Dear Friends, Partners, and Achvat Family,
In the wake of the murders of Rayshard Brooks z”l, George Floyd z”l, Breanne Taylor z”l, Iyad al-Hallak z”l, and countless other people murdered at the hand of the state whose names are known and unknown, we are being called again to learn, change, and work. In the past month, we have centered internal conversations about how we center anti-racism in our work and where we need to sharpen our pedagogy, education, and practice. Below, we hope to share our insights into the similarities and differences between policing in the U.S. and Israel-Palestine, as well as reaffirm Achvat Amim’s commitments to racial justice.
Systems of Policing & Racism: The Similarities
Local systems of racialized policing are situated within a shared legacy and reality of white supremacy. Israel-Palestine and the United States both exist in contexts shaped by the anti-Black and anti-Arab legacies of Britain and continue to reproduce dynamics that perpetuate the oppression of Black and Brown people. We fail when we map police brutality against Black people in the U.S. to Israel-Palestine and shift the narrative to police brutality being simply anti-Arab in Israel-Palestine. Policing is rooted in white supremacy and anti-Blackness, and therefore of course deeply affects Israel’s own Black communities. We call for justice for Soloman Tekah z”l who was murdered by an off duty police officer in Haifa, and we must see the ways that policing oppresses all Black and brown people in Israel-Palestine. The similarities between policing in the U.S. and Israel-Palestine are not limited to systems of power that they are rooted in, but are also materially linked. United States police regularly travel to Israel to be trained by the military. The known exchange of military arms, surveillance technologies, and policing tactics between the United States and Israel is a testament to the intersecting systems of oppression that devalue Black and Palestinian lives.
Systems of Policing & Racism: The Differences
There are discrete local contexts in which this death and violence occurs. The foundational histories of the transatlantic slave trade in the United States and the Nakba in Israel produce distinct racial and ethnic dynamics whose differences are important to honor. Policing, militarism, and incarceration in Israel developed along racial and ethnic lines conditioned by the ongoing Nakba and the criminalization of various populations constructed as “other” by the Ashkenazi establishment. As a result Palestinian, Bedouin, Druze, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, LGBTQ+, and asylum seeker communities have each historically contended with various forms of discrimination, state violence, and surveillance. It is important to highlight the intersections of these justice struggles while recognizing the disproportionate violence Palestinians experience as the primary constructed “other.”
Policing, militarism, and incarceration in the United States developed along racial and ethnic lines conditioned by the genocide of indigenous communities, the institutions of slavery and Jim Crow, and the ongoing criminalization of various populations constructed as “other” by the white establishment. As a result Indigenous, Black, Brown, Latinx, Asian, LGBT+, and immigrant communities have each historically contended with different though related forms of state violence. While Israel and the US are both situated within larger histories and realities of white supremacy, it is important to understand the unique dynamics and intra-communal politics these larger systems produce if we are committed to dismantling these systems and working toward a future of freedom and self-determination for all.
Where We Are
Achvat Amim centers anti-racist theory, practice, and action throughout our educational and movement building processes. From the beginning of our time we create intentional space to tease out the intersections of white supremacy, anti-semitism, and colonialism as they relate to Palestine and Israel. We integrate Black feminist thought as we discuss the interlocking systems of power that condition dynamics here, and situate the occupation and ongoing Nakba within larger anti-Arab colonial legacies that also impact Mizrahi communities and other Jewish communities of color. By highlighting the histories of the Israeli Black Panthers, the work of contemporary Mizrahi activists, African asylum seekers, and Ethiopian Israeli community advocates, we explore the realities of policing, incarceration, and surveillance that each of these communities contends with in various forms. We believe that by framing our human rights and anti-occupation activism within the context of racial justice, we will be able to more effectively build a future of self-determination for all people in Israel-Palestine and the communities we belong to around the world.
Where We Are Going
We are committed to deepening our racial justice frameworks, learning, and practices in pursuit of a world which honors that sacred value of all people and the right of all peoples to self-determination. In this historic moment of reckoning around anti-Black racism in the United States, we are committed to challenging ourselves as we continue to unlearn white supremacy and develop more full, more sustaining, and more robust racial justice frameworks from which we can act in solidarity and shared struggle with Palestinians and other communities of color. In the fall, we will be undertaking a number of exciting internal processes, including continued learning and discussion as a tzevet (team) about racial justice, and organizational conversations about how we will sharpen our pedagogy, education, and solidarity practices. In designing our programming for the fall, we are explicitly framing our work around anti-racism and white supremacy. It is imperative that the larger Achvat Amim community is developing language, understandings, and personal practices around social justice that are founded upon anti-racism as a central tenant. We cannot dismantle white supremacy in the world until we do the work of dismantling the white supremacy inside of us.
Achvat Amim is committed to developing a Jewish community rooted in racial justice and decolonization that centers our own stakes in liberation and dismantling white supremacy, while uplifting the disproportionate violence our Black and Palestinian friends, community members, and partners experience. We are here and ready to recommit ourselves to the work.
Julie, Erez, & Dana
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