Justice for Palestine Solidarity Statement
From our guiding principles as an antiracist organization we express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and actively work to end the occupation of their homeland. We denounce both anti-Arab racism and anti-Semitism wherever they occur.
In 1948 the newly formed state of Israel forced over 700,000 Palestinian people from their ancestral land. Today Palestinians live under harsh Israeli military occupation with home demolitions and land confiscation, checkpoints and surveillance, jailing and violence. Israel has imposed an apartheid system that uses laws and violence aimed only at Palestinians. They are denied the right to participate in the elections of the country that controls them.
For decades Palestinian people have fiercely defended their lands, bodies, rights, lives and culture against Israel’s determined attempts to uproot and subjugate them. Since 1948 they have fought for their self-determination through international forums, alliances with other colonized nations, exposure of Israeli crimes, self-defense and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Their steadfast resistance serves as an inspiration to antiracist, anticolonial and anti-imperialist movements worldwide.
The foundings of Israel and of the U.S. are strikingly similar – settler colonialism that seizes the ancestral land of indigenous people and uses violence to maintain control. We also see the link between the resistance movements of Black, Indigenous and other people-of-color in the U.S. and the Palestinian struggle for land, life, and liberation. Black movements in the U.S. have expressed their opposition, and worked alongside Palestinians to fight back against Israeli colonialism. For example, the Movement for Black Lives states, “The fight for Palestinian rights and dignity is integral to the fight for human rights everywhere.”
We oppose settler colonialism and Zionism, the ideological foundation of the state of Israel with its goal to establish an ethno-nationalist Jewish state on the land of Palestine. From the beginning, Zionism was founded on the political goal of displacing the indigenous Palestinian people and placing Jewish settlers on the maximum amount of land. In the name of Zionism the Israeli state continues to seize Palestinian land, attack its inhabitants and choke off the civil, political, economic, and human rights of the Palestinian people.
We know that the term Zionism has deep emotional meaning for many Jews, a people who have suffered centuries of anti-Semitism, pogroms, and the Nazi Holocaust and who look to Israel as a refuge. Increasing numbers of Jewish people oppose Zionism, acknowledging that no true refuge can come at the expense of another people. As they come to know Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, they are joining the growing movement that affirms Palestine’s right to self determination.
We understand that the U.S. system of white supremacy does not stop at our borders. The U.S. collaborates with repressive governments and dictatorships around the world and bolsters systems of domination over people of color to exploit their land, labor, resources, and the flow of capital.
As part of this global system, the U.S continues to provide billions of dollars to arm Israel and dispossess Palestinians. Policing strategies and tactics that Israel developed to crush the Palestinian resistance are applied here and worldwide. These tactics aim to keep entire populations under surveillance and control, using state violence, repression of legal protest, and mass jailing. Our resistance to these systems of policing and control in the U.S. links us to the Palestinian resistance.
We recognize white people’s particular responsibility to dismantle the persistent structures of racism and oppression. SURJ BA denounces the apartheid state of Israel, its occupation of Palestinian land, and its exploitation of the Palestinian people. We equally denounce the role of the U.S. in maintaining this occupation.
We unequivocally support the continued struggle of the Palestinian people for land, life and liberation. Their resistance and their power strengthens and inspires us, connecting our work with theirs in a global struggle for justice.
In solidarity with our Bay Area partner, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), SURJ BA is committed to educate and mobilize white people to actively join the struggle for a free Palestine.
See below for answers to important questions that expand upon this statement following the statement from Jewish members of SURJ BA.
Statement from Jewish members of SURJ BA
The following document was written by some of the Jewish members in SURJ Bay Area to accompany our chapter’s statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people’s fight for liberation and justice.
While working on this statement, each of us has reflected on our personal history and that of our families. Some of our ancestors were killed in pogroms, in the shtetls, in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Those who came to the U.S. faced anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant oppression. And today we watch the rise of Christian nationalism which idolizes Hitler and other authoritarian leaders and is rabid in its violent attacks on synagogues and its anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This multi-generational trauma and the core tenets of our Jewish faith implores us to seek justice for all people, and it is the soil from which our love of justice for the Palestinian people has grown. Our history and ongoing reality as Jewish people is one where safety is not always guaranteed, yet we reject the notion that our safety should ever come at the expense of another people’s life or well-being. We ground ourselves in our commitment to racial justice, in our rejection of settler colonialism and white supremacy.
Therefore we reject Zionism, a form of settler colonialism upon which Israel was founded, which justifies its attempt to crush Palestinians’ very spirit and identity. As white and Jewish people who are committed to racial justice, we recognize how the U.S. ideology of invaders having a God-given right to take the land of others and exploit, displace and kill the indigenous inhabitants (Manifest Destiny) is fundamentally the same as the Zionism of Herzl and Israel. The ideology of “a land without a people for a people without a land” has been used to justify the mass expulsion of both the Palestinian people and Native Americans from their lands. Israel’s Zionism is the foundation of its policies and actions and is central to the belief that the destruction of Palestine is a requirement for Jewish safety.
We reject the "safety" that Israel promises. It is a corrupt and false sense of safety based in the walls, mass incarceration and daily violence against the Palestinian people. Living inside a society based on fear, domination and apartheid (racial segregation) cannot provide safety. Instead, we embrace the notion that all people deserve to live in safety, not fear, and in abundance, not scarcity. We believe that collective liberation and security can only be found in societies that provide safety, work, housing, education, respect and dignity for all of its members. We follow the legacies of Black liberation movements rooted here in Oakland in saying “no one is free until everyone is free.”
