PALESTINIAN LIBERATION IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE
To our Palestinian and Jewish Siblings,
We write to you as children, nomads, diasporic peoples of the Global South. We represent peoples, cultures, knowledges and technologies of African, Latin American and Caribbean regions, and the US South. We write too from Atlanta—The Phoenix of the South, the Black Mecca, the South’s Gateway to the World—a city that is actively eroding the rights of its residents not unlike the systems, forces and ideas that are taking over your land, removing your people, and killing your families and neighbors. We write as people who deeply believe in addressing root causes to deep problems of violence, hate, and systemic oppression. We write as people genuinely committed to the liberation of all peoples.
We write to you, our siblings, peoples who have endured extermination at the hands of oppressors. People who know what it is to be discriminated against because of our ethnicity, our race, our religion and our beliefs. Siblings who have suffered under the weight of the United States and western imperialism. Siblings who are navigating daily the traumas inflicted on them and their families by colonizers, imperialists, and warmongers for generations. Siblings who desire a safe and healthy environment in which to live and thrive with our families and loved ones.
As human rights defenders and organizers, we know that our human rights are universal, inalienable, indivisible, interdependent, and interconnected. Everyone has these rights simply because they are. We know, all humans are born equal in dignity and rights. These rights cannot be separated from us, even when we are subjected to the most cruel and inhuman treatments. Further, we know that human rights are interdependent because humans are interdependent. We all have the same basic needs for clean water, fresh air, foods that nourish, relationships that create families and communities, a place to call home or take shelter, and communal and cultural systems that respect, protect, and honor our rights. We also know where there is violence, human rights are being violated.
As students and children of Black feminisms, we also know that there are systems of privilege and power based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, and nationality that actively shape, govern, and control our lives, ideas, and our choices. As dreamers and optimists, we also understand that power is both individuated and collectivized. It’s a force that moves through each of us that we too can shape, govern and control through collective beliefs and our collective actions. We are at our strongest when we are unafraid to challenge our assumptions, unafraid to help another in pain or under attack, and unafraid to defend our human rights. We are at our strongest when we are willing to stand up and speak up for the idea that ALL humans deserve life and the resources they need to sustain that life. We further believe that all human life has value, and a worthy life is one that is able to be lived in joy and love. We also know that these values are best achieved in collectives (families, friend groups, places of worship), communities, and cultures that allow us to be our full-selves and to live and allow others to live in dignity and peace.
As children and descendants of liberators who overthrew their slave masters and colonial occupiers, we know that human rights are interconnected and so are the tactics used to deny them. Just as slave masters used to write manuals and train others on how to break an African into a slave or how to turn Indigenous Peoples into white men (“kill the Indian, save the man”), so too current masters, overseers, and colonial occupiers are sharing tactics and using various of our communities to practice on and share strategies. We know intimately that our efforts to stop the militarization of the police and to stop Cop City here in Atlanta are directly related to campaigns and tactics used by the Israeli Occupying Force who trains Atlanta police and other divisions across the United States. We know that the advancement of a far-right Jewish supremacist idea under the banner of Zionism is an extension of similar fascistic ideas advanced by Hitler and even precedes him by decades in the work of colonizers in the United States and beyond.
And while we know so intimately the various forces at work to deprive you of your most basic and fundamental human rights, we know that for the past 75 years Palestinians have been violently expunged, encaged, and extinguished from their homeland. The scale, magnitude, and immediacy of all that is happening to you, the Palestinian people, amounts to both genocide and ethnic cleansing. We understand that your people have been facing extinction for nearly 80 years and this is allowed to be carried out because the United States and Britain decided to create the state of Israel, literally, on top of the Palestinian people. We hold the United States historically and contemporaneously responsible for the bloodshed in Occupied Palestine because it continues to arm Israel with the goal of removing or killing the indigenous Palestinian population. Placing Jewish people who are fresh out of the German Holocaust into direct conflict with their siblings should be considered antisemitism.
As Black feminists and feminists of color, queers and queer liberators, we speak with a both/and tongue, and we hold space for complexities and nuances. It means we rightfully separate being Jewish from being an Israeli settler and a Zionist or Zionist supporter. It means we know that being Jewish is not the same as being a Zionist or believing, as the Zionist architect Joseph Weitz wrote in 1940,
"When the [Second World] War is over and the English have won, and when the judges sit on the throne of Law, our people must bring their petitions and their claim before them; and the only solution is Eretz Israel, or at least Western Eretz Israel, without Arabs. There is no room for compromise on this point! [Bringing about the state of Israel] must come all at once, in the manner of a Salvation (this is the secret of the Messianic idea); and there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer them all [...], we must not leave a single village, not a single tribe." (Edward Said, The Question of Palestine, pg. 99-100, emphasis in original).
How can an idea predicated on the total removal of a native people for the benefit of another oppressed and discriminated group be just or justified? If you create the idea that Jewish humanity depends on the total removal or extinction of indigenous Palestinians, how can the two share a land in democracy or peace? How do some of the most powerful countries on the planet at the time think this was a solution to the atrocities suffered by Jews at the hands of the German fascist regime?
The answer is they were not seeking justice for the Jewish people. The US, UK and France created the occupying force that is Israel as a colonial outpost to protect US and western interests in the Middle East. It installed a known fascist ideology, Zionism, as an apartheid state. And this is both antisemitic and genocidal. As Black feminist poet Audre Lorde taught us, our silence will not protect us. We have to be bold and unafraid to say that the state of Israel is white supremacy ideology wrapped in the idea of a Jewish homeland, literally built on white supremacist, imperialist foundations. In fact, the chief supporters of Israel in the US are far-right Christian conservatives, bastions of white supremacist ideology and violence.
For the nearly 80 years of Zionist terrorism against the Palestinian people, we charge the United States Government with genocide. Given the removal of Palestinians from their homelands, the entrapment of people in the Gaza Strip with no access beyond what the Israeli Occupying Force and government officials allow, the onslaught of indiscriminate violence experienced in Gaza specifically, trapping and bombing people and the targeting of children (and those future generations) amounts to nothing less than Gaza as a concentration camp. We understand the full weight of what it means to use these words. What Palestinians are experiencing is akin to what native peoples of Turtle Island experienced and continue to experience under US settler colonialism. So, when Indigenous Peoples call for “Land Back” in the United States, we understand, champion and echo the Palestinians' call for the right to return to and the return of their homeland.
As champions of liberation in our lifetimes, and visionaries of futures where all peoples get to collectively make decisions—not just the mighty and the privileged—we call forth futures where all people can freely govern the institutions, steward the resources and perform the cultural practices to safely pursue our full potential, in harmony with Mother Earth. We proclaim all power to the people. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian liberators who call for an end to the occupation and an end to imperialism and settler colonialism.
We invite you, and those who believe all life is valuable to stand with us, Palestinians, anti-Zionist Jews, and lovers of humanity to take the pledge:
“Yes to human rights for all!”
“No to Genocide!”
“No to Hate!”
“No to Ethnic Cleansing!”
“No to Settler Colonialism!”
“No to fascism and imperialism!”
“Yes to liberation and peace in our lifetime.”