As a mother, a descendant of survivors of the transatlantic slave trade, an attorney and a person of faith I am compelled to call for an immediate ceasefire to the siege of violence inflicted on the people of Palestine. I call for each and every one of us to question any alleged justification of mass murder of our fellow humans.
As a mother, I believe that the separation of any child from their parent must be interrogated thoroughly and critically. This is especially true when we know that family separation is a key component of any colonial project. Nearly half of Palestine’s population are children. 50,000 people are currently pregnant in the Gaza Strip, and 5,500 of those women are expected to give birth in the next month. No one should be forced to give birth without access to basic needs like water and electricity. No child or parent should be separated against their will.
As a descendant of survivors of the transatlantic slave trade, I am compelled to call out and stand against genocide whenever I see it happening. Over the course of the transatlantic slave trade, nearly 13 million people were known to be kidnapped and enslaved, but estimates assessing the impact of the slave trade suggest that 50-60 million of our ancestors were murdered in support of “manifest destiny” and the development of capital. During slavery, there were countless justifications for the practice–including faith-based ones–but they have all been dispelled as false notions. Whatever alleged gains resulted from slavery could not outweigh the immense loss of humanity.
If we do not learn from our slave past, we risk repeating a zero sum proposition and the needless loss of countless lives. If even conservative estimates of the deaths of 7,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis are to be believed, the region has suffered a population loss of nearly 6%. If similar carnage were enacted in the United States, it would mean an almost complete annihilation of the entire state of New York’s 19.8 million residents*. Simply put, this is genocide. It cannot be justified by any means.
Every death in this conflict has been extrajudicially executed. And so, as an attorney who took an oath to uphold the Constitution, I must call for due process. There can be no justice as long as extrajudicial killing is allowed to persist. When Nazi Germany fell, even Nazi soldiers and leaders received due process. The Nuremberg Trials saw those architects of the genocide of six million Jewish, disabled, African, and non-Nazi people tried and sentenced even if it took nearly 80 years to hold some Nazis to account. The extrajudicial murder of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis is inexcusable and each person responsible should be sought out and made to face their crimes in court. This is the essence of due process of law. Anyone calling for killing without due process is working against the constitutional values of the United States–in ways that are indefensible.
If you find yourself engaged in the madness of justifying genocide, I refer you to the Fanon quote above. Colonization does not just attack land and life, it attacks our very notion of self. In addition to making us question who we are in reality, colonization others and dehumanizes so as to make us question who “they” are in reality–as if there is more than one species of human. To justify man-made borders and $100 billion defense bills, we negate each other and accept the lie that some lives do not matter. All lives matter. No matter our nation, race, language or religion, we are all parents and children and each of our lives matter.
If the constant onslaught of defenses for the indefensible is contributing to your own cognitive dissonance, this Mental Health Guide may help you protect your mental health during these confusing and heartbreaking times. If you, like me, are regularly grappling with the impacts of colonization on your life and questioning “Who am I in reality,” I am here to remind you that:
I am sending light and love to each of you; especially the darker corners of your mind and heart. May the light shine, spread and remove shadows of doubt.
May you find peace among the pieces.
And may those who have passed become our protectors; may they enjoy mercy on their journey home.
May they rest in paradise, and may their memory be a blessing.
Sign on for CeasefireNOW
Noura Erakat: Human Rights Attorney & Associate Prof, Rutgers
Hatem Bazian: Hatem Bazian | Center for Race and Gender (berkeley.edu)
Ilan Pappe: Professor Ilan Pappé | | University of Exeter
Rashid Khalidi: Khalidi, Rashid | Department of History - Columbia University
Rania Awaad, MD: Clinical Professor, Stanford