- NEHAWU CONDEMNS THE VIOLENT AND UNJUSTIFIED ARRESTS OF TRADE UNIONISTS IN ZIMBABWE
- WFTU TUI PS&A AFRICA ENGLISH REGION DEMANDS THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF COMRADE OBERT MASARAURE, ARTUZ PRESIDENT IN ZIMBABWE
- Mswati's security forces fire live bullets at CPS activists during Sunset Rally
- CPS on First Commemoration of the June/July 2021 Massacre
- Police in Swaziland invade democracy activists' houses and steal property belonging to CPS members
- Swaziland communists refuse to be intimidated as police open fire on rally
- WFTU statement on the 2022 NATO summit
- The Revolutionary as Critic: Ghassan Kanafani’s On Zionist Literature
- 'We can use the power and beauty of music against colonial forces,' says Palestinian-Japanese soprano
- 'In every word I speak and everything I do, I'm thinking of Palestine,' singer tells Brazil
- BREAKING: Warrant of arrest issued against PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya, police labeled him Commander of Solidarity Forces
- JUNE 29 MASSACRE COMMEMORATION: Eswatini pro-democracy groups successfully imposed a holiday to honour victims.
NEHAWU CONDEMNS THE VIOLENT AND UNJUSTIFIED ARRESTS OF TRADE UNIONISTS IN ZIMBABWE
Tuesday June 28, 2022
MEDIA STATEMENT - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] condemns the growing violent and unjustified arrests of Trade Unionists by the government of Zimbabwe. This onslaught on trade unions and the right to protest is appalling.
The recent arrest of Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) President Obert Masaraure in connection with the death of an ARTUZ member back in 2016 is quiet opportunistic especially since the magistrate court ruled out foul play following an inquest.
Over the past years, comrade Masaraure has been a victim of numerous arrests on unjustified reasons and in 2019, he was abducted from his home by seven masked and armed men, who tortured and left him for dead without any recourse.
As NEHAWU, we view this as a clear effort by the State to silence Comrade Masaraure who has been very vocal against Human Rights Violations as well as advocating for better working conditions for teachers and workers in general in Zimbabwe.
There is a resurgence of violence in the country and instead of focusing on that, the police are terrorising trade unionists with the aim of silencing them. The recent barbaric abduction and mutilation of activist Moreblessing Ali, and the subsequent violence that followed upon her being found dead, has sent shock waves across the country and SADC region as a whole.
Lastly, as NEHAWU, we call on the government of Zimbabwe to allow for an environment that is conducive for freedom of association, assembly and speech where every Zimbabwean regardless of position can live without fear of being arrested, tortured or abducted. We call for the protection of labour rights, the end of intimidation of trade unionists and protection of all citizens as this is important. We call for the release of President Obert Masaraure and the Protection of Workers Right.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: email@example.com
Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za
WFTU TUI PS&A AFRICA ENGLISH REGION DEMANDS THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF COMRADE OBERT MASARAURE, ARTUZ PRESIDENT IN ZIMBABWE
29 June 2022
As a class oriented public sector trade union organisation of WFTU, we call upon the Zimbabwean Government to stop the abuse of state power and resources and release comrade Obert Masaraure, the president of the Amalgamated Rural teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) from jail. It is common cause that ARTUZ is one of the public sector trade unions that are at the fore front in the war against the Zimbabwean government for the betterment of the conditions of Zimbabwean workers and the reinstatement of Collective bargaining as a bulwark to improve the livelihoods of workers and the poor in that country.
Leadership of ARTUZ had, for several times, been subjected to harassment and abuse in the hands of the state apparatus of Zimbabwe with a view to silence them in their call for government of Zimbabwe to respect trade union and general human rights of workers in that country. The arrest of comrade Obert Masaruare is, without doubt, an orchestrated plan to silence workers voice so that workers can be laid bare to a well-planed and consistent program of Zimbabwean government to trample on their hard won rights to freedom of association.
To this end we call upon the government of Zimbabwe to immediately release comrade Obert Masaraure and further call upon all class oriented trade unions in Africa English Region of the WFTU TUI PS&A as well as our friends and associates to deepen networks of solidarity with comrade Obert, ARTUZ and other progressive trade unions of Zimbabwe.
We want to assure the Zimbabwe revolutionary trade union movement and the entirety of Zimbabwean workers that they are not alone and that the WFTU TUI PS&A Trade union movement both in Africa English Speaking and the world commit to fight side by side with them until they win this war. If comrade Obert is not released with immediate effect, the TUI PS&A and other progressive forces will organise practical and very aggressive rolling mass support against the Zimbabwean government.
For trade union solidarity comrades are requested to see attached program of activity from one of our TUI PS&A Africa English affiliate, NEHAWU. We request our affiliates in South Africa to participate in their numbers in these activities.
Issued by TUI PS&A Africa English Region
Vice President Marurung Masemola
For information contact: Skhumbuzo Phakathi @ +27604681289 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mswati's security forces fire live bullets at CPS activists during Sunset Rally
Sunday 26 June 2022
Communist Party of Swaziland
Sunday 26 June 2022:- The police in Swaziland shot live bullets at activists of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) who were protesting during a Sunset Rally held on Saturday night, 25 June 2022.
The rally was held at Mahwalala community, about 4 kilometres outside the capital city, Mbabane. It was the second rally of the weekend, following another one held on Friday night in Msunduza township, Mbabane.
The police intended to disrupt the peaceful rally in which community members fully participated to craft the way forward for the total dismantling of the tinkhundla system.
