In Human Rights, International, Middle East, National Security

Yesterday in Toronto, I delivered a speech on the right to resist oppression.

I made my presentation at the invitation of members of Toronto’s Muslim community. They had organized a series of lectures to commemorate the Muslim holy month of Muharram.

The central theme of the Muharram lecture series is martyrdom.

Bearing witness

The origin of the term “martyr” is Greek. In the language of my ancestors, martyras (μάρτυρας) means “witness”.

As I explained to the audience last night, I recently embarked upon a trip to Palestine to bear witness to the oppression of Palestinians.

While in occupied Palestine, I learned of horror upon horror. These experiences altered my views, and profoundly so.

Although I’ve always acknowledged that the right to resist oppression is a universal right, I formerly counselled against Palestinians’ use of that right. Until recently, I believed that, by engaging in large-scale armed resistance, Palestinians would provide Israel with a pretext to hasten their destruction.

I have come to believe, however, that Israel always intended to destroy the Palestinian people, and that what Palestinians were experiencing prior to the October 7 was in fact a genocide in slow motion.

In the words of Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, Israel was subjecting Palestinians to an “incremental genocide“.

Due to the West’s anti-Palestinian racism, Palestinians have no alternative but to fight

For decades, most Palestinians sought to resist Israel’s slow-motion genocide by peaceful means. In response, Israel and its Western enablers blocked every peaceful path to Palestinian freedom.

So extreme was the oppressors’ determination to block the peaceful vindication of Palestinian rights that they subjected the International Criminal Court to blackmail and sanctions.

In such circumstances, the only path to national salvation for Palestinians is armed resistance.

In the case of Ukrainians, Western states lavishly support that right. To deny it to Palestinians is simply racist.

Just who are the real terrorists?

Endorsing the right to armed resistance is not the same thing as endorsing all forms of violence. Even an oppressed and occupied people is obliged, both morally and as a matter of international law, to exercise that right within long-established boundaries.

All those who exceed those boundaries should be held accountable, yet we must also acknowledge that the terrorism of the oppressed is not as reprehensible as the terrorism of the oppressor.

Moreover, in the case of Palestinians, Israel and its Western enablers deem all armed resistance to be ‘terrorism’. They loudly denounce Palestinian attacks on Israel’s military assets while excusing Israel’s slaughter of civilians as ‘self-defence’.

Speaking of terrorists…

While I’m on the subject of terrorism, Meir Weinstein, the former leader of Canada’s branch of the Jewish Defence League (JDL), showed up last night at the venue for my speech. Weinstein was accompanied by a handful of Zionist agitators.

The JDL has a long and sordid record of terrorist activity.

You can watch and listen to my full speech, as well as my brief interaction with Meir Weinstein, here:


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Showing 2 comments
  • Yolande Henry

    Thanks so much for being such a vocal and informative voice for peace and justice and truth!

  • Sasha Lofquist

    Invaluable insights into the legitimate role of armed resistance/violence in anti-colonial liberation movements.

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