Occupied Palestine, 29 March 2012 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broadest coalition of Palestinian political parties, trade unions, NGOs and networks, warmly salutes the National Movímíento Estudíantíl Chícan@ de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A), the largest association of Latin@ youth in the US, for their landslide vote in support of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel at their 19th annual national conference in Phoenix, AZ.
This milestone declaration comes at a year when both communities commemorate on March 30ththeir respective struggles for justice and human rights, a struggle which is common for the universality of values that they defend and reinforced through bonds of solidarity that oppose injustice wherever it takes place. From Palestine to Arizona, we stand united against walls, racial discrimination and apartheid!
The annual César Chávez Day honors an inspiring American civil rights, Latin@ and farm labor leader who mobilized for the rights of the oppressed. Against all odds he formed the National Farm Workers Association with 10 members, which then grew, to a nonviolent movement of millions giving voice to the powerless in society. César Chávez adopted strategies and tactics that were new to organized labor being the first to apply boycotts to labor-management disputes in the US. Through his appeals for equality and justice, Chávez mobilized a diverse coalition of students, middle class consumers, trade unionists, religious activists and minorities for La Causa, the boycott of grapes and other products that led to California’s pioneering farm labor law in 1975. His modesty and principled life are an inspiration to us, and his message of unwavering struggle for justice against all odds lives today in Palestine.
The Palestinian Land Day, also on March 30th, commemorates the day in 1976 when Israeli military forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel. These brave youth were among thousands protesting the Israeli government’s expropriation of Palestinian land to build new Jewish-only colonies and expand existing ones. Today, Land Day symbolizes Palestinian resistance to Israel’s ongoing land expropriation, colonization, occupation and apartheid.
Anchored in universal principles of human rights and struggling for freedom, justice and equality, the BDS movement, established in 2005, is deeply rooted in decades of Palestinian peaceful resistance to colonial oppression and is inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid as well as the civil rights movement in the US. It is adopted by a near consensus among Palestinians everywhere, with all the main political parties, trade unions, professional syndicates, women’s unions, student groups, NGO networks and refugee advocacy networks represented in the BNC, the reference for this growing movement to end Israeli impunity.
We hope that the M.E.Ch.A’s national conference vote in support of BDS is a first step towards deeper ties between our struggles. We extend a warm invitation to M.E.Ch.A delegates to visit Palestine to see firsthand Israel’s colonial policies against Palestinians as a first step to implement this important resolution. We particularly want to draw your attention to the devastating role of Israeli arms company Elbit Systems in the construction of the wall between Mexico and the US and the illegal Israeli Apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank. Elbit is currently one of the targeted corporations in a divestment campaign in the US led by Jewish Voice for Peace.
Echoing the words of César Chávez, “Sí, se puede!”, our common aspirations for freedom, justice and equality are possible to achieve and we look forward to joining forces with M.E.Ch.A and the broader US Latin@ community in the struggle against injustice and apartheid.