Sunday — 05.16.21 — Palestine Assembling (52nd)

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52nd Testing Assembling
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X. In Short
X. ……..

X. In Short

May 16, 2021
11:00 AM
(Manhattan Time)

We write this short text for tomorrow’s virtual assembly thinking with the struggles for justice in Palestine.
For those who would like to join, please write …


At the junction of meaning, a horse fell off a poem.

If you come back alone, tell yourself: exile has changed its face.

You are not you, and home is not home, that mirror that disappointed you, you who is not you, where did you leave your face?

Nothing but light. I went searching for my place, higher and farther, even higher and further than my times.

What else? In Jerusalem a woman-soldier shouted at me: it’s you again? didn’t I kill you? I said: you killed me … but I forgot, like you, to die.


What questions arise today from within and from outside Palestine?

Learning from the history of the struggle in Palestine, what is the meaning of solidarity today?

What is the role of Jewish allies in this phase of the struggle? And how to dismantle  together the zionist ideology of Jewish Supremacy?

What other collective action in addition to BDS can we think of in this moment?

What relations to trace between the struggle for Black Life and for Palestinian Life?

How can we draw some lines to understand, learn from and relate to the multiplicity of Palestinian experiences, within 48, West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, refugee camps, communities within and outside Palestine.

How to think of the following  statement: “One people, One destiny, and the return is certain.”

How to avoid the energy-drain often embedded in discussions about Palestine?

What is the significance/signification of becoming-Palestinian?

How is the notion of colonial gaslighting useful to illuminate the questions pertaining to Palestine today?


What is home? The map is not an answer. And the birth certificate is now different. No one faced this question in the way you do. From now and til you die, or repent, or betray. Your conviction is not enough, because it does not change, nor detonate things, and the wandering is vast. The desert is not always larger than the prison cell.

What is home? Not a question that you answer and go on. Your life and your cause together. And before and after that, your identity. And the simplest thing to say: home … where I was born. And you’ve returned to your place of birth and did not find anything. And the simplest thing to also say: home … where I will die. But you may die anywhere, and you may die at the border of two places. So what does that mean? And after a while, the question will become harder.

Why did you migrate … why? Since 20 years 40 years 60 years 70 years you are wondering: Why did they leave? Migration is not the abolition of home. It is the transformation of a problem into a question.


Is our present really untouched by yesterday, what has passed does it really pass, or is it always there, at the horizons staring at us, whether we choose to look towards it or not.

How can we see what has been for long made invisible, hard to perceive, or altogether distorted by the harsh lights of the beneficiaries of a world reduced to numbers, classifications and codes of behaviors, to name a few.

Who has erected this eternal tent around us, them, you, me, and yes the Palestinians. who wrote: ”If in a place, absence has no space, ghosts and specters will haunt that same place.”

The Palestinian experience, over the past 100 years, has been fragmented, divided, sorted, classified, declassified, legalized, illegalized, codified, forgotten, remembered, forgotten again,  intensified, degradated, glorified, then ignored altogether when the stark lights shine elsewhere bigger, stranger, spectacles of power and their victimized peoples, for the NGOs to enter and more “humanitarian aid” to come from those same perpetrators and creators of this holy line of separation between what is “human” and “inhuman”.


Healing requires opening up the blockages. Some of these blockages are physical and with time become manifest, others invisible or invisibilized – often they are historically conditioned, or even more accurately based on the conditioning of history.

What is the conditioning of history, it is the preparation of a ground, the very ground we walk upon, the air we breathe, how we see, how we speak, how we think, how we relate to our worlds, our bodies, other bodies, including the earth itself.

In such processes of conditioning, we receive and  perceive everything, often in very different ways depending on how those terms and conditions are given and very often imposed from above.

That above can be some idea of a deity or it can be a state, or within the family, a patriarch often, some figure of authority, or it can come from the tactile processes of interacting with other bodies and learning-sensing-feeling how they, how we inter-exist.

