Statement on Gaza

From Johnny:

Let me preface by saying that I’ve taken an unintended but very long break from social media. I’ve gotten out of the habit of commenting on what I take in, and it’s become difficult to fathom suddenly crashing in and making statements on the escalating slaughter that continues in Palestine, as well as the ongoing death and suffering in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Turkey, Cyprus, Ukraine, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the suffering due to state violence and cartel violence in Mexico, as well as non-military armed conflicts throughout the world. That’s not even touching on mass shootings and other interpersonal violence on a large scale. But we’re way past the time to make our position clear.

From Johnny and Manzin:

We heard the world loud and clear in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and any military justification for the invasion was (rightly) deemed unacceptable. We hadn’t seen a similar response to the Israeli government’s disproportionate and horrifying attacks on the people of Palestine, until now. We have been remiss in making our views known on our business’s social media. This statement seeks to rectify that.


Let it be clear.

Let it also be clear that we did not arrive at this conclusion recently, nor did we arrive at it lightly, or via any pressure from the recent, increased scrutiny of the “Israel-Palestine conflict”. We are relieved – and grateful – to see people making their voices heard in protest of the continued horrors in Palestine.

In case you’re not familiar with the movements protesting it, we’ve gathered some info on the history of the region and how international leaders have responded to the events leading up to where we are today. Check it out, as well as links to toolkits for organized protests, and to organizations facilitating them as well as aid missions (at the bottom of this post).

Importantly: We ALWAYS check our sources for botanicals, precious & semi-precious metals & gemstones, crystals – everything we buy for our business and manufacturing. Unless it has been deliberately concealed from us, our supply chain does not benefit oppressive regimes. We look forward to resuming purchases of Dead Sea salt from the remaining Palestinian source asap.

We have unflinchingly supported the people of Palestine in their resistance to genocide, and stand with journalists, artists, musicians, and all citizens of Palestine that have done their best to explain their positions, to plead for the lives of their families and to not have their homes demolished by settlers and their families expelled from the land they’ve owned for generations. I’m not young, but my whole life has been in parallel with the injustice in Palestine growing and growing into the unconscionable terror it is today. And, it must be stated, we condemn those ongoing attacks, as well as Ham@s* attacks causing the death of innocents (which, by the way, necessarily include its own people given the indiscriminate targeting by bombing). We must also make VERY CLEAR that we do not tolerate or endorse antisemitic attacks on Jewish people, whose number includes millions of people around the world protesting the same state violence that we protest.

*altered spelling to avoid unnecessary palaver

In the beginning… (a very fast overview of the history of Palestine after Ottoman rule)

Main source: UN document: The Question of Palestine

UN animated video of some of the information below: the Question of Palestine

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the former Ottoman territories were taken over, and Britain was tasked with administering them. All territories became independent, except for Palestine, which was selected to become a “national home for the Jewish people”, while Arab citizens remained. From 1922 to 1947, hundreds of thousands of Jewish people arrived in Palestine, with the largest number, understandably, coming over during World War II. Arab citizens were calling for independence and a slowing of immigration, and finally staged a rebellion in 1937. The region hasn’t been stable since then, and the British, having failed to resolve the problem they created, gave up and turned the problem over to the UN, who proposed dividing the land into two independent states (Jewish and Palestinian Arab), with Jerusalem remaining internationalized. Israel became a state, and in the process, overtook 77 percent of the region, including most of Jerusalem, and expelled over half of Arab Palestinians. Jordan and Egypt controlled the rest of the Arab State, but Israel then occupied and eventually annexed those territories, starting in 1967. Another half a million Palestinians fled at that point.

The UN Security Council demanded a withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories, and continued to do so with various resolutions and recommendations, but nothing changed. The UN granted the PLO the status of observer, and the PLO moved into Beirut, Lebanon as a security force. Israel invaded Lebanon in order to, as they officially declared, “eliminate the PLO”. A cease fire was negotiated and the PLO withdrew and were moved to surrounding countries. All assurances and guarantees of safety were made by Israel to the Palestinian refugees they would leave behind in Lebanon, but Israeli troops massacred all refugees found in two of the largest camps. 20 years later, after various councils and resolutions were formed and discussed, the state of Israel refused to cede any territory or assurance of safety to the people of Palestine, and an uprising began in occupied Palestine. Israeli forces devastated the region with massive death and injury. Enter several more decades of councils and committees and demands from international groups, more initiatives, more peace accords ignored and ceasefires broken. No amount of international dissent, condemnation, protest, or armed Palestinian resistance has stopped Israeli’s commitment to hold the lands its seized and to continue to seize and occupy Palestinian lands.

