Palestinian human rights

Demonstration in London by Palestinians/ Reproduction Telegram

By Francirosy Campos Barbosa*

Criticism and reflection are the first steps towards building a pedagogy about Palestine and its processes engendered by external violence

A Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly (resolution 217 A III) on December 10, 1948. The charter, in its 30 articles, indicates its faith in the fundamental rights of the human being, in the dignity and value of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women considering better living conditions, without any distinction of race, color, sex, religion or political vision. In his first articles we have:

Article 1 - All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and must act towards each other in a spirit of fraternity.

Article 2 - Every human being has the capacity to enjoy the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, whether as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth, birth, or any other condition. No distinction will also be made based on the political, legal or international condition of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it is an independent territory, under guardianship, without its own government, or subject to any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3 - Every human being has the right to life, liberty and personal security.

If pedagogy is a set of techniques, principles, methods and strategies of education and teaching, there is nothing more pedagogical than saying and reinforcing that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not contemplate the reality of the Palestinians, as 76 years ago they lost the right to life, liberty and personal security. There are no human rights for people who are racialized, criminalized and called terrorists.

I consider criticism and reflection to be the first steps towards building a pedagogy about Palestine and its processes engendered by external violence, in order to change the reality and production of knowledge that promotes the epistemicide of Palestinians on a daily basis, whether in history or in textbooks, television programs, etc. It is up to us, in this didactic-methodological process, to deconstruct the constant image that links them to terrorism and violence.

I ask readers: what did you learn about Palestine at school? At the University? In the street? In the family? Do you know the reality to which Palestinians have been subjected since the 1948th century? There have been efforts to erase the culture and history of this people since the founding of the State of Israel in XNUMX. This lack of knowledge imposes the urgency of promoting a pedagogy of Nakba (catastrophe), which never ends on Palestinian lands. In Brazil, we still, unfortunately, have a population that does not know what the process of expulsion of more than 800 Palestinians from their lands was like through a colonialist project by the Zionist state of Israel in 1948.

Since Nakba, we witnessed human rights violations, war crimes and a apartheid which takes on violent proportions with the construction of a 763 km wall in the West Bank, as well as the construction of more than 300 checkpoints hindering and/or prohibiting entry and exit from Palestinian territory. It is worth saying that, with the wall, Israel appropriated 12% of the land that belonged to Palestine.

Even though the International Court of Justice in The Hague has declared the construction of the wall illegal in 2004, this did not change the reality, it had no effect on the Israeli government and much less on the world, which pretends to be unaware of the various human rights violations that the Palestinian people have suffered over time. The wall violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it separates families, and this is possible see in documentaries on the subject.

There are several violations, starting with “respect for property”, which was never enforced, as the Palestinians had their land confiscated, benefiting more than 700 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. When we come across “freedom of worship” we just need to look at countless vandalism carried out by Israeli soldiers at Al Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan (month of Islamic fasting), as well as desecration by Israeli settlers of Christian and Muslim holy places and places of worship and attacks on members of the clergy. The wall, in turn, makes it difficult for Palestinian citizens to pass through in search of medical assistance and/or to visit family, restricting the right to come and go.

On October 7, 2023, we witnessed the brutal violence of Hamas in an attack on Israel, which also violates international laws, and must be vehemently repudiated. However, we cannot just locate this date when we deal with human rights violations, we need to review the history of these peoples, and review all the helplessness to which the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been placed in the last seven decades. For more than two months we have seen Palestinians being brutally murdered, leaving children, women and men in extreme agony. There are not enough mobilizations for a ceasefire and, while this does not happen, Palestinian lives are being extirpated, marking a process that Jewish Israeli historian Ilan Pappe called it ethnic cleansing.

We have discussed structural racism a lot, the title of the book by the Minister of Human Rights and Citizenship of Brazil, Silvio Almeida, however, readers do not associate the same effects of necropolitics experienced by black people in Brazil with what Palestinians experience. Silvio Almeida writes: “What can be seen so far is that the institutional conception of racism treats power as a central element of the racial relationship. In effect, racism is domination.” Palestinians have been dominated and racialized by a power structure that promotes the necropolitics experienced by all non-white men and women who inhabit their territory.

Structural racism is everywhere, both in Brazil and in Palestine. If we consider that racism is structural, then we should increase our responsibility as subjects to combat racism and racists, and, in this sense, human rights violators in Palestine should be rejected. It is necessary to say didactically, yes, that it is violence, that it is structural racism, that what the Palestinians experience is barbarity.

It must be said that, where international law does not reach, necropolitics has arrived, and this is what has been happening in Gaza, in the West Bank. I believe that one of the paths we need to build is to review this history of the Palestinian people on every page of a book, in every documentary, film, television news. The world needs to know what they experience.

Palestinians experience structural racism, in which they are brutalized on a daily basis, they are citizens relegated to the second class, to the place of abject people, with no rights, only duties, in a subordinate place, without the right to speak. Can the subaltern speak?, Spivak would ask. You can't when it comes to Palestinians.

On November 18, 2023, Gracias, the Anthropology Group in Islamic and Arab Contexts, which I have coordinated since 2010 at the Department of Psychology at USP in Ribeirão Preto, on behalf of its Group to Combat Islamophobia, launched the 2nd Report on Islamophobia in Brazil. In it it is possible to access what we already knew, the trigger event of external violence reaching Muslims in Brazil, in various ways. When we asked whether the most diverse media knew how to differentiate between Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims, the majority answered “no”. We can say that our pedagogy of cultural, economic and social aspects, when it comes to the Middle East, is flawed, and builds orientalisms, barbarism, as Edward Said would say, in which journalistic practice becomes an accomplice to misleading, distorted information.

It is necessary to have discussions on TV, in newspapers and in books about what Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims are, so that knowledge overcomes the widespread stereotype. In November 2023, Gracias promoted a event about Medieval Islam, as medieval knowledge contributes to the formation of citizens who understand that we are talking about a rich culture that promotes universal knowledge, which our society has used and uses to this day.

Palestine Pedagogy encourages us to learn more about its history, its customs, its ways of being and resistance. Even if they kill the last poet, the last scientist, we will be here, we will not let Palestinian voices silence, because the power of knowledge goes beyond walls, checkpoints…and the promotion of human rights is the duty of every citizen in the world. Peace is imperative, as is knowledge. At this moment I would like to hear from the heads and ministers of State and all the citizens who populate the world:

Palestinians, you exist and you are valuable to us!

Francirosy Campos Barbosa is an anthropologist and professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Ribeirão Preto (FFCL) at USP. Author, among other books, of Islam, decoloniality and plural dialogues (ambigram) []

Originally published on Journal of USP.

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