbers of people than armed standoffs. These methods can potentially mobilize entire communities into action, ranging from boycotts, to strikes, to direct action—all of which involve people in the struggle.
Another aspect of the Intifada-style of conflict is that it portrays civilian populations fighting against military/police forces, thereby limiting the state’s ability to isolate resistance to an armed group of ‘terrorists’.
Of course, overall, Indigenous resistance and other social movements do have a hard time in the face of widespread apathy and present social conditions. But here’s another tip from the Palestinian Intifada:
“How is it possible, after 20 years of relative docility, that on 9 December, 1987, the Palestinians in the occupied territories could explode with such sustained fury? At the outset, few observers could have anticipated the remarkable endurance of the Palestinian protesters” (Imperial Israel, p. 241).
2006 Six Nations: Indigenous Intifadah
In April 2006, police attempted to dismantle a blockade erected by Natives at the Six Nations reserve in southern Ontario. The blockade was to stop construction of a condominium site on land originally part of their territory. In response to the raid, hundreds of Natives on the reserve– the largest in Canada with over 20,000 people– erected more blockades on highways, roads, and rail-lines. Direct action, including the burning of a rail-way bridge and an electrical power substation, occurred. Hundreds of riot cops were deployed as the conflict dragged on over the summer.
While this action is most similar to the Palestinian Intifidah, the 1990 Oka Crisis also revealed the potential for an Indigenous uprising across the country based on similar methods using tactics that turned the dispersal of Native peoples into an advantage. This was the widely dispersed solidarity actions with the Mohawks carried out by Natives across the country that included protests, occupations of offices, road and railway blockades, and sabotage of rail & electrical power lines. Across the country, in remote areas, are vast quantities of infrastructure that can be potentially disrupted, including not only highway, rail, and power lines, but also oil & gas pipelines.
More than the military capacity of the Mohawk warriors, it was this potential for sabotage that served to limit the government’s use of deadly force to end the siege. And it is this potential, more so than ‘suicide bombings’, that may be the real future for Canada if it continues with its policies of colonization, apartheid, and genocide, policies that in themselves lead to the high rates of suicide among Native peoples. After all, why waste your life, right?
The above articles were also published by “The One Democratic State Group“, Gaza