CASA has no need to apologize for calls for ceasefire and end to occupation of Palestine
The Maryland-based immigrant advocacy organization apologized on Thursday for releasing a statement supporting Palestinians. There was no need to cave in following Zionist-led backlash.
There’s nothing to apologize for when one calls for an end to the displacement and slaughter of a marginalized community.
Nonetheless, CASA, a Maryland-based immigrant advocacy organization, chose to do just that on Thursday after receiving Zionist-led backlash in response to a previous statement supporting a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, Maryland Matters has reported.
“When we initially released a statement, we wanted to shine a spotlight directly on the innocent Israeli and Palestinian children and families caught in the midst of this horrendous conflict,” said Gustavo Torres, CASA’s executive director. “We sought to condemn the violence and call for the protection of all civilians. This crisis echoes the violence CASA members have seen in their own home countries, from which many — myself included — have experienced horror, displacement and the loss of family members.
“In doing so, we caused dear friends and partners pain. Our message was flawed, diminishing of Israeli people, hurtful to many of our Jewish allies, and counter to our goals of advancing peace. For that, I am sorry. We immediately took that statement down and removed the social media content.”
But here’s the thing: Torres never needed to delete and subsequently apologize for the organization’s initial comments on Nov. 6.
In fact, he should have doubled down on the demands for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the death that inevitably comes along with it.
CASA is a reputable nonprofit organization that has advocated for the rights of immigrants for more than three decades. It directly works alongside those who have fled their nations’ oppressive regimes or have been expelled.
That’s why CASA, perhaps more than many other nonprofits in the country, is familiar with disastrous governments decimating communities. That includes instances bearing resemblance to what Israel has done through its occupation and slaughter of the Palestinian people.
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More than 11,000 — or 1 in 200 — Palestinians have been killed since Israel waged a war on the Hamas militant Group in the aftermath of a surprise assault in Gaza last month.
In an indication there still is no end in sight, Israel has continued to ramp up its aggressions. Palestinian civilians have been targeted. Supplies have been cut off. And those trying to flee under the direction of Israeli forces have been met with death regardless.
Hawkish politicians, in the meantime, seem to have been blinded by Israeli propaganda, with President Joe Biden and members of Congress failing to call for a ceasefire.
At the time of CASA’s apology, only 36 members of Congress had voiced support for a ceasefire in response to the ongoing violence. U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., joined the calls Friday evening.
Meanwhile, politicians take millions in donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, as they approve billions in aid.
With its initial calls for a ceasefire, CASA did what these elected officials have failed to: stand up for the rights of Palestinians to exist.
"We specifically condemn the utilization of US tax dollars to promote the ongoing violence [in the Middle East],” CASA wrote in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We call for an immediate ceasefire to save all precious life and halt the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”
“Free Palestine now!” the statement added.
It’s not like CASA’s initial calls for a ceasefire were radical, either. Recent polling shows as many as 68% of Americans support it.
Despite this, many Maryland politicians incorrectly postured that the rhetoric was antisemitic and dangerous.
Jewish members of the Maryland Legislature denounced the organization in a joint statement, saying CASA’s comments displayed “a profound misunderstanding of Middle East history, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Jewish history, and antisemitism.”
Latino allies in the state legislature also criticized CASA’s statement. Perhaps what applied the most pressure to the organization, though, came from donors.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Baltimore, the organization’s largest private donor, announced Tuesday it would pull $150,000 that had been earmarked in funding for the organization next year.
The foundation, stating that it had given CASA $5 million over the years, said there “is no place in our world, or our community, for hate, and we refuse to support any organization promoting and standing by words of hate.”
CASA apologized 2 days later.
As many real threats to the Jewish community remain, such as white nationalist groups that call for the extermination of Jews and spread ludicrous conspiracy theories, organizations such as CASA are not the enemy.
When I first began my journey as a professional journalist in 2018 in York, Pennsylvania, CASA was one of the first organizations I wrote about.
In a city where a large portion of the population is Latino immigrants, it was immediately clear that they cared deeply about those facing racism and disenfranchisement for simply wanting to better their quality of life.
I spoke with those who fled fascist regimes, thanks largely to the connections I made at CASA. Those I spoke to were often terrified of what the government may do if it was discovered they spoke to a reporter about their experiences.
But they still spoke. And those with CASA stood by them every second of the way to ensure their stories were heard and their anonymity guaranteed.
The world as a whole needs more activists such as those at CASA to provide voices to the voiceless in their fights against totalitarian governments and widespread disenfranchisement.
Therefore, they in no way should be targeted just because they refuse to stand idly by while the U.S. greenlights foreign aid that contributes to genocide.