Photograph courtesy of Sarah Afaneh.

#GlobalizeTheIntifada: Reporting from NYC

Community activist Nerdeen Kiswani emphasized the need to uplift the struggle of Palestinians and other marginalized communities — liberation for “all of us or none of us.”

Sep 19, 2021

On Sept. 6, six Palestinians escaped the high-surveillance Gilboa Prison after months of digging a 20 meter underground tunnel with a rusty spoon. In the week since, the spoon has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance, resilience and strength, and one held high at Washington Square Park.
In support of the six Palestinian prisoners who escaped and in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising, Within Our Lifetime, a Palestinian-led community organization, held an emergency rally titled “From Attica to Gilboa” on Sept. 12.
In drawing parallels between the two events, the rally emphasized the systemic discrimination and vilification of the Black race and the Palestinian identity, among other marginalized communities. Community activist Nerdeen Kiswani, who led the event, emphasized the struggle of these groups and the need to maintain the momentum for global solidarity — liberation for “all of us or none of us.”
The call to #GlobalizeTheIntifada is rooted in anticapitalist and imperialist motives, and Washington Square Park, representative of NYU, was intentionally chosen as center stage for the rally. WOL asks communities to take action locally and for students to create change within the institutions they attend — institutions critiqued by the event’s organizers for their capitalist structure.
When asked how best to mobilize as students, Amin Husein, adjunct professor at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, commented on the acute awareness of students and professors about academic institutions being partly responsible for the harm caused in their communities.
“To study how to get free, while putting [students] in [financial] debt is the condition of our time,” he said. “Naming [the study] is something that’s beneficial, because when you name it you know how to build; sites of conflict become sites of construction,” Husein added, stressing on the importance of acknowledging and naming academic and intellectual projects of studying liberation within capitalist and colonial institutions. Sites of construction are those where dialogue can take place, a process of actively looking for knowledge and taking action in order to push for tangible institutional change.
“Your choice is to really think of how you want to be free. Don’t believe they’re abstractions. Don’t believe they’re big ideas,” Husein emphasized.
On Sept. 17 — the 39th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre — WOL organized a city-wide protest in support of Palestine starting at Columbus Circle and ending at Washington Square Park. Reiterating the call to #GlobalizetheIntifada, students, professors and community leaders took to the streets, parks and subway stations, drawing the attention of passersby to listen, learn and liberate.
Sarah Afaneh is a Contributing Writer. Email her at
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