CRIP CALL TO ACTION: Why disabled people living in the US need to be calling for a long lasting ceasefire in Israel-Palestine
Content warnings: death, suffering, genocide, violence, settler colonialism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, eugenics, ableism
This time we cannot cross until we carry each other.
All of us refugees, all of us prophets.
No more taking turns on history’s wheel,
trying to collect old debts no one can pay.
The sea will not open that way.
– Excerpt from Aurora Levins Morales
I write this as a white, disabled, queer, ashkenazi jew whose heart is deeply broken and fully enraged by the ongoing annihilation of Palestinian lives. In just over one month, with support and funding from the United States, the Israeli government has killed more than 11,000 (1) Palestinians, injured more than 29,000 (1) and displaced over 1.4 million (2) Palestinian people.
I write this fully condemning the October 7th attacks by Hamas, which killed at least 1,400 Israelis and injured thousands more. I write this demanding for a safe release of the 240 hostages.
I write this as someone who grew up being told that Israel was my homeland, a place of ultimate safety for all Jewish people – those who have survived generations of antisemitic violence, most recently being the Holocaust – in which my own relatives were killed.
I write this condemning the 75 year occupation of Palestine.
I write this with abundant clarity that safety for Jewish people can and will never come at the cost of other people’s freedom, dignity and lives, including the Palestinian people. In fact, I believe that the safety of Jews and Israelis is intrinsically linked to the safety of Palestinians and Muslims.
I write this as a disabled activist who continues to unconditionally value, love, and fight for disabled, deaf and marginalized bodies.
I write this after waking up beside my lover, another disabled person who relies on power to live her daily life, holding her tight. We listened to Democracy Now! in which a devastated doctor shared how they did not resuscitate a Palestinian person in Gaza because the hospital wouldn’t have had enough power to run the ventilator that the individual would have needed to survive (3).
Disabled people know ALL TOO WELL what it means when…
Disability and/or chronic illness is developed and there are little-to-no systems of care or support available
In Gaza, the Israeli bombardment and blockades are creating a mass disabling event. Whether it be forced displacement, surviving continuous air raids, having loved ones and entire families murdered and missing, and so much more – the colossal rates of individual and collective trauma create all types of disabilities – ranging from mobility, psychiatric, sensory, chronic illness, and so much more. Due to the Israeli government’s destruction of Gaza, including constant attacks to critical hospitals and medical centres (4), all disabled people, including those newly disabled, who survive have limited-to-no access to needed life-saving and life-sustaining care.
Too many disabled and marginalized beloveds die too soon
In Gaza, over 11,000 people have been killed since the Israeli bombardment began after October 7th; 4,500+ of whom are children.
Evacuations are called for, but there is no accessible way to flee
In Gaza, the Israeli government has demanded that all Palestinian civilians evacuate Gaza and leave homes, hospitals, schools, refugee camps and shelters. There are endless reasons why it is challenging for everyone, and even more so for people with disabilities. There is not enough time given to evacuate, some people are not able to leave, or once people do evacuate, there are no places to go nor accessible ways to get to the limited and overcrowded sheltering sites (5).
“Some houses will receive a call and they give you three to five minutes to evacuate… For many people with disabilities, that’s not enough for them – they need two people to help them. – Lateefa Al Jabari, 40 (5)
“We wouldn’t be able to flee this time around… My sister’s old wheelchair doesn’t fit her, and she is too heavy for me to carry her. I wouldn’t even know where to go” – Eman, 33 (5)
Extremely limited housing is available, let alone accessible housing
In Gaza, it is estimated that at least 45% of housing has been destroyed or damaged during this Israeli bombardment (6).
Sidewalks and roads are broken, so there are no ways to evacuate to safer locations
In Gaza, consistent air raids and bombings by the Israeli government are deteriorating the already inaccessible roadways (5).
