Poster of Al Fatah through the streets of Algiers. Palestine Poster Project
Al-Fateh’s communique at the 1969 Festival of Pan-African Culture offered a brilliant analysis of the overlapping histories of European colonialism and white supremacy in Africa and Palestine.
There were questions from some quarters about why Al-Fateh, the guerrilla movement engaged in the militant struggle for the liberation of Palestine, was present at the first Festival of Pan-African Culture held in Algiers in 1969 and sponsored by the Organization of African Unity. However in 1969, Algeria was a self-described “Mecca of revolutionaries,” often playing host to anti-colonial figures from around the world. And while the festival itself was dominated by artists, there were other activists present, in addition to representatives from Al-Fateh; they included those of the Black Panther Party, including Eldridge Cleaver, and South Vietnam’s Provisional Revolutionary Government.
Meanwhile, Al-Fateh provided its own answer to the question, pointing to the similarities between the histories of Africa and of Palestine. In a communique titled “The message of the Palestine National Liberation Movement Al-Fateh to Africa,” they argued that Africa could be seen as having two kinds of classifications: geographical and political. As a political classification, Africa was more of “a cause than a continent;” Africa was home to the forces of revolutionary resistance against colonialism — revolutionary forces that were also prevalent in Palestine. It made for potential bonds of solidarity in struggle. “Palestine on this map is a cause of liberation and stands with Africa on the same line and front,” Al-Fateh wrote. “We, therefore, came here as being a part of Africa the cause, although we are not from Africa the continent.”
What follows in the communique is a quite brilliant analysis of the overlap between the history of European colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, white supremacy in Africa — and of European and zionist colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, white supremacy in Palestine. And while Al-Fateh may have lost the revolutionary energies of 1969, its analysis of African and Palestine still stands. We reproduce “The message of the Palestine National Liberation Movement Al-Fateh to Africa,” below.
THE MESSAGE OF THE PALESTINE NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT AL-FATEH TO AFRICA
Some may inquire why are we here, what has AL-FATEH to do with Africa that it participates in this Pan-African Cultural Festival.
On the map, there are two kinds of classifications; a geographical one in which the world is divided into six continents, of which Africa is one.
The other is a political classification in which the world is divided into only two major continents. All the forces of Revolution, Liberation and Justice stand on one side against the forces of Colonialism, Racism and Imperialism which stand on the other.
On this political map, the real position of the revolutionary and colonial forces had been clearly crystallized.
Africa on this map is a cause more than it is a continent, it is one of the causes of liberation and revolution in the world; on the one hand Africa which fought and has already been liberated and on the other Africa which still suffers and fights.
Palestine on this map is a cause of liberation and stands with Africa on the same line and front.
We, therefore, came here as being a part of Africa the cause, although we are not from Africa the continent.
The Palestinian National Liberation Movement, “AL-FATEH” which leads the armed Revolution for the right of life and freedom in Palestine is glad to meet the representatives of culture in Africa. This is because we in AL-FATEH really believe that culture and liberty are the two glorious facets of human existence.
The Palestinian National Liberation Movement “AL-FATEH” which came to participate in this festival, where Pan-African cultures meet for the first time, feel very proud because this meeting will establish the real bases of interaction between the people of Africa and will enrich national experiences in the field of culture and arts.
We hoped our people could participate in this festival and demonstrate to our brothers in Africa some aspects of our culture and arts in Palestine. But our people, as all our African brothers now, are at the moment very busy fighting, fighting for life and liberty. We were exposed, as Africa was exposed, to a colonialist conspiracy with the intention of uprooting us from the land, eliminating us entirely and settling foreigners in our place.
As we are fighting to defend our right to existence, we are at the same time defending all the glorious values of freedom and culture that man glorifies and dreams of, especially the right of man to his land, free, independent, and master of himself.
What happened in Palestine can easily be understood by the people of Africa. It is the same story in Africa and Palestine. It started by the immigration of white Europeans to Africa, where they settled, enslaved the people, established their own regime, evacuated the national owners of the land. Exercised all kinds of deprivation and exploitation. Africa suffered foreign domination for a long time, and struggled for liberation, freedom and dignity.
In spite of the long struggle there are still some parts of Africa suffering from the racist settler regimes of the European invaders.
