The Great March Anniversary

March 30th marks the one year anniversary of the Great March of Return protests in Gaza. In 2018, on the 42nd anniversary of the Arab strike against Israeli land appropriation in 1976, thousands of displaced Palestinians living in the largest open air prison in the world gathered at the security fence in Gaza to protest their expulsion from the borders of Israel on the basis of their nationality and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza strip which has restricted their access to food, water and other essentials. Israel responded with brutality and by May 15th, the anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, 183 protestors had been killed by live fire, tear gas and other repressive measures. Some of the slain were children, medical personnel and journalists. Over 9,000 protestors were shot or hit by shrapnel and wounded. This kind of force is characteristic of a state defending the ethnic privilege of some of its citizens against the human rights of those that it sees as less than human. Just 9 days from today’s date, on March 21st 1960, the massacre of 69 South African protestors by the apartheid government in Sharpeville galvanized the international community to condemn and take action against South Africa’s unjust system of racial discrimination. 34 years later, South Africa would vote in the face of overwhelming international pressure to abolish its apartheid regime in favor of inclusive government.

One year after yet another massacre in Gaza, we are left to wonder how much blood the world will allow to be shed in Palestine before it stands united to demand justice and reconciliation for the atrocities of the past and the grim realities of everyday life under occupation. Today we remember those killed in Gaza for demanding their right to return to their homes and their dignity and reaffirm our solidarity with the Great March of Return.

Students for Justice in Palestine

Statement regarding Christchurch shooting

As a progressive organization, UVM SJP condemns racism and religious discrimination wherever they persist. We extend our hearts to those affected by the terror attack that occurred on March 15th in Christchurch, New Zealand. The senseless killing of 50 Muslims at prayer in two mosques is undisputedly an act of terror, and we stand in solidarity with the victims and their communities, as well as victims of Islamophobia everywhere. Additionally, we commit to identifying and working directly against forces of injustice, because we believe that condolences alone are not enough.

Much positive action by the government of New Zealand and the international community has followed this tragedy. New Zealand’s cabinet, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has called for an immediate meeting to improve its national gun laws in response to the event. Religious and non-religious communities around the world have come together to provide services, prayers, and financial support to the affected communities. These acts of unity in the face of racism remind us of the strength of people coming together to do good things.

In these times, it is important to remember that Islamophobia is part of a broader structure of bigotry that perpetuates itself internationally and has its roots in white supremacy. The same rhetoric that vilifies Muslims, particularly Muslim immigrants and refugees, is often justified under the guise of ‘national security.’ In the United States and abroad, it is essential to be critical of foreign policy that targets anyone based on their religion, race, or identity.

This is of concern to SJP not only because of our solidarity with our Muslim members and comrades, but because the same logic is used by the State of Israel to justify the Israeli occupation and its treatment of the Palestinian people. When the suffering of Palestinians is dismissed by the international community, it allows this discrimination to continue. It also contributes to the rise of the Islamophobia that directed these terror attacks and continues to fuel hatred worldwide.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Friday’s events, and our intentions and actions are with those who are threatened by Islamophobia and white supremacy throughout the world.

We invite you to check in with members of the Muslim community that might be affected at this time, and affirm their place in your own communities and lives.

In Solidarity,

Students for Justice in Palestine at UVM