Vittorio Arrigoni, a devoted activist of the International Solidarity Movement with the Palestinian people, was murdered in the Gaza Strip today by a salafite group. Juliano Mer-Khamis, founder of Jenin’s Freedom Theater and a prominent anti-occupation activist was murdered in Jenin last week. His killers have not come forward but flyers distributed earlier in Jenin warned against anyone importing Tel Aviv mores into Jenin and threatened that bullets may follow the words.
Whoever murdered Vittorio does not struggle to end the Occupation. Whoever wishes to cleanse the Gaza Strip of volunteers aims to remove solidarity, humanity, and leave the Palestinian population more exposed, more vulnerable to the shells and bombs of the Occupation forces.
We should not forget the covert - and at times overt - collaboration of Palestinian right-wing zealots with various dictatorships in our region and with the Occupation regime. In January 1980, years before Hamas was founded, the Muslim Struggle Youths in Gaza attacked Communist activists, set fire to liquor stores and to the library of the Palestinian Red Crescent – a bastion of leftist culture in the Gaza Strip, created by this important organization which provided vital medical and social services. The library was located a mere walking distance from the Israeli military Governor’s building.
The perpetrators admitted openly that they set the Red Crescent building ablaze because “it contained Communist books intended to corrupt our youth”. Behind the act stood no other than Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, later a great enemy of Israel, but in the late 1970s – the protégé of the Israeli military that permitted him to found the association Al-Mujamma’ al-Islami, the initial core of radical Islamism, in order to fight the Occupation’s battle against the Palestinian left. However, sponsorship of the military government and civil administration did not suffice: it was known at the time that groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood were generously supported by sources in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
No, we do not know enough today to tell what threads bind the Palestinian right-wing that dons religious garb in its fight against leftist activists, against women struggling for their rights, against social and cultural openness – to the dictatorships in the Middle East and the Israeli occupation-and-dispossession regime. Perhaps time will tell. But we do know enough to realize that our place is with our comrades and friends, women and men fighting against the Occupation and for a democratic Palestinian society.
Translation: Tal Haran