Activism

New statement calls on the movement to focus on Palestine, not divisive internal conflicts

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A new open letter calls on the Palestine solidarity movement to “unite for Palestine” and put an end to divisive attacks on one another – most recent of which was a shocking assault by ostensible allies on Miko Peled, the courageous Israeli advocate of justice for Palestinians. Below is the text of the letter and a list of initial signers. If you agree you can sign your name at www.uniteforpalestine.com, where you can also read background on other actions that have been divisive within the movement.

A Call to Focus on Palestine and Stop Divisive Attacks

As Palestinians are killednonviolent activists are jailed and shot, prisoners are tortured, colonial settlements swallow ancestral lands, and American money enables Israeli crimes against humanity, we the undersigned have come together to cry “stop.”

Our focus as people dedicated to peace and justice must be on bringing awareness of the deep injustice at the heart of the Palestinian tragedy, the U.S. policies that enable this, and ways to bring change.

And yet some amongst us have become sidetracked.

Cases are proliferating in which activists and organizations are turning on others, scrutinizing fellow activists with seemingly greater attention than they scrutinize the incredibly powerful actors that are perpetrating and enabling war crimes. Some are undermining and even occasionally stopping important talks and events on Palestine.

Standing up for Palestinian justice is a daunting task, and one that many have long avoided. It puts careers, reputations, friendships, and sometimes even lives on the line. We must not make it harder by turning on each other whenever someone makes a mistake, says a wrong word, or takes an approach or attitude we disagree with.

It is clear who loses from these attacks on one another: Palestinians, others throughout the Middle East, and people everywhere who wish for peace and justice.

A successful movement requires a diverse group of participants – all focused on the same goal. Like successful movements of the past, such as those against apartheid in South Africa or segregation in the United States, we must keep our eyes on that goal.

Everyone is human and no one can be right all the time. Dedicated anti-racist activists may make mistakes. Activists will not always agree and may have significant differences on tactics, policies and other issues – including different opinions on the cases below. This is to be expected and is a normal part of all movements. Such differences, however, should not impede our urgent work.

We must not undermine one another. None of us must act as gatekeepers, trying to limit or dominate the movement. Instead, we must all coexist and focus our energy and resources on our goal: peace and justice in Palestine.

It is time for us all to focus on our common goal, and to move forward in our diverse, necessary, and powerful work to bring justice and peace in Palestine.

— The Undersigned

Initial signatories:
  • James Abourezk, Former Senator (South Dakota), founder of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
  • Abbas Hamideh, Co-Founder, Al-Awda: The Palestine Right To Return Coalition
  • John Erickson, Co-Chair of NorCal Friends of Sabeel
  • Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, and former Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, UN Human Rights Council
  • Samia Khoury, Founding member of the board of Trustees of Birzeit University and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre; author, “Reflections from Palestine: A Journey of Hope” (descendant of Birzeit University founders)
  • Ray McGovern, Retired CIA officer turned peace activist, co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, passenger on U.S. Boat to Gaza (2011)
  • Dr. Khalil Nakhleh, Author of “Globalized Palestine: The National Sell-Out of a Homeland”; former member, Steering Committee on the Strategy of Palestinian Higher Education
  • Lois Nakhleh, Artist and longtime activist in Palestine
  • Abdallah Omeish, Award-winning documentary filmmaker of “Occupation 101” and “The War Around Us”
  • Cindy Sheehan, Anti-war peace activist, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
  • The Reverend Canon Richard K. Toll, Former Director, Friends of Sabeel, Retired Episcopal Priest
  • John Whitbeck, International law expert, analyst on Israel-Palestine, Director of Council for the National Interest
  • Maggie Coulter, Sacramento BDS
  • Marvin Cohen, Voices for Justice in Palestine
  • Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA based Palestine Solidarity activist
  • Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Prof Emeritus, UC Berkeley, Friends of Sabeel – North America, Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Marina Gutierrez, Women in Black – Berkeley-Oakland and Friends of Sabeel – North America
  • Jane Jewell, 14 Friends of Palestine – Marin, US Boat to Gaza west coast coordinator, Gaza’s Ark
  • Alice Diane Kisch, Friends of Sabeel – North America and Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Henry Norr, International Solidarity Movement, Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area, participant 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla
  • Jon D. Peterson, MD, Albany, CA
  • Marianne Torres, Spokane Committee for Palestine and longtime Palestine solidarity activist
  • Donna Wallach, Justice for Palestinians – San Jose, participant in 1st Free Gaza successful breaking of Israeli naval blockade
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Googled “assault by ostensible allies on Miko Peled, the courageous Israeli advocate of justice for Palestinians.” and got and got this.

I agree with stopping the attacks on Miko Peled and I would also like to see an end to vicious and divisive personal attacks against leading pro-Palestine activists and writers over their opposition to US intervention in Syria.

Thanks Henry for posting this. I just signed the statement. I would write more but this is a very sensitive subject here and elsewhere.

Did you get my last email?

I heard Miko speak and he said the same things that every other sane person says: Israel is mistreating the Palestinian people. The speech was fine. All the Movement speakers give fine speeches. For sure it would be stupid to pit these fine speakers against each other. There is no good reason to slam Miko or any of the other fine speakers, although no one will notice either way, because very little mass media coverage… Read more »

Thanks, Henry and All who wrote and signed it, for this beautiful letter. Thanks for working faithfully for Justice and Peace in Palestine, assuming the best and not the worst about all who care and try to help. Thanks!

P.S. And of course I signed it as soon as I read it.