Sikh Solidarity with Gaza

At least 21 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and hundreds more injured in the last week by the Israeli “Defense” Forces. Three Israelis have also been killed in this latest escalation of violence in the region. The situation is dire, as Israel is now ramping up for a full on ground invasion of Gaza, an area of only 141 square miles inhabited by 1.7 million residents. One of the most densely populated areas in the world, it has also been called the largest open air prison in the world. (Read Ten things you need to know about Gaza for more).

Let us be clear: Israel is not defending its citizens. It is on an aggressive, offensive, politically-charged rampage. We must read beyond the deceiving mainstream media coverage to get the to reality of the situation (see this timeline of recent events). This isn’t about Hamas rockets or any dangers to the existence of the state of Israel. Phyllis Bennis wrote in the Nation:

So why the escalation? Israeli military and political leaders have long made clear that regular military attacks to cleanse Palestinian territories (the term was used by Israeli soldiers to describe their role in the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza) is part of their long-term strategic plan. Earlier this year, on the third anniversary of the Gaza assault, Israeli army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Army Radio that Israel will need to attack Gaza again soon, to restore what he called its power of deterrence. He said the assault must be swift and painful, concluding, we will act when the conditions are right. Perhaps this was his chosen moment…

This is primarily about Netanyanu shoring up the right wing of his base. And once again it is Palestinians, this time Gazans, who will pay the price. The question that remains is whether the US-assured impunity that Israels leadership has so long counted on will continue, or whether there will be enough pressure on the Obama administration and Congress so that this time, the United States will finally be forced to allow the international community to hold Israel accountable for this latest round of violations of international law.

If you pay taxes in the United States, you are helping fund Israel’s invasion. Just a few months ago, President Obama announced the addition of $70 million in military aid to Israel. We Americans are literally funding the atrocities being committed against our brothers and sisters in Gaza right now.

It has been almost exactly three years since Israel’s last major attack of Gaza, leaving over 1400 Palestinians dead. At that time a few of us Sikhs in the US and Canada wrote up a Sikh Solidarity with Palestine statement to encourage awareness and action in our community. The statement is below in its entirety. Let us take action now, before the violence rages out of control. Here are three things we can do immediately, as suggested by the US Campaign to End the Occupation:

1. Join an emergency protest or organize one yourself. There are dozens of emergency actions planned across the country starting this afternoon, which you can view here.

2. Write and call President Obama demanding that he exert diplomatic pressure on Israel for an immediate cease-fire and initiate aninvestigation into Israels misuse of U.S. weapons to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians.

3. Make a tax-deductible donation to the US Campaign to support our Facebook and Google ad campaigns to build support for our political demands. Your donation will go immediately to supporting these ads.
Kal kaati raaje kaasaa-ee dharma pankh kar udriaa.
Koorh amaavas sach chandramaa deesai naahee kah charhiaa.

This age is a knife, kings are butchers; justice hath taken wings and fled.
In this completely dark night of falsehood the truth is never seen to rise.

– Guru Nanak Sahib, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 145

After two weeks of relentless attacks and an ongoing siege, the results are sobering: over 880 people dead, 30% of whom are children, and more than 4000 injured; hospitals, schools, universities, local markets, streets, homes and communities crushed to rubble; a blockade on humanitarian relief including food and life-saving medical supplies; a ban on foreign journalists and media entering the area; and a sealed border rendering 1.5 million people imprisoned within the boundaries of a siege. Hundreds of thousands of lives are being destroyed as they are marked dispensable for one reason only: they are Palestinian. The death toll is rising, and Israel has hinted to no end in sight as it continues to expand its offensive by air, land, and sea. The above words of Guru Nanak Sahib, the first Guru and founder of the Sikh faith, ring painfully true today, 500 years after he wrote them.

According to Sikhi, all human lives are equal and should be cherished. Right now in Gaza, the lives of an entire people are being deemed worthless. We mourn the recent loss of over 880 Palestinian lives taken by the Israeli military. We also mourn the loss of the 9 Israeli lives taken by Hamas rockets.