“When we got bombed, I started crying. Everyone around me was running, and I just stood there, and I felt my disability. Two of my kids were missing… I didn’t know what I should do, how to look for my kids” – Abu Shaker, 49 (5)
There is little-to-no communication access
In Gaza, the already limited disability services and supports infrastructure compounded by the newest Israeli blockades have made communication devices and language interpretation extremely limited or obsolete. The Israeli government has not provided accessible communication methods for alerting Gaza residents of evacuation warnings (5).
“I don’t have a hearing device, so I don’t know when they are bombing! I can feel the vibration under my feet, and I see people running without knowing what is happening!” – Iman 19 (5)
No assistive technologies are available
In Gaza, Israeli airstrikes have decimated many people’s assistive devices, ranging from wheelchairs, prosthetics, walkers, etc. (5)
Power is shut off; there is no way to charge and use life-saving equipment and medicines, nor have light to communicate in sign languages
In Gaza, the already limited sources of electricity have been cut off by the Israeli government (5).
Already limited shipments have stopped; there are no refills possible for pain medication and other life-sustaining medicines and goods
In Gaza, the Israeli blockades have made it impossible for critical goods to reach all areas of civilian life, including the health care system (6). For example, many surgeries including amputations are being performed without anesthesia (7).
“Tomorrow, I will run out and I don’t know how I will get more medication. If I don’t take the medication, I can’t breathe and will start experiencing heart palpitations. – Samih Al Masri, 50 (5)
Immediate and long term medical treatment is needed, but there is no access to hospitals
In Gaza, hospitals and medical facilities have been bombed and/or the Israeli government is directly threatening military attacks (8). As of November 12th, 198 medical staff have now been killed and 87 ambulances damaged. In addition, 21 out of 35 hospitals and 51 out of 72 primary medical care facilities are out of operation (9).
Medical and care rationing is at its peak; non disabled bodies are prioritized
In Gaza, there is not enough power, medicine, and goods for all people who need medical care because of the ongoing Israeli blockades and air raids. For example, bodies of all ages who need power to live are left to die, including premature babies (10).
Caregivers and personal attendants are no longer available to come to people’s homes
In Gaza, caregivers and personal attendants have been killed, have had to evacuate, or are missing.
The internet is limited or shut off, so communication to community members regularly cut
In Gaza, the Israeli government continues to shut down communication access and services, including the internet (11).
There is a severe shortage of food and clean water, making it impossible to nourish, care, and save bodies, particularly those who are immunocompromised, require specific diets, and/or have regular personal care needs
In Gaza, the Israeli government has cut off most access points to clean water and food (12). Gaza’s wastewater treatment plants have shut down causing the daily release of huge quantities of untreated sewage into the mediterranean sea where people are forced to bathe (13). Additionally, damaged water and sanitation systems have increased the risk of disease outbreaks (14).
Disabled people know all too well that these realities lead to being left behind; to fend for ourselves, to our demise, to our unjust and premature deaths.
Wherever and however you are entering this time of terror, war, and genocide, your experiences as a disabled person can tell you intuitively that what is happening to the Palestinian people is unacceptable. This is why the worldwide cause for an immediate, long lasting ceasefire is our cause, too.
As people with disabilities, we’ve seen the impact we can make when we mobilize at grand scales. We can and must do this for the Palestinian people. If all 61 million disabled Americans acted now, it would significantly impact the ways in which our government responds to this atrocity.
Again, using our experiences and our power to call for an immediate, long lasting ceasefire can happen at the same time as we deeply condemn and grieve the Israeli lives taken during the Oct 7th Hamas attacks and call for the return of the hostages.
There are many ways to take action, many can be done without even leaving our beds.
- Contact your members of Congress daily
- Contact President Biden and The White House
- Send a message
- Call what’s known as The White House switchboard: 202-456-1414, and you can be directed to leave a message.
- Demand better coverage on Gaza from outlets like The New York Times or write your own letter to the editor to your local paper using this Jewish Voice For Peace resource guide: How to write a Letter to the Editor
- Participate in local, regional, statewide, national and international actions (virtual and/or in person)
- By following organizations like Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Palestinian Youth Movement, Institute for Middle East Understanding, IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Center for Jewish Nonviolence, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Muslims for Just Futures, Arab American Action Network and so many more, you can learn what’s happening on the ground and ways you can act in disability solidarity.