The CPS activists together with communist members stood their ground against the obvious provocation and fought off the police. All the activists on the ground and community members are safe and uninjured.
Sunset rallies are night rallies led by the CPS. They form part of the CPS’s programme to mobilise communities for the total dismantling of the tinkhundla system.
Through the rallies, the CPS has managed to raise revolutionary consciousness among the masses as the Party facilitates the formation of community councils, the basis for grassroots democracy.
In Mahwalala, the CPS and the community are in the process of forming the Welfare Council and the Security Council, while preparing for the formation of more community councils.
The CPS sunset-rallies programme continues in various communities across Swaziland. CPS activists are warmly welcomed by the people in every community as the people continue to resoundingly reject the tinkhundla system. The people of Swaziland are taking direct responsibility for the revolution.
CPS PRESS SERVICES
Thokozane Kenneth Kunene
(+27)72 594 3971
CPS on First Commemoration of the June/July 2021 Massacre
29 June 2022
Communist Party of Swaziland
Today, 29 June 2022, the people of Swaziland commemorate the gruesome massacre spearheaded by the brutal tinkhundla regime on an unarmed population calling for democracy in their country.
From as early as April 2021, leading to 29 June 2021, hundreds of thousands of Swazis bravely took it upon themselves to demand a better and democratic Swaziland. Today marks an important day of reflection on the past year and look at how far we have come as a nation in the struggle for democracy.
In early 2021, the youth of Swaziland came out strongly and declared itself the last generation to be oppressed. Their practical struggles led to what is now known as the 2021 Swazi Uprising which started in May 2021.
Today the tinkhundla systems hang by a thread. Political parties remain banned in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, an archaic system which now offends even some of its imperialist backers. The royal family, in a country where close to 70 percent of the population survive below the poverty line, continues to attract anger from the people due to the royal family’s deepened waste of public resources.
The days leading to the first anniversary of the massacre, we have seen continued harassment of the Communist Party and the mass democratic movement. A stern warning must be sent to the security cluster, that they must know that the people are fed up. The growing tide of democracy-calls from the oppressed and exploited masses of our country can no longer be stopped.
The Communist Party’s “Democracy Now” campaign which the Party launched in 2019 continues to broaden and deepen among the oppressed people of Swaziland. The CPS continues to educate, organise and agitate the masses towards a democratic and ultimately socialist Swaziland.
CPS activists took it upon themselves to learn from the actions of the masses while at the same injecting working-class consciousness. Today, Swazis from rural to urban areas demand democracy now!
The CPS has also gone on to directly interact with the people in their communities. In this regard, in line with the CPS’s 2021 Red October call to “Turn Up the Heat for Democracy Now”, the CPS has called for the formation of community councils. This is an ongoing campaign and is already putting the regime on the back foot. Despite growing attacks by the regime, the people of Swaziland, in their numbers, have heeded the call by the CPS to defend themselves from the state's murderous apparatus which has for years done as they pleased in terrorising the masses.
The CPS has also deepened the formation of study unity in the communities, guided by the Marxist-Leninist scientific method to revolution. From the study units, more Swazis are now highly conscientized on the necessity for the total dismantling of the tinkhundla system for the attainment of democracy now. The masses of our country have also seen the need to render the country ungovernable, including rendering the regime unable to run its 2023 parliamentary elections.
Though the state in its already known modus operandi tried all manner of intimidation to derail and delay the struggle, the CPS prevailed. The masses and the CPS are far more determined to achieve democracy now and to die for it if needs be.
While the CPS has intensified its calls for the democratisation of the country, the Party has continued to remind the people of Swaziland that full freedom means the total ending of social inequality. As such, our freedom also means the freedom of all currently oppressed social groups such as people with disabilities, women, LGBTQI+, and children. This cannot be compromised.
The CPS commends the spirit of no-surrender that has been displayed by the people of Swaziland.
In memory of all victims of the tinkhundla system, the CPS calls for the greatest possible unity in the fight against the tinkhundla system, for the attainment of true people’s power.
Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland
Police in Swaziland invade democracy activists' houses and steal property belonging to CPS members
Tuesday, 28 June 2022:
Communist Party of Swaziland
In the early hours of Tuesday morning (28 June 2022), a battalion of close to 200 police officers invaded Mbikwakhe area in Matsapha where a majority of CPS members who attend the University of Swaziland and Gwamile Voctim reside.
The tinkhundla regime's puppet police were deployed to ransack activists’ houses and the CPS members were not spared from this barbaric act.
The mission, disguised as a community raid as tensions run high as the country gears up to commemorate the June/July massacre, was conveniently only targeted at houses rented by CPS members who study at the aforementioned institutions of higher education.
The comrades also use their house to coordinate CPS activities around the area which have been warmly welcomed by the community and masses.
The police spent more than four (4) hours ransacking the two houses in question and stole equipment, property and food belonging to the comrades who had left the houses for lessons. In addition to the packs of food, the police also stole seven (7) laptops, clothes and other personal belongings of the comrades. It is worth noting that only the two houses were searched in the whole area making it clear that the motive was to crash the CPS and its plans to mobilise a popular commemoration of the heinous massacre of the regime in 2021.
The police have since time immemorial declared these houses as targets and if today's raids are anything to go by, prove that the regime is running helter-skelter in fear of the influence and command the CPS has in this area.
