Lack of free mobility, lack of access to prompt medical care, near-constant surveillance, and a lack of access to resources. These are fixtures of prisons in the U.S. and are also the reality of life for over two million Palestinians living in Gaza.
“Welcome to the Israeli occupation, blessed by the US government as its Imperial outpost, where the lives of Palestinians are broken into thousands of pieces daily, where everything, from olive trees to water sources, everything but the Sun itself, is locked up, barred, caged from the people of Palestine.” – Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Mumia’s words from 2013 remain all too relevant today. Discussions crescendoed surrounding Israel’s occupation of Palestine in May 2021, after the escalation of Israeli violence which murdered hundreds of Palestinians. As the idea of prison abolition has entered more mainstream conversations, it is essential to ensure that we recognize carceral systems globally rather than endorsing a narrow approach. Prison abolition requires reckoning with colonial projects like Israel and advocating for the freedom of colonized peoples.
The abuse and surveillance Palestinians face daily does not stop in the streets. The Israeli government currently imprisons 4,500 people, withholding them in prisons through the Israel Prison Service. Many are Incarcerated for simply defying Israel’s occupation, organizing and protesting against the transformation of their own homes into the “largest open-air prison.” Through the individual discretion of soldiers in the Israel Defense Force (IDF), thousands of Palestinians are locked down and out, silenced for speaking up and fighting this colonist force.
“We in America stand in silent support of our fellow Palestinian men, women, and children who are confined in Israel’s prisons undergoing torture, abuse, inhumane and degrading treatment simply for resisting Israel’s apartheid system and military occupation,” – Shakaboona Marshall, a correspondent of Prison Radio and an imprisoned human rights activist said.
Beyond the truth that accepted carcerality in one place harms marginalized communities globally, there is a more tangible connection between the Israeli state and prisons in the U.S. The Israel Defense Force—the IDF—collaborates with many U.S. police departments and ICE. This relationship is called the deadly exchange: they share policing techniques that further endanger both Palestinians and Black and brown communities in the United States. It is more essential than ever to sew solidarity into our discussion surrounding abolition. Sign the petition to tell the Anti-Defamation League to not host another National Counter Terrorism Seminar or Advanced Training School that foments violence. Additionally, if you would like to learn more, Jewish Voices for Peace organized an “Abolition from the US to Palestine” Summer School whose materials can be found here.
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When We Fight, We Win!
Lily Chahine and Meghan Dayton
Prison Radio Staff