Dear Prof. Stephen Hawking,
The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) thanks you for taking the principled course of action: publicly refusing to participatein Israel’s presidential conference, chaired by the notorious war criminal Shimon Peres. Our own recent history as Jews vividly presents to us the culpable role of those who merely stay silent in the face of state-organized racism and violence.
We further commend your decision to publicize the reasons for your withdrawal in a form that conveys your understanding that the primary obligation of people of conscience everywhere is to listen to Palestinians who suffer Israel’s oppression and act in solidarity based on their analysis and demands. Your actions set an example for conscientious engagement as a scientist and as a public figure. We hope that your example will inform and in turn move more scientists, intellectuals, and artists to action.
As with others who followed the same course, in the coming days many powerful people will subject you to a barrage of abuse. The primary purpose of this barrage is to frighten others who might want to emulate you but do not feel as confident in their ability to withstand the public attempts of character assassination. We therefore also write to you to encourage others. While those who appreciate what you did donot hold high office nor own newspapers and TV channels, we are the majority of humanity and we deeply appreciate you.
The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
IJAN joins with theNational Lawyers Guild, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and National Conferenceof Black Lawyers in rejecting the U.S. government’sattempt to smear Assata Shakur as a "terrorist." The outrageous FBI designationof Shakur as a "most wanted terrorist" further lays bare the blatantpoliticization of the term.
We jointhe National Lawyers Guild in expressing support for the UN Special Rapporteur,Richard Falk, in his statement on the need for the U.S. to examine its foreignpolicy.
Dr. Falk,in an editorial in Foreign Policy Journal titled "A Commentary on the Marathon Murders," appealedfor the U.S. to be self-critical and examine the effects of "irresponsible andunlawful warfare [as the] centerpiece of American foreign policy." He listssome of the more egregious actions of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,including Abu Ghraib, drone attacks, torture, and rendition and says: "TheAmerican global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistancein the post-colonial world. In some respects, the United States has beenfortunate not to experience worse blowbacks…" Dr. Falk continues the essay withdiscussion of Barack Obama’s abandonment of the Palestinians and anyinvolvement in bringing about a just peace. Obama’s recent visit to Israel,says Falk, was a "love letter to the Israeli public" and "obsequious diplomacy"rather than a serious attempt at achieving justice.
It was withgreat sadness that we received the news of the passing of President Hugo Chávezof Venezuela. As citizens of the world, wecontinue to draw hope and inspiration from the Bolivarian Revolution.It is a point of reference in the global resistance to the suffering imposed bygovernments, corporations and ruling classes – beginning with those of theUnited States and its massive military.
In theclosing days of 2012, three members of IJAN had the privilege of visiting theBolivarian Republic. They witnessed a peopleengaged in building a more just society and standing up to imperial domination. They saw the coming to fruition of a projectof building nearly one thousandapartments for victims of natural disasters.This was in sharp contrast to the US experience in the aftermath ofHurricanes Sandy and Katrina, when the government left the victims to fend forthemselves, and treated as criminals those trying to escape the floods, even shooting refugees dead.
A Community Speak Out and Forum was held in response to Pamela Geller’s racist ad campaign, carried on SanFrancisco municipal buses this summer. The event was hosted by theCouncil on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA), Asian Law Caucus (ALC), ArabResource & Organizing Center (AROC), and Arab Cultural & CommunityCenter (ACCC).
This community forum was intended as a space for Arabs,Muslims, and their allies to express their concerns to city officials,including the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, about the harm which hasresulted from the Geller ads and to send the message that the community willnot tolerate Islamophobia and racism. The event was standing roomonly, and those in the audience included members of municipal institutions(e.g. the Municipal Transit Authority Board, San Francisco Board ofSupervisors, San Francisco Department of Public Health) and community members,groups and organizations, such as Students for Justice in Palestine, PeopleOrganized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) and the National Lawyers Guild. Speakersincluded Dr. Hatem Bazian, Zahra Billoo, Dr. Rabab Abdulhabi, and HusamEl-Qoulaq, as well as a MUNI bus driver who refused to drive his bus with thisad on it, Arab youth, and leaders of grassroots organizations.
IJAN was asked to speak at the event and below is the text of our statement
"There is no mystery why Canada acts almost blindly without critique or question in support of the State of Israel’s colonial policies in Palestine: Canada and Israel’s policies are marching in lock step because both Canada and Israel are colonial states."
-Robert Lovelace Address to Amnesty International, Toronto, November 01, 2011
The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) supports Idle No More in its struggle for indigenous sovereignty and environmental protection. IJAN is an international network of Jews who reject the premise that our own histories of forced displacement and ethnic cleansing justify the forced displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. We are uncompromisingly committed to struggles for human emancipation, of which the liberation of all colonized people and land is an indispensable part. We understand the destruction of indigenous people, land and ways of life as a threat to the survival of all people, living things and the planet. We extend solidarity and continue our fight against colonization in the lands that we live and in Palestine.
Please also see the excellent statement: "Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More and Indigenous Rights"
TheWorld Social Forum Free Palestine (WSFFP) took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, atexactly the moment that Palestine was on the front page of every newspaperaround the world. The United Nations had just voted (138-9) to grantPalestinians limited statehood observer status at the United Nations. Meanwhile, people in Gaza had also justsurvived another brutal Israeli onslaught.
Despiteour grief and rage at the latest attack on Gaza, the perseverance of thePalestinian people continues to be an inspiration. As has been true for almosta century, Palestine and the Palestinian people are in the stranglehold of aglobal negotiation for power and resources. And now, popular movements anduprisings throughout the region threaten the colonial hold of US, Europe,Israel and its collaborators with struggles against repression and massexploitation of resources, land and people and for basic survival and freedom. InSyria, the death toll has risen to an estimated 40,000-57,000 over the pasttwo-years as people’s fights against repression are suffocated and infiltratedby the interests of these same forces.
The International Jewish Solidarity Network (IJSN) is a growing network of Jews whose identities are not based on Zionism but on long histories of Jewish participation in liberation struggles from Eastern Europe and Iraq to Brooklyn. IJSN’s participation in this conference reflects our commitment to these legacies and to our participation in current struggles against colonization and imperialism. Central to this commitment is solidarity with Arab liberation struggles against US imperialism and Zionism.