FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Rally Friday in support of Palestinian resistance, #BlackLivesMatter

Contact: Sandra Korn

skornkob@gmail.com

Rally Friday in support of Palestinian resistance, #BlackLivesMatter  
Over 100 expected at march beginning 5PM at Durham Central Park

Durham, NC — As the violence of the Israeli occupation claims more and more lives, protesters will gather at Durham Central Park 5PM on Friday October 30 in solidarity with Palestine. The action will feature banners, speakers, and a march to the Durham County Jail.

Organized by a coalition of local community organizations, the rally will draw parallels between Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing, and the violence against and displacement of people of color in the U.S.

The co-sponsoring organizations are Black Workers for Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC Chapter, Muslims for Social Justice, and Workers World Party Durham Branch.

“I demand the liberation of my people,” said Zaina Alsous. “As a Palestinian living in diaspora, I stand in solidarity with the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ Uprising. I want an end to occupation, racist violence, and displacement, at home and abroad. None of us are free until all of us are free.”

“As a member of Muslims for Social Justice, I see a connection between anti-Islamophobia and anti-colonial movements, the black liberation movement, and other international progressive movements,” said Manzoor Cheema. “Palestinian liberation and black liberation are deeply interconnected.”

Since October 1, over 50 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded in acts of aggression by Israeli settlers and military officials in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Earlier this month, thousands of Palestinians protested in refugee camps and at military checkpoints on a “Day of Rage” in Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinian citizens of Israel simultaneously took to the streets for a general strike, closing businesses and schools across the country.

“The United States spends billions of dollars funding Israeli occupation and the genocide of the Palestinian people, while equally denying poor, predominantly black and brown communities basic access to living wages, healthcare and adequate housing,” said Laila Nur. “The Palestinian struggle against imperialism and violent racism is the struggle of the indigenous American, the African American, and many other oppressed peoples.”

“Israel continues to paint itself as a safe haven for Jewish people, who have historically faced persecution,” said Jade Brooks. “However, in reality Israel today operates as a white supremacist settler colony. As a member of Durham’s Jewish community, I oppose the Israeli occupation and ongoing violence.”

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Black Workers for Justice is an organization of Black workers organizing to build the African American workers’ movement as a central force in the struggle for Black Liberation and Worker’s Power.

Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC is a chapter of a national membership organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all the people of Israel and Palestine.

Muslims for Social Justice is a North Carolina based organization dedicated to Human Rights and Social Justice for all.
Workers World Party is a revolutionary socialist organization with branches throughout the U.S., including in Durham, NC.

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Jews: show up for justice and resist racism from North Carolina to Palestine!

The recent escalation of racist violence in the US and in Israel is alarming, heart-breaking, and unacceptable. We mourn those we have lost, and we are full of anger and committed to challenging racism in all its forms. In the past few weeks, 47 Palestinians have been killed and over 1,400 injured by racist violence. The death toll in Israel and occupied Palestine continues to rise. The Israeli occupation of Palestine, resistance to it, and resulting violence have also claimed the lives of 9 Israelis and 1 Eritrean asylum-seeker in the past few weeks.

Here in North Carolina, there have been numerous bold racist and anti-Muslim actions over the past year. This Sunday’s neo-confederate rally in Chapel Hill is part of this alarming trend. The neo-confederate movement is white supremacist, anti-Muslim, anti-Black, and anti-Jewish. The same people rallying to defend confederate memorials such as Silent Sam on UNC’s campus have opposed the US welcoming Syrian refugees. This is in the face of a refugee crisis — millions of Syrian people, tens of thousands of whom are Palestinian refugeesnow experiencing double displacement, are living without stability or safety. This is due to destabilization of the Middle East for which US imperialism and neocolonialism are deeply implicated.

