Tracey L. Rogers: Palestinian Lives Matter | We Must Reject Crimes Against Humanity
We can’t say we support justice and human rights in this country while supporting violence and expulsion abroad.
I believe that all people share a common cause for basic freedoms.
Yet whenever I speak out about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, I’m cautioned to “be careful”— that I’ll only be able to have a fruitful dialogue by recognizing grievances on “both sides.”
Well, I recognize a few things.
I recognize that any loss of life, whether Israeli or Palestinian, is a loss to be grieved. I recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to self-determination, and that neither side should be subjected to violence.
Finally, as a Black American, I recognize that Palestinians are fighting for the same basic human rights as Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color right here in this country.
When I traveled to the region five years ago, I was horrified by what I saw. Turnstile check points managed by Israeli Defense Forces that Palestinians had to travel through daily. Entire villages without running water and electricity living across from Israeli settlers with every amenity imaginable.
I watched Israeli soldiers raid a refugee camp in the middle of the night across the street from the hotel where I stayed in Ramallah. It made me nauseous—and I was further appalled to learn about the hundreds of Palestinian minors imprisoned and tried in Israeli military courts.
What’s worse, Israel’s efforts to create a Jewish-only state have been strongly and historically supported by the United States.
Like previous administrations, the Biden administration has followed the same script, vocally supporting Israel. The White House has exclusively supported Israel’s “right to self-defense”—but not that of the Palestinians living under occupation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has been accused of crimes against humanity, just got 10 minutes of airtime on Face the Nation to defend his actions. Palestinians rarely get that kind of exposure.
Two-dozen members of Congress sent a letter urging Israel to halt its evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Others are calling on the U.S. to attach human rights conditions to its aid to Israel.
Meanwhile people around the globe are marching, like we saw last summer after the murder of George Floyd, to #FreePalestine.
Just as Black Lives Matter, so do Palestinian Lives Matter. We cannot campaign for racial healing and justice on stolen land in our own country while simultaneously backing a campaign to occupy and displace people abroad.
U.S. foreign policy on Israel-Palestine currently makes all of us complicit in crimes against humanity. That must change, now.
First published in OtherWords. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Tracey L. Rogers is an entrepreneur and activist living in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.