Newsletter: September – December 2023

A roadside wall with an inscription that reads "human rights graveyard"
Photo: Elias Marcou

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Borders are embodied in every space on both sides of the “line” we call borders, and migrants are the bodies that personify the rupturing dynamics that tear into the fabric of our humanity. For over seven decades, Palestinian bodies have been pounded by the powers that determine where the queue begins and where it ends. The siege on Gaza that started in October played out on live television the all-consuming power of borders. The Israeli government asked Gazans to head south and herded them in that direction by using bombs and killing over 11,000.

Palestinians have lived lifetimes of negotiating where to step and when, what queue to stand in, and which line causes death or keeps life, all while waiting for liberation. These negotiations are not individual choices but impositions of occupation.

According to Shahram Khosravi, these spaces of waiting separate “those who have the power to make other people wait and people who don’t have that power.” Just like for the Palestinians, migrants arriving on the US/Mexico border or those waiting in a camp on the island of Lesvos deal with the sovereign power of the state to force waiting and queues. Frequently, as illustrated in the Aegean Migrant Solidarity Team’s report “Deadly End,” waiting leads to death. To wait in Syria for the bombings to stop could lead to death; to wait for a dinghy to reach the shores of Lesvos could lead to death; and waiting in a refugee camp with prison-like conditions could also lead to death. This form of controlling the body is deadly, and states know it. As Khosravi argues, this delay is an act to steal time and keep those waiting from ascending in hierarchy.

Migrants from all over the world arrive at the southern US border seeking entry to better their lives, even if they have to “endure racism, xenophobia, and countless other indignities and hardships.” In this issue, Linda Knox writes about the enduring human spirit to resist death’s powers. The jump in Mexican families applying for asylum in the US only indicates the enforced choices of crossing all kinds of borders, even though the options are precarious.

What gives me hope, though, in this world of enforced choices is the choice to resist. While queues produce “obedient behaviors,” they also are sites of resistance. They are spaces where stories are told; they are files of bodies that can question borders. In Palestine, while resisters wait, they practice sumud or steadfast perseverance. During the Arab spring, people chanted “Infitah,” which in Arabic means “opening,” against the dictatorial regimes and also in Europe, against its borders.

I hope your reading of this issue will invite you to question the borderous spaces that divide, maim and kill and propel you to take solidarity action to dismantle these fortresses of class and state.

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