Yesterday [August 1], the Obama administration said that the capture of an invading Israeli soldier by the Palestinian Resistance was - and I quote - a “barbaric action.” It seems President Obama and his administration consider the abduction of an invading soldier from an occupying army to be ‘barbaric’ but the massacre of more than 1,600 Palestinians in their neighborhoods, in their homes, in their schools, in their hospitals, in their playgrounds, on their beaches is not barbaric.
We need to tell Mr. Obama what barbaric is.
Barbaric is the Israeli killing of more than 70 families in Gaza. More than 70 Palestinian families have been lost. Barbaric is that 300,000 children in Gaza have lost either their home or a loved one. Barbaric is that hospitals are targeted. Six out of nine hospitals in Gaza are closed and Israel is threatening to attack the rest. Barbaric is that entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, labeled what one journalist called ‘apocalyptic.’ Barbaric is that we have 500,000 missiles dropped on an area smaller than 260 km2 (100 square miles). Barbaric is that it has been the Zionist policy to destroy the economy in Gaza. That is why they bombed the electric power plant, that is why they are bombing the wastewater infrastructure, that is why yesterday they destroyed an ice cream factory.
Barbaric is the siege imposed on Gaza since 2005 and the fencing off of Gaza since 1995. Barbaric is that the objective of this siege is deliberately to destroy the economy of Palestinians in Gaza, to cripple them, to break them. That, Mr. Obama, is barbarism.
Barbaric, Mr. Obama, is what is coming out of Israel right now - which is open calls for the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. This is what is written in Israeli newspapers. The current Deputy Prime Minister who calls for that against the Palestinians in Gaza. [Note, he says, “We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages —destroying all the infrastructure, including roads and water.”]
But none of this is new for us Palestinians. We have seen it before. We have seen it before. We are not surprised. I wish we were. But none of the things that have happened against us in Gaza or in Ramallah or in Quds [Jerusalem] are new.
Barbaric, Mr. Obama, is Zionism. Golda Meir, Israel’s fourth prime minister, said, there is “no such thing as a Palestinian people.” Barbaric is to deny our identity and to deny our existence.
Barbaric is what Menachem Begin, another Israeli prime minister, said in 1949 when he called Palestinians “beasts walking on two legs.”
Barbaric is what historian Benny Morris says, a historian who recognizes that every single israeli village and Israeli town is built on a Palestinian village and a Palestinian town and yet he justifies this genocide and this ethnic cleansing and he recently called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza. That is barbaric.
Barbaric is what the Israeli Offensive Forces are calling for. They have said very specifically that officers have been given legal advice that allows them - and I quote - to target “large numbers of civilian casualties.” And this statement was not released in 2014; this statement was from 2009.
Barbaric is Netanyahu says when he says we must hit them - “Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne.” And he said that in 2012. That is barbaric.
Barbaric is when they asked Netanyahu what will they say when we destroy their villages, Netanyahu said, “the world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending [ourselves].”
President Obama has said, and I quote, “innocent civilians caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience. We have to do more.”
Well I appeal to you, Mr. Obama, don’t do more. Because when he does more, he gives more weapons and he gives millions of our money to the Israeli war machine. No, Mr. Obama, if this is how the deaths of our families weighs on your conscience, then please don’t do more.
We need to recognize that the crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza over the past 27 days are not new. The crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza since the siege in 2005 are not new. They began in 1948.
We need to recognize what barbaric is. Barbaric is racism. Barbaric is defining Palestinians as a ‘demographic threat.’ A demographic threat and therefore considering that Palestinian existence is a threat to Israeli survival. Our existence is a threat to their survival. which means that the mere fact that we exist is justification for them to kill us. That is barbaric. That is racism. That is Zionism. And that is what we must end.
We are here, together to say, we demand an arms embargo on the state of Israel. We demand an arms embargo on the state of Israel.
We are here to say we demand the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice: take the Israeli war criminals to justice for the crime of genocide.
We demand an end to the occupation. And we demand an end to racism.
We stand with the foreign minister of Finland who said that sanctions against Israel must be on the table.
We stand with the governments of Latin American - from Ecuador, to El Salvador, to Bolivia, to Brazil, to Venezuela, to Chile, to Peru, to Cuba who expelled their ambassadors from Israel. We stand with the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who said Israel is a “terrorist state.”
And I have to say this. We not only stand with Palestinian families - with their women and their children - but we have to stand with the Palestinian Resistance. If we say that an occupied population has the right to defend itself - which is what an occupied population has the right to do - then we stand with the Palestinian Resistance. We stand with the Palestinian Resistance.
And if we are opposed to racism against Palestinians, then we need to be opposed to racism against anyone, anywhere. Which means, Mr. Obama, we are opposed to your drone warfare. We are opposed to your drone warfare. Mr. Obama, we are opposed to your immigrant policies that separates families in Texas and elsewhere in the United States. We are opposed to discrimination against African-Americans and Latino-Americans and all of the people of color. We say this as Palestinians, we say this as human rights activists: an end to the privatization of prisons in this country, an end to the drone warfare, an end to everything that is barbaric. That is what we say.
And we make a pledge. We make a pledge, right here, today. In the name of the Palestinians, who are the most resilient people I have ever known, who are standing, and who have been standing since 1948, we pledge to them, that when the bombs stop - and they will stop — we will remember our anger today, we will remember our tears today, and we will not be broken. So long as Palestinians are surviving, and they are surviving, so long as they are resilient - and by God we are resilient, we will not be broken and we will organize. That means each of you here is to make a pledge, to stand and be organized in support of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement. Make it your personal pledge to be organized in Dallas, in Houston, in Austin, wherever you come from in Texas, to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
We will break down the walls of apartheid. We will end the horrors of occupation and siege. We will dismantle segregation in all its forms. We will connect our struggles. And we will teach resistance. Make that your pledge!