The regime police are worried about the ongoing sunset rallies that the CPS has been holding around the country and obviously the commemoration of the tinkhundla massacre which began on 29 June 2021, launched by the regime against unarmed and innocent Swazis.
The CPS has prioritised commemorating the day with practical activities such as holding vigils and observing moments of silence in honour of those slain. With the momentum gained, and the heat turning up against the tinkhundla regime, it was obvious that the tinkhundla government would not take kindly to the defiance to commemorate the day.
Commemoration of this day exposes the tinkhundla system’s inherent corruption. As such, the ruling regime has intensified its attempts for democratic movements to abandon the commemoration and label its celebration as illegal and acts of terrorism.
As all of this unfolds, Mswati and his immediate family and puppet prime minister have left the country, leaving the army and police in control. The memories of the massacre have already imposed a state of fear in the country as businesses have shifted their wares elsewhere in fear of security forces’ violent attacks and its consequences.
As the struggle for democracy intensifies, the CPS calls for direct action winning the hearts of the majority who are oppressed and exploited by the tinkhundla system, and for international solidarity.
No amount of intimidation will obstruct the determination for freedom against the Mswati dynasty and his collapsing government. The CPS remains convinced that the regime must be overthrown completely and replaced with a democratic republic. Direct action and defiance should increase in the country! Swaziland must be rendered ungovernable until democracy and people’s power are attained!
CPS PRESS SERVICES
Thokozane Kenneth Kunene
(+27)72 594 3971
Swaziland communists refuse to be intimidated as police open fire on rally
THE Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has vowed to continue its series of summer rallies despite a group of activists being shot at by police over the weekend.
The party condemned the attack on its members and supporters as they gathered at the Sunset Rally in Mahwalala, about 2.5 miles outside the capital Mbabane.
According to the communists, police stormed the peaceful event on Saturday night, firing live bullets.
Participants stood their ground and forced them to back down.
No deaths or injuries were reported, the CPS said.
Sunset rallies are night rallies led by the CPS and call for democratic reforms in Swaziland which is run by the autocratic monarch King Mswati III.
“Through the rallies, the CPS has managed to raise revolutionary consciousness among the masses as the party facilitates the formation of community councils, the basis for grassroots democracy,” the communists said.
Under Mswati’s rule, all political parties, including the CPS, are banned and those protesting against his government are met with a brutal and violent response.
He mobilised Swazi security forces against youth-led protests calling for democracy last year, ordering a “shoot-to-kill” policy.
Dozens were killed while hundreds were abducted and reportedly tortured as Mswati came under fire for his use of excessive force.
The CPS has played a leading role in organising the democracy protests and has called for mass participation in what it describes as a “revolution” in Swaziland.
It said today that its rallies would continue and the party would not be intimidated by Mswati’s security forces.
“CPS activists are warmly welcomed by the people in every community,” the party said. “The people of Swaziland are taking direct responsibility for the revolution.”
WFTU statement on the 2022 NATO summit
28 Jun 2022
The World Federation of Trade Unions, representing more than 105 million workers from 133 countries on the 5 continents, in view of the 2022 NATO summit on 29-30 June in Madrid, strongly and unequivocally condemns the existence of NATO that constitutes an aggressive war machine in the service of the interests of the imperialist countries of the alliance.
We denounce the provocative lies and official narratives of NATO that the goal of the alliance is to ”keep its one billion people safe”. The peoples all over the world know that the bloody mission of this imperialist alliance is to maintain, and expand if possible, the existing favourable correlation of forces for the NATO countries in order to safeguard the profits of their monopolies. In the imperialist system which is characterized by uneven interdependencies that govern the relations between all the capitalist states, both the peoples of the member-states of NATO and the other counties’ peoples have nothing to expect from the imperialist alliances and wars except death, suffering, poverty, and misery.
We denounce the exclusions, discriminations, embargoes, and sanctions imposed by the US, NATO, and the EU against various countries, as they negatively impact the standard of living of low-income families, workers, poor small farmers, and popular strata in general.
We denounce the hypocritic “concern” of leaders of the USA, EU, and NATO, who shamelessly invoke International Law and the defense of freedom when they speak about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They speak as if human history began in February 2022, they falsify historical reality, confirming that truth is always one of the first victims of war. NATO invoke peace, self-determination, territorial integrity, international law, democracy, and human rights, while they are the first who wage wars killing ”whatever their peace has left over”. They are the first who intervene in the internal affairs of other states, change borders, and violate international law and human rights in order to broaden their spheres of influence and serve their geostrategic plans.
Those who are responsible for countless invasions and interventions are primarily responsible for the militarization of international relations, as they insist on maintaining and expanding NATO within the context of a New World Order.
World peace cannot be protected through militarization or through the patronage of all kinds of extreme right-wing nationalist and fascist ideologies. World peace cannot be based on sanctions and economic wars. Those who, as a matter of principle, stand for peace and freedom, fight for the dissolution of NATO and all military coalitions, the dismantling of nuclear weapons, the respect for the independence and sovereignty of all countries, rather than only those which align with, and serve the interests of the United States and their allies.
The World Federation of Trade Unions firmly believes military spending deprives people of the fundamental right to live with dignity and that NATO destabilizing the world and demand unconditional and urgent dissolutions of NATO. The WFTU calls upon the workers all over the world to fight against imperialist wars and the system that creates them, to struggle for world peace and the solidarity among the peoples, to oppose the waste of resources and money for military purposes, to demand the dismantling of nuclear weapons and the immediate dissolution of NATO.
