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Haidar Eid - Al-Shabaka Policy Adviser and Gaza-based Human Rights activist

One of the most controversial issues raised lately in Gaza is the relationship between Palestinians and Jews, as Jews, and the most effective ways of dealing with them as a religious group. This was highlighted at one of the Return Camps in a fiery speech improvised by one of the senior leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas. The movement, to its credit, has distanced itself from the speech and said at the other occasions and in statements made by its other senior leaders that it does not endorse hate speech.

The speech itself was immediately taken up by Israeli propaganda machine to justify the war crimes Israeli Occupation Forces have been committing at the eastern fence of Gaza since March 2017 resulting in the deaths of 330 and the injury of more than 30.000 Palestinian civilians, including women, children, medics and journalists. Needless to say that such unwarranted speeches reinforce Israeli Hasbara; i.e. the propaganda campaign engineered by the Ministry of Strategic Affairsin coordination with the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs claiming that there are no civilian protesters at the eastern fence of Gaza and that the march is steered by fanatic anti-Semites! In fact, this contradicts the principal idea behind the Great March of Return as an initiative launched by Palestinian civil society and allpolitical forces.

In fact, the most effective form of resistance thathas succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of all Palestinians and the endorsement of the overwhelming majority of PalestiniansCivil Society is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. BDS is premised on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which explicitly stipulates that all human beings are equal regardless of race, religion and sex. The Boycott National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society sectors and political forces, has emphasized more than once its rejection of all forms of racism including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The Palestinian people have been facinga multi-tiered system of orientalist, colonial and imperialist oppression over a two-century course. Therefore, as victims, they cannot adopt any immoral rhetoricflirting with anti-Semitism since justice and equality are two central goals in the Palestinian national struggle. The great majority of our factions, intellectuals, syndicates and campaigns have over the past century emphasized that our struggle was never against Jews or Judaism as Zionism insists on falsifying it. On the contrary, our struggle is against Zionism as a European settler-colonial movement that aims at emptying the land of its indigenous population and replacing them with new European societies.

Any anti-Semitic language, therefore, lacks the clear-cut vision of our struggle and goes hand in hand with colonialism and imperialism in perpetuating the Palestinian Nakba, and worse,denies us international solidarity with our just cause.In addition to its immorality, anti-Semitic language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying Palestine, ethnically cleansing its people, and sustaining the current multi-tieredsystem of oppression, namely occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism--let alone the fact that it alienates solidarity movements.

Palestinians have repeatedly expressedappreciation for the very important role played by progressive and anti-Zionist Jews in supporting their struggle for freedom, justice and equality. The intervention of organizations such as Jewish Voices for Peace, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and Boycott from Within in not only heeding the BDS call made by Palestinian Civil Society, but actively promoting BDS has touched every Palestinian heart. Our struggle for liberation has always been inclusive, and that is a principle that will not change until we have an egalitarian society where all are equal regardless of race, religion, and sex.

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