But sometimes the blockage is there, where those conditions and conditionings no longer allow one body to encounter another without the intermediation of such authorities and conditioners.

To open the blockage and encounter these other bodies, walls, fundaments based on separation of bodies, apartheid, blockage, checkpoints, settlements, military outposts, will have to be dismantled, broken down, conditions, terms, laws, institutions destituted, whether they are conditions given by authorities, whether they be gods or founding fathers, those pre-existing conditions which render some bodies expendable, some bodies sacred and others sacrificable without rite nor rights.

To condition the ground, variations of approach

first approach
It is already prepared, it is already peopled, inhabited, it is already full of seeds, it is already full of life, thus to sew any seeds, one will already be in that encounter with other bodies, that already nourish multiple forms of life, feed the soil as if a living body which in return will nourish us. The only foreigner is the I, so walk with care, since this earth is made of eyes with magical lashes.

second approach
It is lacking its own life, a lifeless desert, a waste land, a land without a people, needing to be given value, and for that value to be generated, it needs labor, it needs sweat, it needs investment, equity, property and propriety, proprietors, owners, builders, bulldozers, developers, demolitions, settlers, speculators, prospectors, projectors, leaders, followers, hard workers, step by step it will need to be cultivated, colonized and more than that it will need inputs, it will need trains, trainers, training, to bring forth, lead educate everyone to know how they should better rule over this lifeless earth.

third approach
It is unruly, undisciplined, wild, uncontrollable, full of beasts, plagues, pests, undomesticated, unruly, ungovernable, uncontrollable – needing planners, architects, roads, dams, instruments, fertilizers, pest killers, weapons, tools for identification, categorization, hierarchization, markers, profiles, …


The history of the space has been marked by a need to create a place where artists, writers, thinkers, activists, cultural workers and anyone else who was interested could discuss and share the questions which truly concerned them.  To assemble and learn our way through our respective maladies, searches, becomings.

We felt the existing institutions were not only capitalist infrastructures, but also institutions implicitly committed and invested in upholding and reproducing patriarchal, colonial, white supremacist, euro-american orderings of history, of world, of representations of what is possible to say, see, imagine, think, become. We may not have had the language to say that then, but we felt it and needed a space to find those words and do that communally. And we are still doing that.

We created a space to choose for ourselves what matters needed to be discussed and how. Those have been informed by friends who animated the space and by the movements, struggles which nourished us, confronted us.

Palestine has had a singular place in that history because in 1999, when we started, we were told that a space organized by artists (even if what we aspired for was to go beyond the enclosures of art) which was explicitly critical of Israel and committed to justice in Palestine and for Palestinians, could not survive.

We managed without funders or grants from the state or private foundations to keep our space and our autonomy from those who would censor us. And let’s state the obvious most people inside the existing institutions are so afraid of losing their funders or their jobs they fear to speak and act on their speech. When and how will that be broken? How to abolish the police when we are the first to police ourselves, our words, our thoughts, the communities we nominally nurture? These were questions we were posing then and are still valid today.


Those are the refugees, ending their exile, by creating new refugees. So what does your saying mean -my painter friend- resemblance in exile brings us together. … The refugees that were displaced by Nazism found themselves a home in Palestine. And the refugees that Zionism displaced … where do they live … where?


Returning to that time, the struggles for maintaining that explicit and unequivocal position regarding Palestine, caused rifts within and outside the initial community around the space. All of this intensified in the midst of the second intifada in 2000. But a strong enough community of artists existed then to hold together the space and our commitment to make no equivocations on what we saw as injustice wherever we saw it. And though Palestine was not the only one obviously, we were organizing many things including around the violent effects of sanctions against Iraq, … the injustices in Palestine remained one of those points that seemed the most necessary because it was so censored and distorted.