The Revolutionary as Critic: Ghassan Kanafani’s On Zionist Literature
27 June 2022
By Steven Salaita
Ghassan Kanafani doesn’t lend himself to easy categorization. He is well-known to Palestinians, and to those interested in Palestine, but not as a singular figure. He was a Marxist revolutionary, a party spokesperson, a novelist, a political theorist, a schoolteacher, an artist, a newspaper editor, and a committed internationalist. These disparities of perception befit Kanafani’s heterogeneous life, and he was accomplished in each of these roles. Kanafani is less known for another vocation at which he also excelled: literary criticism.
Throughout his short life Kanafani reviewed and analyzed creative writing in multiple genres, having been a student of literature at the University of Damascus where he met his mentor George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist organization that was of significant size and influence in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to On Zionist Literature, Kanafani authored two books critiquing Palestinian literature. Unlike his novels and short stories, these works have not been translated into English.
As On Zionist Literature illustrates, Kanafani was a searing and incisive critic, at once generous in his understanding of emotion and form and unsparing in his assessment of politics and myth. We cannot adequately comprehend his literary criticism without also delving into the political sensibility he brought to the enterprise; it helps, as well, to examine the strictures of the enterprise itself. Literary criticism is not supposed to be “political.” This may sound absurd on its face – the sort of thing no serious reader of literature has ever considered possible – but the stricture isn’t an axiom so much as a kind of ideological coding. In particular, it functions to reinforce intellectual and economic orthodoxy. By consigning “political” criticism to a lesser category of cultural labor, standard-bearers of academe and the arts inhibit revolutionary thought within institutional settings. Anything that threatens centers of power earns the label of “political,” perforce a negative evaluation, and the disrepute that comes along with it. Power therefore comes to embody the apolitical. This sort of environment is unwelcoming of critics such as Kanafani.
Running afoul of bourgeois customs was no issue to Kanafani however, who wanted his critical approach to inform Palestine’s struggle for national liberation. His approach is less an arbitrary choice than a result of his thesis that Zionist literature is itself deeply political (in the crude sense of the term). Kanafani identifies a “colossal scheme” among Zionist leaders to conscript a wide range of artistic work into service of their colonial project. He marshals a long list of examples to make his case: Yael Dayan’s Envy the Frightened, Ahad Ha’am’s essays on Zionism and Judaism, Leon Uris’s Exodus, and a variety of other creative and historical material.
Nor is his critique limited to the texts themselves. Kanafani examines the publishing industry and associated cultural institutions as sites of imperial politics. The Nobel Prize committee comes in for an especially harsh evaluation: “Why did the Nobel Prize committee reward a reactionary and chauvinistic author [Shmuel Yosef Agnon] in 1966, whose writings lack all of the requisite literary standards for such an award?” For Kanafani, the Western literary scene is not an open forum based on meritocracy, but a tightly controlled marketplace meant to satisfy the predilections of a voracious ruling class. Many would-be authors with revolutionary devotions have tried to navigate the industry and reached a similar conclusion.
Kanafani makes it clear that Zionism isn’t coterminous with either Judaism or Jewish people. He identifies ruptures in the movement’s self-definition and its popular definition owing to its provenance in Western imperialism. He unambiguously implicates Jews in Palestinian suffering and considers it an abrogation of intellectual honesty to exculpate Jews qua Jews of Palestinian dispossession, but shows that mainstream notions of Jewish peoplehood are refracted through systematic normalization of Zionism, which brands itself as a natural occurrence. While Zionism does not in fact emerge from scriptural tradition or cultural practice, it insists on its own supremacy as the primary model and final arbiter of Jewish peoplehood. This effort was not the sole domain of Jewish people. The imperial powers and philosemitic luminaries played an important role. Kanafani does not treat Zionism as a natural response to European antisemitism, instead exploring intracommunal dynamics around class and religious devotion. His summary of Jewish integration into modern Europe is perhaps the most controvertible part of the book, but his key point warrants serious consideration as it inverts the common narrative of Zionism as an existential necessity. For Kanafani, Zionism was ultimately a choice borne of internalized racism and a supremacist inclination to seek power in the service of imperial domination and accumulation at the expense of rank-and-file Jews. He argues,
Well-read in Jewish literature beyond what he conceptualizes as the Zionist variety (a category that in any case includes Christian authors), Kanafani evinces an impressive understanding of liturgical traditions, secular narratives, and linguistic developments. Scholars of Judaism will no doubt find great provocation in Kanafani’s sweeping historical summaries, but his sharp acumen, from the perspective of the colonized party, is the book’s most compelling quality. We would do well to focus on his argument that Zionism is neither a cultural inclination or a political necessity. It is a material phenomenon rooted in chauvinistic ideas of culture and politics that tried to squash revolutionary and communist Jewish politics in Europe. Kanafani’s historical overview illustrates the movement’s deep-seated contradictions.
To understand Zionist literature, then, the critic must analyze the painstaking and often contradictory process of forging a notion of singular nationhood from disparate (and in some cases ill-fitting) communities. This is so because Zionism’s crude political goals could not achieve dominion of the Western imagination without the dexterity of literature and other creative media.
