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Home > English > Website archives > Rainbow of Crisis > The Palestinian Issue: A Strong and Important Presence at the World Social (…)


The Palestinian Issue: A Strong and Important Presence at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil

Sunday 1 March 2009, by Ahmad Jaradat

One Hundred Twenty thousand representatives of social movement from all over the world gathered in order to dialogue and discuss about the problems and needs of humanity in the 21st Century. The WSF was created as a reaction against capitalist globalization, a globalization affecting the world with wars, poverty, unemployment and an increasing social and economic gap between rich and poor people within and between countries. In this framework, the World Social Forum became a form of opposition to capitalist globalization, creating another pattern for relationships between countries. A pattern based on justice, equal opportunities and exchange between peoples. The results of this method could be a world of peace and security, instead of war and enmity.

The participants of the WSF, even though coming from different parts of the world, spoke the same language, claiming that: “another world is possible.”

The first World Social Forum began on 27 January 2000 in Porto Alegre, in Brazil, and subsequently became a regular yearly meeting. The time and the location are not accidental. The period is the last week of January, because, at the same time in Davos, in the heart of the Capitalist world, there is the World Economic Forum. For this reason the World Social Forum is in direct contradiction with the visions, the programs and the aims of the World Economic Forum.

The choice of locationfo the first WSF was also not accidental. Porto Alegre is linked with a progressive government representative of the social movement and elected according a social progressive vision.

During each WSF, the Palestinian issue was on the table. This is an issue so deeply connected with other humanitarian issues that it can be considered paradigmatic. The Palestinian problem is one of a people struggling against the last direct colonizing system. This system is full of injustice, and affects the dignity of a lot of human beings, violating their human rights.

All the meaning of this occupation appears clearly in this time, when the occupation becomes a global issue, because of the deep connection between the capitalistic powers and Israel. The Israeli State is in many ways an instrument for implementation of capitalist policy in the region.

That is why standing against Israeli policy and resisting it transforms the Palestinian issue into a global issue, representative of all the democratic and progressive peoples, and for all who call for freedom and justice around the world.

We can say that the Palestinian Issue has become a "hot spot" for all the WSF because it is the struggle for freedom and justice against a colonizing and oppressive regime.

This year, the Palestinian issue had a special significance, since the opening march on 27 January, approximately 70,000 people took to the streets of Belem, according to the Brazilian media.

One huge Palestinian flag of 30m x 10m was raised with the help of hundreds of hands, under an unceasing Amazonian rain in a march 15 km in length, for 6 hours.

Thousand of fliers, explaining the history of the Israeli occupation were distributed, including a lot of information about the last bloody war in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of people wore Palestinian Kufiyya, even if they were not Arabs.

During the panels, in the tents built for the meeting, there were constant references to the Palestinian issue. The same was true in the non-official moments, during the break for coffee and cigarettes.

A friend that was at the WSF said: "Everywhere you went, listening, every speaker, even if they were speaking about other situations, would say something about the Palestinian issue. In the speeches about human rights, the economic crisis, the war crimes, the oppression, the massacres or the resistance and the struggle, in all this cases the Palestinian issue was highlighted.”

In most of the panels, it was possible to feel the demand for concrete actions for Palestine to be made during the WSF. And this is what was achieved in the form of a BDS campaign (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction) against Israel, at all levels, from the economy to academics.

In addition to this, the Palestinian delegation produced a paper for the IC (International Committee) that was adopted: 30 March, on Land Day, will be a global day for actions in solidarity with the Palestinians.

If we imagine all the issues that the IC had to face in the two conclusive days, it is important to be noted that the entire second day was dedicated to the Palestinian conflict.

For sure the massacre in the Gaza Strip had pushed some of the speakers to propose the next WSF in Gaza. This is only a hypothetical call, but surely there will be a delegation of the Forum’s activists in the Strip, in order to bring solidarity and see the ruins and the effects of the war.

Furthermore, a lot of people called for declaring Israeli leaders as war criminals and to bring them in front of the International Court.

Usually during the WSF, the issues are faced in general, without going into the specific cases, even though the WSF is a power that stands against injustice, wars and all the policy of globalization. That is why the call for the BDS campaign and the decision for a global action is a very important achievement for the Palestinian issue. It became an answer to all the demands of committees, activists and groups.

One slogan was shared between all the participants: "We must go ahead from the generalization; we must transform all the speeches into actions."

This is a big achievement for the Palestinian delegation. Now it is very important that we transform this achievement and coordinate work between all the organizations, at all levels, individual and global, in order to push the BDS campaign.

At this moment, it is very important create a local and national culture and coordinate the Palestinian civil society, organizations, committees, activists and the grassroots.

Now it is necessary to have one position, one voice, one vision, one aim. To the extent that we can be united, we will be strong and our voice will be heard. The BDS campaign could become the cornerstone of our struggle at the international level.

All the participants, in their hearts, were shocked by the murders of children, the bloody streets of Gaza, the white phosphor and the bodies under the ruins. The unbelievable resistance of the Palestinians couldn’t be forgotten. All this anger and sadness were expressed in the slogans of the march and in all the panels of the WSF.

Looking at the way in which the Palestinian issue was considered at this WSF, let us say, after all the blood that was spread in Gaza, we have had our fair reward.

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