Ceasefire Now!

Friends and advocates for human rights,

Today, we gather in solidarity to address an urgent, horrendous matter. For the past 15 days, the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip have been enduring a brutal campaign of murderous violence, annihilating thousands of lives, leaving tens of thousands injured, now without adequate medical care and unsafe from Israel’s US-supplied bombs, even within churches and hospitals. People languishing without food, water, medical supplies, electricity or fuel. Doctors operating without anesthetics! According to reports from Al Jazeera, the numbers are staggering and mounting by the hour: over 4,137 lives lost, including 1,524 children, 1,000 women, 16 UNRWA workers and 22 journalists. More than 13,000 people, including 2,000 children and 1,300 women, have been wounded.

These reprisals followed a deadly attack carried out by Hamas on October 7th, which led to the tragic loss of over 1,400 Israeli lives and the kidnapping of more than 200 individuals, including innocent civilians, women, children, and the elderly.

However, it’s essential to recognize that this event did not occur in isolation. It didn’t emerge out of thin air. There is a critical context, a painful backdrop, one of ruthless Zionist settler colonialism and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Israel, much like the United States, is a project rooted in settler colonialism, manifest destiny and white supremacy, with territorial expansion at the expense of the Indigenous Palestinian population as its ultimate goal. Since 1948 and before, Israel has employed tactics such as assassinations, torture, starvation, expulsion, imprisonment, dehumanization, and the disruption of daily life to force Palestinians off their ancestral lands. Israel does this with impunity and support from the United States of America. With our tax dollars.

Yet, against all odds, the Palestinian people have persevered and continue to resist Israel’s crimes against them.

Over the past 75 years, Israel has targeted any form of resistance that challenged its white supremacist, expansionist agenda. This suppression has been aimed at not only armed militias but also nonviolent, feminist, and secular movements, and now at any Israeli dissenters to their government’s attack of Gazan people. It’s crucial to understand that Hamas has only endured because it serves a purpose in the Israeli colonial agenda.

In response to Hamas’s attacks, the far-right extremist Israeli government did not take the time for reflection, mourning, or negotiations for the release of hostages. Instead, they immediately sought “revenge,” while collectively blaming and punishing the entire population of Gaza, including countless children, for Hamas’s actions. The corruption and brutality of this vengeance has been unprecedented, atrocious, tragic, and infuriating. Shamelessly, Israel has escalated its 75-year campaign of genocide.

Imagine, a 15-year-old child incarcerated in the Gaza concentration camp will already have experienced multiple criminal bombing campaigns by Israel during their lifetime.

Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads. The ongoing incremental dispossession of the Palestinian people has reached a crescendo, where Palestinian civilians are being murdered while being denigrated as “human animals”, “terrorists” or “terrorist supporters.” Hamas has now begun releasing hostages who require medical attention, yet there is no mercy from Israel.

Genocide scholars often point to the language used by aggressors as a window into their motivation. The language emerging from Tel Aviv is alarming:

“It is an entire nation out there that is responsible,” Israeli President Herzog said at a press conference.

“We are imposing a complete siege on the city of Gaza. There will be no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. We are fighting against human animals, and we are acting accordingly,” Yoav Galant, Israeli Defense Minister, said on October 9th.

We here are anti-racists who believe that every person, regardless of their background, deserves freedom, opportunity, dignity, life, love, and nourishment. The Israeli government’s actions against the Palestinian people go against these fundamental principles. We are here to voice our strong objection and to demand that the United States immediately cease its support for this ongoing tragedy. Those governments who conduct, enable and incite genocide must be held accountable at the International Criminal Court.

In this critical moment, we must stand together for the values of justice, peace, and human rights. Let our voices be heard, and let our actions drive change.

We demand a CEASE FIRE NOW!

Thank you.

Text of speech given at Whatcom Families for Justice in Palestine rally, Saturday, 10/21/23.

Yoav Litvin is a Doctor of Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience. For more info, please visit yoavlitvin.com/about/