- Check out other rad disabled-centered and crip-created resources like: @adriennemareebrown’s Practical Tips for Solidarity; @CripTheGig’s “The Revolution Will Be From Bed: A Guide to Protesting For Disabled Activists”; @COVIDisntover’s week’s virtual action hour for Palestine; @PalestinianFeministCollective’s digital action toolkit
- Donate and move money directly to support Palestinians with and without disabilities. Organizations to consider include but are not limited to:
- Stop or limit buying products that directly have a hand in supporting the Israeli government
- Follow, support, and listen to voices and organizations for peace in Israel-Palestine
- Jews and non-jews with disabilities, have tough conversations with your loved ones. Remind them how hard, if not impossible, it would be for someone like you to survive in times of war.
And to my beloved disabled Jews: we have been fed the lie that our safety is synonymous with the safety of the state of Israel. But if the safety of the state of Israel means that the Israeli authority must commit war crimes and genocide, then it is time for us to call for a new path to Jewish safety. Our call for an immediate, long term ceasefire is not antisemitic; our call for ceasefire is in deep alignment with ancient Jewish values. Our call for ceasefire can happen at the same time as our call to end antisemitism, to end islamophobia, and to end violent extremism.
To all disabled people: Disabled Palestinian life is intrinsically valuable, just as Disabled Israeli life is.
We don’t have to know all the answers to know that this bombardment of Palestine must stop immediately.
We can and must use our power to take action for an immediate, long term ceasefire. An immediate, long lasting ceasefire is the bare minimum; it is the first step.
We can listen to and support pathways for peace and nonviolence; pathways for an end to occupation, and for people’s right to return.
If you have ever advocated for disabled people’s rights to access emergency preparedness, housing, health care, home care, transportation, and/or believe in the principles of disability justice, this is your time, this is our time, to act in solidarity with the people of Palestine. If not now, then when?*
- Israel-Gaza war in maps and charts: Live Tracker| Al Jazeera
- Amid Increasingly Dire Humanitarian Situation in Gaza, Secretary-General Tells Security Council Hamas Attacks Cannot Justify Collective Punishment of Palestinian People | UN Press.
- Gaza Doctor Says Hospitals Have to Choose Who Lives and Who Dies Amid Worsening Humanitarian Crisis | Democracy Now!
- How are Gaza casualty updates affected by Israeli attacks on hospitals? | Israel-Palestine conflict News | Al Jazeera
- Gaza: Israeli Attacks, Blockade Devastating for People with Disabilities | Human Rights Watch.
- Hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel | Flash Update #20 | United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – occupied Palestinian territory.
- Jewish Voice for Peace Health Adviser Dr. Alice Rothchild on Gaza Catastrophe as Health System Fails | Democracy Now!
- Little light, no beds, not enough anesthesia: A view from the ‘nightmare’ of Gaza’s hospitals | Associated Press
- ‘Intense bombings’ by Israeli forces around Gaza hospitals amid blackout | Al Jazeera
- Premature babies are dying at Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital | Al Jazeera
- Internet Blackouts in Gaza Are a New Weapon in the Israel-Hamas War | WIRED
- In Gaza’s widening humanitarian crisis, water access becomes dire | PBS NewsHour
- Headlines for November 09, 2023 | Democracy Now!
- Satellite images show Israeli forces hold ground around Gaza City’s water facilities
*Disabled folks have long been in solidarity with the people of Palestine, including in 2014 when there was a 50-day military bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Force. Find Sins Invalid statement, Disability Justice for Palestine video, ASL version, and Spanish translation.
Allie (al) Cannington is a white ashkenazi jewish queer Disabled activist and organizer. Since gaining access to movements for disability rights and justice over 15 years ago, Allie has organized alongside people with disabilities on local, state, and national levels, always centering those who live at the margins. Ultimately, Allie’s work is dedicated to unveiling everyone’s proximity to disability, to holding space for individual and collective grief, and to fueling justice movements that are intersectional, sustainable, and intergenerational.
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