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?