Huwag Matakot! Leaving Fear Behind as we Speak Up for a Free Palestine

Huwag Matakot! Leaving Fear Behind as we Speak Up for a Free Palestine

Over the past 138 days, we’ve witnessed a strong global uprising for a Free Palestine, with millions of people across the globe amplifying the call of Palestinian people and Palestinian-led movements for not only a permanent ceasefire, but a lasting liberation for Palestinian people, including to lift the siege on Gaza, the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Zionist jails, to end the 75-year occupation, and to end all forms of Western complicity in Zionism. 

In the midst of this global uprising, solidarity blooms within our community, particularly with Filipinos who have voiced their support through various impactful avenues. Whether marching in the streets, engaging in solidarity events, contacting representatives, amplifying Palestinian content on social media platforms, or igniting critical conversations within circles, we witness firsthand the significant number of Filipinos steadfastly advocating for Palestine's right to liberation. Thanks to Palestinians within and outside of Falasteen that our community have found guidance and courage through Palestinian voices, power, and resilience.

While many approach this solidarity work with bravery, others grapple with fear. Acknowledging the urgency of our cause, we recognize the various reasons behind Filipinos' reluctance to speak out for Palestine. Factors such as unsafety within families and workplaces, feelings of despair and overwhelm, and the pervasive fear of being labelled antisemitic due to conflated Zionist narratives all contribute to this hesitation. In the face of these challenges, our solidarity remains grounded, radical, and vital. It is through understanding, support, and collective action that we navigate these complexities and continue to stand in unwavering solidarity with Palestine. 

In this blog, we invite you to join us in unpacking some ways we can fight in solidarity with Palestine without fear.

Navigating Fear, Opposition, and Disinformation from Filipino Family Members 

The Filipino community's political history and collective trauma continues to profoundly shape its people’s approach to solidarity work. This legacy is exacerbated by the persistent repression, red-tagging, and imprisonment of activists in the Philippines, where advocating for justice is wrongfully equated with terrorism. The proliferation of disinformation campaigns on social media, perpetuated by regimes from Duterte to Marcos Jr., leaving many Filipinos uncertain about which sources of information to trust. Amidst these challenges, we observe individuals in our community grappling with confusion and misinformation, while others express strong support for Zionism and Israel.

The opposition, fear, and dissemination of false information by family members can weigh heavily on those committed to standing in solidarity with Palestine. In navigating these dynamics, it is crucial to stand firm in our convictions and prioritize education within our families. While we advocate for safety, we must also recognize that the discomfort we may experience during these conversations pales in comparison to the suffering endured by the Palestinian people facing genocide. When having these conversations, it is also imperative to remind our community of our rich history of resistance, from rebellions against Spanish, American, and Japanese occupation to the people power movements and ongoing struggles against oppressive governance. Embedded within our identity as Filipinos is a spirit of resistance, whether consciously acknowledged or not.

As you engage in discussions about Palestine with opposing family members and peers, here are some resources you may find helpful:

Navigating the Workplace

Working within institutions or organizations can be daunting in this current climate, where speaking up or taking a stand may result in disciplinary action, harassment, or dismissal. In some cases, individuals face death threats or legal repercussions for advocating in support of Palestine, with their solidarity misconstrued as anti-semitism. Dealing with these challenges can be isolating and deeply traumatic, particularly when one's livelihood is at stake in a precarious economy.

It's important to recognize that you are not alone in your desire to express solidarity with the Palestinians, nor are you wrong for doing so. However, it's crucial to approach your advocacy strategically, especially within the workplace:

  • Whether you're part of a union or not, familiarize yourself with your rights to better navigate your workplace environment. Explore resources compiled on workers' rights to empower yourself.
  • Stay informed and continually educate yourself on this issue. Legal interpretations regarding criticism of the State of Israel vary, with ambiguity prevailing in Canadian and Ontario laws, while in the US, a nonbinding Senate bill equates anti-Zionism with antisemitism. Nonetheless, it's essential to discern the distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, enabling you to effectively address any unjust accusations of antisemitism.
  • If you are a contract worker or a freelancer in Canada, you may be eligible to join the Canadian Freelance Union, a branch of Unifor and do solidarity work through them.
  • Remember, there is strength in numbers. Seek out colleagues who share your perspective and establish a support network. Consider joining groups like Labour for Palestine to connect with seasoned advocates and access additional support. If you're part of a union, engage with your local chapter or the national level to learn about existing solidarity initiatives within your union.

