On the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, the Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus organized in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace is in solidarity with 1,500+ Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. We echo their demands for adequate medical treatment, family visits, and an end to Israel’s illegal and inhumane policy of administrative detention for indefinite periods without charges or evidence.
We recognize the steadfastness of Palestinians putting their lives and bodies on the line to fight Israel’s unjust system of incarceration, and understand that the physically devastating tactic of a hunger strike is reflective of the violent and extreme conditions they are exposed to.
We condemn Israel’s repression of activists participating in the hunger strike, and transparent attempts to delegitimize its leadership. We are especially horrified by the actions of Israeli citizens who held barbecues outside of prisons to torment hunger strikers. We see this as a collective torture tactic that cannot be separated from the mob and vigilante violence often inflicted on Palestinians under Israeli rule.
We condemn Israel’s prison system as one of its primary tools for repressing Palestinian resistance and enforcing settler-colonial dispossession and military violence. The fact that 40% of Palestinian men will spend part of their lives in Israeli prison fits into a global legacy of colonial violence perpetrated through the mass incarceration of marginalized communities.
It is no coincidence that many of the Palestinians currently on hunger strike are held in prisons originally constructed by British colonial forces and re-appropriated by Israel to control Palestinians, Jews of Color, African Refugees and other communities criminalized under Zionist rule.
We note that the abuses being protested today are rooted in the displacement and dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians during the Nakba, a wound that cannot heal until the right of return is honored for all Palestinian refugees.
We acknowledge that the United States is also home to its own political prisoners, many of whom have similarly employed hunger strike as a legitimate tactic of resistance. We speak the names of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Chelsea Manning and countless others who suffer behind bars for their role in fighting for freedom and equality.
We recognize that all imprisonment is political in the context of US imperialism and white supremacy, and also stand in solidarity with prisoners in the US continuing to fight the unjust and inhumane torture tactic of solitary confinement, as well as immigration detainees who recently went on hunger strike in the Pacific Northwest.
Finally we acknowledge that the current Palestinian hunger strike is a function of Israel’s impunity in the face of international law, and call on international legal bodies to enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention and other relevant human rights legislation that Israel currently violates.
We invite members of our Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi constituency to join in the Salt Water Challenge called for by Palestinian activists as a small act of co-resistance to this impunity.