As an interfaith organisation of LGBTIQ+ gender and sexual minority people especially from the Global South and East, GIN-SSOGIE is horrified by the ongoing genocide taking place in Palestine. We have thought long and hard about this statement since we have both Jewish and Muslim members, and while we are very clear that not all Jewish people support the State of Israel, it is clear that for many Jewish people, Israel has been at least a symbolic place of safety.
However, as an organisation based in South-Africa, we are clear that the establishment of Israel took place through a process of dispossession and forced removal of Palestinians, organised and supported by states such as the United Kingdom, France and the United States. It is a process that we recognise from South Africa’s apartheid history. We also recognise the continued restrictions on the movement of Palestinians before 7 October as expressions of a state practicing a form of apartheid.
South African history has taught us many things, but most especially that a people cannot be oppressed forever without rising up, and that security based on the suppression of a population is no security at all.
We decry the violence that is taking place in Palestine. We decry hostage taking. We decry the holding of Palestinians in Israeli jails without trial. We decry the dehumanisation of Palestinians based on their indigenous origin, culture and religion. We do not believe that the playing field is even.
We cannot overlook the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, or the support of states, including the USA, the United Kingdom, France and Germany for the continuing blockade and the refusal to implement a permanent ceasefire.
We condemn all forms of military aggression, the tragic loss of innocent lives, and crimes against humanity which are considered genocide, as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 4, Article 2 (C), stipulates: “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
Israel has publicly made genocidal statements that ‘Gaza will be reduced to rubble’ and called Palestinians ‘human animals’ and ‘children of darkness’. We recognise the language of racism and colonialism that has been used to justify the sacrificing and killing of so many people across the Global South.
We do not understand how, after colonialism, after the Congo, after the Holocaust, after Rwanda, after so many other places in the world where human beings have characterised others as less than human and then followed this with extreme violence, the world can stand by as Israel publicly makes these statements and continue to support their aggression.
We cannot. And we will not.
We call for an immediate permanent ceasefire, for the blockade to be ended, and for the provision of humanitarian aid by every route and means possible. We call for the immediate release of all hostages – both those held by Hamas and those in Israeli jails. We call for a negotiated solution which recognises the full personhood and human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis.
We stand in solidarity with Palestinians and Jews protesting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and advocating for peace and justice in the region. We condemn repressive measures taken by several governments around the world against freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly to stop these protests, as well as the arrest of peaceful demonstrators.
Without justice there can be no peace. It is morally imperative for the global community to stand up against crimes against humanity. We call on all governments and international bodies to work together to end the war, and to bring all those responsible for war crimes to justice.
“God is under the rubble in Gaza. He is with the frightened and the refugees. He is in the operating room. This is our consolation. He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. If we want to pray, my prayer is that those who are suffering will feel this healing and comforting presence.” – Munther Isaac