We are Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine, a multi-faith and interracial coalition dedicated to peace and justice from Durham to Palestine. Along with our Jewish community members and loved ones, we are grieving and angry after the attack at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as the murder of two African-American elders in Louisville after their killer attempted to attack a Black church — and after someone drew a bright red swastika over the Tree of Life memorial at Duke East campus.
We see this anti-Semitic attack as part of a long legacy of white supremacist violence in the U.S. — from the massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012, to the murder of Black Christians at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, to the everyday interpersonal and structural violence experienced by Black, Indigenous, Arab, immigrant, queer, and trans people.
As people of diverse faiths and racial backgrounds, we believe it is necessary to situate anti-Semitism in the context of white supremacy, and we know that further militarization is not the answer to racist violence.
Since Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, we’ve witnessed rising anti-Jewish hate across the U.S. Members of our coalition were present to resist a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville in August of 2017. This May, a white nationalist neo-Nazi group claimed credit for pasting anti-Semitic posters in downtown Durham, and there were more white nationalist antisemitic fliers just last week in Cary. These racists and white supremacists are invigorated and validated by proximity to power and national media platforms.
At the same time, we’ve seen Trump and his supporters proliferate anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish power, from fantasies that white Jews control global finance and immigration policy — which rests on the racist characterization of all Brown immigrants as criminal “invaders” — to the myth that white Jews secretly lead Black Lives Matter — which promotes the profoundly racist idea that people of color aren’t capable of leading our own movements.
These dangerous ideas have long been useful to the Right to divide our communities from each other and mask how capitalism and white supremacist power are actually responsible for our crises.
Rather than acknowledge his role and that of his supporters in rising antisemitic hatred and violence, Trump offered the dangerous and unrealistic notion that more armed guards in faith communities will lead to our safety. We reject the notion that inviting police and military-style weapons into houses of worship will make our people safer. We know that the racialized U.S. policing and prison system endangers the safety of Black, Brown, Muslim, disabled, and queer members of our communities every day. More militarization and security can’t possibly be a solution to violence.
Instead, we need to block fascists and racists from organizing. We need to take away their power from the halls of government and from media and social-media platforms that promote and normalize racist ideas and expressions. This tragedy would not have happened if a white supremacist man had not been armed and empowered.
We want to be clear that challenging the roots of anti-Semitism requires a commitment to collective liberation. Our vision of safety divests from police militarization and invests in initiatives that keep our people safe and help them thrive, especially marginalized and overpoliced communities of color — such as affordable housing and health care, a living wage, and excellent public education.
And we believe that we can keep each other safe by showing up to accompany and protect those who are most vulnerable — the way we have seen Muslim communities show up for Jewish people this past week.
Our coalition is a diverse united group of people committed to safety and liberation for all. Fighting for racial justice — in conjunction with the interlocking oppressions of social, gender, and economic discrimination — is at the core of our work.
Submitted by Jazmynne Williams and Noah Rubin-Blose on behalf of the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine Campaign Coalition: AIME (Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East), Black Youth Project 100-Durham Chapter, Coalition for Peace with Justice, Durham for All, Inside Outside Alliance, Jewish Voice for Peace-Triangle NC, Muslim American Public Affairs Council, Muslims for Social Justice, SpiritHouse, Students for Justice in Palestine-Duke, and Students for Justice in Palestine-UNC-CH.