We are Sikhs who stand against the brutality of Israeli occupation and the ongoing siege, blockade, and massacre of Gaza. Now more than ever, we call on our Sikh sisters and brothers to think about what our faith and our Sikh identity really means. Why did Guru Nanak Sahib seek to abolish the caste system in South Asia? Why did Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib sacrifice his life for the sake of others (non-Sikhs) right to freely practice their religion and live free of persecution? Why did Guru Gobind Singh, our tenth Guru, give birth to the Khalsa an armed body of full-time revolutionaries in 1699?

Because for Sikhs, fighting against all forms of tyranny and oppression is a spiritual obligation.

We are inspired by this Sikh tradition of fighting not only for our own rights and our own sovereignty as Sikhs, but for the freedom and rights of all people sarbat da bhala. Historically, Sikhs have known all too well what state repression and violent hatred look like. Sikhs too, like Palestinians, have faced campaigns of ethnic cleansing by emperors and prime ministers, dictators and elected leaders. Without a doubt, we have struggled and we must continue to struggle for our right to exist and our right to be Sikhs. But we must bring to the forefront our responsibility to fight for the liberation and freedom of all people. When we end ardas with, Nanak naam chardi kala, tere bane sarbat da bhala, we must pay attention to the power and weight of these words, take them to heart, and put the concept of sarbat da bhala into practice.

What that means for us now, as Sikhs and as people of conscience, is to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza, the Palestinians around the world fighting for their right to return home, and the thousands of Jewish and Israeli activists calling for an immediate end to the siege and an end to Israeli apartheid. Together, we must all demand peace and justice.

We encourage all Sikhs to learn more about what is going on in Gaza and about the history of Israeli occupation of Palestine. We encourage you to organize discussions about this issue amongst your sangat in and outside of the gurdwara, in your Sikh Student Associations, and in your families. Below are a few articles and resources that provide perspectives usually left out of the mainstream media:
http://electronicintifada.net/
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/opinion/08khalidi.html
http://gazasiege.org/
http://ajjp.org/
http://stopthewall.org/

Most importantly, we encourage you to take action. Get together with others in your community, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, and attend a local demonstration against the siege of Gaza. Make a donation to send medical supplies and other humanitarian relief to Gaza (http://www.freegaza.org/; http://www.mecaforpeace.org/). For those in the United States, call on the Obama administration to make his promise of change a reality by stopping the spending of U.S. tax dollars on bombs that kill Palestinians. For those in Canada, call on Harper to condemn Israels crimes against humanity and demand an immediate stop to the siege. Pressure both governments to urgently support the global movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israela strategy that helped to end apartheid in South Africa 15 years ago (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01/09-0).

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!


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51 Responses to “Sikh Solidarity with Gaza”

  1. Sher says:

    While showing solidarity with victims of planned aggression or mindless violence is a noble thought, this post is strewn with hypocrisy, misinformation & thinly veiled bigotry.

    Such sanctimonious statements from the same people who support cowards like Rajoana who not only snuffed life out of 17 innocents (inc Sikhs) but has failed spectacularly to show ANY remorse.

    Such wonderful sermonising from the same people (radical, expat Sikhs & their indian counterparts) who, forget any words of remorse or 'solidarity', deny carnage let loose by Bhindran inspired terrorists who not only committed massacres of the non-combatants (majority victims being Sikhs) but also engineered ethnic cleansing and conversions.

    It is amazing radical 'denialsts' have glazed over the ethnic cleansing closer to sikhi homeland (Kashmiri, afghan and pakistani Hindus n Sikhs) but are posing as humane, bleeding hearts for 'others'.

    Guru teg Bahadur gave life for others… Highly debatable and (for me) highly objectionable as the blogger would have difficulty explaining who we're the 'others' and why this execution was not for political reasons. Not to forget two of 'others' (dispicable Brahmans) gave life before him.

  2. knowTheEnemy says:

    Please watch this four and a half minute video to get a idea of when Palestinians and Israelis will be living peacefully with each other-


  3. amar says:

    What does Hamas believe in? Apparently the author of this post ignores this. Why? Look at the charter of Hamas and you see that Hamas believes in killing Jews. Read and educate yourself. No Sikh of the Guru should stand with this lot.

