From a talk given by Richie Merino, an organizer of the Bronx Antiwar Coalition, at a panel he chaired on “Workers’ struggles and building internationalism” during the International Assembly against Imperialism in Solidarity with Palestine, held on Jan. 21 in New York City.
We gather here today in the spirit of socialist revolution, embracing Indigenous-led struggles against occupation, colonialism and imperialism. Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution, who studied these struggles and theorized about them, understood and articulated the power of international solidarity. From this perspective, we at this assembly also recognize the works of Ghassan Kanafani, a Palestinian writer and a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). His words struck fear into the hearts of European colonizers.
Kanafani devoted himself to Palestinian national liberation, anti-imperialism and internationalism. He wrote: “Imperialism has laid its body over the world, the head in Eastern Asia, the heart in the Middle East, its arteries reaching Africa and Latin America. Wherever you strike it, you damage it, and you serve the world revolution.”
In this spirit of internationalism, we affirm that the struggle for Palestinian liberation and the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland is intricately linked to the global fight against Zionism, racism, capitalism and imperialism, wherever they manifest.
Today, I’m also representing the Bronx Antiwar Coalition. In our work, we emphasize the direct connections between the struggles faced by the people of the Bronx and those endured by the people of Gaza and occupied Palestine. It is crucial that we recognize the profound similarities that bind us together, understanding that our liberation here is inseparably tied to theirs.
In our statements and street demonstrations, we ensure that our communities know they are actively engaged in a global workers’ struggle against capitalism and the oppressive forces of U.S./Western imperialism.
In the South Bronx, we confront an array of oppressions, including those imposed by the racist police, violence, poverty, hunger, underfunded schools, lack of clean air and water, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure. Our struggles echo those faced by the Palestinian people who resist European settler colonialism and Zionist military occupation. It is imperative that we comprehend the direct interdependence of our liberation struggles with those of the Palestinian people.
Consider the reality of millions of Palestinians in Gaza, forcibly uprooted from their homes by Israel’s unrelenting military bombardments. Simultaneously, the Zionist entity bulldozes homes in the West Bank, replacing them with Israeli settlements.
This mirrors the displacement occurring within the South Bronx, where public housing under the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is systematically defunded and privatized, leading to the displacement of poor and working-class Bronxites — predominantly those of African, Latin and Indigenous descent.
This paves the way for gentrification. We recognize that urban gentrification is another manifestation of settler colonialism within the empire.
We also recognize that our so-called U.S. “representatives” are controlled by billionaire real estate developers and Zionists. One such figure, U.S. Congress member Ritchie Torres (D-NY), a supporter of Israel, plays a direct role in the ethnic cleansing in both Palestine and the South Bronx.
Last month, a building collapsed in the poor and working-class neighborhood of Morris Heights, revealing over 100 safety violations. Residents had sounded the alarm for years about them, yet no action was taken. Why? Because servants of the U.S. empire, like Ritchie Torres, prioritize funding the indiscriminate bombing and destruction of Gaza and displacement of millions of Palestinians over investing in housing for working-class Bronxites in his congressional district, one of the poorest in the U.S.
Witnessing our neighbors’ homes crumbling, while our tax dollars are funneled into bombing and ethnically cleansing Gaza, is a radicalizing experience.
Furthermore, we must acknowledge that many New York City vulture capitalist landlords identify as Zionists. They extort our people with high rents and then use that stolen wealth to fund Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. We in the South Bronx, like the Palestinians, are fighting Zionist oppression. This is why we assert that we are facing one genocidal ethnic cleansing campaign with two fronts: one in the South Bronx and the other in Palestine.
We cannot forget the plight of over 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, who are unjustly incarcerated in Israeli occupation jails without charges or a fair trial. Their suffering resonates deeply with us, as we have witnessed decades-long mass incarceration campaigns right here, targeting Black and Latinx Bronxites. The same systemic mass incarceration that afflicts our community, tearing families apart, is also happening in occupied Palestine.
While New York City spends billions of dollars incarcerating our neighbors, the federal government shamelessly allocates $3.8 billion a year to Israel for weapons to impose its occupation and to kidnap and imprison Palestinian men, women and children.
City officials claim they lack the resources to address urgent repairs needed in NYCHA housing, to fix and pave our streets, roads and sidewalks or to repair the broken subway system. They tell us they cannot afford to feed our children and seniors, leaving them starving — just like the Palestinians in Gaza who suffer from the U.S.-backed Israeli siege.
Moreover, the New York Police Department maintains an office in Israel and trains alongside the Israeli Occupation Forces, exchanging suppression and surveillance tactics. They perpetuate the same racist violence against Palestinians as the police perpetuate against our community in the Bronx.
It is of utmost importance to understand that the struggles faced by the South Bronx and workers worldwide share a profound connection with Gaza and Palestine. Our battles are intertwined, and our liberation is inextricably tied to the liberation of Palestine.
Our duty as internationalists and as revolutionaries is to make these connections as clearly and directly as possible to workers in our own communities so that we build a global unified front against imperialism.
In this spirit, we ask you to join us in one of our favorite chants: “Same struggle, same fight! Gaza and the Bronx unite!”
Death to Imperialism!
Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!