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SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE
The Association of Asian American Studies condemns the brutal violence being inflicted on Palestinians in the besieged and blockaded Gaza Strip by Israeli airstrikes and the assaults on Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel by lynch mobs and vigilante settlers. These attacks come in the wake of forcible evictions of Palestinians from their homes starting early May 2021 and assaults on Muslim Palestinians during Ramadan in occupied East Jerusalem by the Israeli state. As ethnic studies scholars committed to antiracism and anti-imperialism, we understand this violence as a continuation of a long history of land grabs, displacement, racial segregation, immobilization, serial massacres, forms of apartheid, and mass incarceration by Israel, whose military occupation and Apartheid Wall are both illegal under international law.
We consider this ongoing violence in West Asia a form of anti-Asian violence that is both state and civil, legitimized by racist and Orientalist constructions of Arabs and Muslims, including West Asian American communities in the US. Israel’s impunity from international human rights law is enabled by exceptional support from the US government, including the Biden administration. We call for an end to the unconditional $3.8 billion aid given annually by the US to Israel and the reinvestment of these resources in higher education, healthcare, supporting domestic communities of color, and genuine safety for precarious populations.
Palestinians are confined to an open-air prison and then bombed from the sky. They are subject to inhumane and unconscionable treatment, including being locked in encaged territories, prevented from seeing family across militarized borders, thrown out of their homes, and attacked by an occupying police force in the streets. We oppose censorship and intimidation of those who speak out against this injustice in Palestine, in the academy or on digital platforms. Weaponizing antisemitism by conflating it with criticism of the Israeli state, as the Trump administration and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition have done, silences global justice activism and trivializes actually existing antisemitism.
Our field was created through a pan-ethnic social movement based on Third World liberation, and we continue that tradition of transnational, emancipatory scholarship. In 2013, the AAAS passed a resolution to support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestine and US support for occupation and racist practices by the Israeli state. We are horrified by the genocidal state violence and settler colonial dispossession we are witnessing today and stand resolved in our commitment to solidarity with Palestinian freedom struggles.
Supporting Sikh & South Asian Americans and the Indianapolis Shooting
Another mass shooting by a white gunman targeting Asian Americans has happened in Indianapolis on April 15, 2021. Matthew Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Amarjeet Johal, Jasvinder Kaur, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjit Sekhon, Karli Smith, John Weisert died at a Fed Ex distribution center whose employees are majority Sikh. Four of the dead are Sikh. This is the second time in ten years that Sikh Americans have been targeted in a mass shooting—Oak Creek Wisconsin, August 5, 2012 saw another white shooter kill six Sikh people in their gurdwara as they gathered to worship together. And a Sikh man, Balbir Singh Sodhi was killed in the US when a white shooter said he wanted to get revenge for 9/11, making him the first but not the last Sikh American targeted with racist hate.
Sikh immigrants and their descendants have had a long, storied history in the US, beyond being targeted with violence. They worked in mines, in railways, in agriculture, and more. The Bellingham, Washington riots of 1907 beat down and drove many from their homes. Sikh Americans also played a key role in the Gadar movement that fought for independence of South Asia from British rule. Today, Sikh Americans continue to organize for racial and economic justice as well as for religious equality.
The Association for Asian American Studies acknowledges that we have not done enough to declare that the racial terrorism and religious hate against Sikh Americans and South Asian Americans is part of a longer history of racial hatred and xenophobia that Asian Americans have experienced in the US. But we will try harder and do more to support Sikh Americans, to recognize the place of Sikhs and other South Asians Americans in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies, and to decry the targeting of Sikh and South Asian Americans.
The Association for Asian American Studies was founded in 1979 for the purpose of advancing the highest professional standard of excellence in teaching and research in the field of Asian American Studies; promoting better understanding and closer ties between and among various sub-components within Asian American Studies: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Hawaiian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, and other groups. AAAS sponsors professional activities to facilitate increased communication and scholarly exchange among teachers, researchers, and students in the field of Asian American Studies. The organization advocates and represents the interests and welfare of Asian American Studies and Asian Americans. AAAS is also founded for the purpose of educating American society about the history and aspirations of Asian American ethnic minorities.