Rep. Pressley Delivers Floor Speech on Israeli State Violence and Human Rights Abuses in Palestine

May 13, 2021
Press Release
“The question at hand is should our taxpayer dollars create conditions for justice, healing and repair, or should those dollars create conditions for oppression and apartheid?”

Video (YouTube)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) delivered remarks on the House floor during a special order hour on the Israeli state violence and human rights abuses in Palestine. 

The full text of her remarks, as delivered, is available below and the full video is available here.

Transcript: Rep. Pressley Delivers Floor Speech on Israel-Palestine Violence
U.S. House of Representatives
May 13, 2021

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to recognize the deep trauma and loss of life perpetuated by systems of oppression here in the United States and globally.

Many times I have stood at this dais and affirmed that our destinies are tied.

That was clear when protestors took to the streets in the face of police murders, seeking to build a nation where Black Lives Matter.

That was clear when our democracy and our lives were put at risk by violent white supremacists who shattered glass and broke doors, while wearing anti-Semitic phrases on their chest, carrying the confederate flag, erecting a noose on the west lawn.

That was clear when students protesting to end poverty and oppression in the streets of Bogota were shot dead.

That was clear when families kneeling during this holy month, at the third holiest site in Islam, were met with tear gas, rubber bullets and hand grenades.

Our destinies are tied.

As a Black woman in America, I am no stranger to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence.

We have been criminalized for the very way we show up in the world. 

Last summer, when Black Lives Matter protestors took to the streets to demand justice, they were met with force. They faced tear gas, rubber bullets, and a militarized police just as our Palestinian brothers and sisters are facing in Jerusalem today.

Palestinians are being told the same thing as Black folks in America—there is no acceptable form of resistance.

We are bearing witness to egregious human rights violations.

The pain, trauma, and terror that Palestinians are facing is not just the result of this week’s escalation, but the consequence of years of military occupation.

In Sheikh Jarrah, the Israeli government is violently dispossessing yet another neighborhood of Palestinian families from homes they have lived in for decades.

We cannot stand idly and complicitly by and allow the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people to continue.

We cannot remain silent when our government sends $3.8 billion of military aid to Israel that is used to demolish Palestinian homes, imprison Palestinian children, and displace Palestinian families.

A budget is a reflection of our values.

I am committed to ensuring that our government does not fund state violence in any form, anywhere.

Many say that ‘conditioning aid’ is not a phrase that I should utter here, but let me be clear.

No matter the context, American government dollars always come with conditions.

The question at hand is should our taxpayer dollars create conditions for justice, healing and repair, or should those dollars create conditions for oppression and apartheid?

Now while I hold space, due space for the storied history and unique lived experiences on the ground globally, there is a through line here.

And whether we are talking about the militarization of our communities or weapons of war, the question is the same.

If our budgets are a statement of our values, what do we value? Whose lives do we value?

We have seen footage of Israeli and Palestinian children, huddled fearfully while rockets blanket their homeland. No child should live in fear. No child should grow up in the midst of a conflict that robs them of a childhood. And Palestinian children do not have the same protections afforded to them.

Without the U.S. exerting pressure on Israel to de-escalate, the explosive situation in Jerusalem is igniting further violence not just in the city but beyond.

It is clear there is a grave asymmetry of power here. Palestinians do not have a sovereign state and the protections that come with it.

Following forceful violence against the Palestinians simply seeking to remain in their family homes, militant groups in Gaza have launched rockets at Israeli cities, resulting in seven deaths, including a child.

In response, the Israeli military has launched severe attacks on Gaza, killing 83 people, 17 of whom are children. This is devastating. 

The destinies of the Israeli and Palestinian people are tied.

Our outrage at the pain, violence and oppression they face must be clear and unapologetic.

Equal outrage for violence perpetrated against all people.

And moral clarity when state sanctioned violence is claiming the lives of innocent mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons.

From Jerusalem to Boston. From Randolph to Gaza. From Colombia to Yemen, our destinies are tied.

And everyone deserves to live free from fear and to know peace.

Thank you.

 

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