We know that there can be neither justice nor peace in the Middle East or in North Carolina when the dominant narrative is that Black, Muslim, and Arab people are subhuman, predisposed to violence, and labelled “thugs” or “terrorists.” This prejudice and systemic violence takes many forms, and we see it across the political spectrum in the US and Israel.  Sunday’s demonstration is all the more upsetting because it aligns with state and federal policies that institutionalize Islamophobia and racism, blaming and targeting Muslims, immigrants, and Black people.

There are numerous parallels between the historic and present-day treatment of people of color, particularly indigenous and Black people, in the US and the treatment of Palestinians and Jews of color in Israel and occupied Palestine.  In both cases, state violence and vigilante violence go unchecked.  Increased Israeli violence against Palestinians is both a continuation of the occupation and a backlash against Palestinian resistance to that ongoing occupation.  Here in the US, the neo-confederate movement’s growth is both a continuation of a long history of white supremacy, and a backlash against the #BlackLivesMatter movement’s resistance to white supremacy.

As Jews in the South, many of whom were raised here, we know that we have historically been a target of white supremacist violence. We are not fooled – as Jews who are critical of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, we know that the US Right’s support for the state of Israel has nothing to do with our safety, let alone that of anyone else.  The well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians depends on ending the occupation and all oppression of Palestinians; US white supremacists still hate Jews; and, as Fannie Lou Hamer and Emma Lazarus have poignantly said, none of us is free until all of us are free.  In this moment, the white supremacist Right specifically targets Black people, immigrants, and people who appear Muslim or Arab. Those of us with privilege must stand in solidarity.  JVP-Triangle NC joins those who gather to fearlessly speak and share the real history of the South: slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, white power; and the enduring resilience and resistance of people of color demanding dignity and justice.

JVP-Triangle NC demands safety and justice for Syrian and Palestinian refugees. The Mayor of Chapel Hill, Mark Kleinschmidt, signed an important letter welcoming Syrian refugees to make homes and new lives here in North Carolina. We stand against the anti-Muslim bigotry responsible for backlash against refugee resettlement, while acknowledging our government’s role in the root causes of displacement.

We stand for safety and dignity for Palestinians and an end to the occupation.  We stand with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. We stand with UNC students of color resisting the invasion of their campus and seeking historical accuracy. We call for UNC Chancellor Folt to speak out against white supremacy and protect UNC students from racist violence. We call on our Jewish communities to show up to challenge anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti-Black bigotry in all its forms. In doing so, we honor our Southern heritage of organizing in multiracial movements for dignity and justice for all people.

This weekend and always, we recommit to the struggle for justice and love alongside Palestinians; Black people; Muslims; refugees; immigrants; students; and all who would be free. We will put our bodies in the streets, and speak out together, “with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might.” Will you join us?

Resources for understanding current events in Palestine

JVP National send on the following resources for understanding what’s happening right now in Israel-Palestine:

  • Boycott National Committee statement
  • Al Haq statement
  • IMEU Factsheet on Al Aqsa/Temple Mount Misperceptions
  • JVP’s statement (from Sunday October 4, 2015)
  • Mouin Rabbani on Palestinians being the most isolated they’ve been since 1948 in the Guardian
  • Haaretz columnist Amira Hass writes: “Palestinians Are Fighting for Their Lives; Israel Is Fighting for the Occupation.”
  • Stories of terrorizing Palestinians that don’t make the news, by Samah Salaime in 972 Magazine, which has lots of other pieces of helpful reporting and analysis
  • Seven killed in Gaza, with video, in Mondoweiss.
  • JVP media coordinator Naomi Dann on the occupation and repression at the root of the current violence in the foreign policy blog Lobelog.
  • Ben Caspit in Al Monitor arguing that the real intifada is taking place among the Israeli right, as they agitate for more settlement construction and a new operation defensive shield.
  • FMEP interview with Daniel Siedemann about the context of repression in Jerusalem over the last year.
  • US Campaign’s Yousef Munayyer writing for CNN on what Palestinians really wanted Abbas to say in his speech last week.
  • Adam Horowitz in Mondoweiss on the scale of settler attacks.
  • Noam Sheizaf says Israel holds all the cards
  • Saeb Erekat  in Newsweek about decades of impunity.
  • AJ+ video about the occupation and the roots of the violence.

