Peace, If You’re Willing To Fight For It?

Decolonization is always a violent event.

Frantz Fanon

I risk extreme menace to my personal and professional ambitions by sharing the following offering in this moment of chaos. Especially because I am of African descent. Especially because I am not wealthy. Especially because I am not a man. Given all that, I know that in this moment of incredible cruelty, this potential sacrifice is actually the very least I can offer when Palestinians face the threat of complete and total extermination cheered by the western world. What are my ambitions in the face of genocide? As I write this, my comrades are rotting in the bowels of the amerikkan criminal punishment system, with so many more being coerced into turning themselves into the state. Those comrades saw the risk of the police-terror state further fortifying itself in the heart of our city, they saw the threat to our survival through the climate collapse and put everything they have on the line. While the threat of professional and social targeted punishment is very real, as demonstrated by the repression of protests, the targeting of non white student activists, and the violent and horrific attacks on Palestinians globally, as most of our comrades in Atlanta are clear on, the risk of not acting is much deadlier. 

When the settler state’s recurrent bloodlust makes itself flagrantly known, what else is there to do but walk in the shadow of my ancestors and take risks that could potentially shift the balance of power? While Palestinians are fighting back with everything they have, and my comrades are risking life in a cage, the idea of not raising my voice, a small effort with the potential to have an impact at least among those I hold beloved, is abhorrent to me. 

In the wake of the historic October 2023 Al-Aqsa Flood uprising against the isra*li terror state, the liberals (those who make some small pathetic play at internationalism) are back at their performative games again. They have returned to their familiar and tired pattern: sensationalizing an act of liberatory resistance, within a context that they have no meaningful or workable knowledge of, absorbing the white supremacist lies of the state, and concluding that their self gratifying role in that moment is to demand peace. 

From celebrities to the silly white girl you went to middle school with, everywhere you turn, there is a liberal making an unspecific demand for “peace.”

There is nothing more disturbing to the liberal sensibility than disruptions to what they call “peace”. Years in the struggle for Black liberation and against colonial domination has taught me, what many of you well know: When western liberals call for peace, what they are referring to, what they truly desire, is a return to a status quo. A status where we are subjugated indefinitely and silently. They are willing to sacrifice the little humanity this system affords them to maintain the facade that 75 years of violent occupation in Palestine, under one of the most ruthless settler colonial regimes known to man, could in any way be constituted as peace. In their reality, a nigh insurmountable police-terror-surveillance state that leaches into every aspect of our lives, from our education to our families, is a satisfactory peace. As long as they can continue to party next to concentration camps, get married on plantations, and vacation on islands teetering on collapse. Should we, the many who find this understanding of “peace” unsatisfactory, attempt to forcibly alter the conditions of our subjugation, the liberal is steadfast in chiding and reminding us of the appropriate, peaceful channels for “systemic change”. We are meant to believe that a settler state anywhere on Earth will allow itself to be voted or legislated out of power, out of existence. We are meant to trust in the very judiciaries that use their legalese to subordinate us to the status of animals. We should trust that a few rowdy, but largely ineffective, protests every couple of summers even slightly disrupts the calm of people who manufacture nuclear weapons. 

It is within this context of the liberal fascination with naming our suffering as a sanctified peace, that I hope to be another voice that uplifts the conditions of what is happening in both Palestine and Atlanta. By analyzing the contexts and connecting threads of both the isra*li Apartheid and the struggle to Stop kkkop city, I hope to illuminate the tactical nature of the liberal demand for so-called peace in moments of uprisings and resistance. The purpose of this essay is not to clarify for anyone who is still straddling the fence of both sides regarding a genocide, or whether or not forests should be destroyed for war facilities. Rather, it is an attempt to clarify for our comrades the utter futility of appealing to liberal sensibilities. Clarify the necessity of moving strategically. Ultimately, given the opportunity, if it meant that they could shut us all up about liberation and freedom, liberals would offer radical actors up to the genocidal and fascistic states that harm us on a silver platter. Their justification for doing so always falling back to condemning the “terroristic” actions of people under threat, but with no meaningful interrogation of the instigators of that threat. As several wise people said of Palestinian resistance recently, the liberal only seeks to be in solidarity with our corpses. I would only add, that it is in our corpses where the liberal finds their so called peace. If liberals cannot find it within themselves to stretch their imaginations enough so that they can understand a true peace, we cannot continue to invest so many resources in imagining on their behalf. 

