Sunaina Maira of USACBI’s organizing collective is one of the initiators of the following statement. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are invited to endorse the statement at this link:
As peoples in the Americas whose ancestors come from countries in Asia, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands, and as members of indigenous communities in these regions, we issue this statement of solidarity with the people of Palestine living in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and in diaspora throughout the world. Our statement of solidarity is based upon our own historical experiences of imperialism, settler colonialism, racism, militarism, war, economic and land exploitation, displacement, incarceration, and forced migration. It emerges from our relationships with the Palestinian people and our solidarity with their historical and current day freedom struggles which have been, and continue to be, misrepresented in U.S. academia, mainstream media, and religious institutions. Our call for AANHPI solidarity is based upon principles of human rights for all people, including Jewish people, around the world, and our principled opposition to Zionism, apartheid, and occupation in Palestine.
The Current Crisis in Palestine
On March 30, 2018, Palestinians began their commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe) with non-violent protests in Gaza, and the West Bank, under the banner of the “Great March of Return.” These demonstrations brought attention to 70 years of ethnic cleansing, land annexation, and expulsion of indigenous Palestinians from their homes and homeland and the denial of their right to return by Israel, with the support of the U.S. and in violation of UN Resolution 194. With roots in the late 19th century, the Zionist settler colonial project was launched in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel resulting in the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinian refugees. Since its violent establishment in 1948 Israel has engaged in a systematic purging of Palestinians from their land and homes. There are now more than 7.25 million Palestinian refugees. The majority of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees who are trapped in the largest open air prison in the world, the Gaza Strip, whose land, air, and sea borders are controlled by Israel in a decade-long siege backed by the U.S.
The recent popular protests in Gaza calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland was met with disproportionate violence and brutality by Israel. Up to 121 persons were killed and over 13,000 persons wounded. These killings coincided with Trump’s move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on May 15, 2018, deepening the current administration’s support of annexation of Palestinian land in Jerusalem and the West Bank and the violation of Palestinian sovereignty. Girded by the illegal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Israel continues to annex Palestinian land, encages Palestinians in ghettos surrounded by checkpoints, watch towers and an illegal Apartheid wall, while settlement expansion increases the demographic of Jewish Zionists claiming biblical inheritance to Palestinian land. Christian Zionists have played a significant role in supporting the Zionist movement, and advocating for the embassy move and the full annexation of Palestinian land as part of a theology of the “end times.” This toxic marriage of religious fervor, military might, and colonial interests are all too familiar in our social, cultural, and political histories.
In addition, within Israel, one fifth of its citizens are Palestinians who are subjected to systemic racial discrimination and repression in their own land, supported by more than 50 laws that adversely impact their daily lives. The U.S. government gives unconditional support to these human rights violations and war crimes with annual foreign aid of $3.8B to the State of Israel. The continued expansion of settler colonialism, apartheid conditions, and military occupation is upheld through U.S. and international political, military, and economic support.
Statement of Solidarity
In response to the failure of governmental action, the Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice, and equality issued a call for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) in 2005. BDS is a non-violent response by Palestinian civil society to a violent and racist reality, which has growing support among athletes, actors, musicians, artists, educators, businesses, and civic organizations in many countries. In 2013, the national Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) adopted a resolution honoring the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions and to support the protected rights of students and scholars to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine as well as the right to education and academic freedom of Palestinian scholars and students.
- Building on the action of the AAAS, this statement by the undersigned individual scholars, activists, artists, community, civic, and religious leaders from the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities is an endorsement of the Palestinian call for BDS, and an appeal to our communities to speak out on behalf of human rights for our Palestinian brother and sisters.As we issue this statement, we are also cognizant of the fact that with the growth of the BDS movement internationally, orchestrated campaigns have been and continue to be organized to stifle academic leaders, student groups, businesses, civic organizations, and religious institutions from engaging in advocacy for BDS and Palestinian human rights, with support and funding from the Israeli state. Military occupation and war tactics have been extended into the legal and political arenas in our U.S. congress, state legislatures, college campuses, and religious institutions. This has included the strategic targeting of individuals and organizations through lawfare, blacklisting, censorship, harassment, and denial of employment, as well as silencing through false allegations of anti-Semitism.
- Given this “McCarthyism” backlash, we express our continued public support of the Association of Asian American Studies for its principled stance in the face of continued backlash.
- We express our support for Palestinian professor Rabab Abdulhadi at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora (AMED) program. Both Dr. Abdulhadi and the AMED program have been subjected to a public smear campaign and lawsuits to censure their support of Palestinian human rights. We uphold their accomplishments and contributions to anti-racist scholarship and pedagogy at the heart and soul of Ethnic Studies, which was born of the Third World Strike at SFSU in 1968.
- We also stand in solidarity with the American Studies Association (ASA) and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which have been targeted by Zionist lawsuits in retaliation for the ASA’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions and USACBI’s leadership of the academic boycott movement. Several of the defendants in the lawsuits are Asian American and Native Hawaiian scholar-activists and along with Palestinian American scholar Steven Salaita have been targeted for bullying and defamation. This harassment is in response to the success of the growing academic boycott movement and designed to intimidate boycott activists so we applaud them for their ongoing organizing in solidarity with Palestinian scholars and students.
- We ask you to consider endorsing the academic and cultural boycott of Israel called for by Palestinians in support of their right to education and academic freedom. If you are an academic or cultural worker, you can add your endorsement at: www.usacbi.org.
As the BDS call articulates, let us uphold, “the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity” as we continue to press forward in working towards human rights, freedom, and justice for all.
Sign on to the statement here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeLpPJWsvgY3HknsMfhJ490BbvmEiawRkHoQEGqdRqyYcOD8g/viewform?c=0&w=1
Photo credits: Anirvan Chatterjee and Sabiha Basrai, ASATA; Anakbayan NY