The first thematic World Social Forum to focus on Palestine took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil from 28 November – 1 December 2012. The Forum featured over 125 workshops and a large march and rally in support of Palestine. It was an important gathering of Palestinian and solidarity activists to continue to strengthen the movement for Palestinian liberation and self-determination.
IJAN sent a delegation of six to the forum including members from Canada, Argentina and the U.S. Most of us attended as part of the U.S.-Canada Joint Struggle Delegation – a delegation of 25 activists working in grassroots struggles for the liberation of people and land, which IJAN played a central role in organizing. Specifically, the delegation provided an opportunity for activists involved in resistance to mass incarceration, surveillance and targeting of communities, repression of popular movements and activists, militarized borders, land and resource appropriation and privatization, and the promotion of indigenous self-determination,the rights of refugees, the sustainability of the land and natural resources and the creation of a people’s economy to develop concrete connections between their struggles and the Palestinian liberation movement and identify opportunities for practical work at the intersection of movements. Some of the organizers from the Black Liberation Movement, movements for gender justice, immigrant rights, environmental justice and civil rights participated in joint struggle with the Palestinian movement for the first time.
The delegation put together a strong set of workshops including: Settler Colonialism, Apartheid and Racism; Political Imprisonment and Mass Incarceration; Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim Racism; Labor and Palestine; Gender and Resistance; and Fighting Environmental Injustices, Land Grabs and Resource Theft in Palestine and Beyond. Click on the title of the workshop for links to video that is currently available, and we will add more in the coming weeks. In addition, IJAN organized a workshop entitled The Case of Jews Against Zionism featuring participation from four IJAN members, and two of our close partners from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the Arab and Muslims Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative.
IJAN released its new 28-page exposé, Israel’sWorldwide Role in Repression, at the forum and presented its content, confirmed by an extraordinary outpouring of testimony, during a 4-hour Social Movement Assembly
The first World Social Forum to focus specifically on Palestine sustained pressures from the same or similar forces that shape the demands of the Palestinian struggle writ large. Israel, Zionist organizations in Brazil, Brazil’s reliance on Israel for military purchases, and the Palestinian forces that play favor to state power over the demands of the people they represent all influenced the forum. The uncompromising voices of younger Palestinians were reflective of the resilience and resistance of the Palestinian will for liberation. The building of international joint struggle in concert with the Palestinian popular movement was the intention of the US-Canada delegation to the WSFFP. IJAN intends for the exposé, Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression, and related popular tribunals to contribute to our on-going movements for justice and liberation.
Since our return, delegation members have been doing report backs around the country and supporting connections between movements that are vital to building powerful joint struggles for justice. For example,the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) is in communication with the Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH) to support the Thirsting for Justice Campaign in defense of Palestinian rights to water and sanitation. Delegation members have also mobilized support for this important petition in solidarity with indigenous people across Canada in the Idle No More movement. Palestinians, Palestinian organizations, Palestine solidarity groups and allies are invited to join the statement or sign on as supporters. Please take a moment to sign this petition.
Delegates are also supporting the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) which participated in the WSF-Free Palestine in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Back home in Canada they are under attack from the right-wing media (Sun Media). The CUPW is being targeted for its participation in the WSFFP at a moment when the importance and impact of their work is being challenged by a more conservative Canadian government. See more information here.