In Atlanta, there is a special love for Palestine. There are many material threads that connect the struggle to Destroy kkkop city to the struggle to liberate Palestine, that my comrades have already written extensively about. Most urgently, it is likely that the theory and ideas behind kkkop city come from the Little Gaza warfare training facility used by the isra*li occupying forces to train against the people of occupied Gaza. In a horrific extension of that, for years Atlanta anarchists and activists have been working to end what is known as the “deadly exchange” – the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange where members of the Atlanta Police Department travel to isra*l to learn tactics for urban warfare. Right now, I am interested in discussing a more metaphysical link between Palestinian resistants and forest defenders; one that links freedom fighters the world over.

The responsibility and burden of peace is never placed on those who are empowered by the structures of violence in our world to make the first attack. Neither Palestinians nor Forest Defenders in Atlanta initiated or benefited from the systems of severe violence that threaten their lives, yet the finger wagging and empty appeals for peace are always pointed in their direction. This willful ignorance on the part of liberals constitutes a mis-contextualization of the structures of violence and the nature of oppression. It also functions as widespread propaganda. 

By loudly and incessantly directing the demand for peace at those who have endured the most violence, and have nothing to gain from the violent power structure, liberals support the state in developing a fiction where in the battles being fought are fought on an equal footing. Not only does it reinforce the idea that those who resist oppression and those who are oppressed come to the battlefield with equivalent arms, resources, and trainings, this demand for peace also obscures the parties who are actually culpable for all of the violence. 

isra*l could build peace by ending the occupation. By disbanding the IDF. By ending their bombing campaign. The UN could build peace by censuring isra*l, expelling its representatives from its body, and trying Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu for crimes against humanity. The United States could build peace by refusing to arm isra*l, by denouncing the zionist state, ending its financial cooperation in the genocide. Yet the liberal calls for peace are directed at Palestinians. 

In Atlanta, there is a close parallel. Peace could be achieved by ending the contract for kkkop city. Removing andre dickens as mayor and disbanding the current city council (every member of which is complicit in the violence of kkkop city). . By apologizing to our city for their offensive audacity and absolute blood lust. Peace could be achieved by defunding, disbanding, and abolishing the Atlanta Police Department, and investing those funds into our schools, our collapsing healthcare infrastructure, our communities, and funds for remuneration and reparations. Peace could be achieved by disbanding the feral Atlanta police foundation, and holding its leadership accountable for their campaign against the people of this city. Yet liberals’ calls for peace are directed at the people who are trying to destroy a war machine, at the people whose peace comes at the expense of said war machine and its advocates.

Not only is the direction of the call for peace offensive to me, but I also think that the timing of these calls also obscures another crucial element in both narratives. Palestinians have been setting out terms, attempting negotiations, and building opportunities for peace making since the first zionist settlers arrived. isra*lis scorned every opportunity, every appeal for peace. In the US alone Boycott-Divestment-Sanction has been made illegal in nearly 40 states. Countless UN resolutions concerning isra*l go uninforced. During the 2018 March for Return, a peaceful demonstration where Palestinians marched to the blockade fences to demonstrate the inhumanity of their condition. The IDF killed 266 people, including 2 journalists, and injured countless more. 

In Atlanta, the coalition of private finance interests, corrupt leadership, and impotent non-profits scorned the many appeals toward peace made by people connected to the struggle to stop kkkop city. Plans were approved by the city in September 2021 after 17 hours of public comment from over 1,000 residents, most of whom opposed the project. The city then approved the funding for the training center on Tuesday June 6th after over 15 hours of essentially unanimous public comment. The city is currently embroiled in a legal battle to delegitimize the efforts of activists to get kkkop city on a referendum ballot. In both cases, the people offered a path toward peace, where their rhetoric included a vision of the world that was free of occupation, an Atlanta with reorganized priorities. In each case, these appeals were rejected. 

Finally, the liberal deals the killing blow in the face of In Palestine and in Atlanta the radical elements who commit to going to war against the structures of violence 

In the liberal imaginary, the people will vote, legislate, and weakly protest their way to decolonization and through the imperial climate collapse. In the case of both Atlanta and Palestine, and in regard to this point especially Palestine, the world demands a perfect victim that will never retaliate, scream, or defend itself. Human history shows us this is impossible. When the powers that be reject our attempts to build a collaborative peace, rooted in justice and the destruction of systems of domination, people will move through necessity to other means. 

