Resistance in Palestine and Israel Remind Us Our Liberation is Interconnected
May 2021 had the worst hostilities that the region containing Israel and Palestine had seen in years. Lasting 11 days, airstrikes killed more than 240 Palestinians, including 60 children, and wounded more than 6,700. More than 72,000 people were displaced, with more than 230 buildings destroyed, and several more severely damaged. Around 12 Israelis were killed by Hamas rockets, including two children. A ceasefire has been in place since May 21, but the conflict is far from over.
With one of the most advanced militaries in the world, Israel and their agenda to occupy and displace Palestine calls on us to acknowledge colonial projects of the past and present.
“It is a conflict where one country, funded and supported by the United States government, continues an illegal military occupation over another group of people,” Representative Ilhan Omar said during a speech on the House floor condemning human rights abuses on the final night of Ramadan.
The United States is Israel’s most loyal ally, politically and monetarily. In May, the United States blocked multiple attempts by the UN Security Council to publish a resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israeli and Hamas forces. This comes at no surprise, as the U.S. has blocked at least 53 different UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel since 1972.
The U.S. government gives Israel $3.8 billion dollars annually for military financing. For perspective, according to the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), $3.8 billion could also fund 46,982 elementary school teachers, give food to 2,525,252 people receiving assistance, and award 653,482 students with Pell grants.
A week before the fighting started, President Joe Biden approved a $735 million weapons sale to Israel. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Mark Pocan, introduced a house resolution opposing the sale. Its initial co-sponsors also include Representatives Cori Bush, Betty McCollum, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal and Andre Carson, and it is endorsed by over 70 organizations.
Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a similar resolution in the Senate. In a NY Times OpEd, Sen. Sanders writes, “if the United States is going to be a credible voice on human rights on the global stage, we must uphold international standards of human rights consistently, even when it’s politically difficult. We must recognize that Palestinian rights matter. Palestinian lives matter.” Here, Sanders highlights a transnational parallel between the Palestinian right to life and the fight for Black Lives in America.
While both resolutions are unlikely to pass, they still demonstrate a political shift in the United States to more clearly critique the Israeli government and its apartheid policies.
Additionally, on May 15, the anniversary of the Nakba, thousands rallied in cities across the world in support of Palestine. The Nakba, or Catastrophe, marks the beginning of Palestinian displacement during the 1948 war which solidified Israel as a state.
Adalah Justice Project, in partnership with Sunrise Movement, created a video documenting a vision of connected liberation in the U.S. and Palestine. The video quotes:
“When I see my people rise up in Sheikh Jarrah, Haifa, and my hometown of Nablus, I can’t help but think of Ferguson, Minneapolis, or Standing Rock. Because what I see is a people whose spirit of freedom and justice overpower the fear and hate of our oppressors. … We’re stronger together from Oakland to Bogota, from Tigrat to Jerusalem, because we share more than the violence waged against us. We are connected by resilience, our shared legacy of resistance, by the mass movements we are organizing to demand a world that is finally free.”