Palestinian, Black, Indigenous, and Socialist Feminists join AF³IRM to Demand a Free Palestine

Palestinian Liberation Is a Transnational Feminist Issue

Rochelle Sugawa, [email protected]

Los Angeles—On Monday, November 20, 2023, AF³IRM convened feminist leaders transnationally from Honolulu, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, and New York City to highlight why the ongoing genocide in Palestine is a pressing transnational feminist issue. The virtual event brought together a global audience.

AF³IRM, a grassroots, anti-imperialist, transnational feminist organization of women of color, organized this discussion in light of the escalating, brutal assault on Gaza. The dialogue, entitled “Transnational Feminists Demand A Free Palestine: A Dialogue and Training for Action,” drew participants from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Guam, India, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United States. 

The panel included Rana A. Sharif, professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at California State University Northridge and member of the Palestinian Feminist Collective; Thandisizwe Chimurenga, activist, journalist, and author; Emilse Icandri, member of Las Rojas and SiTraRepA of Argentina; Palestinian-American Riham Majeed, coordinator of AF³IRM New York/New Jersey; Valeria Espinosa, former National Programme Coordinator and former co-coordinator of AF³IRM Los Angeles; and ‘Ihilani Lasconia, co-coordinator of AF³IRM Hawai‘i. The panel was moderated by Devika Shankar, co-coordinator of AF³IRM Los Angeles.

The current onslaught on Gaza is horrifyingly deadly, with a majority of the victims being women and children. Sharif shared that since October 7, more than 12,000 Palestinians have been martyred by direct aerial assaults, including at least 4,200 children. As of November 20, 2023, over 28,000 Palestinians have been wounded, and more than 825 families have been erased entirely from the Gaza civil registry. Additionally, 60 percent of those martyred in Gaza are women and children. 

With this reality in mind, the panelists discussed why the Palestinian struggle for liberation was inextricably tied up with the liberation of all oppressed peoples. Chimurenga explained, “It’s our issue because White supremacist settler colonial imperialism is fighting for its life. These forces are very clear on their need to unite and work together. We must do the same.” As an example, Chimurenga mentioned that the New York Police Department and other U.S. police forces are trained by police forces within “Israel,” and linked the policing of communities in the U.S. to the policing of Palestinians by “Israel.” 

Drawing parallels between the plight of Native Hawaiians and Palestinians, Lasconia commented that the illegally occupied nations of Hawai‘i and Palestine are both forced to endure militarism because of the U.S. imperial project. She underlined the importance of supporting Palestine from a decolonial Indigenous perspective, saying, “Israel is everything that the West and imperialism stands for . . . to be Indigenous and to act on your indigeneity is to be sharply opposed to any and all aspects of this ideology.”

Speaking as a member of the Palestinian Feminist Collective, Sharif shared, “[W]e recognize that the gendered violence and harm facing Palestinians in Gaza today are intimately linked to the oppression of our BIPOC communities here on Turtle Island where I’m located. A fight for a free Palestine is one that recognizes that the systems that destroy Indigenous, Black, Brown and immigrant communities here are central to the Zionist settler state.”

Panelists also examined why “Israel” is specifically targeting women and children in Gaza. “In the name of ethnic cleansing,” Espinosa stated, “reproductive health and children are viewed as threats, so population control relies specifically on violence against women, since it is women who are the bearers of histories and languages, and therefore, are targeted in order to commit genocide.”

The discussion and training stood out as an example of transnational feminism in practice. Shankar explained, “Transnational feminism is a paradigm that is attentive to intersections among nationhood, race, gender, sexuality, and economic exploitation on a world scale in the context of imperialist globalization.” 

Majeed remarked that organizing with a transnational feminist lens is important “for any occupied people engaged in anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-capitalist struggle,” further adding, “The liberation of Palestine is everyone’s issue. Our struggles are interconnected, for none of us are free until we are all free.” 

Although the panelists hailed from different communities and cultures, all were united in their support of the liberation of Palestine. As Icandri put it, “In the middle of tragedy, people [globally have] start[ed] talking again about the solution of the conflict—not being military, but being political—and that solution is to end apartheid and have a Free Palestine from the river to the sea, where Palestinian, Jewish, [and] Arab people can live in peace.”

The discussion concluded with concrete calls to action. Sharif noted Palestinian and Arab organizations to follow and join. Icandri announced that Las Rojas is organizing a caravan through Buenos Aires on November 24 in support of Palestinian liberation.  AF³IRM speakers announced in-person events to commemorate the annual international campaign for “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” with a special focus on Palestine. AF³IRM will create and distribute a toolkit based on the discussion to aid participant calls for an end to the Israeli occupation and genocide of Palestinians.