But let’s back up a little bit. How did U.S. support of Israel begin?

Here’s a three-paragraph quote from the most sanitized English-language version of events after The Balfour Declaration: the history article about the creation of the State of Israel from the U.S. State Department:

“Although the United States supported the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which favored the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had assured the Arabs in 1945 that the United States would not intervene without consulting both the Jews and the Arabs in that region. The British, who held a colonial mandate for Palestine until May 1948, opposed both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine as well as unlimited immigration of Jewish refugees to the region. Great Britain wanted to preserve good relations with the Arabs to protect its vital political and economic interests in Palestine.

“Soon after President Truman took office, he appointed several experts to study the Palestinian issue. In the summer of 1946, Truman established a special cabinet committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Henry F. Grady, an Assistant Secretary of State, who entered into negotiations with a parallel British committee to discuss the future of Palestine. In May 1946, Truman announced his approval of a recommendation to admit 100,000 displaced persons into Palestine and in October publicly declared his support for the creation of a Jewish state. Throughout 1947, the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine examined the Palestinian question and recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. On November 29, 1947 the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948 when the British mandate was scheduled to end. Under the resolution, the area of religious significance surrounding Jerusalem would remain a corpus separatum under international control administered by the United Nations.

“Although the United States backed Resolution 181, the U.S. Department of State recommended the creation of a United Nations trusteeship with limits on Jewish immigration and a division of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab provinces but not states. The State Department, concerned about the possibility of an increasing Soviet role in the Arab world and the potential for restriction by Arab oil producing nations of oil supplies to the United States, advised against U.S. intervention on behalf of the Jews. Later, as the date for British departure from Palestine drew near, the Department of State grew concerned about the possibility of an all-out war in Palestine as Arab states threatened to attack almost as soon as the UN passed the partition resolution.”

The establishment of Israel on occupied land has been a continuous act of violence. While offering land to a group of people who needed safety and respite was a noble vision, offering land that was already occupied was a doomed idea at best. It set the stage for conflict at the least, and extreme violence and death as we see today. From the outset, the Palestinian government voiced its objections and made it clear what would happen if this plan was pressed. Despite this, Truman ignored Roosevelt’s promises to the Arab people and met with David Ben-Gurion (head of the Jewish Agency) to officially recognize the State of Israel. The U.S. has not made any effort to condemn Israel’s illegal occupation, nor the fact that the Israeli government chose to ignore all doctrines and guidelines set by world leaders.

We know the current right-wing government of Israel has used its military to force conflict when they grow impatient with the final plan to take the entire region of Palestine for itself. We know that this does not reflect the will of the people of Israel. We’ve seen the protests, and the responses from the more heartless among its citizenry, including running over their own people for daring to protest genocide. We’ve seen this model of governing before from the same political actors, including the secretive (documented, admitted) IDF slaughter of Jewish people in Iraq to force survivors to come to Israel for safety against a perceived threat, but ultimately to defend its occupied territory. The government has shown its willingness to kill its own people to force its agenda, and it has not wavered from that heartless decision in its several years in power.

We now see mass death of innocents, the purposeful assassinations of journalists for daring to show the world the reality of mass murder, the targeting of anyone who has spoken out on social media, the annihilation of medics, doctors, hospitals, including 101 UN officials tasked merely with delivering aid to devastated regions. Fuel supplies are cut off, livestock and crops are bombarded, burned, and those remaining are unable to access water. Armed forces have blocked off the ability to recover bodies of the dead, the ability to access medical care, the ability to access food, to travel any distance. There is no safe place left in Palestine. Where bombardment doesn’t reach, snipers and charging infantry fills in the gaps. In under a month, 20,000 Palestinians are dead, including over 6,000 children, including the elderly and infirm in homes and hospitals. There are thousands more maimed, creating a generation of disabled people that will have no access to proper accommodation, if they survive at all. Mass graves can no longer be dug by backhoes, which are now out of fuel. They’ll have to be dug by hand, if at all, considering the snipers firing on anyone moving outside. The worst is undoubtedly yet to come, unless rapid opposition (with clear consequences) can be established by world leaders.

