On the heels of Indigenous People’s Day, we join communities all over the world in condemning the horrific aggression of the apartheid state of Israel against the people of Gaza and across Palestine. As an organization working to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC), we are in deep solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and with all struggles against colonialism, imperialism, and war. The systems and conditions we fight against vary across contexts and geographies, but their purpose at their core is the same: to control, imprison, police, kill, harm, and repress our communities.
The apartheid state of Israel has declared an all-out war on the people of Gaza in response to Palestinian resistance that its own repression has bred, with its defense minister calling Palestinians “human animals.” It has since completely cut off Gaza’s access to food, water, medical supplies, fuel, electricity, and other basic needs for survival, and has even struck the Gaza-Egypt border crossing with missiles when an Egyptian humanitarian convoy attempted to reach Gaza with food and medical supplies. The apartheid state of Israel is making it clear to the entire world that they are on a genocidal campaign in Gaza, subjecting its population to as much suffering and death as possible.
Yet what apartheid-Israeli politicians and their warmongering Western leader friends are willfully ignoring is the context for this recent declaration of war – that they in fact have been enabling and waging war on the Palestinian population for 75 years. 75 years of massacres, land dispossession, settler-colonialism, apartheid, destruction of homes and agricultural fields, maiming of children, military occupation, and widespread imprisonment, policing, surveillance, and torture.
The recent apartheid-Israeli move to cut off all humanitarian supplies in Gaza as it indiscriminately bombards hospitals, residential buildings, and everything else with missiles is itself simply a hyper-intensification of what has already been the daily status-quo for the last 16 years – the air, sea, and land blockade and siege of Gaza, which has turned one of the most densely populated areas on earth with two million people into the world’s largest open-air prison. The apartheid state of Israel has also conducted deadly bombardments, attacks, and incursions against Gaza on an average of once a year since it began its blockade. Yet for the first time in these 16 years, the Palestinian people got a taste of freedom as they broke down this barrier.
A people who are subjected to decades of control and repression of actual prison buildings, open air prisons, military occupation, apartheid, the violence of policing – or the combination of all these, as is the case in Palestine – have the absolute and undeniable right and justification to defend themselves and resist their oppression. Whether it be prisoners held in the US organizing and resisting against their cages and captors, communities rising up as they did after George Floyd’s killing in 2020 against the US domestic war-making machine known as policing, or Palestinians fighting against apartheid and military occupation, we uplift people’s right to resistance and self-defense.
We must at the same time reject the tired yet dangerous criminalization and dehumanization tactic by those in power to demonize communities in resistance. Whether it be six Palestinian civil society organizations that apartheid-Israel branded as terrorists for their advocacy work in 2021; whether it be the entire country of Cuba designated by the US in 2021 as a “sponsor of terrorism” simply to please extreme right-wing forces; whether it be in Atlanta, GA, where 42 community members fighting to Stop Cop City have been called domestic terrorists for their activism, and are currently being charged as such; or whether it be the anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress who were designated by the US as terrorists – all while both the apartheid state of Israel and the US worked until the end to keep the apartheid system in place in South Africa. History tells us that whenever communities and movements start to build enough power to challenge dominant capitalist or imperialist interests, they get labelled and smeared as “terrorists.” Already, just since this past weekend, we have seen enormous backlash against pro-Palestinian speech and activism, similar to the wave of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism post-9/11.
Even with all the historical and ongoing repression, we know that repression breeds resistance, and we uplift the connections of our movements, from Turtle Island to Palestine. We uplift for instance, the direct messages of solidarity sent in 2011 between Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike protesting Administrative Detention and the prisoners in California’s Pelican Bay maximum security prison simultaneously on hunger strike to protest solitary confinement. We remember and uplift the beautiful displays of solidarity of the Palestinian people sending advice to Black protestors on how to best deal with police tear gas during the Ferguson uprisings of 2014. And we understand the particularly violent roles that the US and the apartheid state of Israel play in repression across the world.
Our vision for a world free of cops and cages does not stop at the constructed borders of the US; PIC abolition is international, and that includes supporting the struggle for the freedom of all Palestinian political prisoners enduring apartheid Israel’s prisons and jails, and for the complete dismantling of its racist and militarized systems of control. We end by echoing the decades-long demands of the Palestinian people’s movement for liberation and self-determination:
1) End the apartheid-Israeli military occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, and dismantle the apartheid walls
2) Recognize the basic and fundamental human and civil rights of all Palestinians across all of historic Palestine
3) Respect and allow the internationally recognized right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and indigenous lands, which includes restitution and reparations
Long live people’s resistance toward liberation, and long live international solidarity!