Letter to the President of Wake Forest University

We sent the following letter to Dr. Nathan O. Hatch, President of Wake Forest University, in response to the University’s dis-invitation of the Waging Peace Conference last month.

Dear Dr. Hatch,

We are writing to you with concern for the state of free speech on the campus of Wake Forest University. Our organization, the Triangle NC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, was a co-sponsor of the conference titled “Waging Peace: Doing Justice Through BDS,” organized by the Alliance of Baptists and held September 18-20, 2015 in Winston-Salem.

The conference was initially hosted by Wake Forest Baptist Church and scheduled to be held in Wingate Hall, where the church holds its worship services. Members of our group were invited to come speak and be a part of the conference. We were confused and upset to hear that a day before the conference was scheduled to begin, it had to change venues to a United Church of Christ church, causing considerable stress and financial expense for the Alliance of Baptists.

One of the members of the Jewish Voice for Peace leadership team, who attended the conference as a presenter and participant, had the chance to speak with Pastor Lia Scholl during the conference. She expressed her discomfort with hosting a conference on campus that she felt members of the faculty, clergy, and administration might view as anti-Semitic. Yet nothing about the description—or outcome—of the conference was anti-Semitic in any way. On the contrary, the keynote speaker of the conference condemned anti-Semitism alongside anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Black racism in the strongest terms. Throughout the conference, Jews and Christians talked together about how to best use nonviolence and peaceful means to advance justice and human rights for all people.

We understand that there are some who call the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement anti-Semitic. As Jewish people, we assert that this is untrue. To call BDS anti-Semitic is to say that involvement with a grassroots non-violent movement based on human rights and international law is somehow anti-Jewish, which is offensive to us. There is no single Jewish voice on Israel, and in fact, many Jewish people are involved in the BDS movement—we were honored to be invited to participate in the Waging Peace conference to speak about our work as Jews for BDS in Durham, NC. Groups including the Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ have divested from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation in response to the call for BDS.

Last month, Jewish Voice for Peace published a report, “Stifling Dissent: How Israel’s Defenders Use False Charges of Anti-Semitism to Limit the Debate over Israel on Campus.” The report examines groups like the AMCHA Initiative, which work to intimidate students and faculty from discussing Israel’s policies, and label student groups like Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine with racist and inflammatory allegations of “terrorism.” They are a right-wing pro-Israel group with a history of intimidating activists and academics. Their definition of anti-Semitism is used only to scapegoat those they politically disagree with, not to promote the safety and comfort of Jewish students on campus—and creates a climate of fear on campus that shuts down important conversations.

Unfortunately, Wake Forest University’s dis-invitation of the Waging Peace conference fits in with a disturbing increase of shutdowns of free speech on college campuses. Legal advocacy nonprofit Palestine Legal recently released a report, “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US,” which documents efforts by those on the right to censor or punish advocacy in support of Palestinian rights, including on university campuses. The report highlights case studies of universities that have forced the organizers of public academic and cultural events critical of Israeli policy to cancel, move, or substantially alter their events. We are concerned that Wake Forest University’s dis-invitation of the Waging Peace conference fits into this alarming trend. We would be ashamed to see a well-respected North Carolina university profiled in a future such report.

We ask that you apologize to the Alliance of Baptists for the inconvenience and expense of dis-inviting their conference, the day before it was scheduled to start. Further, we would like to know your future plans for ensuring that events highlighting the work of people of faith for justice in Israel and Palestine can continue to take place unencumbered on Wake Forest’s campus. Please contact us at trianglenc@jvp.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Members of the leadership team on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC