Where Is the Outrage: Standing With Palestinians In the Spirit of Sumud

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Mothers of inmates protest, again, on Prisoners' Day

This weekend, Palestinians marked their Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners to protest and honor over 7,000 men, women and children currently held in Israeli prisons, as well as the roughly 800,000 - roughly one in four Palestinians, constituting the world's highest per capita incarceration rate - held since 1967. According to data from Israel’s Prison Service (IPS), that total includes 1,700 ill prisoners, over 600 imprisoned for traveling without proper permits, and hundreds of women, children and the elderly. Many of those arrested are held in solitary or indefinite detention; to protest what are widely viewed as grossly unfair military courts - the conviction rate in the West Bank is 99% - many prisoners go on hunger strikes. At this weekend's protests, the most common charge was that for Palestinians, Israel is "one big prison." Given that harsh reality, they continue to ask of the world, "Where is the outrage?"

The first U.S. Prisoner, Labor and Academic Solidarity Delegation to Palestine likewise found that "much of post-Nakba Palestine is tantamount to an open-air prison," not just for thousands incarcerated in official prisons but for two million living under siege in Gaza and millions more living under constant surveillance, apartheid and threat of violence. The group of 19, including Black Panthers, prison abolitionists and academics cited parallels between what they saw in Palestine and see increasingly in the U.S.: denial of minority rights, vast incarceration, criminalization of immigrants, militarization of police, suppression of resistance under cover of law and economic inequity, as well as ongoing resistance to those injustices. "In the face of Israel's system of racialized terror," they declare in an open letter, "Palestinians uphold their commitment to 'sumud'", an Arabic word from the Palestinian liberation movement defined as "steadfastness," or standing one's ground with dignity. As Americans, they call for the U.S. to stop funding Israeli crimes and for us to stand with Palestinians in that same "spirit of sumud."

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