Bronx, New York
This article is based on a talk given by Richie Merino Dec. 15 at a demonstration in the Bronx, New York. entitled “Gaza and the Bronx Unite, Same Struggle Same Fight.” The goal of the protest was to make the connections between the struggles waged in the South Bronx with those waged in Gaza/Occupied Palestine. Organizations involved included the Bronx Antiwar Coalition and the People’s Forum.
Today, I want to emphasize the direct connections between the struggles being waged by the people of the South Bronx with those waged by the people of Gaza and Occupied Palestine. It is crucial to recognize the deep-rooted similarities that bind us together and understand that our liberation is intricately tied to theirs. Both of our communities are fighting capitalism and U.S./Western imperialism.
In the South Bronx, we face so many challenges, from violence by the members of the New York Police Department, poverty, hunger, underfunded schools, lack of clean air and water to homelessness and deteriorating infrastructure. Our struggles find a parallel in the Palestinian fight against European settler colonialism and Zionist military occupation. We must understand that our liberation is directly intertwined with the liberation of Palestine.
Consider the reality of the millions of Palestinians in Gaza who have been forcibly displaced from their homes by Israel’s relentless military bombardment. At the same time, Israel is bulldozing the homes of Palestinians in the West Bank and building Israeli settlements in their place.
This echoes the displacement occurring right here in the South Bronx, where New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing is being systematically defunded and privatized, leading to the displacement of poor and working-class Bronxites. This is paving the way for gentrification.
Congressional Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who is influenced by Zionists and billionaire real estate developers, is playing a direct role in ethnically cleansing Palestine and the South Bronx, as he seeks to turn our community into the next gentrified Williamsburg.
Fund housing, not bombs!
Earlier this week [Dec. 11], a building collapsed in Morris Heights; it had more than 100 safety violations. Residents had been sounding the alarm for years, but no action was taken. Why? Because pro-imperialist politicians like Ritchie Torres prioritize funding the indiscriminate bombing and destruction of Gaza and the displacement of millions of Palestinians over investing in housing for working-class Bronxites in his district — the poorest congressional district in the country.
It is infuriating to witness our own housing crumbling while our tax dollars are funneled into bombing and ethnically cleansing Gaza.
Furthermore, it is essential to acknowledge that some New York City vulture capitalist landlords also identify as Zionists and many landlords carry out gentrification. This is why we proclaim that this is one genocidal ethnic-cleansing campaign with two fronts: one right here in the South Bronx and the other in Palestine.
We cannot forget about the 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including women and children, who are unjustly incarcerated in Israeli occupation jails — without charges or a trial. This resonates deeply with us, as we have also witnessed a decades-long mass incarceration campaign targeting Black and Latinx Bronxites. The same systemic mass incarceration that plagues our community, separating families, is also happening in occupied Palestine.
While New York City spends billions of dollars on incarcerating our neighbors, the federal government shamelessly allocates nearly $4 billion annually to kidnap and incarcerate Palestinian men, women and children in Israel. City officials claim they have no money to address the urgent repairs needed in NYCHA housing or to fix and pave our streets, roads and sidewalks, and repair the broken subway system. They tell us they cannot afford to feed our children and seniors and leave them starving, just like the Palestinians in Gaza are left starving due to a U.S.-backed Israeli siege.
Moreover, the New York Police Department maintains an office in Israel and trains alongside the Israeli Occupation Forces. They exchange suppression and surveillance tactics, perpetuating the same racist violence that plagues our community at the hands of the police.
It is crucial to understand that the South Bronx and all workers of the world share a profound connection with Gaza and Palestine. Our struggles are intertwined, and our liberation is inextricably tied to the liberation of Palestine.
While some say, “We will free Palestine within our lifetime,” the reality is that Palestine will free us all.
Chants at the demonstration included: “NYPD, KKK, IDF, they’re all the same!” and “In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinian!”