Statement in Support of a Ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Condemning Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism

The Berkeley Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is committed to upholding the human and civil rights of all people, strengthening community ties, and fostering coalitions with groups which align with these values. As such, the Berkeley JACL strongly condemns the violence and oppression the Israeli state has forced upon Palestinians, the violence Hamas has enacted upon Israeli civilians, and Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism happening here in the United States and around the world. Furthermore, we call on the release of all those who are being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas as well as those being unjustly incarcerated in Israel without a formal charge nor trial.

During these times of hate, violence, and injustice, it is crucial that all oppressed communities come together to support each other. As Japanese Americans, we have experienced first hand the deep wounds caused when the United States government and its people discriminated against the Japanese American community during World War II, due to the actions of a country many had no or little connection to. We continue to see throughout history to today, these same injustices and violent and discriminatory actions negatively impact so many people and so many communities.

Countless lives have been killed and even more impacted due to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine both for Palestinians and for Israelis. At the time of publication, over 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including more than 10,000 children, and over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals have been killed in Israel. Furthermore, the living conditions – water, electricity, food, health care – are devastating, putting many more lives at risk (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

We also would like to call attention to the alarming increase in hate crimes in the United States. Over the past few months, we have seen horrifying violence committed against those of Palestinian descent, such as the murder of Wadea al-Fayoume (6) in Illinois and the attempted murder of three students in Vermont. At the same time, we also want to warn against those who use the criticism of the Israeli state as an excuse to spread anti-Semitic messaging. It is critical that we remain vigilant and pushback on the use of stereotypes that have perpetuated violence against Jewish communities throughout history.

Therefore, it is with great urgency that the Berkeley JACL calls for a permanent ceasefire now and for the United States to end its support of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Furthermore, we must continue to support each other and be in solidarity to stop all hate, violence, discrimination, and injustices, including the current rise in Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.