“Pessimism comes from reality, because reality is tragic. Optimism comes from action, because action changes reality.”
We Students for Justice in Palestine stand in solidarity and support the actions of the UC Berkeley Hunger Strikers. We find their stand against the racist and violent Arizona law SB 1070 to be courageous, demonstrating a commitment to human welfare and social justice. We recognize that it is not enough to denounce this particular law. We must instead condemn the rules and norms that criminalize and dehumanize migrants especially the Latino people in this country and on this campus.
Our intimacy with the situation of the Palestinian people, who face similar racist laws geared at preserving the ethnic purity of Israeli space and government, moves us to note the similarities of oppression here and there. Since 1948, the return of Palestinian refugees to their land in what became Israel has been criminalized. In their own homes Palestinians have been called “infiltrators.” Like Latino people here, Palestinians did not cross the border: it crossed them. The situation has endured to the present, where a recent Israeli military order has authorized the occupying military to detain and deport any person defined as an “infiltrator” – even on their own lands.
Last month the Israeli government issued two military orders, like SB 1070, which legalizes human transfer. The Israeli military orders are in grave violation of the 4th Geneva Convention as it alters the law and allows an occupying power to prosecute, detain and deport any Palestinian defined as “infiltrator.” The Israeli military and Arizona police can use the law to abuse power secretly without public debate or judicial review. Such laws legalize, mandates even, racial profiling, and necessitates the dehumanization of migrants. Like the Latino and indigenous peoples in the America”s the Palestinians have been oppressed legally. The paradox is law is ideally supposed to the mechanism that protects people from injustice. What then are we to do when law is used to facilitate racist agendas?
We believe that this system of control on movement, whether by Israel, Arizona, or the United States government, is inhumane and invasive. That SB1070 legalizes the use of racial profiling points to the motivations of this bill. Egregious ramifications of such racist laws are already apparent and are part of a larger pattern of legalizing oppression. We believe that both policies insidiously mask their unjust core because they are laws–laws that create double standards, laws that facilitate injustice, laws that break up families, laws that advance the powerful over the powerless even as the laws claim all persons should be equal under the law.
Inspired by the energy and sacrifice of our brother and sister hunger strikers, we remain optimistic and steadfast in our solidarity with the Raza students who have acted with great courage to change and challenge power with what little they have, the truth and the righteousness of their cause. During our campaign urging the university to divest our efforts were actualized at the expense of what little we had, like the hunger strikers, we understand that confronting power requires sacrifice.