Several Councilmembers Release Statements Denouncing CASA’s Comments on the Israel-Hamas War

On Monday, immigrant rights group CASA released the following statement on Twitter:
“CASA stands in resolute and steadfast solidarity with the people of Palestine in their relentless fight for freedom. We stand shoulder to shoulder with countless Black and brown freedom activists from around the world. We specifically condemn the utilization of US tax dollars to promote the ongoing violence. We call for an immediate ceasefire to save all precious life and halt the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

Like much of the world, we join in condemning the outrageous attack by Hamas in Israel. Our hearts go out to the innocent children and families caught in the midst of this horrendous conflict. We also reject the notion that any act of violence can ever justify the heinous practice of terror currently unleashed by Israel in Gaza, including on refugee camps, medical and UN aid workers, and more. As we dedicate ourselves to building a world where our community can live free from discrimination and fear, we deeply acknowledge the interconnectedness of the struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people and Black and brown communities in the United States. Our shared and unwavering commitment is to foster humanity, safety, and lasting peace throughout the entire region while confronting the historical oppression that demands urgent redress.

Finally, we strongly support the struggle for decolonization, affirming the rights of Indigenous peoples and historically colonized nations to reclaim their land. The Palestinian struggle mirrors our own; with many CASA members fleeing governments and countries wrecked by the damage of US economic and political intervention. We firmly assert: free Palestine NOW!”

CASA later posted the following on it’s social media accounts on Monday evening, after deleting the initial statement: “We write to acknowledge that our words have caused hurt. We have received feedback from our dear and trusted partners, who have expressed their concerns about the impact of our language. We take the feedback received to heart and are determined to use it as an opportunity for growth, understanding, and positive change. We are conducting further work to refine our message and clarify our values and will issue another statement soon.”

On Monday, Councilmember Andrew Friedson released the following statement in response:
“The inflammatory and inaccurate statement by CASA is deeply offensive and hurtful. While the tweets have since been deleted, the statement demonstrated a divisive disregard for the Jewish community who have been steadfast partners in countless of the organization’s efforts to support immigrants in our community over the years. Using antisemitic language that denies Jews as being indigenous to their own ancestral homeland and failing to recognize that over half of Israel’s population are people of color, CASA inexplicably failed to recognize the connection so many Jews have to CASA’s mission and to their own homeland as a people who have been systematically persecuted and forced to flee countless countries for over 2,000 years.

While I appreciate CASA’s dedication to “building a world where our community can live free from discrimination and fear,” their statement suggests that Jews – and especially Jews of color – have no place in that community. We must be able to advocate for Palestinian lives without diminishing the existence of Jewish lives. We can question government policies and decisions without denying rights to existence and self-determination. We must mourn all innocent lives lost and recognize each loss as a tragedy. I hope CASA will formally retract the statement and use this painful misstep as a learning opportunity to engage with Jewish community leaders and organizations to repair the damage and avoid future pain.”

Coucilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Natali Fani-González released the following statement on Tuesday, November 7:
“The recent statement by the immigrant rights group CASA regarding the Israeli and Palestinian conflict has made an already emotional and horrific situation in our community worse. CASA is an organization that we deeply respect and have both supported and worked with for decades to advance social justice and build bridges in our community. That’s why we denounce the statement and are so hurt by their recent divisive and ill-informed comments and actions. We also appreciate and support the statement of our colleague Council Vice President Andrew Friedson in response to CASA’s statements.

CASA has since deleted their posts and acknowledged the damage and pain they have caused. We also trust that CASA will take further action and work with leaders in both the Israeli and Palestinian communities to use their platform to unite and not further divide our community. The Israel-Hamas war is impacting and devastating tens of thousands of our residents in Montgomery County. It’s critical that we foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding. As policy makers, we will work toward building that understanding and encourage all organizations and individuals to do the same.”


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