Speech at protest in solidarity with Palestinians – May 16, 2021
Gaza and Jerusalem are on Fire, again.
At least 192 Palestinians have already been killed in these brutal, racist attacks, including at least 58 children. Hundreds more have been injured and/or lost their homes.
This comes on top of the ongoing Palestinian struggle to survive under conditions of the pandemic, of poverty and mass unemployment and misery, of intensified Insraeli occupation, including extensive demolition of Palestinian houses, military and police brutality, settlers violently preventing Palestinians’ access to their farmland. Conditions that are the direct result of the brutal ongoing Israeli-Egyptian blockade, conditions which the United Nations has described as “unlivable”.
This is war. A war initiated by Netanyahu and the Israeli ruling class. The Netanyahu’s government’s blatant and provocative attacks against Palestinians in Jerusalem during the Ramzan, alongside the Israeli government military campaign in Gaza. These attacks in Jerusalem have included draconian restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement near the Al-Aqsa mosque during the Ramzan, and evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in favor of far-right Jewish settlers.
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 some of their parties. On May 12th one of these mobs was caught on live television in the city of Bat Yam openly smashing store fronts and eventually pulling an Arab driver forcibly out of his car and attempting to lynch him. No arrests have yet been made despite clear footage of the attackers.
Netanyahu’s interim government has blatantly rejected all attempts to reach a ceasefire, and cynically portrays its actions as being done in defense of civilians. It bears the overwhelming responsibility for the escalation of conflict.
Shamefully, President Biden has refused to condemn the attacks on Gaza. He is instead engaging in the continuation of the decades-long policy of US Imperialism supporting the Israeli’s ruling class’s apartheid against the Palestinian people.
Biden asserted the quote-unquote “right” of the aggressor to quote unquote “defend” itself, as though Hamas’ response can be equated with the brutality or scale of Netanyahu’s attack or the decades of racist, vicious policy of the Israeli ruling class. Let’s be clear, the Israeli ruling class has held its boot on the neck of the people of Gaza for decades. This dishonest portrayal of “both sides” and equal responsibility in a situation of apartheid is utterly unconscionable.
The people of Gaza did not start this conflict – Netanyahu and Israeli ruling class did. And while indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilians should of course be opposed, they come as a response to Netanyahu’s brutal attacks. And we must condemn the outrageous attempt by the Israeli government to use them as justification for the immeasurably more devastating bombings and military attacks they have wrought on countless defenseless Palestinian civilians.
I applaud Congressmembers Ocasio-Cortez, Talib, and other members of the Squad speaking out against the attacks on Gaza and criticizing the Biden administration.
I agree with AOC 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.”
The Squad need to now use their balance of power in the House to put pressure on Biden to end the decades long support for Israeli apartheid.
As the socialist in Seattle City Hall, I will be introducing a public statement tomorrow demanding that President Biden condemn the brutal attacks on Gaza, and the Israeli ruling class’s system of apartheid. And that Biden must cut off all military aid and all weapons sales to Israel.
Please help my office in urging all other City Councilmembers to support my public statement to Biden.
Please sign up and speak in the public comment at tomorrow’s City Council meeting. Please help to put pressure on the Democrats on the City Council, telling them to sign my statement. Please take a leaflet from my staff. And please sign up online tomorrow at 12 Noon to speak in the 2PM public comment.
In 2014, I introduced a similar statement, in the context of the brutal attacks on Gaza at that time, and not a single other Councilmember at the time supported it. We need all of you there to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Even though the City Council is today full of self-described progressive Democrats, so far not one has condemned the attacks on Gaza.
Protests are growing in the US and globally. Four thousand people protested outside Israeli consulate in LA yesterday. The UE, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, a democratic national union representing some 35,000 workers in a wide variety of manufacturing, public sector and private service-sector jobs, has publicly condemned the Israeli state’s attacks. The UE joins unions from around the world in standing with the Palestinian people.
International solidarity is crucial. What’s even more important is a united movement of working-class people in Israel and Gaza against the Israeli ruling class’s policies of apartheid. We will not be able to defeat Netanyahu and the right-wing Isreali ruling class without such a united movement of Palestinians and Isreali workers.
Such a movement must demand
- An end to the occupation and the war on the people of Gaza
- Full civil rights for all Muslims and all oppressed people in the region, and an end to all apartheid policies.
- Affordable housing for all, for Palestinian and Israeli working people.
- And free socialized medicine for all working people in Israel and Gaza.
Such a movement must fight for an independent, socialist state for Palestinian working people, with its capital in Jerusalem. And for socialism in Israel.
We need all socialists and the labor movement in the United States to stand up clearly in support of this historic struggle, and to demand an end to US administration’s shameful, decades-long policies of support for apartheid.