    Article Seven: The Universality of Hamas
    By virtue of the distribution of Muslims, who pursue the cause of the Hamas, all over the globe, and strive for its victory, for the reinforcement of its positions and for the encouragement of its Jihad, the Movement is a universal one. It is apt to be that due to the clarity of its thinking, the nobility of its purpose and the loftiness of its objectives. It is in this light that the Movement has to be regarded, evaluated and acknowledged. Whoever denigrates its worth, or avoids supporting it, or is so blind as to dismiss its role, is challenging Fate itself. Whoever closes his eyes from seeing the facts, whether intentionally or not, will wake up to find himself overtaken by events, and will find no excuses to justify his position. Priority is reserved to the early comers. Oppressing those who are closest to you, is more of an agony to the soul than the impact of an Indian sword. “And unto thee have we revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which has come unto thee. For each we have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. Had Allah willed, He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which he has given you [He has made you as you are]. So vie with one another in good works. Unto Allah, you will all return. He will then inform you of that wherein you differ.” Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter. But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).

  4. ninachanpreet says:

    amar palestinians in the gaza territory are not all hamas. turn on the news. watch the innocent children being killed. to find a sense of compassion for both sides is the greatest challenge, and one that the Gurus had a very clear and explicit view on. I wish I could remember the excerpt from baani about compassion for victim and perpetrator. Please consider this before you make so many assumptions.

  5. Thinker Singh says:

    @Brooklynwala: Please explain to me who made you the spokesperson for all Sikhs? So why is this article called "Sikh Solidarity with Gaza"? Was there a referendum and I missed it?

  6. Amar says:

    Nina, Hamas came to power through an election- in other words, the populace put a group into power whose charter calls for the murder of others based on their religion. While it may be true that not all support Hamas, that is the case with any government that is involved in an armed conflict. For example, not all Germans supported the Nazi party. I don't expect the author would have made an appeal for Sikhs in Solidarity with Germany if he were able during World War II, but if he had, it would merit a similar response. While the author is keen on accusing Israel of wrongdoing, his blind eye to the evil Hamas represents is sad.

  7. Deepa says:

    Here is some background on Hamas. While I may disagree with their politics, it is important to understand why they have the support of Palestinians living under horrendous conditions: http://socialistworker.org/2009/01/21/behind-myth

  8. brooklynwala says:

    I am not going to respond to each of these comments and/or attacks, but what I will say for now is that many of the arguments made sound a whole lot like those made by the Indian government in 1984 and beyond to justify their murderous assaults on Sikhs in north India. While Sher's argument above is deplorable, at least he's consistent in his solidarity with the oppressor. Our Gurus stood with the oppressed. Our Gurus fought for justice for all of humanity. Plain and simple.

  9. question singh says:

    I see a phillistine zindabad on this website

    but i have yet to see a khalistan zindabad?

    why is that?

  10. Sanehval says:

    @Brooklynwala I think that everyone is struggling to come to terms with the sheer fact that Hamas as an organization holds a view that is categorically antithetical to peace and it is throwing stones when it knows it will get bombs back, and those bombs will kill kids. This doesn't justify the IDF's tactics of throwing bombs that will kill kids. And counter to what some folks here say, even if the denizens of Palestine are misguided enough to throw their support behind an organization with this ideological falsity, non-combatants do not deserve to die. So while Sikhs *should* stand in solidarity with the everyday Palestinan for being placed in a historical formation that puts them in a constant state of terror and despair, we need to be nuanced in how we think through what solidarity means and to what purpose.

  11. Deep Hundal says:

    You think we Sikhs, in our own resistance against Tyranny, haven't engaged in acts of violence that may have killed innocent peoples? That's delusional, but it also doesn't mean that we were reflexively nefarious and evil in our intentions.

    Hamas and the people of Palestine have the right to self-defense. They are under a military occupation.

