Chicago, September 29

Free Palestine!

Revolutionary Worker #1168, September 29, 2002, posted at

For three generations, the children of Palestine have grown up with stories of land stolen by Israeli troops, of aunts or cousins or brothers killed by bullets from Israeli guns, of hundred-year-old olive groves destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, of homes blown up by Israeli dynamite.

These stories are part of the history of a people...and also the ongoing reality in occupied Palestine. Every day, more Palestinian youth are gunned down by the Israeli occupiers, more homes demolished, more olive trees bulldozed.

On September 29, people are marching in the streets of Chicago to raise the demand for the Palestinian right of return, to commemorate the beginning of the third year of the Second Intifada, and to honor the victims of the Sabra and Shatila massacre 20 years ago.

The majority of Palestinian people today are refugees--living under Israeli military occupation, in nearby countries, or in other parts of the world. The right of return means the right of the Palestinians to return to and regain the land that was unjustly and violently taken away from them by oppressive powers.

Who can deny the profound justness of the Palestinian people's demand for the right of return?

Yet the Zionist rulers of Israel declare they will never concede to this demand. The reason is clear: The question of the Palestinian right to return points to the basic truth that the Israeli state is built on the cold-blooded dispossesion, expulsion, and suppression of the indigenous people of the land.

And the U.S. rulers--who cynically claim to be an "honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians--refuse to accept the right of Palestinians to regain their homeland. Israel serves as a key strategic fortress for the U.S.'s global empire, and the U.S. government will not stand for anything that questions Israel's "right to exist." This is why the U.S. has ignored Israel's repeated violations over several decades of UN resolutions upholding the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their land--while George W. Bush, trying to justify a pre-emptive strike on Baghdad, accuses Iraq of defying UN resolutions. While the U.S. accuses Palestinians of "terrorism" for fighting with small weapons, Israel receives billions of dollars in U.S. aid and arms each year, further building up its monstrous arsenal of F-14s, attack helicopters, tanks, and nuclear weapons.

For the Zionist oppressors and the U.S. imperialists, the Palestinian right of return is totally out of order. For the Palestinian people and their supporters worldwide, the right of return is a key part of a just solution to the conflict--the overthrow of the state of Israel and the establishment of a secular, democratic Palestinian state for all the people throughout the territory of Palestine.

The September 29 march is taking place at a time when the Palestinian people--who have waged courageous resistance in the hopes of regaining a homeland--face a historic turning point. They are confronting the most severe onslaught by the Israeli armed forces since Ariel Sharon led the Israeli military to attack the Palestinians in Lebanon in 1982. Millions of people in the West Bank and Gaza are living under cruel curfews and closures. And in the most recent offensive, Israeli troops have destroyed most of the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah. Thousands of people in the West Bank and Gaza have braved the Israeli tanks and guns to protest this latest outrage.

Israel claims to be acting in "self defense," as part of the U.S.'s worldwide "war on terror." But to those who can see, it's clear that Sharon and his generals are out to wreck Palestinian society and to demand complete submission from the Palestinian people.

And this year's Right of Return march takes place at a time when Bush and the U.S. rulers have declared "permanent war," as they plot with wild ambition to restructure the world in a way more favorable to their ability to exploit the planet.

It's a time when the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, and Arab (Persian) Gulf churn from the wakes of U.S. warships heading toward Iraq in preparation for a new and major war that will lead to many more Iraqi people dying.

It's a time when the U.S. government is carrying out unprecedented attacks on the rights of the people in this country. A time when being Arab, Muslim, or South Asian in this country means living dangerously--subject to arrests, long detentions, deportation, and more--solely because of one's background or appearance.

The U.S. government is carrying out all this in the name of the people of this country. These dangerous and urgent times call for people in the U.S. to declare, for the people around the world to hear: Not in our name!

A world where the U.S. imperialists can dictate whatever they want, whenever they want it, will be an intolearble nightmare for people everywhere, including in Palestine. Those who stand against the unjust Israeli occupation and who dream of a free Palestine can add powerfully to a strong, massive, united, and determined voice of opposition and resistance against the U.S. juggernaut of war and repression.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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