Two weeks ago the New Orleans city council passed a resolution focused on divesting from companies that “consistently violate human rights, civil rights, or labor rights.” The council is now backtracking and considering rescinding the resolution due to pressure from Zionist organizations because the New Orleans Palestine Solidarity Committee sponsored the resolution. The following is a letter of support submitted to the council:
To the New Orleans City Council:
We are members of Black4Palestine, a national network of Black activists committed to incorporating the Palestinian struggle for freedom, peace and justice into our local and global struggles for Black liberation and human emancipation.
Like members of the New Orleans Palestine Solidarity Committee, members of Black4Palestine work on a wide array of issues—including war, the criminalization and imprisonment of communities of color, deportation of migrants and refugees, and discrimination in all forms.
We are writing to urge you to maintain Resolution No. R-18-5, which creates a process to keep the city’s investments out of civil and human rights abuses.
We must be clear that the sole reason for controversy about this resolution and for the council to even reconsider the measure is Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights. Opponents of the resolution fear this would lead to divestment from human rights violations in Palestine.
To rescind the resolution because of Palestine is to throw the millions of people who suffer human and civil rights abuses under the bus due to fear of Israel being held accountable for its well-documented and decades-long violations against Palestinians. And it would say that the defense of human rights applies to everyone, except Palestinians—and by extension that Palestinians are not humans deserving of the same rights and protections as others.
It would be inconceivable for the council to rescind a resolution committed to upholding civil, human, and labor rights violations on any grounds—as such an action implies that there are rights violations that are okay to invest in.
It is not the job of the council to pretend Israel does not violate Palestinian rights, or to cater to groups that seek to justify these violations. It is the job of the council to examine the facts and determine whether any of the city’s investments “consistently violate human rights, civil rights, or labor rights.”
Whether it be through the US-manufactured tear gas canisters used against protesters in Ferguson and the West Bank of Palestine, or through the cement company that builds walls in Palestine and is eager to build Trump’s wall along the Mexican border, the struggles of our communities are inseparable.
We incorporate Palestine into our daily and ongoing work for human rights at home because in the words of Dr. King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We urge the council to remain committed to protecting the rights of all humans.
The following are expanded remarks from B4P member K. Bailey at a Detroit-area rally for Jerusalem last week.
Black4Palestine joins millions around the world in condemning President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of “Israel.” Trump’s decision adds yet another assault to seven decades of Zionist theft of Palestine’s holiest city. It continues the US government's refusal to adhere to its basic positions in East Jerusalem, rooted in international law: opposing Israeli settlements and protecting its sovereignty for a future Palestinian state.
We know that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, just as we know that all of Jerusalem—East and West—is Palestinian land, and that all of “Israel” is Palestinian land.
The division of “East” and “West” Jerusalem is an illegitimate and colonial division. Palestinians of all faiths lived in all of Jerusalem prior to their ethnic cleansing by Zionists in 1948, when Zionists expelled nearly 40,000 Palestinians from their homes and land in “West Jerusalem. ” Today more than 5 million Palestinian refugees still have an inalienable right to return to their homelands in what is currently “Israel.”
We say this with an understanding that “Israel” is actually the land of over 400 Palestinian villages that were demolished to build the entire infrastructure of the state. And we say this with an understanding that the “United States” is actually the land of over 560 indigenous nations, for whom Palestine has already happened and whose capitals have all been destroyed.
Defenders of Israel point to a fear of Israel “being wiped off the map,” even though it was Zionists who literally wiped Palestine off the map. We reject the Zionist project on Palestinian land, under which the indigenous inhabitants of the land are dominated, subjugated and colonized by Jewish settlers from around the world.
Palestinian villages depopulated by Zionists around Jerusalem, "Tel Aviv," and Gaza.
