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What’s the meaning of solidarity?

DC protest

We often say that none of us will be free until all of us are free. This is solidarity.

By acting in solidarity, we learn how our struggles are intertwined. Being part of something larger cuts through our isolation. Solidarity encourages us to share resources and knowledge, which keeps our communities safer. And solidarity is essential to building the power we need to win a world where all people — from the U.S. to Palestine — live in freedom, justice, equality, and dignity. 

Defenders of Israel’s genocide know we’re strongest when we work together. That’s why they are so intent on pitting us against each other.

Cutting through the isolation

Practicing solidarity helps us understand each other. When we move into struggle with and for one another, we learn that we’re not alone, and we feel empowered to act collectively to build the future we all want. 

For example, pro-Israel groups have deflected criticism of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians through “pinkwashing” — by praising Israel’s record on LGBTQ rights. Protesters at Denver Pride cut through this false and dangerous narrative. By asserting that the Palestinian struggle is “our” struggle, they sent a clear message: You don’t have to choose between your gender identity or sexual orientation and your support for Palestinian freedom. 

Apartheid is fundamentally incompatible with queer liberation. Like all Palestinians, queer Palestinians are being incarcerated, dispossessed of their homes and land, and slaughtered because they are Palestinian. While Israel is lauded as a bastion of tolerance, Israeli police exploit queer Palestinians’ identities to blackmail and entrap them. 

Solidarity means dispensing with false choices. If our struggles are intertwined, then one person’s freedom can never come at the expense of another’s.

Sharing resources and knowledge

When we work together, we can trade knowledge and skills. That’s especially important in times of crisis. It’s also how we make sense of our shared struggles and build a movement capable of uniting us.

Practicing solidarity makes us safer. During the 2014 Ferguson Uprising, sparked by the police killing of Black teenager Michael Brown, Palestinians thousands of miles away sent messages of support to protesters being brutalized by police in the U.S., including advice on how to cope with tear gas.

When we share our experiences, we learn that we’re being oppressed by many of the same forces, and that we can resist them together. Our movements get stronger as a result. In 2015, over 1,000 Black activists, including Angela Davis and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, signed a statement in solidarity with Palestinians. In it, they spoke to the shared tactics of their oppressors: 

“Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US. Soldiers, police, and courts justify lethal force against us and our children who pose no imminent threat. And while the US and Israel would continue to oppress us without collaborating with each other, we have witnessed police and soldiers from the two countries train side-by-side.” 

Between 2015 and 2022, activists with the Black Lives Matter movement traveled on a number of occasions to Palestine, where they learned firsthand from Palestinians about their struggle for liberation. These activists built on the long history of Black-Palestinian solidarity, and a mutual recognition that the forces of colonialism, acting through the U.S. and Israeli governments, oppress both Black communities within the U.S. and Palestinians in Palestine.

Recognizing that our oppressors are the same is what powers intersectional organizing. It was in this context that JVP launched the Deadly Exchange campaign in 2017, which seeks to end cooperation between U.S. and Israeli police forces.

Finding strength in unity

We are much more powerful when we act together than when we stand alone. Acting in solidarity makes us more resilient and helps us achieve our common goals.

Climate change is the most dire — and daunting — challenge we face. All of our movements will need to come together to fight it. 

The movement for a free Palestine cannot be disentangled from the fight for a liveable planet. The first two months of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza produced nearly 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s more than what twenty “climate-vulnerable” countries can produce in an entire year. 

The Israeli military had completely destroyed or damaged nearly half of Gaza’s trees by March 2024. It has razed huge swathes of farmland and destroyed orchards and greenhouses. The tens of thousands of bombs dropped on Gaza have contaminated groundwater and soil, air pollution has skyrocketed, and as a result of intentional fuel cuts, sewage is flowing into the sea. Gaza’s ecosystems and biodiversity have been devastated.

The estimated “carbon cost” of Gaza’s reconstruction is staggering: Rebuilding the tiny enclave will likely produce 30 million metric tons of CO2 and other “warming” gasses — around what the entire country of New Zealand emits annually.

Liberation through solidarity

Our oppressors are the same: imperialism, white supremacy, and capitalism, which are themselves intertwined. That means that our struggles for liberation are connected. It also means that the fight for a free Palestine is an inherently anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist struggle.

The U.S. provides billions in weapons and military funding to Israel each year, money that could and should be spent on healthcare, education, and housing, not arming an apartheid state; the same weapons being deployed against protesters across the U.S. are being used — and often tested first — on Palestinians across historic Palestine; and Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza is fueling the climate crisis. None of us will be free until Palestinians are free.

That’s why we reject the narrative that Jewish safety can ever come at the expense of Palestinian freedom. We reject it not only because we believe that Palestinians, like all people, deserve to live in dignity and safety, but because there’s no such thing as liberation for some. The only way forward is collective liberation.

Take collective action at Power Half-Hours for Gaza.

Every day at 3pm ET/12pm PT, JVP hosts Power Half-Hours for Gaza. Together, we’re channeling our grief and rage into collective action to end U.S. military funding to Israel. Join us.

What we’re reading.

Our opposition knows that our strength lies in solidarity. That’s why they’re so intent on pitting us against each other. 

An internal memo from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reveals that the so-called “civil rights” organization spied on Black organizer Tatjana Rebelle, smearing them as a “radical” with “hateful and antisemitic views.” Rebelle worked on JVP’s Deadly Exchange campaign, which seeks to end joint training programs between U.S. and Israeli police forces.

“It’s appalling, though not surprising, that the ADL is spending enormous time and resources attacking one of the largest progressive Jewish organizations in the country and surveilling African American organizers,” JVP Executive Director Stefanie Fox said.

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