The menorah at the checkpoint
A message from Anna Baltzer, USCPR Director of Organizing and Advocacy:
Last night, as I lit the menorah with my family for the sixth night of Hanukkah, I remembered how, in Palestine, Jewish holidays translate into escalating oppression of Palestinians. I remembered how Israeli military checkpoints are shut down for Palestinian ID holders so Israeli soldiers can have time off, freezing freedom of movement for those trying to reach their lands, jobs, schools, and families. I remembered the massive menorah erected by Israeli soldiers at the Zatara checkpoint between Ramallah and Nablus as a reminder to Palestinians of who was in charge and to whom Israel believes the land belongs – a grotesque cooptation of Jewish identity and symbols.
I light the candles in rejection of this cooptation and to shine a light on a different vision – one characterized by justice and liberation rather than discrimination and racism. None of us, no matter who we are, can afford to let Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians continue.
Trump’s recent illegitimate declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel lays bare what has always been true: we cannot wait for change from the top. Change will only come from people of conscience standing together to reject oppressive systems, from the US to Palestine. Together, we can and we will win. But none of us can do it alone.
We did so much together in 2017. We challenged dangerous anti-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) legislation that would strip you of your right to boycott. We helped pave the way for the first-ever bill in Congress defending Palestinian human rights. We connected movements resisting unjust walls and bans from the US to Palestine. We created 101 and organizing resources. We challenged the mainstream narratives in the media over 70 times. We coordinated nationwide direct actions and protests, and much more.
We know what we need to do 2018: We need to push through the existing bold legislative initiatives that support Palestinian rights. We need to defeat federal anti-BDS legislation once and for all. We need BDS wins, from church divestment to municipal wins to Hewlett Packard companies and others like them divesting themselves from Israel’s occupation. We need to continue building cross-movement solidarity from the US to Palestine, including cultivating the seeds planted on the recent World Without Walls delegation we co-sponsored.
Israeli apartheid is an affront to liberation struggles everywhere, including those here in the US. When we work for Palestinian rights, we are shining a light for justice and building the world we want to see – the world we want to live in. We all have a stake in this, for the sake of freedom, justice, and equality for all. Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and make it happen.
Happy Hanukkah. Free Palestine.