'The revolution is nameless': Why we must dismantle the identity of the pro-Palestine organiser

'The revolution is nameless': Why we must dismantle the identity of the pro-Palestine organiser
Instead of romanticising 'organisers', we must all carry the mantle of resistance against Israel's genocide in Gaza, writes Ruqaiyah Damrah.
6 min read
27 Feb, 2024
For Palestinian and collective liberation, we must normalise acts of dissent into our everyday lives, writes Ruqaiyah Damrah. [Getty]

In the wake of Israel’s most recent genocidal campaign against Gaza, there has been a huge surge in pro-Palestinian organising in the West. Membership of pro-Palestinian organisations has increased and groups across the US and Europe have been planning an unending stream of actions to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians.

For most of us, organising took top priority in our lives after 7 October, which meant navigating a shift in our everyday routines to centre Palestine. What most people don’t realise is that we are usually completely average 20- and 30-something year olds in a Signal group chat, coordinating protests and actions in between our classes or 9-to-5 jobs. 

There is a strange tendency to romanticise the identities of organisers in our movement’s collective imagination.

There is this notion that organisers are a special, distinct group of people who are better positioned than the general population to advance the pro-Palestinian movement – that we are more qualified for this work, that our talent and eloquence are natural and inherent.

"When we adopt the role of the 'organiser' or 'activist', we often think of ourselves as the arbiters of social change"

People around us assume that we can afford the risks of speaking out for Palestine, that we are more naturally able to carry the burden of the movement. Our communities admire us from afar, they applaud our courage, they thank us for being their voices and for carrying the torch of justice.

As organisers, there is a danger of allowing these presumptions to seep into our own self-identification. When we adopt the role of the “organiser” or “activist,” we often think of ourselves as the arbiters of social change.

It’s easy to assume that we are somehow better situated than the average individual to understand how to advance and speak on behalf of the Palestinian struggle – that we have the clarity and vision that others do not.

Thus, we begin to identify as “organisers” in the same way that people identify with their jobs as engineers or doctors. The role of organising becomes a specialised kind of labour, a way to define ourselves and our relation to others. 

The danger here is that we begin to think of ourselves as a class of “experts” in revolution, which actually alienates us from the cause and prevents us from fostering a culture of mass resistance and dissent.

When we cling so tightly to this label of “organiser” or “activist,” it is easy to separate ourselves from the communities we should be connecting to. Our engagement with our communities becomes tinged with elitism and intellectual condescension.

We convince ourselves that only we understand how revolution works, that only we understand what “true” organising is and that everyone outside of this group needs our education and guidance to reach our level of enlightenment.

We infantilize the communities that should be at the core of the struggle against Western imperialism and underestimate their capability to understand and make decisions that shape the course of the movement.

And so, rather than organising with and alongside our communities, the focus shifts to recruiting more people into our specialised sphere of organising.

We create and build hierarchical structures that are alienated from the masses that our cause is rooted in. Our loyalty becomes to our group of fellow organisers and activists, forgetting that our true commitment should be to create a mass community of resistance. 


If we want to dismantle the capitalist structures that underlie the colonialism of Palestine and repression of the Palestinian cause, we cannot reproduce capitalist social relations in our movement. There is no room for alienated means of organising in a movement that aims to fight alienation.

The reality is that as “organisers,” we are no different from the communities we set ourselves apart from. We are mostly working class youth, with jobs, scholarships, and college assignments. We have parents who fear for our safety, families to protect, livelihoods to lose.

The truth is that there is nothing inherently special or legitimate about us that makes us more worthy of being organisers – or more able to carry the burden – than anyone else who cares about the Palestinian cause.

Thus, our focus should not be to reinforce the separateness and distinctness of ourselves as organisers – it should be to generalise the struggle as much as possible.

"We shouldn't settle for only a small group of individuals taking on this role – fighting for liberation is a mass responsibility and burden"

Four months into Israel’s genocide in Gaza, which has killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians, this priority is more urgent than ever. We shouldn’t be satisfied with being a radical minority or with belonging to a small, self-contained band of organisers. 

This moment calls for a complete reimagination of the routines, cultures, and practices of collective liberation. Part of this reimagination is dismantling the preconceived idea of the “organiser” as a distinct category of people.

We must work towards a world in which these divisions become irrelevant and unnecessary, in which all of us are “organisers” in the sense of disrupting the status quo and making Palestine unavoidable in every space we’re in.

The act of organising for Palestine is about practising dissent and subverting the structures of power that our communities are subjected to. Thus, everyone who lives under these structures of oppression should be organising against them.

We shouldn’t settle for only a small group of individuals taking on this role – fighting for liberation is a mass responsibility and burden.

Rather than glorifying and romanticising the acts of resistance that we take on as organisers and activists – whether it’s college students holding a protest or Jewish youth refusing to serve in the Israeli military – we should think about how to empower our communities so that these acts of dissent become the norm. 

The most profound moral obligation in this moment is for everyone to act and organise in the pursuit of justice for Palestinians. This obligation necessitates the dismantling of the boundaries between “organisers” and “non-organisers” and the redefinition of our priorities and our everyday lives so that practices of liberation and justice are naturally integrated into them. 

In his book The Revolution of Everyday Life, Raoul Vaneigem wrote, “Revolution is made everyday despite, and in opposition to, the specialists of revolution. This revolution is nameless, like everything springing from lived experience. Its explosive coherence is being forged constantly in the everyday clandestinity of acts and dreams.”

To practise revolutionary solidarity means to embed resistance into the most mundane aspects of our lives. It means moving and empowering our communities to disrupt, disturb, and organise within their circles and spheres of influence.

Our humanity lies in our collective power, and we must make it as irresistible and collective as possible by breaking down the distinctions between organisers and average people who believe in the Palestinian right to freedom.

The torch of justice must be carried by everyone who lives in the imperialist belly of the beast – only then can we hope that fighting for a free Palestine will become the norm. 

Ruqaiyah Damrah is a Palestinian-American writer and community organiser. She co-founded Yalies4Palestine and currently organises with the Seattle pro-Palestinian movement.

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