The United Nations declared November 29 to be the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People some 63 years ago.
Since that time, the lands on which Palestinians live have continued – quite literally – to shift from under their feet, as the Israeli Occupation claims more land and water for Israeli settlers and “security” zones. Those living in the occupied Palestinian territories face tremendous hardships with resilience and, in this Arab Spring, even some hope. We stand in solidarity with them. Grassroots International is honored to partner with organizations in the occupied Palestinian territories (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip) supporting local grassroots initiatives that provide essential services and advance resource rights and food sovereignty. And through our work with these partners–combined with that of allies and coalitions–we facilitate international linkages to support the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for self-determination, human rights, and justice. Individually and collectively, our partners respond to the humanitarian and economic crises through creative tactics. From rooftop gardening in Gazan refugee camps to peaceful protests against the Wall in the West Bank to setting up seed banks, they build strong communities and hope for the future. These groups share a common vision of protection of Palestinians’ basic rights, life with dignity, and sovereignty within internationally recognized borders. As we celebrate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, we also continue to engage in U.S. based activities to support the rights of Palestinians to land, water and food. Recently, along with our ally Jewish Voice for Peace, Grassroots International sponsored the showing of “Cultures of Resistance,” a feature film that, among other things, highlighted the impact of art and resistance in Palestine. And because the construction of the Separation Wall (being constructed primarily by Elbit Systems Ltd. for a great profit), Grassroots International is asking TIAA-CREF to fully divest from Elbit Systems, Ltd. As the largest retirement fund for those in the academic, medical, cultural and research fields, TIAA-CREF’s investment of $1.68 M in Elbit contradicts its public commitment to social responsibility and should end. Our ally, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, sent the information below in commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People:
…Today the Palestinian people’s resilience and struggle for freedom continue. Bedouin families of Al-Arakib in the Negev Desert have rebuilt their homes more than 20 times to maintain their presence there. Villagers of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank continue to nonviolently protest settler and army violence and land confiscation, remaining steadfast in the face of the army’s intimidation tactics and extreme brutality. Children in Gaza whose schools have been bombed attend makeshift classrooms, persisting to get an education. Survivors of the Nakba, the catastrophe of Palestinian dispossession in the 1947-48 war, continue to preserve and pass down their testimonies and the keys to their homes, refusing to forget or to give up their internationally recognized right to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled.
Also today, Minnesota citizens from the exciting Minnesota Break the Bonds campaign gathered at the State Attorney General’s office to serve a lawsuit on the state’s Board of Investment, demanding that it divest from Israel Bonds, based on moral, ethical and legal grounds.
These are only two of the many actions by US Campaign member groups over the past two weeks. On November 15, activists in 15 cities across the United States organized actions and educational events in solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders, who challenged the Jim Crow-style segregation inherent in the Israeli occupation. You can find an exciting play-by-play chronology of the Freedom Riders’ actions at The Struggle, and a summary of the day’s events–in the West Bank and the U.S.–at Jewish Voice for Peace, a US Campaign member organization.
Here is just a small sampling of U.S. actions supporting the Palestinian Freedom Riders as part of the growing worldwide campaign to challenge Veolia, a French multinational corporation that profits from the Israeli occupation by operating buses on Israeli-only roads, among other things:
In Los Angeles, activists demonstrated and boarded buses run by Veolia to educate passengers about Israel’s apartheid policies as part of a campaign targeting Veolia contracts with the city.
Boston activists launched a campaign challenging the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Company’s contract with Veolia by distributing fliers to educate and mobilize Boston residents.
Baltimore, activists demonstrated at Penn Station during rush hour, singing a freedom song and drawing connectionsbetween the Palestinian and American struggles for equality and human rights, linking Veolia‘s profiteering from racism and exploitation in Israel/Palestine to the City of Baltimore’s unequal government contracts.
There were also more actions in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento, Chico, Oakland, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.! Check out the Last Saturday, activists in 10 European countries staged more than 60 actions as part of a Day of Action calling on supermarkets and governments to “Take Apartheid off the Menu.”
Today, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, let us celebrate Palestinian steadfastness and renew our commitment to ending U.S. complicity with Israeli occupation and apartheid as part of a growing, exciting, global movement for freedom, justice, and equality.