The Great Return March is a Freedom Struggle

On March 30th, 2018 -- marking the 42nd commemoration of Land Day -- Palestinian refugees in the occupied Gaza Strip mobilized a mass march with the demand of returning to the villages they were expelled from in 1948. Men, women, and children gathered in unity under the banner of freedom and justice. These freedom-seeking people courageously marched to the Israeli-imposed separation barriers, braving Israeli snipers and walking under clouds of smoke and tear gas.  


This past year, I’ve watched online week after week as Israeli forces have killed young men, women, and children -- among them paramedics, teachers, students, and journalists. To date, Israel has killed 250 precious lives who were taken for protesting for the rights that I take advantage of everyday - to live in a world where I have access to clean water, electricity, and the ability to move freely.


One of those lost was a young journalist who I worked with briefly during the beginning the Great March of Return. At the time, I was working with a group of journalists in Gaza to bring stories from Gaza to English-speaking audiences. Yaser Murtaja, a young, optimistic man with hopes to one day leave Gaza and share the story of his people with the world through his journalism and filmmaking, was killed on April 6th, 2018. The moment I found out Yaser was killed is an experience that will be forever be stained into my memory. I was speaking to a crowd at a New York City-protest  for Gaza when my good friend rushed into my arms, crying, to tell me, “They killed Yaser.” My heartbroken friend grew up with Yaser in Gaza and considered him like a brother. Since then many stories of family members, friends, and colleagues losing their loved ones to senseless Israeli violence have become weekly headlines.

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interviewing Ahmed Abu Artema and AFSC's Jehad Abusalim at The Peoples Forum in NYC on March 14.

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interviewing Ahmed Abu Artema and AFSC's Jehad Abusalim at The Peoples Forum in NYC on March 14.

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It’s almost been a year, and the Great Return March continues. Last week, I had the honor of organizing an event in New York City with one of the key figures who helped inspire the march. Ahmed Abu Artema, a poet, journalist, and activist who traveled to the United States with the help of the American Friends Service Committee.  Ahmed shared a stage with Amy Goodman in a packed event hosted by The People’s Forum. It was there that Ahmed made a humble appeal to the audience saying,  “Let us struggle to make this world better by supporting the people who struggle for freedom and justice.”

Across the ocean in Geneva, Soheir Asaad, the International Advocacy Coordinator of our sister organization, Adalah Legal Center,  spoke to the United Nations Human Rights Council calling out Israel for its culture of impunity. Adalah has been working tirelessly to hold Israel accountable for their human rights violations through strategic litigation in the Israeli courts, in international bodies, and with advocacy efforts like the work of Adalah Justice Project in the United States.


We at Adalah Justice Project have made a commitment to struggle to make this world better for all-- and we hope you join us. We all have a role to play, and we must come together to realize justice from Standing Rock to Palestine, from Brazil to Sudan.

May we all gain courage and inspiration from those who rise up in the freedom struggle and show us the path toward a liberatory future.
 

Much love,

Izzy Mustafa
Communications & Campaign Strategist
Adalah Justice Project

Justice is Indivisible: Why Palestine is a Racial Justice Issue

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Dear Supporter,

The uprising in Ferguson changed my life. When I first heard about the killing of Michael Brown, I noted that he was being labeled a “thug” even as his body lay in the street. My thoughts immediately went to the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, who in that summer of 2014 were experiencing yet another Israeli military onslaught.

In the same way Michael Brown was being dehumanized in death, Israeli and U.S. media and politicians justified murder by calling Palestinians in Gaza “animals” and declaring them “legitimate targets.” As a Palestinian living only 20 miles from Ferguson, I was compelled to stand with the people of Ferguson to demand justice for all people facing state-sanctioned violence.

Last month, Dr. Angela Davis gave a historic talk in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. She was supposed to be there to receive a human rights award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). However, the Board of the BCRI rescinded the honor because of Dr. Davis’ support of Palestinian rights. Instead, Dr. Davis was honored in an alternative event organized by the Birmingham community who offered her a warm homecoming and affirmed that justice is indivisible.  

That night, Dr. Davis spoke about the significance of Ferguson in renewing our global understanding of how state violence impacts communities of color saying, “Ferguson marked the moment when the Black struggle in this country became internationalized once more...largely due to the work of Palestinian resistors on the ground in occupied Palestine, who were the first to offer solidarity to those who were protesting in Ferguson."  

In both the United States and in Palestine, we are fighting the racism and dehumanization that allows our children to be killed by the state with impunity.  

Just after Dr. Davis spoke in Alabama, I too traveled to Birmingham to attend the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a gathering of Black, radical church leaders. Adalah Justice Project partners,Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, worked with us to develop a resource, Palestine is an Issue of Racial Justice, that was distributed in the registration packets of the over 800 attendees. With Tarek Abuata of FOSNA, I spoke in a workshop about global disruptions from Palestine to Brazil to the United States. We connected with many leaders of the social justice Black church who understand that Palestinian and Black liberation are intertwined. 

This is the moment we dreamed into existence, a time of joint struggle and vision where we are working together to win.

Our unity, solidarity, and commitment to collective liberation terrifies our opposition.   

Our opposition will do their best to quash the UN Commission of Inquiry report released last week, which found that Israel intentionally targeted civilians, including children, during Gaza’s Great March of Return. (Our colleagues from Adalah in Haifa will be in Geneva next week to support the findings of the report.)  

Our opposition is also desperately trying to silence Representative Ilhan Omar for speaking out consistently for human rights at home and abroad, including for Palestinians.  

They tried to silence Angela Davis, but our communities rose up and insisted she be heard and honored.  

We are destined to win as long as we remain united in rejecting fear, hatred and bigotry while centering Palestinians and all others calling for freedom, equality, and justice.

In solidarity and with love, 
Sandra Tamari, Acting Director