In the aftermath of September 11th and the Bush/Cheney regime, the space became one of the few places where artists, activists and others could meet continuously for critical dialogues and in that time, with the ‘war on terror’ rhetoric, uncanny similarities began to emerge, linking US infinite war to Israel’s justifications of infinite occupation and daily violence inflicted on Palestinians. This inaugurated a fast learning curve for many who had before been blind to the ongoing injustices unfolding in Palestine. The tides shifted rapidly and what seemed impossible to say several years before, with the work of spaces and communities like ours and the wider political movements increasingly questioning the implicitly racist, anti-Islamic policies of infinite war, security, in the name of Western Civilization, opened new spaces for understanding the struggle in Palestine.

Since those days many things have changed, movements like BDS, Occupy, BLM, Standing Rock emerged, walls within the social infrastructures of coloniality and white supremacy (even if universities, museums and many art spaces don’t think of themselves in this way, sorry to break the news, they are) began to shift, break apart, the ground began to shake … has shook, is shaking still, we are living through these tremors, aftershocks, cracks widening.

Our questions have not receded, but what we see is a groundswell of energies directed toward decolonization, destitution, abolition of police, of prisons and the imprisonment of communities, the abolition of capitalism, of patriarchy, of the conditions of earthlessness … and however much force the existing institutions use to quell the uprisings, however much they will try to criminalize or capture us, sell us or buy us, there are not enough arms, prisons nor money to achieve their aims. We are too many. As our comrades from Colombia said last week, we are a becoming earth.


Returning to Palestine. What is happening right now in is the becoming manifest and visible, once again, of the daily violence of an apartheid state that has its boots on the necks of millions of people who live under daily terror. In the name of security, but based on a settler colonial, supremacist ideology, vision, enforced by its institutions. And despite the tragedies and daily reports of indiscriminate death, maiming, bombing, imprisoning, detaining … we see at the same time, a third intifada, uprising, insurrection, insurgency unfolding and an unprecedented wave of Palestinians within ‘48 also rising.  The question is what does solidarity look like and how can this intifada become planetary? How to draw more lines, more conjunctions, points of contact, resonance, to struggles all around us.

An elder of our community, who lived and partook in the radical movements in the 60’s, recently told some of us that this is our generation’s Vietnam moment. If young people in this country do not rise in significant numbers, stand up against the violence being perpetrated against Palestinians in the name of America’s unending monetary and political cover for Israel, we stand to inherit a thoroughly falsified earth. And like the struggles for Black Life which continue to shake the foundations of an order constructed on mass abduction, enslavement, colonization, genocide, and today mass policing and imprisonment to keep that order in place: the struggle for Palestinian Life appears as a linchpin of America’s capacity to pretend to be a beacon of hope while it funds arms to run the biggest mass incarceration apartheid regime in the world.

In the 60’s, the Black Radical tradition gleaned a lot from the struggles in Palestine and vice versa.  Those same lines have opened once again. From our perspective, they will only expand and resonate further. And as we think also of the struggles which ended apartheid in South Africa, we know wars like Vietnam and regimes like South Africa do not come to an end because of states coming to their senses, but because people from below forced those changes, made those wars and regimes no longer possible.

Obviously those who still condone and justify the ongoing violence against Palestinians will continue to justify their wars of civilizations, the law and order of their supremacist ideologies. Or worse, having failed to convince the multitudes of the justness of their cause, they will try instead to criminalize critique of Israel, legally restricting speech by associating such critique with antisemitism.

In the face of such assaults, what is not possible is the silence on the part of so many who understand what is happening but remain silent out of fear. This silence has been an implicit condoning of the violence, and that is what has been coming undone, slowly, steadily and in this moment more quickly – especially as the struggles of decolonization point not only toward the inequalities of the coloniality of economy (called capitalism) but the coloniality in everything, in education, in health, in art, in museums, in knowledge, in politics, in relations, in thought, in every facet of life, even the notion of life. Until each space, each community, says enough and is ready to act on this speech, the walls and ongoing mass incarceration and criminalization of Palestinian life will continue, and so too the proliferation of a falsified earth.

PS, regarding the falsification of earth, the world of alternative facts comprises only one part of this, the New York Times ‘truth’ is emblematic, a no less harmful part, of the liberal face of that same falsification.