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.