by Vincent Lima
The following remarks were delivered on October 28, 2023, at an “End the Siege” rally and march cosponsored by ROC DSA and held at the Liberty Pole in Rochester.
I want to thank the first speaker for humanizing the statistics, and the second speaker, my comrade Raj, for connecting all the anticolonial and anti-imperial struggles, including those inside the United States.
October 2023 continues to be a traumatic month for all of us.
For me, it started with news of the sudden and complete ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan, of the Armenian region called Artsakh.
Azerbaijan had begun its onslaught against Artsakh in 2020. It showed the world that it can use chemical, incendiary weapons, killing and maiming people—Armenians—and engaging in ecocide, with no consequences. Israel has taken that lesson and is likewise using white phosphorus to kill and maim people—Palestinians—and destroy Gaza.
Sadly, though not surprisingly, Hamas congratulated the Azerbaijanis on their victory against the infidels.
This September, after a yearlong siege, the Azerbaijanis began a “blitz involving heavy artillery, rocket launchers, and drones—largely supplied by Israel and Turkey.”
And then, at the beginning of this month, the entire population, over 100,000 people of all ages, had to flee their ancestral homes and find refuge elsewhere. My friends who are now refugees are inconsolable. That final depopulation was achieved over the course of just two or three days.
And now, as the month continues, we are looking at something similar happening in Gaza.
I stand here as no fan of fundamentalism and no fan of Hamas. It should be obvious, though, that you don’t have to condone Hamas’s actions to be outraged by Israel’s genocidal intent and its actions.
My organization, the Democratic Socialists of America, “is steadfast in expressing our solidarity with Palestine.” At the same time, we have “unequivocally condemn[ed] the killing of all civilians.” [See “End the Violence, End the Occupation, Free Palestine” (Oct. 7, 2023)]
We can say all of that because our timeline does not begin on October 7 of this year. We know that “the Israeli state has systematically denied Palestinians the right to self-determination for decades. … For over 60 years, Palestinians have faced ethnic cleansing, torture, bombings, and housing demolitions.” Israel has kept Gaza “under a blockade.” [ibid.]
Its far-right Government, led by Netanyahu, has looked for a reason to annihilate Gaza, and the October 7 attack is the excuse. His ministers have openly called for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, labeling them “human animals.” This is the kind of dehumanizing language that we know, from studying genocide—the Armenian Genocide, the Shoah—this is the kind of language used to incite genocide.
The thing is that Israel is not alone.
The United States is a direct enabler of Israeli violence. The United States has—that is to say, “we” have—sent $260 billion in military aid to Israel over the years, arming them with the weapons with which the occupiers have brutalized the Palestinian population over the years.
As heartbroken as we are by the news, we cannot let our despair allow us to stand by and be complicit in genocide.
Our slogan is #NoMoneyForMassacres.
We are calling for de-escalation.
We are calling for no more U.S. military aid to Israel.
We are calling for the protection of millions of civilians.
More broadly, we are demanding an end to the occupation and apartheid.
Over the last few days, over 984 DSA members have made some 169,000 phone calls into states with members of Congress who are most likely to stand up at this moment, as well as Congressional leaders who may be able to pressure the administration. That’s in addition to cosponsoring mass rallies like this one
DSA members and U.S. Representatives Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib have submitted a resolution to Congress titled “Ceasefire NOW”, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. Another DSA member and U.S. Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was among the initial cosponsors.
Thanks to all this outreach, the resolution now has 18 co-sponsors—not including, alas, our Representative Joe Morelle, who in a letter assures me that his “heart breaks for all affected by this violence,” and that he supports humanitarian aid. But, apparently, he cannot bring himself to call for a ceasefire.
We all understand that 18 out of 435 isn’t much.
The capitalist war machine has worked overtime manufacturing consent for ethnic cleansing. But the truth is, more Americans stand with Palestine than ever. Let’s continue to make that truth undeniable.
Two million lives are on the line. We say: Not on our dime! No money for massacres! Ceasefire now!
[These remarks, delivered on behalf of ROC DSA, draw heavily from the DSA No Money for Massacres Messaging Guide.]