What is happening to Palestinians today and what has been happening to Palestinians for over a century is a wrenching example of systemic violence rooted in settler-colonialism and white supremacy.
The story of Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood located in East Jerusalem, is the story of all of Palestine. It is the story of forced expulsions and death. It is the story of more than 700,000 Palestinians who were exiled from their homes in 1948. Many of the refugee families exiled during this time took the keys to their homes hoping to return one day; most of these families still have those keys today.
In these past few weeks, Palestinian protests against the expulsion of the people of Sheikh Jarrah have been met with violent opposition by Israeli forces and settlers. Palestinians have been sprayed with toxic chemicals, physically assaulted, arrested, and even killed. In addition, the courtyard of one of the holiest sites of Islam has been set ablaze during one of the holiest months of the year. To date, the death toll stands at 212, according to the New York Times. More than a quarter of those killed were children.
Moreover, every year, the United States government provides Israel with billions of dollars in foreign aid. The U.S. provided Israel with $3.8 billion in 2019 alone -- almost all of which went towards military spending. Israel now has one of the most “technologically sophisticated militaries in the world,” according to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service. To add insult to injury, the Biden administration just approved the U.S. government selling Israel $735 million worth of weapons. Therefore, the violence that has been and is taking place in Palestine is an American issue. Instead of investing in war and violence, we should invest in the communities that have been hardest hit by discriminatory policing, racism and under investment. The U.S. is long overdue for a great reckoning.
All Palestinians want is to be free, to live with dignity, and to move freely through their ancestral land – just like every colonized and indigenous person across the globe. And they are prevented from doing so in every way imaginable, both by the law itself and by individual actions.
At Common Justice, we do the work of holding people and systems accountable for violence, both interpersonal and structural. In our view, accountability requires: (1) acknowledging one’s actions, (2) acknowledging the impacts of those actions, (3) expressing genuine remorse, (4) making steps to repair the harm caused, ideally in a way defined by those harmed, and (5) ensuring that one never causes such harm again. We have not even begun the first steps when it comes to the harm inflicted on Palestinians.
So, grounded in these values, and bearing witness to this violence, Common Justice calls for accountability and repair. We condemn the attempts at forced expulsions of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. We condemn the violence that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians over the years. And, we stand with Palestinian families and communities at this time as they assert their right to self-determination, as well as their right to be treated with dignity, humanity and respect.