Since the latest round of violence erupted in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, many of us in OWS (who have always felt inspired by those so-called “Arab Spring” demonstrators who occupied their public squares in a cry for democracy) have felt saddened and torn. We completely condemn the Hamas rocket attacks on civilians, but we also know that retaliation will only beget further violence. We hold diverse opinions on the ongoing situation there, but from the bottom of our hearts, we feel the utmost solidarity and compassion for those — on all sides of the conflict — who are suffering from terror and wish peace to prevail. It is possible to support those in Israel [link via Occupy Judaism] without supporting the injustices perpetuated by the Israeli state; we stand united against antisemitism and islamophobia alike, and we condemn violence from all sides.
Some Occupiers have been taking part in a recent round of solidarity demonstrations with the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, in Israel, supporters of the #J14 social justice movement and many others have also demonstrated against the military actions of Israel. OWS has always been a nonviolent movement, and as such, we oppose all militarism as robbing the 99% (of money and lives) and strengthening the stranglehold of the 1%. It is clear that these latest acts of aggression, like wars orchestrated by the U.S. government at home and abroad, are just another way of boosting election chances by power-hungry politicians.
This latest Israeli assault takes place among a complex history. Palestinians, like all people, deserve self-determination, the right to return to their homes, to not have their communities demolished, and not forced to live in open-air prisons under military blockade or threat of invasion. But war will not solve this crisis, nor any other; it will only increase extremism, resentment, poverty, and the underlying systemic problems that perpetuate more violence. Collectively punishing an entire population for the actions of a few is not justice. Just as our own government here in U.S. spends trillions on “military defense” while education, infrastructure, and social programs crumble, neither Hamas nor Netanyahu government truly care for the poor and oppressed within their own lands, aside from meager social programs, and would rather spend millions on rockets than create real social justice.
Make no mistake: While we must stand against violence in all forms, this “war” is a one-sided conflict between a military which is one of the largest and best-equipped in the world, the Israeli Defense Forces, who enjoy widespread support from the U.S. military industrial complex, and a people whose lands have been steadily dwindling for decades. Civilian causalities in Gaza, a tiny strip of land that is densely populated and has been under blockade for some time (meaning that no one can leave, there is no where to hide, and medical supplies and other goods cannot enter) far outweigh those in Israel, with its advanced missile defense system. As a result, despair and desire for revenge are on the rise, and politicians on all sides seek to exploit this.
While the 1% of the United States supports and profits from these latest acts of aggression, and U.S. money and arms are used to conduct it, there are those of us within these colonized borders who refuse to let this happen in our name, with our tax dollars. As if it were not enough to merely denounce militarism and hatred for its own sake, to those who would say this is not an economic issue, or that this does not apply to income inequality: How much poverty is one jet, one bomb worth? There can be no social justice or economic equality in a world ruined by war or controlled by colonialism.
The United States, itself built on broken treaties and stolen land, is still the greatest exporter of arms and builder of the largest (and most racially disparate) prison system ever known on Earth. For those incarcerated and targeted by police brutality, for those who are forced to live on impoverished reservations, and those shackled by debt here in the U.S., to the victims of terror in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and across the world, we must continue to build a mass people’s movement across divisions of race, religion, and all other borders to oppose tyranny, colonialism, and war in all forms. We all deserve to live in safety in our homes and enjoy the same rights, regardless of religion or race, whether we are immigrants or not. Our leaders would distract us by filling our minds with zealous hatred and send us to kill and die. We say no more.
The best way to end war is to start by overthrowing our regimes at home. Those with power wish to keep it; and war is profitable, politically and economically, for them. As long as the logic of capitalism declares “pursue profit at all cost,” regardless of the toll it takes on humanity, and as long as power, land, and resources are concentrated in the hands of the 1%, wars will continue as the rest of us are forced to compete over what is left, what for thousands of generations was shared by all. The capitalist imperative that allows multinational banks to profit by evicting innocent families from their homes is the same logic that justifies taking more and more land in Palestine and the world over. The bombs over Gaza and Tel Aviv are merely the most dramatic example of a global system that seeks to rob us all of our right to live peacefully. Protesting wars abroad is not enough; we must fight the war at home.
This is why the best way to end war is to end capitalism and domination. We must make right the wrongs of the past by building a world in which all have access to the basic means of survival and safety, so that not one more person will die in a fruitless war. Our struggles should not be against one another, but against those who would rob us of our land and send us to fight and die for their own gain.
Our struggle for peace, justice, and reconciliation here in United States is the same struggle of all peoples everywhere. Those who call for and profit from war, regardless of their stated claims, are the enemies of us all. This is why we say Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine! No to war! No to racism everywhere! No to the war machine fueled by greed!