FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The National Lawyers Guild stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle against the settler colonial state of Israel and calls on our members and allies throughout the United States and around the globe to stand and act in support of that struggle.
May 15 will mark 73 years of the Nakba. In 1948, the Zionist settler colonial movement with the support of imperialist powers established the state of Israel through the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, waged through massacres and the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages. This colonial project continues today as we are witnessing the forced expulsion of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem by armed settlers, indiscriminate violence against Palestinian protestors, attacks on Palestinian holy sites, and the ongoing devastating closure and indiscriminate bombing of Gaza.
As we commemorate the Nakba, we note that despite 73 years of colonization and forced dispossession, the Palestinian people remain united to confront occupation and Zionism. The struggles in Jerusalem and Gaza have been accompanied by uprisings throughout the occupied West Bank and by Palestinian citizens of Israel, defending themselves and their fellow Palestinians. This united rising in confrontation with colonialism holds truly transformative potential.
Israel has continued to violate international law even as calls for accountability have become increasingly louder on a global scale. For example, the International Criminal Court, after years of delay, finally announced that it will open an investigation into Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine. All existing forms of international intervention have until now failed to persuade or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine.
As a U.S. based organization, we underline that the United States has been in many ways directly responsible for Israel’s ongoing impunity, including through repeated use of the veto at the United Nations to block international action to challenge Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. As Israel’s attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem, Gaza and throughout occupied Palestine have intensified, only two days ago, the United States pressured the Security Council to hold off on even issuing a statement on Israel’s unlawful actions in Sheikh Jarrah, Al-Aqsa Mosque and occupied Jerusalem generally. The United States also provides $3.8 billion in direct aid to Israel each year, specifically earmarked for military purposes. Thus, the ongoing Israeli warfare being waged on the Palestinian civilian population is in fact also ongoing U.S. warfare.
Palestinians have repeatedly called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Indeed, Arab states have imposed a boycott of Israel for decades for its ongoing occupation of Arab land, including Palestinian and Syrian land. The United States has expended a tremendous amount of military and financial pressure to undermine and break the Arab boycott of Israel, from the Camp David accords with Egypt in 1978 to the more recent attempts at a “deal of the century” and the “Abraham Accords.” These normalization campaigns, sponsored and funded by the United States, aim to expand the complicity of Arab states with Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity while denying the Palestinian people international support. Normalization with Israel is a U.S. project designed to advance Israeli impunity.
As a community of legal workers and advocates who prioritize human rights and support for justice and liberation of oppressed people, we must stand firm in our solidarity by:
- Clearly and unequivocally condemning Israeli state and colonial violence against the Palestinian people from Gaza to Jerusalem, in the West Bank and throughout historical Palestine.
- Escalating our pursuit for legal accountability for Israeli colonial violence, ethnic cleansing, ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the crime of apartheid, in our global and local legal institutions.
- Affirming the legal right of all Palestinian refugees to return to Palestine. International law upholds the Palestinian right to return. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3236 (1974) reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property.
- Affirming and protecting the legal right of Palestinians to resist the colonizing power that seeks to annihilate them. International law also upholds the right of self-defense for peoples under colonial and foreign domination and subjugation, “reaffirm[ing] the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”
- Demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners and an end the use of torture and administrative detention. Israel holds about 4,500 Palestinians in its prisons, among them 41 women and 140 children under 18. Since the beginning of 2021, Israeli authorities have arrested more than 1,400 Palestinians merely for challenging the occupation.
- Supporting the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of all institutions whose conduct is complicit in Israeli crimes, complicit in Israeli apartheid, complicit in the occupation of Palestine, or complicit in any denial of Palestinian human rights.
- Defending the Palestinian movement and community in the United States, including students, activists, and scholars who are targeted by Zionist lawfare instiutions for their support of Palestinian human rights, and the criminalization, surveillance and harassment of Palestinians by U.S. political and police forces.
- Demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel and holding all U.S. leaders accountable for their political support for Israel’s crimes. Israel is committing these human rights violations with U.S. aid, in violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance acts.
- Demanding that the United States stop its political and economic intimidation, including sanctions, to pressure states to normalize relations with Israel.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the first national, racially integrated bar association in the U.S. to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human, and civil rights.