October 14, 2019
Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, an official holiday in more than 125 American cities. This includes Olympia, WA, the home of our offices here at RCF, a city that sits upon occupied Nisqually and Squaxin land. Indigenous Peoples’ Day was originally introduced to interrupt the mythology undergirding Columbus Day, which celebrates Columbus as a heroic adventurer instead of exposing him as the murderous marauder he was. Undoubtedly, the lionization of Columbus that is typical in the US, as well as the similar treatment given to the genocidal “pioneers” that would arrive in the centuries to follow, is no anomaly. All settler colonial states work tirelessly to disavow the founding violence that is necessary to their existence.
Today, however, I am focusing my celebration on the resistance and resilience of Indigenous peoples around the world. As Indigenous-led organizations fight to protect Mauna Kea, thousands of Indigenous activists in Brazil have descended upon the capital to combat Bolsonaro’s assault on their rights and territories. This resistance reminds all of us – and particularly those of us who are settlers – that Indigenous claims as the rightful caretakers of the places from which they originate cannot be extinguished through the colonial will. After the massacres, ethnic cleansing, and other modes of elimination historically waged by the settler, native title persists. The resistance also shows us that Indigenous communities, although the targets of unspeakable violence, have never been erased. This is not a story of defeat and victory. To be sure, as the late scholar Patrick Wolfe reminded us, settler colonialism is a structure, not an event.
As this structure persists, so does the will to dismantle it. In that vein, I am thinking particularly about our friends in Palestine. We know that, in the time since the Oslo Accords, the Israeli settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has more than tripled. We know that Palestinians live under a settler colonial regime that still – nearing the year 2020 – refuses to declare its borders as a means to appropriate more land. As such, we reaffirm our dedication to partnering with folks on the ground who are challenging this settler regime on a daily basis. In the weeks leading up to the new year, I will be in touch again with details on how you can directly support this work.
For now, let us celebrate not only the history of the world’s Indigenous peoples, but also their futures.
Policy Analyst & Communications Manager
Thursday, May 26th at 7:30 pm
Fircrest United Methodist Church
(6308 South 19th) in Tacoma, WA
On May 14, 1948, as Zionist leader David Ben Gurion was proclaiming a Jewish state in Palestine, his heavily armed troops seized the ancient Palestinian Arab town of al-Zeeb and drove out most of the inhabitants. Eighteen-year-old Mariam Fathallah was one of them. She and her young husband and their families were forced to flee to Lebanon, along with most of the town. By the end of the year, the 4,000 year old community had been leveled to the ground. More than half the Arab Palestinians in Palestine were killed or expelled and more than half of the cities, towns and villages of Palestine were made to disappear, a crime that Palestinians call al-Nakba (the Catastrophe).
Mariam, now 86 years old, wants to meet you and tell her story in person. So does Amena Ashkar,the granddaughter and great granddaughter of other Nakba survivors, who has known no other home than refugee camps.
COME AND HEAR THEIR STORIES. COME AND ASK YOUR QUESTIONS.
Sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace Tacoma and The Rachel Corrie Foundation.
With immense gratitude and thanks, we would like to announce that we have met our fundraising goal during our matching grant campaign! Because of your generosity and dedication, we have secured $12,500 in matching funds from our generous grant guarantor. We are absolutely blown away by the letters, phone calls, and emails that we have received from around the world, reiterating the amazing level of global support we receive here at RCF. In the truest sense of the word, our work is impossible without all of you.
The good news is that we have met our goal. The exciting new is that we are not stopping now! Our robust list of programs and projects that we work so hard to sustain through the year and into the future still rely on your support to continue. As we welcome Ilan Pappe to Olympia for Peace Works 2016 this May, which will be our inaugural Rachel Corrie Memorial Lecture, and look forward to this year’s Olympia Arab Festival in October, we are reminded of the work ahead of us and the need for continued support from our generous donors. Your contribution today will allow us to continue these and other vital projects well into the future. With our humble gratitude, thank you for considering a gift to the Rachel Corrie Foundation as we push forward to our April 10 deadline. Onward!
I want to share some exciting news with you. We are winning!
In Columbus, Ohio last week, I met and strategized with student activists at Ohio State University who are building a movement to pressure their university to divest from companies profiting off of human rights abuses around the world, including Palestine. These students have fully embraced the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) and, from everything I have seen, will not be stopped.
In Washington, D.C., I saw thousands of people turn out for conferences and marches challenging the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest arm of the American Israel lobby. I also hit the Hill, delivering a mandate to congressional and senatorial offices to oppose current anti-BDS legislation in the House and Senate. As we push forward with demands for Palestinian self-determination and equality, and for the right to advocate for these inalienable rights here in the U.S., the status quo of groups like AIPAC grows tenuous.
In New York, I met with more grassroots activists who are challenging Israeli apartheid through a number of tactics. One of these meetings allowed me to reconnect with my dear friend Ayman Nijim. I first met Ayman in Gaza in 2011, where he worked with Afaq Jadeeda, a community group based in Nuseirat Refugee Camp. Ayman has since gone on to complete his Master’s degree at the School for International Training and is currently pursuing his PhD training, defying the Israeli policy of containment and blockade that aims to destroy his dreams of advanced education.
And so, every day that we engage with this issue and push forward, through education and grassroots participation, we are winning.
We rely on contributions from our supporters around the world to continue this mission. As you may have heard, we recently received a matching grant that will allow us to raise a total of $25,000! We need your help in order to secure all of these vital funds. A contribution today is an investment in initiating and supporting the grassroots campaigns and educational efforts that are at the heart of our challenge to Israeli occupation.
As I return to Olympia this week to continue this work, I will be thinking of the people I have spent time with on this trip – the dedicated and principled people making such a significant impact across the country – and will carry our collaborative energy forward until the realization of a free Palestine.
Policy Analyst & Communications Manager