Open letter to Palestinian artist Heba Zagout

Image: Heba Zagout


No Holocaust in the world can justify the tyranny of former victims over other peoples, other cultures and other generations

I didn't know you in person, Heba. But, we are well aware of the suffering of your people, since the unilateral creation of the murderous State of Israel. Because we also know that no Holocaust in the world can justify the tyranny of former victims over other peoples, other cultures and other generations. If there is, today, an ideology that comes terribly close to fascism, it is called Zionism.[1]

We, who truly believe in humanity, need to fight it on all fronts. And you, Heba, belong to the oldest refugee people on the planet since the end of the Second World War. Therefore, our priest Julio Lancelotti defends the Palestinian cause with the same unbreakable faith with which he welcomes and cares for internal refugees from undeclared urban wars in Brazil, since he began his mission here, half a century ago.

Heba, one of the last paintings you drew and painted, with the usual care and inspiration, really moved me, you know? In the peaceful and harmonious simplicity of “Jerusalem is my city” (2022),[2] We can all dream of an ideal city so far from those warlike spaces in which we are thrown and transported every day. I didn't know Jerusalem, Heba. But I can share the dream that the delicate image of your painting can bring us here, in this West full of arrogance, violence and blasphemy.

In fact, it even seems that the murderous rage of Bibi Netanyahu and her associates is much more Western, in its warlike exhibitionism and in its vampiric taste for eating blood. Have you noticed the eyes and teeth of this exterminating angel from the present? Ditto, Biden Gagá. The lord of the Decrepit Empire has long lost his rings, and stutters incomprehensible curses as he counts down his next defeat.

Who do we have left, Heba? Arab women in my city, São Paulo, which is home to a significant Palestinian community, continue in the line of resistance. Our best students also resist, Heba. I have just completed my postgraduate and undergraduate classes at Unicamp this semester, Heba, and you can be sure that the sacrifice of your people was exhaustively debated in class, and your tragedy was mourned by many young souls who were equally uninformed, but happily sensitive to a simple and just cause. And we learned, among so many things, the weight and meaning of the word Nakba, the catastrophe and exodus of the Palestinian people, already so ancient and so painfully current!

We are being massacred on the battlefields and in the factional media of the genocidaires, but I am convinced that, with the freedom of our people in our hearts, we will win, whatever the cost, this war against the Palestinian people. Several times a day I cross State of Palestine Square, here in the Paraíso neighborhood, in São Paulo. It remains, most of the time, empty. Every now and then I surprise homeless people camped there, in this underground identity among all the refugee peoples of the world.

As the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman warned us about two decades ago: increasingly, this Western liquid modernity and this ferociously decadent capitalism are producing and reproducing, on increasing scales, human waste all over the planet, which hovers like garbage unmanageable over the landscapes of what is now called “our civilization”.[3]

But I cannot help but remember here, in front of your presence and memory, the sorrows and heroic gestures of all Palestinian mothers. This was sung in a funeral lament at one of the pro-Palestinian People demonstrations here at Praça Oswaldo Cruz, in São Paulo, about a month ago. So, I understand perfectly and tragically that you could never let go of your two children when the bombs came from the Murderous State, on the night of October 13th, launched by yet another Israeli air strike. You live now in the memory of those who continue fighting. And in the best memory of a pacified city that can be called “ours” in the near future. Because, “yours”, Heba, and your children, she has always been and will continue to be.

*Francisco Foot Hardman He is a professor at the Institute of Language Studies at Unicamp. Author, among other books, of São Paulo ideology and the eternal modernists (Unesp). []


[1] See the excellent and didactic book by journalist Breno Altman, Against Zionism: portrait of a colonial and racist doctrine. São Paulo: Alameda, 2023. []

[2] See the important article by Vijay Prashad, “The Palestinian people are now free”, BrasildeFato, 23/10/2023, originally published by the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research.

[3] Cf., among others, the following works by Z. Bauman: Society under siege (Lisbon: Inst. Piaget, 2010); Wasted lives (Rio de Janeiro: J. Zahar, 2005); Strangers at our door (Rio de Janeiro: J. Zahar, 2017).

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