May 3, 2021
From Spectre Journal

Paying homage to past and present Palestinian feminist movements is an important glimpse into the PFC’s political orientation. In this way, a close reading of the pledge demonstrates a politics that values the embodiment of Palestinian cultural and political epistemologies throughout history and the connectedness of the Palestinian diaspora in the US to the homeland and to Palestinians worldwide: “Our values are rooted in embodied cultural wisdom and justice to transform our communities.” As such the pledge is a verification of Palestinians, across their geographic dispersions, as one peoplehood; of Palestinians in the present as deeply bound with the histories, legacies and knowledge of the past; and of the interlinkages between social, gendered, sexual, economic and political justice, and liberation coalescing in tandem to achieve true liberation and decolonization of both land and people.

An Extension of Appreciation to Black, Indigenous, and Third World Feminist Thought and Praxis

Akin to the ideals Black, Indigenous, and Third World Feminist movements have offered, the pledge affirmed that embracing Palestine as a feminist issue means recognizing interlocking systems of oppression: “we commit to resisting gendered and sexual violencesettler colonialismcapitalist exploitationland degradation and oppression in Palestine, on Turtle Island, and globally.” A good portion of the pledge content recognizes the stark contrast between liberal white and Zionist feminism and that of feminist solidarities between Palestinians and non-white peoples across the world. Illuminating such distinctions does not work to insert Palestine and Palestinians in existing feminist spaces that fall short on ethical commitments to intersectional struggle. Rather, the problematization, disavowal and flat-out negation of liberal and Zionist feminism is a sorely needed validation of the feminist ethos of Black, Indigenous, and Third World communities and issues which continue to be treated as footnotes to white feminism’s status quo.

But beyond acknowledging distinctions, the pledge honors the foundational works of Black, Indigenous, and Third World Feminist thought which Palestinian women’s movements have long drawn monumental lessons from. Citing authors from these traditions, the pledge centers those whose bodies, experiences, labor, insights, and narratives are too often invisibilized and/or selectively appropriated by narrowly defined white, liberal, colonial and Zionist feminism. The pledge is also a direct expression of the politics of Palestinian solidarity with other communities. Accounting for  “structural forms of gendered and sexual violence inherent to settler/colonialism, imperialist warsracial capitalism, and global white supremacy” the pledge reifies systemic forms of extraction, violence and oppression which must be accounted for in the cultivation of liberatory feminist visions not only for Palestine but the world.

Such sentiments were confirmed in action items number five and six which called on all signatories to “Divest from militarism and invest in justice and community needs on Turtle Island”; and  “Call for an end to US political, military, and economic support to Israel, and to all military, security, and policing collaborations.” These demands reflect that the PFC  is inserting  class consciousness into their feminist praxis and are not not only concerned with acquiring feminist solidarity for justice in Palestine, but rather that they view Palestinian liberation as bound to the demilitarization, decolonization, economic liberation, and acquisition of justice and freedom for all oppressed people in Turtle Island and across the world.

Extending appreciation to such histories and a commitment to uphold those legacies, the PFC pledge can be understood not as an induction of Palestinian feminist thought in the U.S. but as an extension of decades of feminist labor and solidarity coalescing into new organized forms which offer a renewed departure point for understanding Palestine as centrally a feminist struggle.

A Renewal and Catalyst of Imagination, Creation, and Love

Centering imagination, creation, connection and affirmations of life, the pledge presents the value of a feminist approach to both anti-colonial and decolonial thought and praxis:

We are re-imagining and re-creating a world free from systems of gendered, racial and economic exploitation that commodify human life and land. Ours is a vision for a radically different future based on life-affirming interconnectedness, empowering the working classes, and love for each other, land, life and the planet itself.

At the core of such sentiments is love, that which continues to anchor a profoundly emotional and relentless commitment to freedom until it is achieved.

These values recognize the trauma and pain inflicted upon everyday people in struggle and seek to reverse its grip through building alternate paradigms, practices and processes that affirm life in the face of all that is meant to destroy it. While a great portion of the pledge is dedicated to rejecting and problematizing Zionist feminist thought, the pledge authors leave readers with a powerful attachment to envisioning what else there could be. A close reading of the pledge reveals why feminism and why now, where the urgency of the moment is bound up with over 73 years of Palestinian dispossession, occupation, and oppression. However, it is the final paragraph of the pledge that leaves us all desiring more: what now? How might a feminist vision and praxis for Palestine present new modes of realizing the liberation of Palestinian land and people in relation to the liberation of all peoples struggling against systemic oppression?

Embodying the anti-colonial practice of abolishing all logics and systems meant to destroy life and a decolonial practice of creating an otherwise possible world, the pledge presents important principles that have long been at the core of Palestinian, Arab, Black, Indigenous, and Third World feminisms throughout history. Thus it is vital to recognize the pledge not as an end point but as a renewed expression of feminist solidarity, a catalyst that breaks open the margins for imagination, creation, and hope for future generations of movement practitioners.