The Black Workers for Justice joins the tens of millions of people around the world who are outraged by the vicious assault by the Israeli Defense Force on the Gaza Strip. As of New Years Eve, the death toll is 380 Palestinians with over 1400 injured, overwhelmingly civilians. Innocent men, women and children in the densely populated city of 1.5 million people continue to be at risk.
This blatant and extreme violation of human rights and international law must end immediately. We are calling on all legislators, the Bush administration and President- Elect Obama to use the considerable political and financial influence they have to make the Israelis cease the bombings. Politics and the strength of the Israeli lobby in the US cannot continue to put the lives of millions of people at risk in what is becoming one of the worst humanitarian crises of this era.
Infrastructure has been destroyed including schools and factories while hospitals have been overwhelmed with the sick and injured. The current need for food and medical supplies has been worsened by the continuing blockade that prohibits fuel, food, equipment and other humanitarian goods from coming into the city. This has been the case for 18 months. In the current crisis seriously injured people who need treatment in Egypt due to lack of adequate medical facilities in the Gaza are experiencing difficulties in crossing the borders. There has been a lack of electricity and other essential services resulting in deplorable conditions for residents. The UN reported a Human Dignity Crisis on December 18, days before the bombing commenced.
Occupation and Resistance:
We recognize that the Palestinians are resisting an occupation and the use of military force is permitted under international law. This does not justify targeting civilians. On the same token Israeli responses that clearly cannot avoid non-combatants is not justifiable or legitimate self defense. Moreover, what amounts to collective punishment is a violation of international law and is immoral in the extreme.
The Occupation of Palestinian territory is classic colonialism with apartheid features including a wall that restricts people’s movement for work, business, culture and family life. This Occupation continues to be supported by the US government. The F-16s and Apache helicopters as well as the TOW, Hellfire and Bunker missiles that are being used are provided by the US government meaning that our tax dollars support this carnage and oppression. The US government provides Israel with $3 billion in military aid annually.
Black People Express Their Humanity:
Our history and recent experiences remind us of how white supremacist and imperialist regimes respond to misery and suffering. The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow segregation should be a constant reminder to us. Katrina, our most recent experience with inhumane policies and treatment should move us to determined and immediate support for Palestinians. We feel the pain of the Palestinian people.
We have to resist the call of misguided Black religious leaders who think this is fulfillment of prophecy and scriptures. We have to listen to the faith leaders that understand that this is a case of politics and an affront to the very faith traditions they profess. They recall that for a century there were those that justified slavery and racism based on their distorted religious understandings.
Stand Up and Speak Out:
Black people and workers in particular must be in the forefront of the growing resistance to this atrocity. We will join with religious, labor and community groups. We will unite with Arab, Muslim and other advocacy groups. We will collect funds and material aid for the embattled families of the Gaza Strip. We condemn the ramming and damaging of the humanitarian ship bringing supplies to the Gaza and support the efforts of former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to come to the aid of Palestinians.
We especially call on President Elect Obama to take the mandate for Change to alter US policy regarding the Israeli/Palestinian situation. This means an immediate halt to the bombings. It means forcing Israel to engage in peace negotiations with all the elected representatives of the Palestinian people.
Black Workers for Justice
December 31, 2008