JVP-Seattle Statement on Ferguson

JVP-Seattle is outraged at the recent Ferguson Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed African-American Michael Brown. We recognize that it is just one example of the racism that permeates the US and devalues Black lives, just as Israel continues to devalue Palestinian lives.

We are determined to use our outrage and heartbreak to fight against the dehumanization and devaluation of people of color from the US to Palestine and to keep fighting for a world in which all people’s lives are equally valued.

It has been inspiring to witness community responses across the US protesting centuries of systemic, racist, and militarized police violence. And it has been moving to witness powerful expressions of solidarity from Palestinians in Gaza to African-Americans in Ferguson and back again.

We recognize that the devaluing of African-American lives built into the fabric of US government and society is mirrored in Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians. We know that at the root of Israel’s assault on Gaza this summer is a belief that Palestinian lives do not matter. We should neither have to say that Palestinian lives matter or that Black lives matter. But we do. They do.

Just as the mainstream media often labels all Palestinians as “terrorists,” it also depicts young African American men as “thugs” in order to dehumanize them and thus justify state violence against them. It’s not surprising to see the similarity in the tactics and technologies of repression against those who are rising up nonviolently in both places. Police officials, including recent leaders in St. Louis, have received military training from the Israeli Defense Forces. While we recognize those connections, we must stay rooted in the specificity and history of each place, even as it is critical to our organizing to understand the global structures that enable them both.

We believe another way is both necessary and possible. As Jews in Seattle, many of us white, we commit ourselves to continue the work of resisting and reshaping the structural inequalities that exist within the US, in Israel/Palestine, and in the rest of the world, and to do so heeding the call of those who suffer the consequences of inequality every day. By insisting on the connections among struggles, we will keep building a global response to racism and oppression from Ferguson to Palestine.