Across the movement to stop kkkop city we have furiously resisted the state’s insidious tactic to distinguish certain actions as violent or nonviolent protest. In this critical moment, I find it much more enlightening to distinguish between which actions against kkkop city are effective and not effective at securing the peace Atlanta requires. Thus far, the ONLY tactic across our movement that has effectively stopped the war machine has been direct sabotage of the facilities and intimidation of the policing bodies and funding organizations that support it. Many resources went into getting kkkop city on the ballot via the collective organizing behind the Cop City Vote campaign. Many people across the city were praying that a show of electoral force would convince Atlanta’s leadership to halt construction on the facility until the vote had been completed. Yet there has been no stop work order, and it appears as if one is not coming. Thousands of isra*lis protested Netanyahu’s clamor for consolidated power in isra*l, but all it demonstrated to the world is that isra*li’s had the power to protest, but didn’t. 

It is for this exact reason that I refuse to litigate the legitimacy of Hamas. How Palestinians determine their relationship to the complexity of their resistance (very similar to the multi faced complex nature of Black resistance) is up to the Palestinian people. But the reality is, the white and white aligned world demands a qualification of tactics for peace from Palestinians when every tactic has already been tried, and met with more death and terror. As a non Palestinian, I refuse to litigate the legitimacy of Hamas, when Hamas and the need for Palestinian resistance would not exist if the Settler colonial state of isra*l did not exist. When a colonial death regime is right there –that is my only focus and priority.  

I will not participate in equating the violence of resistance with the violence of occupation. I will not for a second bend to the idea that the so-called violence of stopping a war facility is comparable to the iron fist of terror APD runs my city with. I will not condemn my ancestors for the violence they suffered to give me my peace. 

The only people who denounce the sabotage of the kkkop city facility, of the attacks on APD, the intimidation of the banks and insurance companies as unnecessary are those that either stand to benefit from the violence of all out warfare against the people or are willing to sacrifice their children and their children’s to the coming maw of fascism in order to protect the status quo. Similarly, the hundreds of voices who took to the internet to condemn the violence of the Palestinian uprising, but have never once condemned the violence of settler colonialism in the same fashion show us who they believe is human, and whose peace is worthy of cultivating and protecting. 

We will not beg for humanity from those who blaspheme it so carelessly. We will not bargain from peace from those who trade in violence. Palestinians and ATLiens alike rejoice in the beauty of life. Through mutual aid projects, poetry, art, smuggling semen, building treesits and forest living rooms, through global crowd funds and letter writing campaigns, they demonstrate a very real intimacy of the work that is required to build peace. But somehow they achieve your scorn more so than the people whose sole function is to propagate violence. The most important lesson we can glean from both the Palestinian Liberators, and the organizers in Atlanta (and the liberators in Algeria, Haiti, Vietnam, and across the world), is that peace is not something you beg for on your knees like a dog. Peace is achieved when you destroy the catalyst for violence. Without justice, we cannot achieve peace. Only violently coerced silence. It will never last. Our ancestors in struggle and our comrades also know that peace is not simply an absence of violence. It is an offering. It is the sanctity of human life. It is harmony with our beloved planet. It is intentionality in imagining and holding our childrens’ futures. Peace is not the absence of violence, but the overwhelming presence of rightehous love. Our peace will be just, hard fought for, and ruthlessly defended. There cannot be peace in a life lived under a masters boot. But there is peace in knowing that should we die, we die on our feet. 

Our peace, a true peace, will be an offering to this planet. It will be rooted in truth and justice. It will be cultivated through collaboration and consensus.  Our peace will be the soil that situates itself under your nails when offering seedlings to the earth. Our peace will be the cacophony of living sounds that you can access when you learn to listen to the forest. Our peace will be the silence at the altar and in the graveyard, when our hearts are finally still enough to grieve. To thank the martyrs. To honor the ancestors. Our peace will be our children at our feet, struggling to even conceive of a world where their freedom was not a forgone conclusion. 

Now is the time to act in the name of peace. Where our governments will not cut the flow of resources to the genocidal zionist state, we must strategically find ways that we can. Where our international representatives will not censure isra*l we must go to the embassies and do so ourselves. Where we find the arms dealers luxuriating and coordinating our collective suffering, we must remind them that they too are human, and vulnerable to all the same ailments and threats that we are. Liberals cannot imagine a world beyond the one we suffer under, and should not speak of peace because they do not know what it means, or what it takes to achieve it. It is our responsibility to prove them wrong not through hypotheticals, but by building that world alongside our comrades. As a comrade recently said on twitter, we deserve a peace so exorbitant we would war for it.