Our hearts go out to the victims of the attack at Pulse Club’s Latinx night in Orlando and their loved ones. We send our condolences to their loved ones, and our solidarity to the wider Orlando and LGBTQ community as we all grieve these lost lives. This attack is a reminder of the violence and hatred that so many of us experience or are threatened by daily in the United States. Our queer and transgender ancestors fought for the freedom to be ourselves, to love, to build community and to celebrate together. We honor their courageous, fiercely loving legacies as we continue to struggle for these freedoms.
In grieving the 49 lives taken and 53 people injured, queer and transgender members of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network renew our commitment to the fight for all communities targeted by hate to be free of violence, terror, and repression. As queer and transgender people, we refuse to allow this profound attack on our safety and liberation to be used to target others who similarly face daily attacks on their lives and freedom. We refuse to let this be used to drum up fear and hatred of Muslim and Arab communities, including queer people within these communities. As Jewish people, we refuse to allow Israel and its allies to use the history of anti-semitism to justify colonization and ethnic cleansing in Palestine, along with the targeting of Arab and Muslim communities in the United States, Canada and Europe.
While there are attempts to make the connection, there is no evidence that shooter Omar Mateen, had any relationship to ISIS or any other fundamentalist group. What we do know is that he has a clear record of racist and homophobic remarks. We know that for the past nine years Mateen worked as a prison guard in a private juvenile prison for G4S – an international security company invested in prisons, surveillance, and other forms of state violence in the U.S., Israel and around the world. Queer people of color — the majority of those killed in this massacre — are also most impacted by the violence of policing and prisons. Over half of the people killed are from Puerto Rico, a land under U.S. colonial rule and military control for over a century. The violence he expressed and acted upon is not a departure from the violence of U.S. state, police, military, and private security firms.
Mateen also had a history of domestic violence; violence against women is often a predecessor and a red flag for gun violence and even mass shootings. It has been reported that nearly a third of mass shootings started with a shooter targeting a girlfriend, wife, or ex-wife. And yet another layer of this tragedy is the potential that Mateen’s actions were part of an expression of his own shame and internalized homophobia. Sexism and homophobia have no national borders and are reflected in all of the world’s major religions as well as challenged within them. This attack did not come from outside of our country to puncture our righteous democracy. Rather, the attacker was born in this nation and breathing from the same atmosphere of homophobia that permeates our institutions and society.
A common response from liberal politicians and spokespeople is the call for gun control. Though needed, it obscures the reality that military and police are the biggest purveyors of weaponry and overt violence, particularly against indigenous, Black and Brown people of all sexualities and genders. We see through the thinly veiled agendas of politicians – from Clinton to Trump – and mainstream media in the United States, Europe, Canada and Israel to use this tragedy to justify further relentless, brutal attacks on people, including queer and transgender people, in the Middle East through endless wars and occupations for political control and economic gain.
This attack is a reminder of the work yet to do to end the daily violence against queer and trans people and people of color perpetrated by our own states, police, and vigilantes.
Queers and allies in IJAN grieve and decry this attack as we simultaneously condemn the spread and normalization of Islamophobia. We stand in solidarity with the Arab and Muslim community and say: we will not be divided. We cannot fight homophobia and transphobia with Islamophobia.
We honor these 49 lives taken, of queer and trans people of color, with our love and on-going fight for justice. In this moment of deep grief and uncertainty, we are reminded that our plight is inseparable from that of our Arab and Muslim, Palestinian, Black and immigrant communities. This attack and what has transpired since affirms the deep connection between all struggles against prejudice, racism and repression. We will not feel safe anywhere until there is justice everywhere.
With Love and Rage,
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
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