In the US, where we’re based, citizen protests are being met with state violence authorized by our own government. While the attacks on the capitol on January 6th went by with a light touch from law enforcement, even while they were being attacked, the peaceful protestors against the government of Israel were met with extreme violent attacks by law enforcement. They are attempting to show us that we are not allowed the freedom to protest that we’ve all been promised. They are attempting to silence any questioning of the status quo, which is the rapid funding of violent oppression and annihilation of groups of people up to and including entire regions, entire bloodlines, entire ethnicities. We’ve seen this before, of course. As a Romani, it’s in our blood, as it is in Jewish blood, to know how easy it is for well-funded governments to wipe out entire family trees with impunity, for years before it’s finally stopped by “the powers that be”. When survivors said “never again,” that was for everyone. Yet, we’ve been sluggish to respond, if we respond at all, to groups around the world being hell bent on wiping out another group.

The recent “admonishments”by the U.S. government of the government of Israel for relentless attacks on civilians fail to convey the necessary strength or conviction that any consequence at all will come of the Israeli government choosing to ignore the pleas from the countries that make up the UN, and those outside it. The President has threatened sanctions against individuals who break the rules. As in, “That’s it, Bob, you ran over there with a long gun and fired it, you’re not getting your dividends this quarter.” It’s ridiculously inadequate.

We stand with the MULTITUDE of leftist Jewish protestors, musicians, artists, scholars, writers, organizers, and common folk that have stood up to say, “Not in my name.” To give examples of such groups based in the US, we must mention the “largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world” – Jewish Voice for Peace (founded 1996), who we’ve supported for years, and whose Rabbinical Council has issued some of the most moving and clear-eyed statements calling for ceasefire and expressing solidarity with Palestinians since the group’s inception.

We also highlight IfNotNow (founded in 2014), led by a slightly younger cohort than JVP (though certainly with supporters in common). They were vocal in expressing frustration with US support for Israel’s apartheid regime, and condemning violence from “both sides,” by underscoring that the root cause of violence in the region is the “strangling siege on Gaza” by Israeli government forces. They included explicit condemnation of soldiers raiding and demolishing Palestinian homes and terrorizing entire villages, and referred to the current government as “the most extreme right-wing government in Israel’s history.”

Both of these groups started while standing with the older BDS Movement (boycott, divestment, and sanction) movement who, under constant accusation of antisemitism, have guided thousands of people to protest by boycotting companies that profit from the occupation of lands, including farm land and seaside ports, that were not theirs to take. The group has successfully pressured government bodies, universities, federal investment programs, etc., into divesting (withdrawing investment) from the above and other companies profiting from occupation.

We see and support those Jewish protestors, who have been told they’re not “real Jews” for refusing to support the right-wing extremists bent on annihilating those “in the way” of total occupation of Palestine. We know that Jewish people are Jewish regardless of their beliefs, and that questioning authority is at the very heart of the culture, beginning with religion and represented heavily in Jewish art, including comedy and music as well as visual arts, and in the approach to science and philosophy. We stand with them, as they stand with Palestinian people, and others around the world who refuse to allow any justification of genocide.

As protests against Israeli’s government and US support of it are increasing in number and frequency around the world, we see that it has given an opening to fashy little turds who are trying to twist a protest against state violence into expressions of hate of all Jewish people. So there can be no confusion, we also wholeheartedly condemn their disgusting opportunism to shoehorn their goosestepping nonsense into a movement characterized by the will for justice and peace, not division among ethnic and/or racial lines.

Links to Palestinian Twitter/X accounts:

  1. @7amleh – 7amleh حملة A non-profit organization, working to create a safe, fair, & free digital space.
  2. @Addameer – Addameer – gives legal support to Palestinian political prisoners, document their cases & advocate their rights internationally.
  3. @alhaq_org – Al-Haq الحق Protecting and Promoting Human Rights & the Rule of Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  4. @AlMezanCenter – Al-Mezan الميزان Gaza-based human rights center dedicated to protecting the fundamental rights of Palestinians and hold perpetrators of international law violations to account.
  5. @AlShabaka – الشبكة The Palestinian Policy Network. An independent, nonprofit think tank without borders. Arabic & English.
  6. @Barameh – Salem Barameh, Founder & Creative Director of @uncivilmedia. Activism, storytelling and filmmaking.
  7. @Hind_Gaza – Hind Khoudary, a Palestinian journalist based in the Gaza Strip.
  8. @azaizamotaz9 – MoTaz, photographer and content producer based in Gaza.

Links to Toolkits from action-based organizations: