In this moment of crisis, GEO stands in full solidarity with the Palestinian people facing the latest onslaught of Israeli state terror. We are appalled by the images of Israeli war crimes we see coming out of Palestine — from Israel’s planned ethnic cleansing of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem, to the aggression of the Israeli occupiers of East Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan, to the children and other civilians murdered by Israeli bombs in Gaza.
We are also disheartened by the continued equivocations of national leaders — including AFT President Randi Weingarten — on this issue and their refusal to take a stand in defence of Palestinian lives. Those who frame this as a “conflict” between two symmetrical sides, or who condemn Palestinians for resisting their ongoing dispossession, ignore the reality that Israel is the occupying settler-colonial power and that — as human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem are coming to acknowledge — Palestinians are subjected to second-class status under Israel’s apartheid regime. As a labor union committed to the ideals of union solidarity and social justice, we cannot be silent in the face of Israeli atrocities and must speak out in support of the Palestinian struggle. We affirm that Palestinian lives matter and that we need to do more to make that a reality.
This most recent episode of attacks on Palestinian lives and land also leads us to reflect on conditions on our very own campus. We need to better support Palestinian community members and uplift the efforts of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), the Palestine solidarity organization on campus. All too often, apologists for Israel on campus are emboldened to harass Palestinians and their supporters—as we’ve seen this week in the aftermath of the Central Student Government’s recent press release. Time and again, the University administration has stood idly by in the face of censorship of Palestinian activists on campus. Meanwhile, the University’s own investment profile features numerous companies that profit from the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians and the violation of their human rights. We encourage all GEO members to support and extend their solidarity to organizations on campus like SAFE in their efforts towards a free Palestine.