Rewriting and revision were crucial features of the strategy for the Zionist-imperialist domination of Palestine. Movement leaders mined the past in order to create a viable pretext for settling the Levant. By and large they turned to the bible for source material, a practice that has inspired a large body of scholarship, but Kanafani shows that much of the decisive labor of invention occurred through cultural artifacts. Those artifacts—creative writing, primarily—either directly informed the Zionist project or were conscripted into the service of Zionism by ideologues and various bourgeois tastemakers. Authors mobilized for the cause included well-known Victorian figures such as Benjamin Disraeli and George Eliot. One of many astounding extracts that Kanafani highlights as he analyses the early development of Zionist tropes is the moment a character in Eliot’s novel Daniel Deronda calls explicitly for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine more than seventy years before such a thing became a reality:
… the world will gain as Israel gains. For there will be a community in the van of the East which carries the culture and the sympathies of every great nation in its bosom: there will be a land set for a halting-place of enmities, a neutral ground for the East as Belgium is for the West.
In some ways, Kanafani’s approach prefigures the emergence of cultural studies in the following decade, particularly its British variant. Influenced by Marxist scholars such as Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams, critics felt less constrained by pretensions of objectivity and began exploring literature as an ideological commodity, particularly in terms of its uses in propaganda campaigns against communism. Anyone who believes in a neutral cultural marketplace will likely find trouble with On Zionist Literature, which treats that kind of attitude as silly and unserious. The cultural marketplace is a site of accumulation like any other capitalist industry, only its products enter the economy in states of abstraction. That marketplace is the aesthetic foundation of hegemony, the raw material of political common sense.
On this basis, Kanafani suggests that adherence to Zionism precludes apprehension of Zionist literature. Indeed, to even recognize the category is a sort of intellectual reconditioning. The great irony of Zionist literature is that it becomes legible only through rejection of Zionism. Otherwise that literature presents as a natural occurrence in the modern world. Zionist literature has to appear purposeless in order to accomplish its purpose. Such is the ideological coding Kanafani spends so much time uncovering. The literature is both precursor and postscript to the colonial project. The two phenomena are mutually constitutive. You have to understand both in order to understand either.
Where might this approach lead us in terms of intellectual and political labor? This question will probably remain in the reader’s mind throughout the book. Kanafani leaves us no choice but to contemplate questions of liberation. The urgency and occasional hyperbole of his tone don’t allow for apathy or disinterest. And his methodology isn’t conducive to any kind of detachment, an attitude Kanafani would have found alien considering the revolutionary mood among Palestinians and Arabs more generally in the recent aftermath of the 1967 War. Palestinians were sorting the pain of defeat into new and more urgent forms of resistance – the PFLP was only months away from its formal establishment – and, aged only 31, Kanafani was filled with a vigor that practically jumps off the page. His is an analysis of political material but also a material analysis of politics. On Zionist Literature resonates with the contemporary reader, within and beyond Palestine, but it’s also a document of its time, intent on subverting the popular mythology of a plucky, besieged Israel surrounded by aggressive Arab hordes. Yet because many of the conditions Kanafani addressed continue to exist, and in many cases have gotten worse, it does no good to view this book as a mere artifact. While it is of its time, specific to the political and economic circumstances of Kanafani’s era, it speaks to ongoing forms of colonial violence and dispossession central to the Palestinian experience in the present moment. Then as now, that experience has a universal dimension. Kanafani’s fierce counterpoint to Zionist literature aims to show that Palestinian revolutionary sentiment and national liberation are indispensable to the creation of a better world. He pursues this aim in a moment of Zionist triumphalism, when even the left in the Global North had largely swallowed Israel’s self-victimizing narrative. Kanafani and the Palestinian cause were not without allies in the Global South, however, on the contrary. In the same year that On Zionist Literature was written and released, Beirut – the city where Kanafani had lived since 1960 – hosted the Third Afro-Asian Writers’ Conference. Kanafani almost certainly attended this event that upon its conclusion declared a resolution on Palestine that appealed directly to all Afro-Asian and progressive writers around the world to “stand in the face of the wide cultural conspiracy launched by the Zionist movement”. A separate resolution that stressed the need to counter imperialist and neo-colonialist infiltration in the cultural field more broadly listed the Zionist movement – “an imperialist tool used to serve the imperialists aggressive interests” – as a prominent example of this trend.
Therefore, it’s crucial to figure out how to make sense of Kanafani in English—and in the Western milieu summoned by this translation. One of the challenges of consuming translated material is constant awareness that the text was composed in a different language and then trying to imagine its particular resonance in the original. Even the most faithful translation will have difficulty conveying the precise context of certain words and phrases. This issue is doubly complicated in the case of Palestinian writing in Arabic, which rendered into English enters a linguistic and geopolitical framework constitutionally hostile to Palestine.
This isn’t to say that On Zionist Literature should not have been translated. To the contrary, translation is a tremendous benefit to people unable to read the book in its original language. Broadening Kanafani’s audience also broadens access to the sensibilities of Palestine’s national struggle, which can get watered down among diasporic communities. Readers, then, should bear in mind that Kanafani spoke a revolutionary language completely legible to Palestinian society—unapologetic in its dignity; assuming a certain level of comprehension and knowledge; and resonant in the Indigenous tongue. He wasn’t concerned with assuaging liberal sensitivities in the United States (or in Palestine, for that matter). His audience consisted of Palestinians and comrades to the Palestinian cause. This translation allows a new generation to struggle for that cause, as well.
This point about Kanafani’s audience is not minor. He spends a lot of time on Zionism, but a discerning reader will understand that the book is actually about Palestine and Palestinians. Kanafani knew that it is impossible to write about Israel without also writing about its native population, even when that population goes unmentioned. In such times that the Zionist author does acknowledge the native population, “they chose to take a position of almost declaring that the Arabs are a people that do not deserve to live in the first place.” In both instances, the Palestinian ends up dehumanized.