We believe in you! Don’t let feelings of despair and overwhelm hinder your solidarity.

There will always be a risk when we resist, rock the status quo and question or hold those in power accountable. There is always a risk to speak the truth and fight for righteousness. And these risks are real. For instance, the Zionist project is specifically designed to silence, intimidate, and dismantle any public displays of solidarity with Palestine. As The Rooted Solidarities Collective, aptly pointed out, "The Zionist project understands the potency of language and knowledge, employing intimidation tactics to suppress and undermine public expressions of support for Palestine."

Yet, despite these risks, we cannot ignore the fact that resistance is necessary in a system designed to oppress us. Resistance signifies our commitment to safeguarding ourselves, each other, and future generations against injustice. As Filipinos living in the diaspora, it's crucial that we recognize our privileges and acknowledge our collective responsibility to speak out, despite the risks involved. Yes, solidarity with Palestine entails various risks—interpersonal, legal, professional, economic, and reputational, among others. However, opting to remain silent and allowing the ongoing genocide to persist is akin to surrendering our power and giving consent to creating a world that allow these injustices to happen. 

The Filipino People’s Role in our Collective Liberation

Believe in your ability to make an impact, to offer support, and to care for one another. Now is the moment to embrace the collective values instilled in us. Think of "kapwa" and "bayanihan” - two core Filipino principles that prioritize the well-being of ourselves and our community. How distant are we from embodying these values today? In Tagalog, we have the phrase "Isang Bagsak," which translates to "one down." It encapsulates our collective and interconnected well-being: if one person falls, we all fall; and if one rises, we all rise.

As a collective, we must address the systemic conditions that perpetuate genocide. What are we prepared to do for the liberation of the Palestinians, recognizing that their liberation is intertwined with our own? How can we leverage our influence to hold our elected officials accountable? These "leaders," without our consent, allocate resources to fuel the destruction of an entire nation instead of prioritizing healthcare, education, or affordable housing for all. How can we redirect our individual energy, skills, and resources into a collective effort to dismantle the war machine and construct a livable and humane world?

The tactics of oppressors aim to isolate us; we must resist this fragmentation. What bridges between communities can we foster, and what coalitions can we form? What is the shared goal at hand? Who are the individuals from whom we've been disconnected within modern capitalist structures? How do the colonial legacies of "divide and conquer" persist in today's society?

Mga Kapatid, it’s not too late to speak-up.

We acknowledge those fears and our own fears - but know this: Hindi ka nag-iisa, you are not alone. Far too often, individuals remain silent, believing it's too late to speak out or succumbing to common misconceptions, such as the notion that only a minority supports Palestine or stands in solidarity with Palestinians.

However, recent months have witnessed a significant shift in public opinion on Palestine. In Canada, the Federal government faced criticism for its delayed call for a ceasefire. A February 2024 study from the non-profit, Angus Reid Institute, finds Canadians’ sympathies shifting. A considerable portion now lean towards acknowledging Israel's perpetration of genocide against Palestinians (41%), while half of Canadians (50%) view Israel's response as excessively forceful. In the US, about half (50%) of Asian American and Pacific Islander adults believe that the United States isn't sufficiently supportive of Palestinians in their conflict with Israelis, with nearly as many perceiving the US as overly supportive of Israelis.

Speaking up on Palestine is a long-term commitment of showing up, even imperfectly. But in these hard times, we remain grounded by our Filipino values of prioritizing the community and the collective instead of falling into despair or indifference. It is within these communities that solidarity flourishes, providing opportunities to build capacity, gain momentum, and learn from one another. Join us, as an ever-expanding Filipino contingent from all walks of life and sectors, marching under the Philippine & Palestinian flag at the next rally.

Interested in learning more about actioning solidarity without fear? Listen to Palestinian voices on the frontlines and join the Palestinian Youth Movement’s Town Hall on this topic by registering here!

 This blog article is written by the collective from Filipinos united 4 Palestine, a united network of Filipino organizations, collectives, businesses and individuals in so-called Canada in solidarity with Palestine. 🇵🇸❤️‍🔥🇵🇭

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