A VoiceVoices

Mayor McCartney of West Orange Must Retract Her Harmful Comments About the Palestinian Community and Supporters 

by Karla Schultz

This was written in response to the article in the West Orange Patch entitled “West Orange Mayor: Pro-Palestine Display At Town Hall Was ‘Divisive’ “.

What is anti-Palestinian racism?

“Anti-Palestinian racism is a form of anti-Arab racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians or their narratives. Anti-Palestinian racism takes various forms including:
• denying the Nakba and justifying violence against Palestinians;
• failing to acknowledge Palestinians as an Indigenous people with a collective identity, belonging and rights in relation to occupied and historic Palestine;
• erasing the human rights and equal dignity and worth of Palestinians;
• excluding or pressuring others to exclude Palestinian perspectives, Palestinians and their allies;
• defaming Palestinians and their allies with slander such as being inherently anti-semitic, a terrorist threat/sympathizer or opposed to democratic values” (ACLA, 2022).

Any one of the above bullet points is an example of anti-Palestinian racism and unfortunately all of these occurred in our town of West Orange, if you checked the town’s statement on the war on October 7th, read the press, or have attended Town Hall and HRC meetings since October 7.

And, the above definition was established in 2022, before the events of October 7, 2023. Therefore, this definition was not developed in response to the racism that continued after October 7, 2023, but on-going racism even before then.
All of the above points have been used on a local and national level to silence and or justify the mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing (there is nothing “clean” about the word) of Palestinians.

Therefore, to call for a Ceasefire in a war built on racist propaganda is the anti- racist action to take. What is inappropriate and divisive (the words of our Mayor against the anti-war movement) is to NOT condemn this war. This is what the international community and the UN have been calling for, for months. We need to do what we can on all levels, so as not to perpetrate the violence and racism of endless imperialist war, especially since our tax dollars are paying for this.

So it is very interesting that the multiracial Pro-Palestinian movement in this town (and world-wide) is called racist and divisive. But, stating that this is a war of Western Values, as our town did and which fits into a white supremacist framework, is not racist? That’s a tactic used to paint the oppressor as the victim. And many people who view the Pro-Palestinian movement as shaking off domination see right thru that twisted logic. We have an understanding of the history of colonialism, exploitation and profiteering off people and resources because it has happened on every continent throughout history.

And still most of our politicians will not say Ceasefire. Maybe it is because they care more about their career than taking a meaningful stand on the most deadly conflict of the 21st century. What it looks like is that they are more beholden to the US war machine that is funding a genocide.

For Mayor McCartney to say that we can “empathize with all the individuals in our community affected by the ongoing, devastating destruction; but we cannot govern with any sense of changing the trajectory and outcome of these issues” is simply not true. We can choose our words and actions especially those that we make public, wisely. You can issue retractions when you have caused harm. We can and should examine the root causes of war and racism, so as to prevent more death. We can call out the racism, including anti-Palestinian racism, when we see it. When we are silent, WE ARE COMPLICIT. And for many of us, that’s just not a choice.