National SJP Statement on Gaza

As conscientious Students for Justice in Palestine – National, we strongly condemn the Israeli aggression on Gaza.  On November 14, Israel launched an assault on Gaza that has claimed the lives of over 115 Palestinians and led to over 800 injuries, of which over 64 were civilians and 21 children.  The numbers continue to rise by the hour.  As of Friday afternoon, approximately 223 buildings were damaged or completely destroyed and Gazans have been awakening and sleeping to the sounds of U.S./Israeli-made F16 fighter jets, attack drones, and their accompanied explosions on a daily basis.  The onslaughtbegan due to Israel’s violation of its truce with Hamas.

Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth, has been under Israeli siege since 2006. The crippling siege is collective punishment for Palestinians in Gaza for democratically electing Hamas—a party Israel did not approve of. Dov Weissglass, the then chief of staff to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharonconfessed: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” The majority of Gazans are second or third time refugees who were expelled from their homes in either the 1948 nakba (Palestinian catastrophe), which resulted in the establishment of the state of Israel, or the 1967 war. Israel’s crippling and brutal siege of Gaza is in violation of international humanitarian law and in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Since the Wednesday attack on Gaza, the international community has sprung up in solidarity and organized hundreds of rallies, demonstrations, and sit-ins across the world from Hong Kong to Ireland, from Mexico City to South Korea, and from London to Beirut. Many fear that we might be witnessing another “Operation Cast Lead,” which occurred three years ago in 2008-2009, in which the Israeli military carried out a ruthless and disproportionate attack on the population. The magnitude of the harm to the mostly civilian-youth population was unprecedented: 1,385 Palestinians were killed of which 318 were minors under the age of 18. Furthermore, more than 5,300 Palestinians were wounded—many very seriously. In addition, Israel caused enormous damage to residential dwellings, industrial buildings, agriculture and infrastructure for electricity, sanitation, water, and health, which was on the verge of collapse prior to the operation.

Now, under the new Israeli major offensive attack ironically coined “Operation Pillar of Defense,” we have already seen tremendous damage, thousands of reserve soldiers have been called in amid threats of a ground invasion. It is important to note that Israel is not acting in “self-defense.” First and foremost, Israel broke the recent truce with Hamas, and secondly as the occupying power, it does not have the right to defend itself against the population it is occupying, as analyst Noam Chomsky states: “When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing…Call it what you like, it’s not defense.”

Therefore, we, National Students for Justice in Palestine, as part of our vision to build a “collaborative movement where events and actions can be performed simultaneously in order to support local campuses in delivering our message in a strong, fierce, and unapologetic voice,” call on students nationwide to speak out against Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza and take the following immediate actions:

  • Call the STATE DEPARTMENT(202.647.6575) & the WHITE HOUSE(202.456.1111) and DEMAND A CEASEFIRE! Ask for the comment line (the public of inquiry/public affairs line) and hammer them. Demand answers to the unjust massacre. Demand that the US pressure Israel to STOP the attack on Gaza NOW! The attacks are our tax dollars (~$3 billion military aid to Israel annually), which could be used for other national services here at home, primarily Hurricane Sandy relief. Be firm, but kind;
  • Organize a silent protest/sit-in/demonstration on your campus/community and make a presence to raise awareness in your community. Encourage members to also speak out against these injustices and join these efforts;
  • Take photographs and use social media, contact local and campus media about your protest or write an op-ed for your school paper.

Focus on the following demands:

  • Call on Israel to end its attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza
  • Call on Israel to end its ongoing blockade of Gaza
  • Call on the US government to end its military aid to Israel
  • Call on Obama to condemn Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza
  • Call on your university’s pension fund (TIAA-CREF) to divest from corporations supporting Israel’s military attacks in Gaza (HP, Motorola, Elbit, Northrop Grumman)
  • Call on your university to divest from all corporations profiting from Israeli occupation
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