It is the same story in Palestine. At the time we were fighting for freedom and independence against the Ottoman domination early in this 20th century we discovered a foreign alliance rallying the colonial strength of the British to the settling and financial world capitalist might of Zionism, crippling the march of the people to independence and restoring them to occupation with the intention of uprooting and evacuating the owners. This for foreign immigrants to settle and establish a purely racist community in their place.
It is the same story as in Rhodesia and South Africa, where Britain brought in the settlers who established the racist state and community on behalf of the National Africans.
Rhodes, Verwoerd and Ian Smith in Africa are the same as Herzl, Ben Gurion and Dayan in Palestine. In Africa they claimed the superiority of the European, his know-how, and the necessity of racial purity. In Palestine they claimed the same, the superiority of the Jewish race – his know-how and the necessity of a state of their own as has been expressed by MR. WEIZMAN; in an interpretation for the Balfour Declaration made to the representative of the world capitalist monopolies at that time, Edmond de Rothschild MR. WEIZMAN said,
“We want a state in Palestine to be pure Jewish as Britain in pure British.”
The same circumstances which created the white regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa created the State of Zionism in Palestine. The same elements which sustained the white regimes in Africa against the struggle of the African masses, sustained the State of Zionism in Palestine against the struggle of the Palestinian masses.
As Britain supports and protects the State of Smith in Rhodesia, the United States supports and protects the State of Dayan in Palestine.
The close relations existing between Israel and South Africa reflect, the real resemblance and interaction in the nature, past and future, of these two states. Should the similar racist nature connect Israel to South Africa, those fighting against racism and colonialism in Africa and Palestine should meet and united in facing the same enemy and destiny.
We know that Israel has good relations and friendships in Africa. We also know the Israeli plan of infiltration there, camouflaging its real racist setters’ face under the pretext of being a state of freedom and peace, extending support and help to underdeveloped people.
But… Freedom for whom…?
And peace for whom…?
If Smith truly works for freedom in Rhodesia, Dayan also works for peace in Palestine. The three wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967 are the best expression of the peace that Dayan works for.
One more question; assistance and support: how could this be? A state of charities. Isn’t it a big question? Or would the explanation be that Israel is the new face under which the neo-colonialism infiltrates once again to Africa.
Would the advice of Hubert Humphry addressed to one of the under-developed countries give lights on the role that the Israeli assistance and exports are supposed to play in the under-developed countries?
Our story in Palestine is similar to that of yours in Africa. They came to our country, as they came to yours. We tried to live with them in one state, under the banner of law and peace, but they insisted on a pure racist regime like that of the white minority in Africa. We were expelled as you were, and persecuted as you are. They claim that by this they solve the Jewish question. But really they create a problem for our people without solving theirs.
Since the first minute we were willing to accept them to live with us in a democratic state where everybody can enjoy the same rights and live in peace and justice. But from the beginning they insisted on the pure state. The result was three extensive wars. In spite of these wars they still insist on the pure state without us, the owners of the land. Consequently, we have no choice other than to take up arms and fight to protect our right to existence, freedom and justice. We intend to continue fighting until we achieve justice and peace in Palestine through the democratic state where the whole people of Palestine can live in Peace.
This is not a political maneuver we perform but a cause we fight for. It is a call to all who want to live in peace on the land of Palestine to fight with us hand in hand for the purpose of this cause.
We therefore look to all the revolutionaries in Africa to stand with us, with the cause of freedom in Palestine as they stand with the cause of freedom in Africa. As the cause of freedom is one and indivisible.
AL-FATEH believes that the cause of freedom is one and the cause of Revolution is one all over the world. As we feel responsibility towards all revolutionaries, we decided to extend our absolute unlimited and unreserved support to all those who carry arms fighting for the cause of liberty everywhere, specially in Africa which suffers in its struggle for human existence on the homeland.
AL-FATEH does not confine itself to political support in the form of sympathy but intends to take a leading role in the revolutionary movement where Fateh as a militant pioneer in Palestine would intercede with all militant pioneers in Africa who intend to fight for liberty anywhere in the world that suffers from oppression, privation, racism, colonialism and neocolonialism.
This is not political propaganda. It is a pledge that AL-FATEH clings with full understanding, to its responsibility towards the map of world Revolution.
PALESTINE NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT