As anti-racism protests have swept across the United States following the horrific police killing of George Floyd on May 25, Palestinians have joined the thousands around the world rallying in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, during which time Floyd pleaded, “I can't breathe.” Captured on video, this painful moment has served as a reminder that, 157 years after slavery was abolished in the United States and 57 years after Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington, Black Americans still face daily injustice and discrimination, police brutality and systemic racism.
The message of the Black Lives Matter movement has resonated beyond the United States, and demonstrations calling for an end to inequality and racial violence have taken place in hundreds of cities across the globe. In Palestine, where the reality of unrelenting oppression is all too familiar, Palestinians have loudly and courageously proclaimed their solidarity. In a recent statement the Palestinian advocacy organization Adalah Justice Project declared, “This rebellion is rooted in love. To protest for Black life, to demand dignity, to cry out for justice, is love.”
There are strong parallels between the experience of Palestinians living under occupation and that of Black Americans. Both groups are subjected to police brutality, racism, systemized marginalization and subjugation, unlawful arrests, mass incarceration, unfair trials, generational trauma and everyday violence. The recent killing of an unarmed, disabled Palestinian man, Eyad Hallaq, in Jerusalem by Israeli police has highlighted the tragically similar experiences of the two groups and spurred protests within Israel and Palestine.
These protests come on the heels of the recent announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of plans to proceed with annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian territories as early as July 1. Annexation is part of the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” proposal, which has been criticized by many church leaders. The move would directly contravene international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, and significantly harm the prospect of bringing conflict in the region to a just and lasting end.
In a June 2 letter, 27 church leaders called on Congress to oppose unilateral annexation of significant portions of the West Bank. The leaders wrote that they were “deeply concerned” by Netanyahu’s stated plans and the green light given to him by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We are committed, as individuals, and as leaders of faith communions and organizations, to the achievement of a just peace … . [Annexation] is not in the cause of a just peace … [and] would entrench inequalities and abuses of Palestinians’ human rights.”
These church leaders join Christian voices in the Holy Land in speaking out against annexation. In a May 7 statement, the Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches expressed “the utmost concern” if Israel were to proceed with its plans. The Middle East Council of Churches and World Council of Churches issued a joint letter appealing for “a firm and principled stance by the European Union against any annexation” and arguing that “any such annexation would constitute a grave violation of international law.”
Join voices across the globe in standing up for justice. Tell Congress that now is the time for the United States to oppose Israeli annexation and declare that it will no longer subsidize Israeli occupation and appropriation of Palestinian land in contravention of international laws and conventions and against established U.S. principles and interests in the region.
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