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  • Solidarity with Palestine from Diné Bikéyah
  • Melanie K. Yazzie (bio)

This commentary focuses on recent Palestinian solidarity efforts unfolding in Indigenous communities and how these efforts have the potential to expand and strengthen US-based Palestine solidarity movements. One such effort, Diné Solidarity With Palestine (DSWP), is attempting to apply lessons from academic solidarity with Palestine to grassroots organizing and education with Navajo people in Diné Bikéyah (Navajo Nation).1 DSWP seeks to mobilize collaborations that address and resist the violence of settler colonialism by organizing directly with Native people and connecting Diné and other Native folks with Palestinians. The work of this small but growing campaign asks us to consider how the presence of Palestine in Native resistance work shifts the landscape of these struggles by opening up comparative considerations of Native and Palestinian anticolonial politics, which in turn allows Native people, Palestinians, and others engaged more broadly in intersectional anticolonial work to sharpen our analysis, organizing skills, and politics of accountability.

In addition to centering Palestinian liberation in its organizing principles, DSWP actively considers how solidarity with Palestine informs our collective response to contestations over power and resources in the American Southwest, many of which Israel now influences. DSWP thus links solidarity with Palestine to urgent social, human, and environmental issues that result from the disciplinary mechanisms of colonial violence at play in this region of the world.2 The campaign understands that Palestinian liberation requires the liberation of Indigenous and other oppressed peoples from occupation by Israel’s collaborator and guarantor, the United States. It also understands that effective organizing and mobilization occurs when seemingly unrelated issues like the occupation of Palestine are linked to local concerns. DSWP thus embeds Palestinian liberation in the myriad struggles coalescing in our local context that challenge the interlocking, transnational, and hypermilitarized forms of settler colonialism that dominate both US and Israeli nationalism. Struggles like Apache, Hopi, O’odham, and Diné (Navajo) movements to defend sacred lands against state-supported corporations; the growing antipolice brutality [End Page 1007] movement in Albuquerque, New Mexico; border town justice campaigns in notoriously violent settlements like Gallup, New Mexico; efforts to decolonize and queer the immigrant rights movement along the US–Mexico border; and Diné struggles to end resource colonization are only a handful of local efforts intent on abolishing settler colonialism. Through various forms of public and grassroots education, DSWP plans to bridge these Native-led struggles to Palestinian liberation.

This approach rethinks prevailing paradigms of Palestine solidarity tied to academic institutions and associations like the American Studies Association, which have gained traction through political activism sparked by burgeoning work on settler colonialism in the interdisciplinary lines that now feed the field. While efforts by American studies faculty and students to change institutional policies and accountability through boycotts are critical forms of struggle, such efforts tend to isolate Palestine from other struggles or elevate it above other concerns, especially those pertaining to Native-led anticolonial resistance here in North America. DSWP engages in solidarity with Palestine beyond the academy by putting critiques of settler colonialism to work in on-the-ground organizing and grassroots education informed by a comparative framework. Its comparative approach builds on examples of direct action support between First Nations and Canadian Palestine advocacy groups, as well as emerging comparative perspectives from participants in North American delegations to Palestine who frame solidarity as a form of transnational anticolonial politics embedded in nationalist self-determination movements.3 DSWP’s orientation to Palestine solidarity work thus asks American studies scholars to increasingly engage comparative frameworks in our study of settler colonialism, which requires a shift in the accountability politics that underwrite current critiques of settler colonialism (and thus current approaches to Palestine solidarity efforts) and their tendency to center questions of state power, institutional shortcomings, or the analysis itself at the expense of providing real and urgent support to Native struggles—including anticolonial nationalist movements—against US occupation. Because the United States and Israel are so intimately intertwined, Native liberation is bound to Palestinian liberation. Wherever situated, our Palestine solidarity work in American studies and beyond must evolve to directly reflect this reality.

Because of limited space, this commentary fails to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 1007-1015
Launched on MUSE
2015-12-21
Open Access
No
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