Before ushering you to the main event, it seems useful to say a few words about the author. Since his murder by Israel in 1972, at age 36, Kanafani has endured as an icon but in this role his legacy can become rather complicated. Photographs and video clips of Kanafani circulate frequently on social media. Evidently, he is very much alive in Palestine’s cultural and political imagination, yet at times Kanafani exists in the abstract, displaced from the material circumstances that defined his work and the revolutionary principles that characterized his ideology. The PFLP meanwhile is less prominent than during its heyday of the 1960s and 1970s, but it persists, on the ground and in analysis of Palestine’s national question. While plane hijackings and guerilla warfare are the PFLP’s most visible legacy, the group’s ideas have also been hugely influential. Many of those ideas are evident in the book that follows: the imperialist character of Zionism, the importance of narrative in authorizing state violence, the primacy of class in both Zionist colonization and Palestinian resistance.
Kanafani is known differently by Israelis (and, to the degree that they’re familiar with him, by Europeans and North Americans). Among the Zionist professional and political classes, he wasn’t merely an enemy, but each of the many pejoratives they apply to victims of Zionism: extremist, antisemite, barbarian, terrorist. Although a devoted Marxist, Kanafani was no hero to the Israeli working class, who despised him with equal passion. For his part, Kanafani viewed the Israeli working class as an antagonistic formation given the enormity of the Nakba and the structural inequality of Israel’s legal system. Working class solidarity was viable only in conjunction with decolonization and the end of imperial domination.
To this day, Israelis don’t really know Kanafani. They know his name. They know his actions. They know his reputation. But they cannot properly comprehend him as an intellectual and activist, and especially not as a human being with the gravitas to inspire his people. Israelis have reduced him to a boogeyman haunting their fantasies of peace. Kanafani knew Israelis extremely well, however. In situations of disparate power, formal knowledge belongs to the oppressor, with its highbrow bureaucrats and bourgeois institutions, but the oppressed possess something more powerful and intuitive: a profound need to free themselves of injustice and subjection. The oppressed, by necessity, have intimate knowledge of the oppressor. This book serves as an excellent example of that maxim.
From its inception, the PFLP was devoted to ideas and has a vibrant archive of revolutionary theory, but it also maintains an active military presence among the resistance to this day, very much in the tradition of Frantz Fanon and Amílcar Cabral: deploying violence not only as a means of territorial and political sovereignty, but as a psychological prelude to liberation. In this way, Kanafani’s political and literary work are inseparable. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that his assessment of Zionist literature is at base an affirmation of Palestine’s future. In seeking to understand Kanafani, we do well to abandon discrete ontological and intellectual categories altogether, or at least to think of them as dynamic and interactive. On Zionist Literature is “political” literary criticism, indeed, especially in the sense that it refuses to separate culture from imperialism.
Kanafani’s political writings, like the broader Palestinian intellectual tradition, are underknown in the Anglophone world despite being so influential in Arabic. The translation of On Zionist Literature that follows is an effort to rectify this deficiency. As readers, we can learn a great deal about Zionism and Palestinian resistance from Kanafani’s incredible knowledge and experience. We can also follow the book’s example and move our comprehension of political material in the internet age from the realm of myth into the more satisfying terrain of material politics.
Steven Salaita’s latest book is Inter/Nationalism: Decolonizing Native America and Palestine.
'We can use the power and beauty of music against colonial forces,' says Palestinian-Japanese soprano
June 26, 2022
When asked what has been the most exciting international appearance, Palestinian-Japanese soprano, Mariam Tamari, quipped that there was nothing like performing with her fellow Palestinian musicians.
"We work with the unspoken understanding that music is our intifada, and that urgency, that longing, our shared visions of liberation course through the music. We're family," she said.
With several notable achievements to her name, Mariam, who was raised in Tokyo, believes in using her talent in producing high-note melodies to shed light on the trials and tribulations of Palestinians suffering under the occupation of Israel.
The art is, after all, in her genes.
Her late father is the artist. Vladimir Tamari, her mother Kyoko is a costume designer and her two Tetas were a designer and calligraphy artist.
"My father constantly played Bach and Mozart at his atelier at home, and I naturally began singing and composing at the age of two," she said. "As a child in Palestine, my mother's lullabies soothed us through experiences of military violence. I believe this played an important role, too."
During the crossing from Jordan at the age of three, she witnessed her father being arrested by Israeli soldiers. She watched as the soldiers aggressively blind-folded and handcuffed him with machine guns pointed at his head, threatening the children to stay silent or they would shoot their father. Instantly, Mariam's mother hushed them with songs of lullabies.
"The violence of apartheid is omnipresent, but Palestine is also where I feel most fully myself. There, community is everything," she explained. "We look out for each other with enveloping warmth, generosity and love. Singing is spontaneous and interwoven with our daily lives there, whether rolling warak dawali in the kitchen or boosting morale at checkpoints."
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, US, Mariam majored in music and philosophy. She made her lead opera debut as Adina in L'Elisir d' Amore at the Nissay Theatre in Tokyo. She has also recently performed as the title role in Madame Butterfly.
Respected around the world, she has performed for the Emperor and Empress of Japan and the King and Queen of Jordan. She has been described as having "special flair for French melodies" and hailed for her "lucid musicality" and "virtuosity".
"It's an art that takes concentrated dedication and passion more than anything," said Mariam. "The willingness to practise in painstaking detail, for hours daily, for decades and decades and the humility and curiosity of being a lifelong student of music."
