November 29, 2023

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Supporting the Palestinian cause “weakens the climate movement”

Supporting the Palestinian cause “weakens the climate movement”

After a climate marcher in Museum Square snatched the microphone from the hands of the world’s most famous climate activist Greta Thunberg — and was taken away — the protesters on stage began chanting a slogan. “No climate justice in the occupied territoriesThunberg, wearing a black-and-white Arafat scarf, is also cheering.

These were exactly the slogans that the deportee strongly opposed. “I came here for a climate demonstration, not for this political position,” he managed to shout into the microphone. Shortly before that, a speaker at the “March for Climate and Justice” chanted the controversial slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

What amounted to the largest Dutch climate march ever, involving some 85,000 demonstrators, would also have been the largest Dutch pro-Palestine demonstration ever. Had it not been for the fact that a large portion of the demonstrators would not have come to demonstrate for the Palestinian cause at all.

XR spokespersonRosemary Van Ende Many of our sympathizers had turned against us before, and at first they also thought that occupying the A12 was a mistake

On social media, a large number of sympathizers categorically distanced themselves from the Extinction Rebellion organization involved in the organisation. They also include well-known academics, such as Professor Emeritus of Nutrition W Norwegian Refugee CouncilColumnist Martin Katan. “Very sad. I have been committed wholeheartedly to the climate movement, but it has now become a platform for the Palestinian side of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. I am not involved in that. Goodbye, XR.” chirp he.

Jan Rotmans, professor of sustainability and transitions in Rotterdam, and an advisor to XR, also categorically distanced himself and called it extremely unwise for the climate movement to take a pro-Palestinian path. It was the wrong platform to draw attention to this issue. Rotmans explained by phone that 99.9% of the protesters came for the climate. “Climate is apolitical and it’s not left or right, but this issue is. Why confuse them?

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Rotman is afraid he’ll shoot himself in the foot. “You’re weakening the movement by doing that. I’ve gotten a lot of backlash from people saying, ‘I won’t participate anymore if this becomes the line.'”

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Palestinian flag

Philosopher Chris Julian, also described as an “XR thinker,” had mixed feelings on the Monday following the demonstration. “It was special how many people were there, but it was also hard to be there Norwegian Refugee Council Talk about this now. We have a week and a half before the elections. “We are only talking about that terrible war in the Middle East, but we should also be talking about the climate.”

Julian points out that climate justice is a much broader concept than often thought, and that XR must include people in it. According to him, climate justice is not only limited to reducing carbon dioxide2Emissions, for example, also have a link to social justice, because some disadvantaged groups are hit hard by climate change and environmental destruction. Through this path of social justice, you end up taking a stand against the “widespread human rights violations and unprecedented massacre” in Gaza.

Locally, this led to the Rotterdam and Utrecht XR sections dropping the Palestinian flag on the Erasmus Bridge and the Dome Tower. “As a local group you have more room to show your colours, but as a national movement you want to be as inclusive as possible. Ultimately, we are all in the storm of the climate crisis, but in different boats.”

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Chris Julian (light blue shirt) during the Midsummer Night's Eve celebration at Science Park Amsterdam.  “We say to the university’s board of directors: Leave the rare green space open.  And then see what happens.

Never Black Pete

Although the XR movement is known to the general public for its climate protests, it is not the first time the movement has advocated for other issues. At the beginning of November, XR announced that it would work closely with Kick Out Zwarte Piet for a racism-free Sinterklaas party. Under the slogan Not Now. never. Never Black Pete, civil disobedience actions were announced in municipalities facilitating Black Pete. “Black Pete is a problem for the whole of Holland,” Branch said. Know Solidarity XR.

XR’s spokesperson, Rosmarin van’t Eynde, points out that it is customary among activist organizations to show solidarity insofar as this is compatible with their own goals. When XR activists were forced to leave their families at the beginning of this year, XR also received support from various organizations. Partly for this reason, she believes the climate movement can actually take a stand on Gaza. “Sunday was a march for climate and justice. The two go hand in hand, as we strive for a livable future for all.

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However, Professor Rotmans remains convinced that XR alienates a large group of those sympathetic to such an approach, including himself. “If that becomes the line, I will step down as chancellor and turn against what I hold dear. You will lose a lot of supporters that way, which I find very clumsy strategically.”

XR spokesman Van ‘t Einde doesn’t care. Although she believes the XR movement had no role in what was said on stage, she stresses that the movement did not become big because of its embrace. And it was never a club for these people please. “Activity is always provocative. Many of our sympathizers have turned against us before. At first they also thought that occupying the A12 was a mistake. It is not good to think about it in such a strategic way,” says Van ‘t Einde. “Then I will not speak during the genocide for tactical reasons.” . “Silence on this is doing moral damage to the climate movement.”

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