The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) expresses its profound sympathy and grief over the brutal murder of three Muslim American students at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on February 10, 2015. We send our heartfelt condolencesto the loved ones of the victims of this heinouscrime. 19-year-old Razan Muhammed Abu-Salha, 21-year-old Yusor Muhammed Abu-Salha, and 23 year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat were all murdered in cold blood, “execution-style,” as the father of the two women said.
The murder was the culmination of a series of belligerent acts, including threats made with the gun eventually used to kill them. The murderer’s Facebook page included hate-filled posts and pictures of his gun and ammunition.
This was a horrific crime, and the current investigations into whether it constitutes a hate crime rightly point to the racism and Islamophobia from which it stemmed. This was not an isolated incident, but rather a terrible addition to the increasingly rampant anti-Arab and Islamophobic violence that is sweeping across the United States and Europe. In the past month alone, this intensely racist climate has been evidenced by the Februrary 13 burning of the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, David Horowitz’s “Freedom Center’s” encouraging students to conduct mock hangings, stonings , and whippings on campuses in support of Israel, and another round of Islamophobic bus ads in San Francisco comparing Muslims to Nazis. This climate of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism–stoked by a network of cynical propagandists, funded by elites and intended to sustain their profit and power—is absolutely unacceptable and must be challenged by all of us who are committed to collective liberation.
As Jews of conscience, we recognize that many who are fueling and funding Islamophobic propaganda are also invested in US support of Israel. The racist trope that Jews in Israel must be protected from Arab and Muslim people is one of the ways the US justifies its military aid. We vigorously condemn any suggestion that racist violence—be it in word or deed—is committed for the sake of Jewish safety. True safety will only be found by struggling together to dismantle racism, colonialism, and other systems of domination and exploitation – among them Zionism.
The constant dehumanization of Muslims and Arabs in U.S. culture is used to sustain support for ongoing war and occupation in Muslim-majority countries, which includes the massive targeting of civilian life and public infrastructure, drone assassinations, and the illegal capture and torture of detainees. At the same time, widespread Islamophobia paves the way to increased surveillance and militarized policing of domestic populations—which affects all U.S.residents, but falls most heavily on those communities already subject to disproportionate scrutiny and brutality from the State—Arab, Black, Latino and Indigenous communities and other communities of color, immigrants, low-income people, and queer and trans people. Meanwhile, Israel and Zionists around the world justify their Islamophobia with false claims of anti-Semitism, a sleight of hand intended to recast aggression as self-defense.
As an international network of Jews committed to human emancipation, including the dismantling of Zionism, Islamophobia and racism in all its forms, we stand in solidarity with the families and communities who are mourning these tragic losses, and reaffirm our duty to fight for a world in which these affronts to life, justice, and dignity are no longer possible.