Dear President Biden and members of the United States Congress,
What is happening right now in Gaza and Israel/Palestine is appalling.
At least 192 Palestinians have already been killed in the brutal attacks on Gaza, including 58 children. 58 children in one week! This is a continuation of a decades-long policy of the most brutal, racist occupation, oppression, and expropriation of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinians in Jerusalem and the people of Gaza did not start this current conflict – the right-wing Netanyahu regime did: First, with their provocative attempt to evict Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, and the armed assault on Muslim worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Secondly, and not least, with the daily organized violence against the Palestinians by the Israeli Netanyahu government and by far-right settlers.
Thus, the current military assault comes on top of the ongoing Palestinian struggle to survive under conditions of the pandemic, of poverty and mass unemployment and misery, of intensified Israeli occupation, including extensive demolition of Palestinian houses, military and police brutality, settlers violently preventing Palestinians’ access to their farmland, and in the case of Gaza, a brutal blockade for a decade and half. The conditions in Gaza even before the present assault were described by the United Nations as “unlivable”.
Sectarian violence has now erupted on the streets in Israel, the worst since 2000. Lynch mobs are openly and directly being organized by far-right-wing Kahanist elements against Arab-Palestinian communities. These extremist racist forces have been receiving some backing from the Israeli government, with Netanyahu himself entering a formal electoral alliance with their parties.
Netanyahu’s interim government has rejected all attempts to reach a ceasefire. The regime cynically portrays its actions as being done in defense of civilians, even though it bears the overwhelming responsibility for the escalation of conflict.
Netanyahu clearly said that his government has now the backing of the US. The Biden administration still has not condemned and demanded a halt to the refusal of a ceasefire and to the continued bombings in Gaza, which have wiped out families, and brought down whole buildings, including the bombing of press offices of AP, AlJazeera and other outlets.
Let’s be clear, Palestinians should have a right to protest, and to organize and to defend themselves. Yes, we oppose indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilians in Israel. As Congressmember Rashida Tlaib said, “No child, Palestinian or Israeli, whoever they are, should ever have to worry that death will rain from the sky”. Palestinian and Jewish people and immigrants were killed by rockets, including children. However, we condemn the outrageous attempt by the Israeli government to use these as justification for the immeasurably more devastating bombings and military attacks they have wrought on countless defenseless Palestinian civilians.
The continued occupation and repression of the Palestinian people has been funded and facilitated by the United States government. It has been part of a longterm policy of U.S. imperialism to support apartheid against the Palestinian people. Successive U.S. administrations have attempted to portray themselves as honest brokers of peace, but have in fact blocked peace both diplomatically and by providing active military aid to the Israeli ruling class.
We applaud Congressmembers Ocasio-Cortez, Talib, and other members of the Squad speaking out against the attacks on Gaza.
We agree with Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez, when she said: “The President has said that Israel has a right to defend itself. But do Palestinians have a right to survive? The U.S. must acknowledge its role in the human rights violations of Palestinians. This isn’t about both sides. It’s about an imbalance of power.”
We call on you to urgently condemn the brutal attacks on Gaza, and the Israeli ruling class’s system of apartheid. Most importantly, we call on you to cut off all military aid and all weapons sales to Israel, and stop providing diplomatic cover for these brutal policies of the Israeli state.
Protests are growing in the United States and globally. Four thousand people protested outside the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles on Saturday. Yesterday, thousands of people protested here in Seattle and in San Francisco. Labor unions in the US, including the United Electrical Workers, and here in Seattle, UAW 4121, the union of academic student employees and postdocs at the University of Washington, have publicly condemned the Israeli attacks, joining unions from around the world in standing with the Palestinian people.
International solidarity is crucial. The United States government must reverse its disastrous position, and retract all support for the apartheid policies being carried out by the Israeli ruling class.
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember