We, members of Interfaith Peace Builders’ (IFPB) 2011 and 2012 African Heritage Delegations, the 2012 Dorothy Cotton Institute Civil & Human Rights Delegation, other IFPB delegates of African heritage, and allies, thank you for canceling your performance at the [Israeli army]’s fundraiser planned for December 6, 2012 in Los Angeles.
We are African Americans who traveled to Palestine/Israel to meet with people working for peace and justice. We represent the rich diversity of Black America. We are multi-generational and interfaith; activists, community organizers, and scholars; youth, elders, parents, and everyday people. We yearn for peace, love, prosperity, and respect for all humanity.
… As African Americans, we visited Palestine/Israel and witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of occupation, injustice and crimes against humanity heaped upon the Palestinians by the [Israeli army]. We traveled from military checkpoint to military checkpoint and witnessed armed soldiers of the IDF check papers and harass Palestinian civilians; we witnessed Israeli-only settlements and roads; we spoke with Israeli settlers who had forced Palestinians out of their homes; and we witnessed the daily humiliations of Palestinian men, women and children.
Some of us grew up in the Jim Crow South. The parallels between what we lived and what we witnessed in Palestine/Israel were uncomfortably reminiscent of our own experiences.
Some of us participated in the movement against Apartheid in South Africa and quickly made the same connections as Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In his essay, Apartheid in the Holy Land, Archbishop Tutu explains: “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”
… We commend you for joining in the movement that ultimately helped topple the Apartheid regime in South Africa. We invite you to stand with us against all manifestations of legalized racial oppression just as vigorously today.
Thank you, Brother Stevie, for withdrawing your name from the IDF fundraiser. In doing so, we believe you acted bravely in the cause of peace and justice. We ask you to continue your activism holistically; join with allies in Jewish and Arab communities, but do so in order to build and support the movement for human rights and an end to Israel’s military occupation and Apartheid.
… We ask you to bring the same passion for peace and justice to the fight against Apartheid in Palestine/Israel as you brought to the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.
And finally, Brother Stevie, we ask you to join the international movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Join the global community of people committed to supporting the right of the Palestinian people to live as fully recognized equals in their own land.
Black Action on Palestine is the name of a short lived group that formed in Newham around 1990.