On May 24th, 2016, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 15th, 2016, the 68th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine, as “Palestine Cultural Day.” It is the third proclamation from the board of supervisors recognizing the cultural richness of Palestine and the Palestinian community.
Thank you for those who came out and supported the Proclamation – AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Friends of Sabeel – North America FOSNA Buena Vista United Methodist Church, and the Middle East Children’s Alliance, community members, and allies.
Lara Kiswani spoke on behalf of the Arab community: “On behalf of the Arab community, we would like to thank Supervisor Chan for spearheading this Palestine Day proclamation and for the support of all the Supervisors in this effort. As Palestinians in the US, we see this step as not simply an act of recognition, but also an expression of your commitment to hear our community concerns, value our experiences and contributions, and to take a stand for social and racial justice.
We are living in a time where Arabs, Muslims and particularly Palestinians are criminalized, marginalized and often made invisible. We understand this experience as part of a long history of racism and violence that has impacted people of color and poor people all across the world. We understand that recognizing Palestine and Palestinian people is in of itself taking a stand against racism. After all, there are many billions of dollars, energy and political interests that go into wiping our history and identity. Just as historically there have been similar efforts made to erase the history of the Indigenous people of this land, to normalize the segregation of Blacks in Apartheid South Africa. We see ourselves as part of this history, this movement for social justice, part of the global community that strives to achieve self determination, dignity and justice.
We come here today to thank you for your act of solidarity, particularly at this time. And we ask you to put your solidarity into action by taking a stand against Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism. And by extension, taking a stand against all forms of racism, discrimination, and State violence. And we ask you to challenge the inequity, segregation, and militarism that saturate our cities from Ferguson, to Jerusalem to Oakland. There are indeed ways that we can make changes today.
One way we ask you to explore and examine is defunding the attempts to militarize and make war on Arabs, Muslims, poor people and people of color right here in Alameda County. Pay close attention to the way in which Alameda tax dollars are used to make an enemy out of local residents. Things such as the SWAT training and weapons expo known as Urban Shield and hosted in Pleasanton, that celebrates military exercises and encourages emergency responders to relate to people in your backyard, to relate to many of you and your families, as enemies rather than people worthy of health and care. Defunding Urban Shield, stopping military states and human rights’ violators such as Apartheid Israel from training local law enforcement, continuing to invest in and celebrate culture, and community are some steps in that direction. We would be thrilled to partner with you in such efforts to better Alameda County and the lives of all its residents.
Thank you for taking the time to honor our history and culture, to hear our concerns, and see us as part and parcel of social fabric of Alameda County.”