Bees & Refugees is among the organisations and communities of conscience of the UK enraged by the collective silence and passivity of the Migration and broader charity sector, including their funders, surrounding Israel’s ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Worse yet are the narratives supporting ‘two sides’ of this unprecedented aggression or its framing as a ‘humanitarian crisis.’
Israel is a violent settler-colonial state created and funded by the larger colonial empires of the West. Since the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) and Israel’s founding as an ethnostate, Palestinians have withstood extreme aggression in both the West Bank and Gaza, an internationally recognised apartheid regime, the ongoing siege of Gaza, and countless crimes against humanity. Palestinians are enduring an ongoing genocide. One genocide does not justify another. Palestinians, and their billions of allies, have also experienced global-scale gaslighting and censorship while bringing any criticism to Israel’s continuous, fundamental violence. Indigenous Palestinians of all Abrahamic and other faiths have suffered incalculably. It is vital that we outright reject the conflation of Judaism with Zionism, the conflation of Palestinian liberation with anti-semitism, and the reduction of the atrocities taking place by Israel as an inter-religious issue. We reject islamophobia and anti-semitism. Most importantly, we stand unequivocally with the Palestinian struggle for liberation and against settler-colonial regimes.
It is utterly shameful that the Migration sector is selectively turning a blind eye to such clear evils. We cannot talk about migration justice without talking about Palestine. Since the Nakba, Palestinians have become the largest and most protracted population of externally displaced refugees and the single largest population of stateless refugees. Over 60% of Palestinian people have become refugees. Over 70% of Gaza’s population are refugees, nearly half of which are now internally displaced due to the current bombardment. Israel continues to deny millions of Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes of origin, violating UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Palestine, therefore, is an issue of concern for migration justice.
The general Migration/Refugee sector has long relied on a humanitarian rather than political approach to the communities it supports and the advocacy it creates, prioritising service delivery over political change. The brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinians at this moment brings into focus key points of reflection. How does the reliance on a humanitarian framework inevitably aid and abet the policies and economies that create humanitarian crises? How does the avoidance of brave political stances intensify the injustice that we supposedly wish to address? Centring the liberation of Palestine- and all those living under colonial occupation and influence- pushes this sector towards migration justice rather than maintaining a status quo.
Our work in the UK is interlinked with a colonial legacy and reality that oppresses millions. We should ask ourselves- can you imagine a world where our jobs are no longer needed? Does solely servicing displaced people build towards that world? Are our careers also built on destruction? We must be political; being ‘non-political’ does not lessen the political implications of our actions. We must pledge to challenge ourselves and the charity/NGO sector in framing such injustices as political and economic crises rather than solely humanitarian ones- there are guilty actors and we have the collective power to address them.
We need to pledge divestment from the UK’s arms trade and its fatal complicity in Palestine and beyond. We need to pledge against the detention centres and policing apparatuses that tyrannise both Palestinians and racialised people in the UK. We need to pledge against DEI initiatives that stop at material change beyond representation.
We pledge firm support for the demands of the Gazans. We firmly condemn the silence and genocide-normalisation of the Migration/Refugee sector. It is not our place to pick and choose the Gazan demands that work within the confines of European comfort and complicity. We know what the migration and charity sector are up against within the UK. Yet, the failure of the sector to stand courageously, in numbers, against Israel’s crimes against humanity, settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing must change. It is not too late to stand up. It is never too late. We pledge to stand together, challenge our complicity, and dismantle imperialism.
IMMEDIATE DEMANDS FROM GAZANS necessary in solidarity statements/actions:
- AN IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE to protect Gazan and Palestinian life both in Gaza and the West Bank. To allow for the dignified burial of the dead, the search for those under rubble, and to mitigate disease outbreaks during the healthcare collapse.
- Immediate restoration of water, food, fuel, medical supplies and humanitarian aid.
- Immediate protection of medical facilities and the reversal of the illegal and inhumane evacuation orders for hospitals.
- The facilitation of safe passage for casualties and critically ill individuals in need of medical treatment.
- While the people of Gaza vehemently rejected forced displacement, they insist on the opening of the crossing for those seeking to evacuate and permitting the entry of medical and rescue teams, along with their equipment.
LONG TERM DEMANDS:
- Long-term commitment to the BDS movement, a powerful economic organising tactic that can bring meaningful change to the occupation/ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Listen to Palestinians in strategic BDS actions.
- Applying pressure on the UK government to apply a two-way arms embargo on Israel and, as workers where relevant, heeding the call of trade unionists in Palestine in hindering the sale and supply of arms to Israel.
- In our campaigning against detention centres in the UK, we should also see the connections between companies complicit in this harm here and in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. G4S, which has run detention centres in the UK, for example, has also run detention centres in which Palestinians, including children, are held without trial.
- Support for any employees interested in any strike action and/or an organisational initiative for striking.
- Providing healing spaces/redirecting towards the various safe space initiatives taking place for affected employees, most certainly the Muslim, Arab, suppressed anti-Zionist Jewish and generally affected communities.
IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE NOW. ENDING THE SIEGE OF GAZA IS JUST THE BEGINNING. WE STAND FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE, FOR THE RIGHT OF RETURN FOR PALESTINIANS, FOR THE RELEASE OF ALL PALESTINIAN PRISONERS (HOSTAGES), FOR A WITHDRAWAL OF WESTERN-FUNDED GENOCIDE, FOR GLOBAL STRIKES, FOR A FREE PALESTINE.
We are all responsible. We all have power. History does not forget.