We, the undersigned organizations, motivated by the recent events in regards to the city of Jerusalem, fervently condemn and deplore actions aimed at hindering the potential for peace within this already tense region.
On Wednesday, December 6th, Donald Trump made a controversial announcement: the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While the typical United States position on Israel has been to support Israeli claims to the city of Jerusalem, Trump’s decision was largely out of character with previous political officials and the actions of the international community in advancing the peace process. “The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides,” Trump proclaimed, as he recognized the capital despite Palestinian repudiation to the proposal.
Throughout history, up until the beginning of Zionist colonization of Palestine in the early 20th century, indigenous Jews, Christians, and Muslims co-existed peacefully in the city of Jerusalem.
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations voted in favor of adopting Resolution 181: The Partition Plan for Palestine. In addition to establishing a set of borders for Palestine and Israel, this resolution stipulated that Jerusalem would come under an international regime – no individual country would claim sovereignty over Jerusalem. The United Nations initial oversight on Jerusalem had a twofold purpose: to preserve the religious significance of Jerusalem, and to ensure its accessibility. On top of the fact that Resolution 181 was adopted without consulting the indigenous Palestinians, who objected vehemently to the idea of part of their national homeland becoming a space of special privileges for a mostly European religious minority, the recent US support for unilateral annexation contravenes even this most basic of documents.
Hours after the announcement was made, members of the Harvard community were in touch with panicked relatives in Jerusalem. One student in particular received a phone call from her mother, “[our home in East Jerusalem] is going to be wiped off the map.” She later recounts watching Snapchat videos from her aunt at Friday prayer, where protests broke out as Palestinians feared not being able to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque–the third holiest site in the Islamic faith. Palestinians who are issued a Palestinian ID are barred from even entering Jerusalem. This prevents thousands of Palestinians from accessing the holy sites of Jerusalem, regardless of whether they identify as Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. The direct repercussions of Trump’s decision have real consequences on the Palestinian people, both in the United States and in Palestine. People who called this area home prior to the annexation of territories are no longer able to access the holy sites that have been central to their religions, and Palestinians living inside Israel–with Israeli citizenship as opposed to Palestinian IDs – are treated under a different set of laws simply because they are not Jewish. All of this is in direct violation of international law.
Jerusalem, however, has retained its indigenous majority and has been the site of apartheid discrimination and creeping Zionist colonialism ever since it was first militarily occupied. Whether through punitive home demolitions, the revocation of residency permits, or any of the other measures through which Palestinians are collectively punished, the Israeli government has ethnically cleansed thousands of Palestinian Jerusalemites from the city, and has forbidden them from ever returning. By the end of 2016, the number of Palestinians expelled from Jerusalem by the Israeli government since the occupation began in 1967 was no less that 14,595. It is important that we place this week’s announcement of US support for official annexation in the proper historical context of settler colonial expansion and oppression throughout the region.
Furthermore, this move by the Trump administration will embolden Israel to take even more violent and aggressive measures. In the following days, amid tensions and clashes, Israel launched an airstrike on Gaza, killing two Palestinians, and injuring dozens more—including six children. Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison. The immediate reverberations of Trump’s decision have resulted in the deaths of people just days after his announcement. His words are affecting the lives of people. This is not simply a political announcement of will, but a reaffirmation of the war crimes and hostile actions that the Palestinian people experience on a daily basis. Gaza is a region that is still healing from the last major bombardment in the summer of 2014: a 50 day war that left at least 2200 Palestinians dead, including 504 children. These are not simply numerical statistics; they are real people with real lives. They are someone’s father, someone’s mother, someone’s sister, someone’s brother, and someone’s child–learn the names of the 504 children, read them here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/The-children-killed-in-Gaza-du…
The Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee joins the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, Harvard Society of Arab Students, Harvard Islamic Society & Anti-Islamophobia Network, and Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine in condemning, opposing, and resisting this decision, which represents merely the latest and most horrifying manifestation of a decades-long policy of unconditional US support for Israeli colonization. Trump’s statement is not a “recognition of reality,” but rather a tacit approval of attempts to delay and stall the peace process while illegally changing the facts on the ground to make peace impossible. It is a recognition and legitimization of war crimes and illegal occupation. It is a recognition and normalization of systematic oppression and institutionalized apartheid against the Palestinians. This is a decision that must not be taken lightly, and we will do all we can do to resist this decision. We encourage members to partake in protests and other forms of peaceful resistance in representation of solidarity. We urge all members of the Harvard community to come together to stand against this decision, to stand against oppression of all forms, and to join in the intersectional struggle for a more peaceful world.
Signed in solidarity,
Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee
Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations
Harvard Society of Arab Students
Harvard Islamic Society & Anti-Islamophobia Network
HLS Justice for Palestine