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Response to New Venture Fund and Windward Fund over De-platforming of AFGJ
November 19, 2023
We have regrettably received your notices in the name of the New Venture Fund and the Windward Fund. We can only assume that you have been pressured to do this based on the false and unsubstantiated allegations being made against us and against Samidoun by the Washington Examiner and other right-wing press that has been repeating their claims. This is part of a more widespread effort across the country and across the planet to silence and intimidate Palestine solidarity voices even at a time that a full-scale campaign of war crimes is being carried out against the people of Gaza. As of today, there are more than 11,000 persons who have been killed, most of them civilians, two thirds being women and children. That is one fatality for every 200 people in Gaza. By the time you get this letter, there will be more.
Your letters to us make allegations that Samidoun “supports” Hamas, and because we are Samidoun’s fiscal sponsors, we are therefore responsible for this, and this is why you are cutting off any future funding to our fiscally sponsored projects. This is a gross oversimplification. It is also a dangerous accusation that is not borne out by the facts – neither we nor Samidoun fund terrorism. Perhaps as funders, you were less concerned with understanding the situation thoroughly and accurately than with washing your hands of it. But this won’t wash off. The stain is the stain of intimidation and acquiescence to the provocations of cheerleaders to genocide. By taking these decisions, you are siding with the voices of censorship and Apartheid.
Have your foundations taken any actions to speak out boldly and conclusively against the genocide underway in Gaza? Whatever crimes or abuses Hamas has committed, they are not committed in our names as US-ers or with our public funds and tax dollars. But the Israeli campaign of genocide is. Silence is complicity. Silencing others is even worse.
We cannot isolate the events of October 7, 2023, from history, from context. We cannot ignore the reality of Israeli Apartheid, as if Gaza is, indeed, just a region, a territory, a geographical designation, and not the world’s largest open-air prison, where half the inmates are children. Were we to pretend that asymmetrical war prosecuted by a colonial power and backed up and funded by an even larger colonial power was somehow warranted; that a siege that cuts off an entire population’s access to water, food, electricity, and fuel was somehow humane; that undertaking a massive military assault that has already left thousands of mostly civilians dead following repeated assaults that have targeted hospitals, evacuation routes, homes and schools—that that was somehow anything other than a massive violation of the laws of war and all humanitarian international law that the world has agreed to in the last two centuries, then, yes, we could participate in the kind of false equivalency that, ultimately, prolongs repression rather than dispenses with it.
Let us say this clearly from the start: there is no equivalency between the actions of Hamas and other elements of the Palestinian resistance and the ongoing racist Apartheid and constant violence that is the hallmark of today’s Israel. However violent and excessive the actions of Hamas, all of it, no matter how just or unjust, no matter how tragic and hurtful, is an expression of resistance to the intolerable violence, repression, and humiliation resulting from over 76 years of occupation.
There simply are no two sides to colonialism and occupation. There is the aggressor and the victim of aggression. Every aspect of this conflict, including every excess and every abuse, has at its root, the occupation of Palestine achieved through the slaughter and displacement of Palestinian people, and their permanent status as Prisoners of War in their own native land.
One cannot help but be reminded of McCarthyism. Some of us at AFGJ are old enough to have known people who were sent to jail for nothing more than the crime of thinking, of having revolutionary ideas. We have known even more people who lost their jobs because of redbaiting, because they were accused of being communists, or perhaps because they refused to sign a loyalty oath. The false allegations against us and Samidoun are today’s version of redbaiting, including the idea that because we speak out, that we are, then, supporters of Hamas. That is quite a leap. The demand that we declare against Hamas is the new demand that we “sign the loyalty oath or else.” Hamas does not act in our names, and we don’t fund Hamas. What we do recognize is that if we want peace for all the people in Palestine, Muslim, Jew, Christian, or otherwise, then we must speak out against the source of all the conflict: occupation, Apartheid, and constant repression and abuse.
It is easy to compare your actions to certain situations growing up and playing ball in the neighborhood. There were always the kids up on the hill, the better off kids with the big yard and the latest and best sports equipment. But the tradeoff is that if you ever offended those kids, if you ever affronted their sense of privilege and prestige and property, they would take their ball and go home—or kick you out of theirs. But what they couldn’t take home were the teams. And the rest would find a way to carry on with or without their yard, their bats and balls, their resources.
We are activists; you are funders. We are the kids of the neighborhood; you are the kids with the yard and the equipment, with the resources. Now, granted, there are the rich kids who get it, who don’t pull their petty crap, who understand that what is truly of value is the neighborhood, the camaraderie. These kids understand implicitly what so often their parents don’t—that it’s the team that matters, and that the field and the equipment are best in the hands of the ones playing the game.
But those kids are rare, as are foundations and funders who, in and of themselves, really connect with, really understand the day in and the day out of grass roots struggle. The truth is, you need us more than we need you. Someday you’ll come to understand that there you sit on the wrong side of history, with all your resources while the entire world around you is rising up against the system of power and prestige concentrated in the hands of a privileged few who actually think they are calling the shots. Someday you’ll understand that when you kicked AFGJ to the curb, what you really lost was your own purpose and integrity. You will find yourself counted among those who named names, who redbaited, who cut off and fired those who have been most on the frontlines of building a new, better, and more beautiful world.
Yes, you need us more than we need you, because without us, you have no legitimacy. You have sunk into the pablum of privileged and impotent liberalism.
Your contribution to AFGJ is an act of resistance to Empire and vital international solidarity. Your gifts are tax-deductible, but because of the campaign against us and our good work, we are currently unable to process online transactions. If that makes you angry, if you believe that is unjust, if you are ready to join AFGJ to take forward our struggles even in the face of such adversity, please, then, grab pen, checkbook, envelope, and stamp, and send your gift to: AFGJ, 225 E. 26th Street, Suite 1, Tucson, Arizona, 85713.