By Sami Hermez
Abstract: The Israeli genocidal war in Palestine is unfolding with full support from the United States and Western countries. With all the talk of multipolarity and the rise of China, Russia and other global South states, the global solidarity movement has emerged as the only force capable of acting as a countervailing power pushing back against the barbaric US-Israeli war machine.
In the first days after the Hamas Al-Aqsa Flood operation on October 7, I watched in disbelief and dismay as I saw what felt like the whole world turning against Palestine and Palestinians. I felt as though all the gains into the mainstream West that activists had achieved over decades were crumbling before me. Scholars who had been preaching decolonization were suddenly silent, and any attempt to represent the Palestinian position or explain why Hamas would even conduct such an operation were not given airtime in the media. The scale of the attacks emerging from the Israeli press coupled with news of massacres, made it difficult for some committed supporters of Palestine to show up or speak out. Famous artists who had previously been vocal in support of Palestinian rights were either silent or could only offer weak or de-politicized humanitarian statements. The shock of the October 7 Hamas attacks, which were unlike anything I and many other observers of Palestine had seen before, left global reaction discombobulated and ceded the space to the pro-Israeli narrative in all arenas.
Soon, however, the mood and narrative began to change, propelled for the most part by the Israeli state’s brutal and horrific bombardment of Gaza that genocide experts have labeled as being “a textbook case of genocide.” The Israeli escalation was so barbaric that the New York Times has reported that it is like nothing anyone has seen this century, and researchers may have to go as far back as Vietnam or WWII for comparison. Israelis and their white nationalist allies have resorted to WWII comparisons of their own, and in doing so, indulged in a sordid Holocaust revisionism whereby Hamas are now apparently worse than the Nazis—the Nazis who almost defeated the entire world, and who were responsible for the killing of millions of Jews and others in the Holocaust.
In the weeks following, as the Palestinian death toll continued to rise, with most casualties being women and children, reports began to emerge in the media about how Israel does not have enough time to continue this war before support erodes, how this will begin to harm Biden diplomatically and politically, and how Europe and the US will not be able to unconditionally support the aggression for much longer. Importantly, however, these reports were not claiming the pressure on the US and Europe would come from China or Russia, nor were the reports talking of Indian or Brazilian positions and how they would contribute to a ceasefire. Instead, the media has been filled with reports about a shifting global public opinion and how this will turn the tide and stop the genocide by eroding US support and putting pressure on Israel. Even recent remarks by Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have been framed as a result of growing public pressure on the US administration.
In other words, of all the talk about great power competitions in the world—competitions between the US and Russia or China, between BRICS nations and the West, between the EU and Russia—of all this talk, we have all dismissed a great world power: the power of global solidarity.
We have seen in recent weeks millions of people turning up in the streets all over the globe, from Indonesia and Australia, to New York, London, and Johannesburg. There have been large protests and creative sit-ins and occupations of metro stations and museum spaces. There has been a flurry of social media solidarity, and especially TikTok videos that mobilize but also educate people all over the world. In fact, the difference on TikTok between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian views is especially astonishing. Importantly, there have been growing calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) with organic campaigns appearing all over the world.
It is this unwavering and growing global reaction that scares establishments in Europe and the US. These are the two centers of power that have so far unconditionally supported the Israeli state, financially, militarily, and politically, even when it has bombed hospitals and collectively punished the Palestinians in Gaza. Taken together, this global movement is a moral force no less powerful than the traditional global powers and no less impactful than states. The global solidarity movement has emerged as a force because the international state system, or rules-based international order as the United States likes to claim, has in fact broken down, either supporting or failing to prevent a genocide unfolding on the global stage. The global solidarity movement challenges the state form in managing problems of the world and it offers a way to think beyond nationalist and inter-nationalist ideology.
Some might argue that the protests, the civil disobedience, strikes, boycotts, articles, songs, and other forms of global protest were unable to sway the US official position from two months ago. But assessing the impact this way would be a mistake. First, one could say the same about the impact of other global powers, whether China, Russia, or the entire BRICS, who have also been unable to shift the US position. Nor has the US, with all its sanctions, been able to fully stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In other words, people of the world should not lose hope when political positions do not shift immediately as a direct result of a protest or statement (or even many of them). Great powers have a difficult time shifting other powers as well. But we cannot quit. We cannot close our eyes. We must double down, continue acting in unison, and present the global solidarity movement against western hegemony as a solid and sustainable force. Only pressure plus time can move the dial of injustice.
It is tragic that this dial is not so quick to turn but turn it does. We saw fairly quickly after October 7, how the global solidarity movement began to set the agenda. #CeasefireNow became a trending hashtag that Western politicians had to contend with. Genocide as a description of Israeli crimes has stuck and become widely accepted. Situating the current genocidal acts in 75-years of settler colonialism (rather than 56 years of occupation) has seeped into mainstream spaces. And all this was due to tireless work of activists framing and reframing the issues, taking to the streets and airwaves, and putting into motion networks of solidarity that have been built over years—especially through the BDS movement. But it is also a testament to little acts that, when framed within a movement and as part of a collective voice, feed into the force of this great power of global solidarity.
The global solidarity movement is growing into what feels like a new coming of age, part of a new order of things. We must hold onto these gains, double our efforts and our pressure, and ensure that we work together strategically and sustainably, with all the patience required for the long and painful road to freedom ahead.