API Chaya community members demonstrating in support of Palestinian liberation • Courtesy

API Chaya calls on our community of survivors and immigrants to learn about and support Palestinian liberation. We cannot address and end sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking without addressing all forms of state repression and genocide.

Occupation and cenocide are survivor and immigrant issues

API Chaya believes in survivors. We are an organization focused on serving survivors of sexual violence, human trafficking, and domestic violence from Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, Asian, and South Asian communities, and broadly all immigrant communities. To center those at the margins, we keep young people, faith-based communities, queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, and people of color, people with disabilities, and immigrants at our core.

The immigrants and survivors we serve are bound together by shared experiences of migration and the struggle to survive as marginalized people. Many immigrant survivors flee their homelands due to conditions of poverty, war, genocide, and human rights violations back home. We know that when violence is happening at the hands of the state, when residents are unable to meet their basic needs for food/water/shelter, people are more likely to experience other forms of exploitation and higher levels of violence overall.

When we say we are mobilizing communities to change the conditions which allow gender-based violence and human trafficking to happen, we understand it occurs in relationships between people where there is an imbalance of power supported and made possible by larger imbalances of power in society such as racism/anti-immigrant, sexism, homophobia, classism and ableism. In short, we understand that larger systems of oppression give abusers the framework with which to maintain power and control in the relationship. Oppression provides the model for how to take power over people on an interpersonal level through systemic versions of violence and coercion.

While there have been casualties and horror amongst both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people, we have to look at the patterns of power and control to be able to assess the larger context and systems of what is happening and why it is happening.

The State of Israel, backed by the United States for decades, has shown patterns of murdering Palestinians, forcefully claiming civilian land, destroying homes, and restricting access to basic necessities such as electricity, clean water, food, and humanitarian aid. There are 75 years of clear repression of Palestinian peoples’ basic personal and political freedoms.

While we condemn the State of Israel for its inhumane occupation and genocide of Palestinian people, we also condemn the rising anti-semitism across the globe. The Israeli government is not the same as Israeli people, just as Palestinian people are not the same as Hamas. There are Israeli people who support Palestinian liberation and who do not believe in Zionist frameworks. The solution to the violence against all Palestinian people is not the hatred, demonization, nor blame of all Jewish people. Any acts of violence towards Muslim or Jewish people because of their faith is unconscionable. We grieve with the families of all people alike who suffer from targeted violence and prejudice for their ethnic or religious backgrounds. Expressions of oppression can be diverse and contradictory, and we embrace the complexity of our world and resist the temptation to flatten and simplify our experiences or analysis of any conflict.

Even still, when people are denied the right to exist, there will always be resistance. And we recognize that in the same way survivors sometimes resort to violence in self defense, so too will the Palestinian people fight back against the Israeli government. While all violence and war is horrifying, we have to recognize the difference between fighting to exterminate an entire people, and fighting to survive genocide and occupation, fighting to survive a pattern of power and control.

Join us in solidarity with survivors gender-based violence and trafficking in Palestine and all people facing abuse at the hands of state repression and state violence. There are over 30 countries facing war around the world, and we ask you to learn more and be critical of how global conflict is portrayed.

There are many ways that these international wars mimic the dynamics of interpersonal violence. We invite you to ask yourselves the same questions we ask of people who call our helpline to assess who in a relationship is surviving and who is causing harm and abuse.

Who starts the violence? Who ends up getting the most harmed? Who is more vulnerable? Who is using violence for power and control (abusive violence)? Who is using violence to try to maintain safety or integrity in an already violent situation (self defense)?

What can we do about it?

When we hear about the atrocities happening around the world, it can be overwhelming. What could I possibly do in the face of genocide, occupation, and apartheid? Fortunately, Palestinians have called on allies around the world to support the struggle for their liberation, namely, to support their calls to: enact a ceasefire now; stop the genocide; lift the siege on Gaza; end the military occupation; full social, political, and economic rights and freedoms; implementation of the refugee right to return; end imprisonment and carceral torture; end to desecration of sacred sites; end all U.S. aid to the israeli regime; boycott, divestment, and sanction; stop censorship and criminalization.

Together, as we see ourselves in the movement of others, and understand how our liberation is tied together freedom becomes more possible. With love from API Chaya, in solidarity with survivors, with Palestineans, and with all people facing oppression.

As the legendary civil rights organizer Ms. Ella Baker said, “I am here, and so are you. And we matter. We can change things.” 

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