“In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends” Martin Luther King
The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will no-doubt come as a great relief to the citizens of Gaza and Israel alike. But the conditions of structural violence that perpetuate extreme precarity for all Palestinians remain untouched.
After increasing levels of violence perpetrated across the forcefully diarticulated Palestinian ‘territories’, the residents of the Gaza Strip – one of the most densely populated areas on the planet – have once again been exposed to intense aerial bombardment causing the death and injuring of entire families, and the destruction of homes and vital infrastructure, including medical centres, press offices and schools. Furthermore, the men and women farmers of Gaza (25% of the population) have been unable to reach their farms and tend their crops to produce the food that Gazans depend upon.
As a collective of scholar-activists working with farmers and social movements in many regions around the world, including Palestine, we condemn the violent Israeli attacks on the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and within Israel. We express our solidarity with the Palestinian people who have opposed, since 1948, a settler-colonial regime involved in ethnic cleansing, land annexations, population transfers and apartheid. In doing so:
- We affirm our commitment to the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people and foundational principles of academic integrity;
- We stand with all family farmers, fishers and other small-scale artisan producers subjected to racist policies, eviction and repression, but particularly those in Gaza at this time.
- We stand against those who are complicit with colonial settler oppression in attempting to silence those who raise their voices or those who stand by them in solidarity.
The ongoing tensions are the cumulative effect of Israel’s militarised settler state occupation, repression, dispossession and systemic discrimination of the Palestinian people. The enactment of racist legislation in 2018, the threat of Palestinian evictions in East Jerusalem, and the disrupted Palestinian elections have provoked a united sense of anger, perhaps the most significant since the 2nd Intifada of 2000. The planned Jerusalem Day march through the Arab Quarter by emboldened ultra-nationalists, followed by the state barricading of the Al-Aqsa mosque and storming of Haram al-Sharif during the most sensitive period in the Palestinian calendar – when Ramadan and Eid converges with al-Nakbah that commemorates the dislocation of over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 – have proved particularly incendiary. What began as peaceful demonstrations by Palestinians and their Israeli allies standing together in solidarity, quickly escalated into riots in the West Bank and sporadic acts of violence by vigilante groups across Israel.
As Hamas and Islamic Jihad entered the fray with their rockets, so the residents of Gaza were once again exposed to heavy Israeli bombardment. This comes on top of what has been a protracted period of structural violence imposed since Israel’s blockade of Gaza that began in 2007. Poorly resourced, with high levels of unemployment and overcrowding, the people of Gaza have continued to resist and build their lives under extremely difficult conditions. Farmers have continued the laborious work of feeding people. And despite extreme land and water pressures, Gazan farmlands provide a continuous source of livelihood for a quarter of the population.
For the past seven years under the blockade, Israel’s stranglehold on Gaza has severely restricted the movement of people and goods over land borders from Israel, dramatically increasing the cost of building materials, fuel, farming inputs and food. While dependent on Israel for energy and food, Gazans are unable to trade their produce with Israel or Egypt. The cost of this structural violence has increasingly been borne by farmers themselves, now selling at below the cost of production and ‘feeding the population from their own pockets’. Associations of men and women farmers, many of them agroecological, producing dates, olives, citrus fruits, vegetable, livestock and dairy, have been unable to tend their land, and fisher folk restricted from entering their local waters to fish. Meanwhile, people in Gaza were advised to remain in their homes – taking shelter with windows firmly closed to protect them from rubble dust and dangerous artillery gases. This periodic destruction of Gazan infrastructure, livelihoods and lives can only be intended to achieve the further impoverishment of Gazans and the erasure the Palestinian voice.
We call on others to continue to stand in solidarity with all Palestinians, the residents of Gaza, and the farmers who feed them, and advocate for the enactment of all Palestinians’ rights – as enshrined in international law – to protection of life, land and livelihoods, and to freedom, dignity and peace. In recognising that continued structural violence against Palstinians will only embolden those claiming the role of protectors by means of violence, we call on Israel to comply with international law and respect UN resolutions. Until that time:
- We stand with Palestinian civil society and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign to stop international support for settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation
- We call upon the UK government to formally recognise the State of Palestine, and to introduce sanctions against the State of Israel including blocking all trade and, in particular, arms.
- We call on all our governments to take political action against Israel’s flagrant violations of international law, and lift the blockade of Gaza.
- We call upon Coventry University to immediately end the university’s complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and stop the hosting of the Spanish transport conglomerate Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) at Coventry University Technology Park.
- We call upon our scholarly colleagues to show support by signing up to Palestine & Praxis – a group of scholars committed to Palestinian freedom through decolonial research practices, and
- We call upon other collectives and organisations to join us in issuing statements condemning this ongoing Israeli state violence, and taking collective action to express solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for life in dignity
Statement by the AgroecologyNow Collective