Palestine Labor Abolition Commentary Print

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Commentary

November 5, 2023

Our commitment: finding and telling the truth about Palestine

We are committed to archiving our resistance as it's tied to collective struggles for a free Palestine, honoring the brave testimony and stories stemming from this movement.

Undercurrents staff
Photo by Samson Zhang

On October 7th, 2023, Palestinian resistance groups made history by breaking out of Gaza, reclaiming land from Israeli settler colonial occupation, and seizing control over Israeli military posts. To punish Palestinians for violence on Israeli soldiers, settlers, and civilians, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reacted by escalating an ongoing genocide. Netanyahu’s military, heavily funded by the U.S., is currently bombing Gaza’s population centers with white phosphorus, targeting hospitals and shelters, while blocking all food, water, electricity, aid from entering the 2.3 million Palestinians held in what is functionally an open air prison. As major news outlets and politicians spread propaganda and disinformation racializing Palestinians as terrorists as our very own college president has done, let’s be clear on some things. 


First, this is not a war,

nor is this a conflict of ‘both sides’. Western media is trying to frame this as an Israel-Gaza war, in which the so-called ‘democratic’ (yet apartheid) state of Israel is defending itself against Hamas terrorists. This ‘War on Terror’ narrative which we’ve seen our college’s official statement peddle, taps into racist caricatures of Arab/Muslim people as barbaric terrorists who threaten Western freedom. This narrative fuels the spike in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim violence we’ve seen across the world. Just last week, a white landlord in Chicago targeted a Muslim family in his building, brutally murdering a 6-year old child named Wadea Al-Fayoume. We mourn Wadea’s life and the many other Palestinians who have died at the hands of the U.S.-Israeli war machine.

We also recognize that to call something war and conflict implies equal footing between two states. Palestine functionally exists not as a state but as an open air prison tightly guarded by Israeli military forces, without independent access to clean water, electricity, food, or life-saving medical treatment. As Palestinian people are being starved by the Israeli embargo, it is clear that the only state acting here is the apartheid Israeli state that refuses to recognize Palestinian life and self-determination. As professors and employees write from Birzeit University in Occupied Palestine, “there is no moral equivalence between the colonizer and colonized…the utter criminality of Zionist media coverage…blam[es] the oppressed for the crimes of the oppressor.”


Second, anti-zionism is not anti-semitism.

We refuse the false opposition pitting Jewish people against Arab/Muslim people which imagines the zionist state of Israel as one and the same with Jewish people. As the long history of Jewish organizations in the multiracial, multiethnic movement for Palestinian liberation demonstrate, including Jewish Voice for Peace, Jewish people are not a monolith. While mass media weaponizes Jewish trauma from the Holocaust to justify a genocide against Palestinians, we honor those Jewish people for Palestinian liberation who invoke the slogan NEVER AGAIN that emerged out of the Holocaust as an anti-fascist statement applicable to all struggles against genocide. Let us also remember that American zionists are often not Jews, but anti-Semitic white evangelical Christians who value zionism as part of a global white supremacist project. We can deeply mourn the loss of Jewish life without conflating Jewish people with the apartheid state of Israel.


Third, the Palestine liberation movement

has a long history of nonviolent resistance which Western media refuses to recognize in favor of sensational headlines painting Palestinians as violent terrorists. The Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movements is a recent example of this history along with popular peaceful protest. During the 2018 Great March of Return, Israeli snipers shot over 6,000 unarmed demonstrators. Palestinians have a decades-long track record of attempts to negotiate peace settlements with Israel and the U.S. that were either refused or violated by these military powers. Violence is a desperate last resort in the face of no other options. It must be understood as a necessary method of decolonization. We can learn from cases of necessary violent resistance in the Black and Indigenous liberation movements: Nat Turner’s historic slave revolt, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, the Sioux Uprising of 1862.


Fourth, we as a publication

of Claremont students unapologetically call out Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer colleges for being among the many institutions funding genocide by way of their hedge funds that send money to the arms trade. Claremont College-funded guns and bombs are killing Palestinians. As repeated unsuccessful attempts by 5C Divest to get details on Pomona’s investment portfolio attest, these institutions notoriously hide where their multi-billion dollar endowments come from and go to. What we do know is that Pomona has invested in apartheid before; in 1985, Pomona had invested $13.4 million in banks tied to apartheid South Africa. Echoing UChicago Students for Justice in Palestine’s demands for UChicago to divest from genocide, we demand each Claremont College’s immediate transparency about its investment history and divestment from genocide. 

We are committed to both investigative reporting that excavates this history, and accurate and thorough on-the-ground reporting to archive our resistance as it’s tied to collective cross-country and transnational struggles for a free Palestine, honoring the brave testimony and stories stemming from this movement.


FREE, FREE PALESTINE

With solidarity and love,

Undercurrents

Originally written and distributed in print on Oct. 20, 2023 — General Global Strike Day for Palestine. Updated on Oct. 24, 2023 and published on web Nov. 4, 2023.

Statement by Sun Jeong, who is of Jewish and Korean diasporas and a founding editor of Undercurrents, on behalf of Undercurrents.

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Thanks for reading Undercurrents

Undercurrents reports on labor, Palestine liberation, prison abolition and other community organizing at and around the Claremont Colleges.

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