Many members of Black4Palestine have been to Palestine and have seen firsthand the violence and discrimination in Jerusalem: we’ve spoken to families in Sheikh Jarrah where Zionist settlers have literally kicked Palestinians out of their homes; we’ve spoken to people who lost their status as Jerusalemites for going to study abroad or marrying someone in the West Bank; we’ve seen the apartheid wall divide parts of Jerusalem from other parts of the city, farmers from their land, and families from seeing each other.
We’ve seen the apartheid in the separate roads, buses, and resources between East and West Jerusalem, both apparently “the eternal capital of Israel.” And we’ve seen the day and night contrast between Palestinian villages in Jerusalem and Israeli settlements less than five minutes away.
We watch in condemnation as Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinian resisters or families who “illegally” built new rooms or floors onto their apartments. These demolitions are collective punishment and often the result of Israel’s refusal to grant 98 percent of permits for Palestinians to build in Jerusalem, while allowing settlers to colonize more Arab land.
The aim of the Zionist project is to own the maximum amount of land in Palestine with the minimum number of Palestinians and minimum Palestinian political power. Israel knows that if Palestinians can organize themselves to rise up, they will have the will, the strength, and the numbers to succeed. This is why they have sought to destroy every instance of their existence and resistance. But the Zionist project will not win.
We encourage our family in Palestine to remain steadfast in the face of such violence and to continue their resistance until the liberation of all the land.
"The road to Al Quds (Jerusalem)" courtesy of Facebook
Further Reading on Jerusalem:
Today, on the 44th anniversary of the assassination of the revolutionary Palestinian novelist and activist Ghassan Kanafani, second anniversary of Israel’s last assault on Gaza, the 49th year of ongoing Israeli occupation, and the 68th year of Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba, we express our firm solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, who is in the 23rd day of his hunger strike against his indefinite detention by Israel.
Kayed completed a 14.5 year sentence in Israeli prisons and was slated for release on June 13, 2016. Instead, Israeli officials extended his imprisonment for an additional six months without charge or trial under the Israeli practice of “administrative detention.” Kayed and hundreds of his fellow prisoners are now on hunger strike in protest of this injustice.
As people who live within the belly of a beastly system that thrives off the incarceration of our bodies, we recognize the violence of Israel’s ongoing use of administrative detention to create political prisoners and stifle Palestinian resistance.
Similar to the experience of our Palestinian comrades, the United States government silenced and neutralized our own revolutionary movement through incarceration and targeted assassinations during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. A political war has been waged against our communities as a whole, incarcerating millions of our people and victimizing many through police and state abuse.
This week in particular, we grieve the further loss of Black lives to extrajudicial killings by the state. We express our solidarity in the midst of immense pain because we understand that these violent acts are not “isolated incidents” for us or Palestinians, but systemic to the US and Israel.
In the midst of these wars on our existence, we submit that all of our prisoners are political prisoners, that all Palestinian prisoners are political prisoners, and that we have to fight to liberate everyone by abolishing the cages around us. We stand firm in our solidarity with Bilal Kayed and the over 7,000 Palestinians detained within the Israeli prison system, including more than 750 Palestinians being held without charge or trial.
Bilal, we salute you and your comrades struggling against incarceration and for the liberation of Palestine. We send you the solidarity of roughly a dozen of our own political prisoners from the Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army, and other struggles--including Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli - comrade of the revolutionary Assata Shakur, and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, the Minister of Defense for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Prison Chapter.
We will not remain silent so long as the Palestinian people are subjected to the daily violence of administrative detention and political imprisonment. We will stand by them so long as their resistance to the racist and colonial violence perpetuated by the state of Israel continues. We will continue to demand an end to the myriad systems of Israeli oppression until every Palestinian can live without fear of losing their home, their land, their family to state violence. We refuse to believe that peace will only come at the expense of justice.
United we fight against prisons, united we fight for Palestine, and united we fight for the people.
For more information about Bilal Kayed, the hunger strikers, and international solidarity for his case, please visit the Samidoun Palestinian Political Prisoner Solidarity Network.