USCPR executive director Yousef Munayyer spoke with Mondoweiss about the newly-launched Freedom is the Future policy demands, which emerged from a process supported by USCPR and the Adalah Justice Project.
On how the vision for these demands came about:
This came about in part because there was a recognition that there was an absence of a framework and reference points within progressive organizing here in the United States that was Palestinian-authored and Palestinian-centered about what the policy discourse should be like. That was really the genesis of this.
There has been, for a number of years now, growing sympathy and connections within other communities that are marginalized here in the United States and targeted with Palestinians. But there has been, again, a void when it comes to this reference point and framework about how policy advocacy on behalf of Palestinians should be. And I think too often what has filled that void is a lot of what we have seen in the past: a traditional liberal, Zionist dominated narrative around policy, both in terms of options and outcomes. So, this was an effort to say, here’s what Palestinians are asking for and what Palestinian demands are. You know, in a way that is accessible and clear to progressive audiences.
On the collaborative process of developing these demands:
The vision and policy demands were authored by a group of Palestinians in the U.S. and emerged as part of the joint Justice for All campaign of Adalah Justice Project and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. AJP spearheaded a process of conversations and convenings of Palestinians in the U.S., in consultation with Palestinian organizers across historic Palestine, to draft the Freedom Is the Future document. It was a collaborative process that focused on centering universal and historic Palestinian demands that are common to marginalized and displaced peoples across the globe: the demands for safety, the right of refugees to return to their homes, self-determination, and others.
On the movements that inspired these demands:
The Freedom Is the Future vision and policy demands, and the larger Justice for All campaign, borrows the concept of an invest/divest framework from the Vision for Black Lives in particular. It demands that the U.S. government divest from harm and Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, and instead invest in the safety and wellbeing of our communities. The authors of Freedom Is the Future chose to name three movements whose frameworks are directly cited in the vision and policy demands:
The Movement for Black Lives’ principle of invest-divest frames the overarching demand – that we must demand our government divest from Israel’s human rights abuses against the Palestinian people and instead invest those resources in community needs at home, so everyone can live with safety, dignity, and justice. M4BL has helped transform justice work towards demanding not only an end to oppression, but the creation of alternative systems to build a better world with justice for all.
The Red Nation’s Red Deal inspired the authors with its strategy to challenge the progressive movement to move from the bold start of the Green New Deal towards an even bolder agenda including justice for Indigenous people. It funds the promises of the Green New Deal by divesting from militarism at home and around the globe. The Red Deal also inspired Freedom is the Future as a contemporary re-articulation, in the most inclusive terms possible, longtime demands for historical justice for indigenous peoples, whether they be in Palestine or in the U.S.
While the relationship of the organizers behind Freedom is the Future and the disability rights movements—and its more transformative wing, the disability justice movement—is nascent, the authors felt it was important to cite that it was disability rights activists who created this declaration that those impacted by oppression should lead the response to it.
On the political timing of these demands:
I think there’s definitely things about this political moment that are unique but, having said that, I don’t think there is ever a wrong time to have clear and coherent demands coming from Palestinians.
What is unique about this political moment is there is an energy today within progressive spaces to do more on this issue than I think at any point in recent memory. So, I think this framework is really shaped with that in mind, and shaped with allies who also have that in mind. There’s political space in this moment to elevate Palestinian voices and advance their demands into the mainstream.
So, yes, in that sense, I think it is fortuitously timed. But like I said, there’s no no wrong time to be advancing what have always been core Palestinian demands that are in line with both Palestinian aspirations, but also basic human rights.