It is with much love and pained happiness that the members and supporters of the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) watch the daughters and sons of Palestine celebrate on the streets of Gaza. We wish our children and families there a future full of hope, freedom, and achievement, and congratulate them and the entirety of the Palestinian and Arab peoples on this historic victory.
For 51 days, our people withstood Zionist Israel’s bombing and killing campaign. Although we mourn a total of 2,143 sacred martyrs, the vast majority civilians, including close to 500 children, Israel clearly lost this battle on both military and political levels. One of the strongest armies in the world could not accomplish its goal of disarming and defeating the unified Palestinian resistance in Gaza. All the Palestinian resistance groups participated together in the defense of our land, and proved, like in 2006 in Southern Lebanon, that Israel’s military is not invincible. Understanding this, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed the ceasefire agreement with the Palestinians without even allowing a cabinet vote.
Israel also lost on the battleground represented by the court of public opinion. Millions of people across the world rallied in condemnation of Israel and in support of Palestinian rights, the largest in South Africa and the UK. Numerous Latin American governments, led by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, exerted diplomatic pressure by recalling ambassadors from Israel, suspending trade agreement negotiations, declaring Israel a terrorist state, and in the case of Ecuador, cancelling a state visit to the pariah country.
The ceasefire agreement reportedly includes opening all crossings to Gaza, allowing reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, allowing the entry of materials needed for reconstruction, and permitting fishing for a distance of 6 to 12 nautical miles from shore. In a month, Palestinians will repeat their demands to reopen Gaza’s airport and seaport. But our people recognize that the victory in Gaza was a victory of resistance, and not of negotiations. We remember clearly that Israel previously entered into dozens of agreements that it had violated, so we have no illusion that this time will be different.
That is why we continue to call for an unconditional end of the Israeli siege on Gaza, as well as an end to occupation and colonization of Palestinian land. And why we demand that Israel, the U.S., and the war profiteers are held accountable for the destruction and devastation. Congressional and Obama Administration support and protection of Israel is unacceptable, and our responsibility as residents of the U.S. is to demand that this government initiate an arms embargo on Israel, and immediately end all aid to Israel as well. Corporations that sell the weapons of mass destruction used by Israel to drop bombs, fire missiles, and kill our people cannot be allowed to do business as usual, so we call for continued protests and targeting of Boeing and others.
We must also continue to make Israel pay, by redoubling our efforts on Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, which are legitimately taking a toll on the criminal state, as evidenced by the incredible Block the Boat organizing in California two weeks ago, and the countless other victories this year alone—Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Chicago universities Loyola and DePaul, and University of Michigan; Presbyterian Church; SodaStream; and more.
In addition, we demand that the Palestinian Authority immediately sign the Rome Statute and become members of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which will allow investigations of Israeli war crimes on behalf of our people in Gaza.
This victory made clear that Israel is living on borrowed time. It is no longer possible to discuss only the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Most Palestinians have been challenging the racist, settler-colonialist nature of Zionist Israel for years, and now the rest of the world is recognizing it. Fascist, anti-Arab legislators and parties are core members of Netanyahu’s coalition government, and settler thugs are terrorizing Palestinians regularly. The concept of Israel as a state exclusively for people who share the religion of Judaism is the problem. Zionism is the problem. People can no longer justify the right of an apartheid state to exist, just like we could not justify South Africa’s before the fall of apartheid there.
Another lesson learned is that the reactionary Arab regimes are truly enemies of the Palestinian and Arab peoples. From the role Egypt played in the siege to the clear siding of the Gulf and other Arab monarchs with Israel, there is no question that the U.S.’ imperial plans for the region was also struck a strong blow by the Palestinian resistance.
Finally, this victory was driven by the steadfast will of our people in Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, 1948 Palestine, and the rest of the world. Palestinians and Arabs led the forces of resistance by any and all means, including the mass Arab and Muslim mobilizations in this country, the largest ever in support of our people’s rights. USPCN participated in and led coalitional efforts in many of the cities where we have chapters or members—New York, Detroit, the Bay Area, Chicago, St. Louis, Youngstown, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. And the solidarity expressed with other oppressed communities here was significant as well, with the parallel made between the Ferguson uprising and the Gaza resistance being an essential political connection that must endure.
We salute the strong and brave people of Gaza and all of Palestine. We together mourn our martyrs and together celebrate this victory, and pledge to continue organizing and resisting until Liberation and Return!
United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) – August 29, 2014