    Israel's brutality toward the Palestinians, and in this case, Gazans (half of which are children, most of which are usually the victims in this cyclic narrative of oppression) is analogous to one of us armed with a tank chasing and running over a 3 year old in a tricycle with a elastic band gun. It's alarmingly disproportionate and given the facts that Israel has always been the aggressor, it's disingenuous to point to Hamas's constitution or self-preservative values.

    Israel has one goal: wipe out the Palestinian people and claim their land.

    Hamas is the only line of defense against this ongoing genocide.

    I support the right to defense, in through militancy.

  12. Deep Hundal says:

    Sher,

    You're at troll. Simple as that. This is the first of your comments I have read – in fact, I have not ventured the Langar Hall for some time. But I now for a fact that you're here to rile up negative emotions amongst readers and writers.

    I come across douche bags like you all the time.

    You wouldn't bat an eye if 1000 Sikhs were lined up and executed for being supporters of Khalistan, in fact you'd lobby for such measures.

    Yet here you are lecturing us on violence.

  13. Deep Hundal says:

    Sher,

    What was the point of your post? To detract from the situation in Gaza and co-opt the discussion happening here?

    You should be ignored.

    I don't know why people can't see he's trolling. Ignore him.

  14. Sarbjit Singh says:

    I have posted comments here before about Muslim issues being posted on Langar hall, There should only Sikh issues should be posted here, Nothing else, Sikh communities worldwide have too many issues to deal with, We need to focus on our own issues first , I stop coming to the site while back because i felt there are Muslims postings here as Sikhs, I Still feel the same way, Langarhall has the responsibility to check the ID's of the Writers like Sikhchic.com do.

  15. Aryeh Leib says:

    Deep Hundal, are you implying that Israel's pinpoint strikes – which tragically do sometimes end up killing non-combatants – ARE "reflexively nefarious and evil" in their intentions? Or, am I reading too much into it?
    As far as Israel's goal being, to wipe out the Palestinians and claim their land, as you state, all I can say is that Israel has certainly done a terrible job of it. Over a million Palestinian Arabs are full Israeli citizens today, and their numbers are rising every year. There is presently a rush to obtain Israeli citizenship among Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem, with one resident quoted as saying that he, "preferred the 'hell' of Israel to the 'paradise of either Abbas or Hamas". It"s come to the point where they no longer fear the very real threats of reprisal from their fellow Arabs.
    A very strange sort of "genocide" indeed …
    If Israel's goal truly was to wipe out the Palestinian people (invented out of whole cloth by the Egyptian, Yasser Arafat, in the 1960's when the Pan-Arab ploy failed) it wouldn't take very long to accomplish – considering Israel's military superiority.
    Just maybe there's something else going on that you and Sonny and Nina, et al, aren't factoring in?
    By the way, I have lived in Israel for decades – and, before you say that this fact obviously makes me biased, consider the many Israelis whose public viewpoints are similar to your own, if not more radical. That's something you'll only see in a free, open society , where people aren't afraid to express unpopular views.
    As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it: You're entitled to your own opinions; you're NOT entitled to your own "facts"!

  16. Suki says:

    Everyone has the right to life and liberty. Israel has a right to exist in some place and in some capacity for sure. Jews have been persecuted for mellenia. They have history in the region of Israel. But the manner in which they Israel was created was always going to lead to problems. That is one issue. Other issues exist also. One being Israels right to defend itself. But yet another issue is the clear abuse of its power to supress the Palestinian populace. I see valid arguements in many of the above comments even though they appear to oppose one another. In the final,from a Sikh stand point, our faith and history stipulates that we stand for righteousness whatever the cost. We can support Israel one moment but if the atter becomes injust we are able to change side. This is not due to fair weather friend tendancies. No. This is how justice works in the real world. My best friend may do wrong tomorrow. Am I supposed to give my allegiance because we are/were friends? Or do I do the right thing and stand for what is right? There is no doubt Islam has, in addition to great things, brought great suffering to non muslims thoughout history. But right is to fight the times that the extremism appears not to attack . I just think humans have this tendancy to reflexively respond to situations or dilemnas as though we have o time to engage our deep though processes. But when we stop and genuinely take in as mmuch data, running it thorugh our minds for a period, we get great insights. There tends to be less suffering. And we truly become Human.

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