Currently based in Paris, Mariam is composing some new songs to Palestinian texts, which she is recording with musicians in Palestine.
Emphasising the importance of drawing attention to the Palestinian struggle, the soprano explained how the social space of music is an effective site for socio-political and cultural resistance.
Cultural resistance has been associated with Palestinian music and songs since the forcible expulsion of Palestinians from their villages in 1948.
"We do what we can with what we've got," said Mariam. "We're most effective in our own spheres of experience and influence. I'm convinced we must communicate with courage and from the heart for our messages to be deeply heard and felt and, to this end, there is no better language for me than music."
"There may also be something to be said about the raw human voice trained to reach thousands without amplification. What has moved me deeply is that people from all over the world – South Africa, Hawaii, Vietnam, to name a few – have written to share their stories. People who know what it's like to suffer under colonialism have said they've learned more about Palestine and feel that their struggles, too, are represented in my music. This keeps me going."
While following in her aunt, Tania Tamari Nasir's footsteps in musical activism and representing the poetic and political voices of Palestinians by singing Palestinian texts, Mariam also sings the works of Japanese composers.
"My aunt, Tania, is the pioneering soprano to sing classical art songs in Arabic, working closely with Palestinian poets such as Mahmoud Darwish and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra," said Mariam.
"Although Western classical music has often been used by and associated with the European aristocracy and white supremacy, Tania has always shown me we can use the power and beauty of the music against colonial forces, to raise our voices and celebrate our own cultures," she added.
Tania Tamari Nasir is a classical singer, writer and literary translator, with several publications on Palestinian embroidery and cultural heritage. She performed the first concert in 1993 after the opening of Darat Al Funun, one of the first non-profit art galleries and residencies in the region, along with pianist and composer, Agnes Bashir, and performer, Rania Qamhawi, celebrating the poems of Palestinian writer, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra.
She believes there is nothing novel about fusing the two cultures, as Japan and Palestine are both parts of Asia and she focuses on their myriad similarities. "Both are incredibly warm, graciously welcoming, deeply artistic cultures. We can bypass the West and work together," she said.
"At a time when it's normal in the theatre world for a Black woman to play Hamlet, the major opera houses still produce shows featuring blackface and yellowface, as often seen in Othello, Aida or Madam Butterfly. This must stop," she stated.
Music transcends time, space and social gaps, making it the ideal tool for political change.
Through music, the Palestinians continue to express hope for future generations by means of artistic resistance.
Mariam concluded, "I'm very rooted in the fact that, whether I'm singing to an audience of five or five thousand, at a refugee camp, in front of royalty or at an audition, what's going on is nothing other than communication between the most human parts of myself and the most human parts of you. The intimacy of that connection gives me strength."
Palestinian's culture and heritage is the best weapon against the Occupation – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
For many Palestinian composers and singers, the Palestinian crisis has continued to figure in their work as a symbol of the struggle to establish political sovereignty and, in addition, the commitment to creating modern forms of Palestinian Arab culture that are free from Western influence.
According to Mariam, western classical music maintains a deep-rooted racism and discrimination problem and, therefore, she collaborates on politically-informed projects with other musicians of marginalised identities to speak out against such issues."
'In every word I speak and everything I do, I'm thinking of Palestine,' singer tells Brazil
June 28, 2022
With the occupation of their homeland an ongoing reality, the Palestinians in Brazil know that they have a duty to preserve and share their culture. And whether protesting against oppression, criticising the occupation government or resisting the occupation, music has unique potential for the Palestinian struggle. As such, singing is a very popular way to preserve culture and heritage, as Palestinian Brazilian singer Oula Alsaghir explained to me recently.
"I try to keep our Palestinian heritage alive on the other side of the world through our songs," she said. "In every word I speak, in every dress I wear, in everything I do, I'm thinking about Palestine and how can I introduce Palestinian culture to Brazil. It's my duty to be the voice and image of all Palestinian Arab women who do not have the opportunity to express themselves. This is a great honour and an enormous responsibility on my shoulders."
Alsaghir feels responsible for preserving the singing traditions that are latent in the younger generations of Palestinians in the South American diaspora. She believes that singing traditional songs is an essential medium for the retention of cultural knowledge. "I am a Palestinian Muslim woman, and my first objective is always to present the best image about this woman. My tool to achieve this goal is singing traditional Palestinian songs. I try to let Brazilian people and others know what it means to be a Palestinian woman defender of our culture."
Palestinian refugee Alsaghir was born in Syria, and fled to Brazil when the situation became very dangerous due to the war in the host country. She told me that her family home in Al-Yarmouk refugee camp was destroyed and the family had to leave. "I know exactly what it means to be a refugee as I have lived this experience twice. I was born as a Palestinian refugee in Syria, and am now in Brazil. The only difference was that I was born and raised in an Arab country speaking the same language and with a similar culture, but the situation is obviously different here in Brazil."
It was in Syria that Alsaghir first stood on a stage and sang; she was just four years old. She now has her own band in Brazil, using the traditional bazuq, qanoon and riq. This was a childhood ambition. The three members of Nahawand are a Palestinian, Tunisian and a Brazilian from a Lebanese background, as well as Alsaghir.
"I have never imagined that someday I would go to the other side of the world to fulfil my dream," she said. "I grew up in a house full of music and joy due to my father who played the lute and taught me to sing and love music from when I was little."
