Black Lives Matter UK Statement on Palestine

Black Lives Matter UK is an organisation that believes in the liberation of all people across the globe. This is why we organise for a world without racist violence. 

For 75 years Palestinian people have endured expulsion, dispossession and brutal military occupation. We sought to highlight this is in a tweet which expressed support for Palestine Action (@Pal_action), a direct action group, shutting down weapons factories in Britain that profit from the suffering and killing of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

We vehemently reject the accusation that our consistent solidarity against apartheid equates to celebrating the deaths of Israelis. All families grieving the loss of their loved ones have been robbed and we condemn the cycle of violence caused by settler colonialism. 

Black Lives Matter UK agrees with Dr Yara Hawari, UK based Palestinian academic who said “This was not a provocation by Hamas. The Israeli regime has for decades placed Palestinians under colonial occupation.”

Our reason for posting our solidarity for Palestine was to centre the plunder and violence that is the Israeli occupation. The miserable recent bloodshed that we’ve all witnessed is the direct result of the continuing violent theft of Palestinian land. As described by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy:

“A few hundred people proved that it’s impossible to imprison 2 million people forever without paying a cruel price. Just as the smoky old Palestinian bulldozer tore through the world’s smartest barrier Saturday, it tore away at Israel’s arrogance and complacency.”

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 10th October 2023 – accessed from Common Dreams

The arrogance and complacency towards Palestinian suffering is pervasive among world leaders. We have seen the UK, the United States and France all line up to support the siege of Gaza. Israel’s government policy to systematically deny Gaza of energy, water, food and aid is not only a criminal violation of article 33 of the Geneva Convention, it is the text-book definition of genocide.

So it is deeply worrying that the UK Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer has endorsed Israel’s collective punishment upon the millions of Palestinians in Gaza. Unlike Starmer, our values on human dignity and worth are not selective or politically calculated. We mourn the lives of Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes as we do Israeli civilians killed by militant attacks. We condemn Israel’s siege of Gaza and recognise Palestinians right to resist colonial violence.

There is a real danger of escalating anti-Semitic violence in the UK and elsewhere. As anti-racists, we oppose anti-Semitic violence and stand against it with our Jewish family, Black and non-Black. We reject the pernicious assertion that any support for Palestine is intrinsically anti-Semitic. There has been a troubling tendency exemplified by the UK Home Office to cast even the display of the Palestinian flag as “anti-Semitic”. This attempt to equate any support of Palestine as the approval of killing Israelis or Jews is grotesque colonial propaganda. We also note Home Secretary selective concern on racist intimidation as there has been little to non-existent government concern for Islamophobic violence at this time.

Black Lives Matter UK rejects hierarchies of human worth, unlike white supremacists who centre some lives above others, we are firmly grounded in the principle that all life is of equal value. This is why we are steadfast in opposing the racist structures of dehumanisation that colonialism is dependent on.

Before Israel, the only country the UN condemned as an apartheid state was South Africa, a system which was overthrown through multiple forms of resistance which was defeated through various means including boycotts, protest and armed struggle.

We remember that Nelson Mandela was once categorised by the UK and the USA as a terrorist, yet he remained in constant solidarity with Palestine. History vindicated the struggle against apartheid South Africa, and we believe history will vindicate the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

The coloniser’s violence is never morally justified. 

We refuse to be ahistorical about the ongoing colonisation of Palestine. This is why we firmly state that the violence will not end until the occupation ends. The history of decolonisation teaches us this. 

We amplify the words of Nelson Mandela that ring true to this day – “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” 

Free Palestine, Black Lives Matter.