When we remember the Holocaust we say “Never Again.” And we say Never Again, anywhere, should any people be run out of their homes and country, have their land and property destroyed or stolen, or be subjected to violence because of ethnicity or national identity. Never Again should people face murder and community punishment for an act of resistance. Never Again should some people be required to have passports or identity cards in order to travel within their homeland. Never Again means ceasing the wholesale theft and control of the Palestinian people's resources they need to survive and thrive - their water, electricity, access to the sea, and the very land where their ancestors were born and buried. Never Again applies not just to Jews. No people should experience violence and oppression. We are being called to help and continue to build a movement of resistance against Israel’s apartheid system of domination which we see with our eyes, right here, in the now of our lifetime.
We have reflected deeply on the lives and struggles of the Palestinian people. We see what price they pay in the face of the unrelenting attempt by Israel to seize their land and their resources and to crush their spirit as a people. In spite of it all, Palestinians have continued to resist. Their spirit and determination are powerful. In our commitment to racial justice we take leadership from the Palestinian people and their organizations. We stand in strong solidarity with their struggle for liberation.
Questions for further clarification
Why do we focus on Israel?
We in the U.S. bear a heavy responsibility for Israel’s actions for a number of reasons. Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid. Our country’s massive financial and political support enables Israel to expand its military might and to carry out ethnic cleansing in spite of intense international criticism. We in SURJ BA oppose the U.S. funding of Israel, now at over $3 billion a year. Our tax dollars pay “defense” contractors for the weapons with which Israel bombs, maims, and kills people in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
In addition, many pro-Israel groups and wealthy individuals in the U.S. help finance the occupation of Palestine by donating huge amounts of money to politicians and others in U.S. governmental systems in order to shape U.S. Middle East policy to Israel’s interest. Along with the support from mainstream Jewish organizations, a vast network of Christian evangelicals believe that support of Israel is a religious mandate. Christian Zionist organizations, such as Christians United for Israel, which claims 5 million members, constitute powerful lobbying organizations to defend Israel. SURJ BA opposes all pro-Zionist groups that provide crucial financial and political resources for Israel even as some of them practice antisemitism here at home.
We also oppose the role of the state of Israel as an outpost of Washington D.C.’s geopolitical interests. Israel provides surveillance and weapons systems to dictators and undemocratic states around the world, trains US police forces in racist tactics and advanced repressive weaponry, and promotes war and instability across the Middle East.
IS THE PRO-PALESTINE MOVEMENT ANTI-SEMITIC?
Calling out the brutal and repressive policies of the state of Israel is not anti-Semitic. Upholding the Palestinian struggle for freedom is not anti-Semitic. Opposing Israel’s policies and practices is not an attack on Jews or Judaism. As Jewish Voice for Peace has stated, “Criticism of Zionism, a political set of beliefs and national ideology, has a complex history that has developed for over a century, and it is not to be conflated with anti-Semitism."
Misrepresenting criticism of Israel or Zionism as ethnic or religious hostility is a tactic to suppress the speech and thwart the actions of Palestine and its allies. It also damages the ability to detect and protest actual antisemitism.
Why do we say we oppose Zionism?
The ideological foundation of the state of Israel is Zionism, which emerged in the late 19th century with the goal to establish an ethno-nationalist Jewish state on the land of Palestine. In the name of Zionism the Israeli state carries out ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. It denies equal citizenship and due process to Arab citizens within Israel and maintains its brutal military control over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. To this day Israel continues to bomb, invade, seize land, and demolish homes – displacing the Palestinian inhabitants and denying their human rights.
As the above statement from Jewish members of SURJ BA says, the Palestinian people’s struggle aligns with a core Jewish value – that all human beings have a fundamental right to live in dignity and in freedom.
Why do we assert that Israel maintains an apartheid state?
Israel uses special laws, oppressive practices, and organized violence to restrict Palestinian employment, access to resources, freedom of movement, and participation in government. Israeli settlers in the West Bank receive separate policing, legal systems, water access, and roads; they attack Palestinians with impunity. In contrast, two million refugees are trapped and starving in Gaza, cut off from the world by land and sea, by Israeli walls and patrols. A 2022 report by Amnesty International, like earlier ones from Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem, identifies Israel as an apartheid regime. Even the former Attorney General of Israel acknowledged Israel’s occupation as apartheid and urged the international community to hold Israel accountable.
Why do we support BDS—isn’t it a form of attack on the Israeli people?
We endorse the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is the Palestinian civil society’s nonviolent global campaign to pressure Israel by targeting its economic base, just as activists did in apartheid South Africa. We denounce the laws and sanctions that pro-Israeli apologists are enacting to criminalize BDS supporters and violate their free speech rights.
Why do Palestinians have a right to resist?
Like other peoples under occupation, Palestinians are justified in defending their land, lives, and communities. Multiple resolutions from the UN have declared that the expanding settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are illegal, and the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 condemned them in 2016 as “flagrant violations of international law.” UN Resolution 2625 affirms the right of subjugated peoples to resist their colonizers. Appropriation of land, jailing and torture of individuals, loss of lives and livelihoods, surveillance and walls are all ongoing in Palestine. Palestinian resistance to this oppression is also ongoing.
Why is it important for SURJ BA to be in solidarity with movements outside the U.S.?
SURJ BA connects our racial justice work here with that of peoples throughout the world who are striving to achieve their human rights free of foreign domination. The U.S. funds and arms repressive regimes not only in Israel but also the Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, and more. As white people living inside the world’s superpower, we have an obligation to oppose U.S.-funded aggression and support liberation movements abroad.
Resistance movements in the U.S. are part of a global movement to end exploitation and violence. For example, the call “Black Lives Matter” has resonated across the world. We uphold the human rights of people everywhere. We learn from their struggles for the return of ancestral land and resources, for the end of military and police terror, for gender justice. Joining with movements such as justice for Palestine inspires and strengthens all our movements for liberation and racial justice.