Alsaghir´s songs emphasise the power of music as creative resistance against the occupation. All forms of resistance against occupation are legitimate under international law. The Palestinian people have used many in their legitimate struggle against the Israeli occupation which has robbed them of their land, their rights and their holy places.
"Singing about Palestine is the best proof that the Palestinian people have existed for centuries, and that we have a distinct history, culture, heritage and ancient civilisation. My voice and my songs are part of that struggle."
The singer is also a member of Mundana Refugee Orchestra (Orquestra Mundana Refugi), a group of 22 musicians of various nationalities, including Brazilian. All are refugees and immigrants. It was founded by Carlinhos Antunes in 2017, which is when Alsaghir was chosen to represent the Palestinians alongside professional musicians from Brazil and around the world. "That's why I believe that my presentation of this type of music will leave a mark or at least prompt some curiosity to know more and listen to more of my songs. It is enough for me to do this until the reality of the Palestinian cause becomes clear."
Today, Oula Alsaghir is well known for her singing of Palestinian songs in Brazil. In her music, as in her life, she relies on her Palestinian identity and being backed by traditional instruments to keep her people's heritage and culture alive as part of Brazilian society and beyond. She concluded our conversation by pointing out that young Palestinians have the ability to adapt, survive and make a success in any field wherever they happen to be in this world. "With our belief in our cause and our legitimate rights, we become stronger and stronger every day."
BREAKING: Warrant of arrest issued against PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya, police labeled him Commander of Solidarity Forces
Wednesday, 29th June, 2022
By Zweli Martin Dlamini
MBABANE: A warrant of arrest has been issued against Mlungisi Makhanya, the President of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO) and a team of senior detectives left the police station on Tuesday evening to search for his whereabouts.
It has been disclosed that the warrant of arrest against the PUDEMO President comes after the police arrested two suspects believed to be members of the Swaziland International Solidarity Forces(SISF).
The names of the suspects cannot be revealed pending their appearance in court.
Senior insiders within Mswati’s State security agency very close to the matter confirmed that the warrant has been issued and that the police were urgently looking for the PUDEMO President.
“The two suspects implicated the PUDEMO President during an interrogation,”said the insider.
It has been disclosed that the suspects were arrested last week, Police Spokesperson Phindile Vilakati had not responded to our questions at the time of compiling this report when asked to clarify the allegations.
Reached for comments, the PUDEMO President said he was not aware of any warrant of arrest against him.
“I haven’t heard about any warrant of arrest issued against me yet Nkhosi. I am currently in the Shiselweni region where I have been hard at work mobilising for a successful June 29 commemoration. All I can say to our people, something I have been saying to the textile workers here in Nhlangano, ‘let us remain vigilant and fight the evil murderous regime with all the ferocity required in order to defeat Mswati’ Let the instructive words of Apostle Paul to the Philippians, contained in Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything: instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done,” be our guiding principle. Ultimately, the people’s cause shall triumph,” said the PUDEMO President.
On another note, information gathered suggests that the warrant of arrest was just a formality as the police were ordered to shoot and kill the PUDEMO President.
This comes after Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini issued a statement saying the security forces will use force to defend eSwatini’s Sovereignty from what he described as terrorists.
Eswatini in the midst of a political crisis after Mswati unleashed soldiers and the police to shoot and kill dozens of civilians merely for demanding democratic reforms.
JUNE 29 MASSACRE COMMEMORATION: Eswatini pro-democracy groups successfully imposed a holiday to honour victims.
Wednesday, 29th June, 2022
By Zweli Martin Dlamini
MBABANE: Eswatini pro-democracy groups successfully imposed a holiday to honour citizens who were allegedly killed by King Mswati’s police and soldiers during the June 2021 massacre. The holiday came after a resolution by the Multi-Stakeholder Forum(MSF) as contained in the Boksburg Declaration.
Reached for comments, human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, the Chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum(MSF) said this represented the clearest vote of no confidence on the oppressive royal Tinkhundla regime and King Mswati III.
“The time has come for them to surrender power to the people. Todays is evidence that the people of Swaziland are decisive about their destiny.Tinkhundla has long lost all levels of legitimacy and credibility. The people have reached a point of no return. Today is indeed a public holiday, whether Tinkhundla accepts or not. The sleeping grass has been awakened,” said the MSF Chairperson.
On another note Alpheous Nxumalo, the eSwatini Government Spokesperson told this publication on Tuesday that Wednesday was a normal working day, however, there was no activity in towns across the country and some shops had to close in fear of alleged looting.
Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, Sakhile Awuviva Nxumalo, the President of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO) Youth League, SWAYOCO warned businesses not to operate and respect the holiday in honour of the victims of the June 2021 massacre.
Reached for comments on Wednesday, the PUDEMO Youth League (SWAYOCO) President said it was encouraging to see Swazis observing the holiday in honour of the victims of the June massacre.
“Even Government offices are closed and businesses are not operating because of the uncertainty. We would like to urge Swazis to continue taking orders from the Mass Democratic Movement(MDM) not Mswati’s Government.No Government can kill such a large number of people and expect things to be normal on this day. As long as pro-democracy Members of Parliament(MPs) Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube remain in prison with other political leaders in exile, things will never be normal in this country. As we mentioned, this day will be a holiday every year from now onwards, even after the democratic Government has taken over,” said the President of the Swaziland Youth Congress(SWAYOCO).
No activity in Manzini as part of the June 2021 massacre holiday.
Issued by NEHAWU International Service Centre
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