A welcome to the oppressed

by Mumia Abu-Jamal


Dear friends, I greet you all at the People’s Forum in New York City. As we reason and reflect on the plight of Palestine, let us not forget the recent passing of the late and beloved archbishop Desmond Tutu who is remembered today for his fierce critique of the oppression of Palestinians, which he compared to the generations of sufferers in his native South Africa under the bitter system known as apartheid. It is fitting here to recall the late archbishop and to note the recent observations of the Francophone African scholar Achille Mbembe, who, in his recent book Necropolitics, published in 2019, sees some remarkable sites when he turns to Palestine.

Mbembe writes: “Everywhere, the building of concrete walls and wire fences and other security barriers is in full swing. Alongside the walls, other security structures are emerging: checkpoints, enclosures, watchtowers, trenches, all manner of demarcations that, in many cases, have no other function than to intensify the enclaving of entire communities without ever fully succeeding in keeping away those considered a threat.” This is the case with all those Palestinian towns that are literally surrounded by areas under Israeli control,” Mbembe, page 43.

Professor Mbembe compares this system of repression with the apartheid system and find something quite surprising. As he writes, “Such practices variously recall the reviled model of apartheid with its Bantu stands, vast reservoirs of cheap labor, its white zones, its multiple jurisdictions and wanton violence. However, the metaphor of apartheid does not fully account for the specific character of the Israeli separation project,” professor Mbembe. This project, Mbembe explains, is more complex, more intrusive, and emerges from deeper psychological and historical wells than that of the Calvinist project that crystallized in the 1940s to 1980s South Africa. Finally, the oppressed know something about repression no matter where it happens.

For love, not fear. This is Mumia Abu-Jamal. Welcome.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.

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