Imagining victory over Israel

By Susan Abulhawa
January 20, 2024

The following article covers the conclusion of an interview with Palestinian author and activist Susan Abulhawa by Frank Barat, a French activist and film producer on Dec. 29. Their full conversation can be found at   

Abulhawa speaking at the Palestine Writes Festival in Philadelphia, Sept. 23, 2023. Photo: Joe Piette

Frank Barat: How do we make sure this moment changes everything? How do we finally, Palestinians and their supporters, go on the offensive? We’re getting attacked, we defend ourselves. We’ve got all the tools to actually be on the offensive. We’ve got the moral high ground, international law, we’ve got justice, we’ve got everything, so how do we make sure this changes everything?

Susan Abulhawa: It’s an important question, and it’s something we all need to be contemplating. I don’t think there’s just a single way, but you kind of answered your own question. It’s how we go on the offensive, and that’s where we start from at this point.

Hamas has allowed us to think this way. In a way, it is freeing our minds. It is helping us imagine victory. They are helping us realize that Israel is just this morally bankrupt paper tiger. All they can do is just drop bombs and just kill and destroy indiscriminately, and that is a profound weakness.

So, we are starting from this point of offense, and then I think in every facet, we have to utilize an offensive posture. There should now be dozens, if not hundreds, of lawsuits filed from every country. I mean, there is so much evidence of war crimes. There’s so much evidence of genocide and expert opinions on this. There is also evidence of all kinds of unconstitutional behavior in the U.S.

So, there’s a legal front, there’s also the awareness front, and PR campaigns, if you will, to continue to raise awareness of what Israel has been doing to Palestinians. The complicity of U.S. media, and U.S. tech giants is something that should be challenged at every level as well through civil society, as well as the legal communities.

Even though Instagram, Facebook and Twitter [X] are private corporations, they are not above laws and regulations, and there are a lot of legal avenues where they can be held accountable for the systematic propaganda and silencing of Palestinian voices and Palestinian content. And they should be, and I think this is a place where people have to start.

I think we have to start going after all the of these Zionist organizations who have been funding Israel, and funding this genocide, and supporting it. They should be held to account in the courts as well.

Of course, all of this takes money, but it’s not beyond our reach to do this, and I think this needs to happen.

I think in civil society as well, we should not let up on the protests. I don’t think we should let up on anything we’re doing – on disrupting the status quo, on blocking ships, on protesting and sabotaging weapons manufacturers. On withdrawing our money from banks and investment companies that are tied to Israel.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is precedent for this kind of international mass mobilization. The difference with this instance, however, is that Israel has spent, at this point, billions of dollars in brainwashing Western people.

In popular imagination, Israel equals Judaism, equals Jewish people, equals victims, equals eternal victims, equals centuries of oppression. Israel has been really successful at conflating all of these things. Our task is to unravel this and show it for the lie that it is. This is also a task for Jewish Americans, Jewish Westerners, and European Jews as well.

Just as Israel is colonizing Palestine, it is also colonizing Judaism, which is astounding. But that’s a whole other conversation.