From Ramallah to Haifa to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the homeland are joining the global denunciations of systems of racial supremacy.

NADA ELIA, Mondoweiss, JUNE 8, 2020

The horrific police murder of George Floyd, caught on a cell phone by a teenager who then posted the harrowing footage on social media, is only the latest reminder that the civil rights struggles of the past century have not translated into safer streets—not even safer homes–for Black people in the USA.  Yet in this deeply painful moment, there is also a sense of cautious hopefulness, as Americans of all races, but also as people globally, are taking to the streets with one message: “Black Lives Matter.” 

And from Ramallah to Haifa to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the homeland are joining the global denunciations of the system of racial supremacy that has too long held down an oppressed people who taught the world that justice is indivisible, and that none of us can breathe until Black people can breathe. This video compiles some of their statements of solidarity, including “We see you,” “your pain is our pain,” and affirming the belief that justice will prevail.  

The Black Lives Matter slogan, “Defund the Police,” is also resonating in all corners of the globe, along with denunciations of the blanket criminalization of Black people, and of the racist underpinnings of American law enforcement, which has always placed property over humanity.  A much-needed discussion is taking place in homes, on social media, and in the streets, about the very identity of the police institution, with its beginning as slave patrols. As I wrote elsewhere: “With their origin as runaway slave patrols—always prioritizing the property of whites over the lives of African Americans, the US police forces have been racist for centuries […]Their behavior today, as they form a weaponized wall protecting banks and shopping malls, rather than the protestors rising up against centuries of injustice, is a direct evolution of their initial mandate—to protect the privileged and their wealth, from the violently dispossessed, those who have been looted of their land, and the fruit of their labor.”

This is why the Black Lives Matter demands are not accommodationist, asking for body cams or a better accountability system. Rather, the message is clear: “Defund the Police” is about dismantling a system that is so essentially racist it cannot be reformed.  

Arab Americans, themselves no strangers to law enforcement violence, are also expressing their solidarity with the Black struggle, in individual statements, in works of art honoring Black lives, and in hosting fundraisers to benefit the Movement for Black Lives, and It is our duty to defend Black lives,” a “rebellion of love” is afoot.

For now, we must make sure this is a movement, not a moment. So let us keep taking to the streets, joining in the rebellion of love against racism. The police, today’s enforcers of racial supremacy, must be abolished, because (as the contributors in this video affirm): Black Lives Matter.

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COVID-19 and Human Rights – 2013 Laureate Raji Sourani

“Governments must put human rights and dignity at the centre”

Raji Sourani, The Right Livelihood Foundation, May 8, 2020

On the evening of 21 March 2020, Gaza’s health ministry confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19. Overpopulated and impoverished, the Gaza Strip faces particular vulnerability in the context of the pandemic. A potential large-scale outbreak of the virus would constitute another enormous strain on Gaza’s population, already affected by more than a decade of Israeli blockade, causing extreme poverty, harsh living conditions, dysfunctional infrastructure and a fragile healthcare system. Furthermore, Israel’s over half-century-long occupation of Gaza involved systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian population, including the use of excessive lethal force against protesters and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial.

It is in these exceptional circumstances that 2013 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Raji Sourani has been tirelessly working to defend and promote human rights. As the most prominent human rights lawyer based in the Gaza Strip, Sourani established the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights to document and investigate human rights violations committed in the Occupied Territories, and has defended countless victims before Israeli courts. For his activism, he has been imprisoned six times by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

At the time of writing this article, 19 people in Gaza were tested positive with COVID-19. Giving the enormous challenges that this pandemic poses to the Palestinian population, we asked Sourani to give us more details about the situation in the Gaza Strip, where he currently resides.

What is the current situation in Gaza, and what are your major concerns?

Israel’s more than a decade-long closure of Gaza severely restricts the movement of people and goods. We have been in isolation for a very long time, and we know very well the implications of such an exceptional situation, that is now affecting most of the world.

At the moment, 19 people in Gaza are positive to coronavirus, 160 people in Jerusalem and 250 in the West Bank, mostly workers coming from Israel. The response to the crisis in Gaza has been mainly focused on prevention – by immediately quarantining all those coming from the outside – and on health education, including social distancing, personal protection, and hygiene rules. However, being Gaza one of the most densely populated places on earth, it became soon clear that home quarantine is not effective, and authorities have been using hotels, schools, hospital sections and health facilities to quarantine all those who have symptoms.

I am really worried about the lack of coordination between Israel and the Palestinian authority in tackling this crisis. Both of them bear the duty to provide essential health services and apply public health measures throughout this pandemic. However, this is not happening and people affected are not being treated in a non-discriminatory way.

What is the current condition of the health system and the provision of medical supplies? 

The health care system in Gaza was on the brink of collapse even before receiving its first COVID-19 patient. It has been struggling for over a decade as a result of the blockade and the destruction of infrastructure by Israel, with shortages in medical devices, drugs, equipment and health workers expertise. Despite we have qualified doctors in Gaza, they are very limited in their work because they are completely disconnected from the outside. Public health conditions are extremely poor, including lack of water and electricity.

In such a critical moment, it’s more important than ever that Israel lifts the closure on Gaza, so that it can equip itself with the necessary medical supplies to combat the pandemic. As enshrined in Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the occupying power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining the “adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics”. Therefore, in addition to its own citizens and residents, Israel must fulfil its duty to protect people living under its occupation. However, at the moment, medical supplies in Gaza are coming from international actors only.

What about human rights? How has your work been impacted by COVID19?

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Myths about Gaza

 

4/27/20

 

Since the Coronavirus crisis began, IfNotNow has focused most of our movement’s resources on supporting the millions of Palestinian people trapped in Gaza, a densely populated strip of land that Israel’s military blockade has turned into an open air prison. Together, we gathered 13,000 signatures on a petition demanding the Israeli government lift the blockade and act to protect Gaza. And we have raised over $15,000 to provide direct medical aid to Gaza.

We did all this because the Israeli blockade — combined with Israel’s regular military assaults — have weakened Gaza’s public health system, and we know that an outbreak in Gaza would have devastating consequences.

We also know that the American Jewish establishment have defended and justified the Israeli military blockade of Gaza since it began 13 years ago. The myths they have created and perpetuated have paved the way to a complete dehumanization of the millions of people living in Gaza and a failure to put forward any serious political solutions to this crisis.

So this week, IfNotNow is organizing a digital education campaign around the 5 myths that the American Jewish establishment uses to justify the Israeli military blockade on Gaza. We’re going to explore not just the inaccuracies of these myths, but also the harm they’ve done to Palestinians.

Each day we will be debunking one new myth, each of which will be all too familiar to people who follow the news or have formal Jewish education.

We’ve been countering these myths and holding our community to account for perpetuating them since our founding, during the War on Gaza in summer 2014. And we have successfully shifted the conversation towards one that prioritizes freedom and dignity for all Palestinians and Israelis rather than endless occupation.

However, there is so much more to be done. And we’re hoping this digital education campaign can help get us there.

Here are two ways you can help make this campaign successful this week:

• Share with your friends and family. Everyday we will be posting a series of graphics and facts on social media. — and we need you to share them so your friends friends and family can learn the truth. Click here to see today’s posts from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

• Join our movement for the long haul: In the coming weeks, organizers from our movement will be having hundreds of 1-on-1 conversations with people just like you, who support our movement but never found the right opportunity to get more involved. Sign up for a 1-on-1 or an orientation workshop here.

Together, we can educate our community and grow the movement.

Let’s do this,
Yonah Lieberman
IfNotNow