A Time for Radical Love: A Call for a Ceasefire and End to Palestinian Occupation

Text description: A Time for Radical Love. A message from the BLUU Organizing Collective Board. BlackLivesuu.org/Radicallove. Image description: Fists uniting to form two hearts.

The word radical derives from the Latin “radix,” which means root. 

Angela Y. Davis once said, “If we are not afraid to adopt a revolutionary stance—if, indeed, we wish to be radical in our quest for change—then we must get to the root of our oppression. After all, radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’”

Ending oppression requires directly addressing all oppression at its roots.

Radical change requires us to get honest about the histories contributing to the violence around us before we can ever seek to end that violence. Radical love requires getting honest about the risks required to love people well—the courage and will it can take to show up for collective liberation and love when it could mean putting our reputations, relationships, and lives on the line.

We are calling our communities—Black Unitarian Universalists and Unitarian Universalists more broadly, into a time of radical honesty and radical love. 

We join the chorus of many faith communities and leaders calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As we write this, more than 8,000 Palestians (more than 3,000 children) and 1,400 Israelis have been killed since Oct. 7. We mourn the loss of all people killed. Instead of committing to playing a role in de-escalation, the United States military sent weapons to the Israeli government. Less than 20 members of Congress have called for a ceasefire in a time when Israel is blocking Palestinians from receiving most humanitarian aid and using chemicals in attacks that violate international law. It is shameful for the United States government to contribute to the violence in Gaza in any way. Our tax dollars are currently funding genocide, and we must not let this violence continue in our name. 

And yet, calling for a ceasefire isn’t enough. We must imagine and advocate for a world where Palestine is free of state-sanctioned violence and Palestinians no longer live under occupation.

Settler-colonialism is the root of the ongoing violence we’ve witnessed in Gaza. If radical love calls us to radical honesty, we must not turn away from the violence of settler-colonialism and how it has sowed the seeds of suffering and death. 

“As Black Americans, we know all too well what it means to be dehumanized as less than, mislabeled as inherently criminal, and belittled as caricatures and not seen in our full humanity,” said Lena K. Gardner, BLUU’s Executive Director. “We understand that when this happens to people in the media, schools, and government policies, it’s to justify atrocities. We say no to this all too familiar denial of the recognition of the full humanity of the Palestinian people. And we say no to the intentional disregard of power dynamics inherent when state political actors wield violence against marginalized people.”

Many Unitarian Universalists have committed to the “decolonization” of their lives and faith; translating that to action in this moment means calling out and disrupting the ways colonialism has contributed to decades of violence, despair, and anguish in Palestine.

We do not call for a free Palestine without recognizing the global harm of antisemitism. The generational trauma of the Holocaust and continued antisemitic violence impacts Jewish people every day.

Although all Unitarian Universalists are not Christian, we are clear that some of our faith’s Christian lineage extends the benefits of Christian hegemonic privilege to many of us. We must do our due diligence to examine and dismantle that privilege. 

All non-Jewish people within our faith must have an honest reckoning with the ways we were shaped by an antisemitic culture, but that reckoning does not include abdicating the responsibility of calling out harm done by the state of Israel. In fact, it is antisemitic to absolve ourselves of disrupting antisemitism in our everyday lives then hide behind dogmatic support of Israel as a substitute for that necessary work. We can’t erase the voices of Jewish organizations and leaders who tell us that violence committed by the state of Israel against Palestinian people is not done in their name.  Displacement was never a just solution for Jewish safety despite the traumas of the Holocaust making the valid concern of Jewish safety something ripe for exploitation through the project of colonialism. 

Many well-intentioned people, including people in our faith, say this moment is so complicated that they can’t possibly imagine speaking out. We understand and echo the genuine concern about not saying something harmful. 

However, silence and neutrality in times of violence have too high a cost and have harmful consequences. Radical love means showing up in times of injustice, even imperfectly. Radical love means speaking truth to power. Radical love means opting into struggles for liberation; radical love means opting out of these struggles isn’t an option.

 This is a time to engage whatever means of power and voice you have to speak out and speak up.

As Black people of faith and conscience, we know none of us are free unless all of us are free. 

What Can You Do?

If you want to put your love and faith into action in this moment:

  1. Contact Congress and demand a ceasefire. 

It matters that our government officials know we are not only paying attention but demanding things change. Use this form from Jewish Voice for Peace to contact Congress and tell them you want a ceasefire now. 

  1. Amplify Palestinian voices and organizations talking about the occupation.

Pursuing the liberation of Palestinians requires listening to and following Palestinian people and Palestinian-led organizations. Organizations such as the Palestinian Youth Movement and the Adalah Justice Project organize and provide thought leadership. 

  1. Support Jewish organizations denouncing the occupation.

Organizations such as If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace make it clear that colonialism and nationalism are at odds with Jewish liberation. Their visible and vocal support of Palestinian freedom is letting government officials know the violence happening in Gaza is not in their name.

  1. Speak out against colonialism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism in your personal life, community, and congregation.

Access to information isn’t something to take for granted. Engage people in your life about this moment in history and share how you advocate for Palestinian liberation without being antisemitic. Share history about the occupation and debunk misinformation people share with you. If you need a reading list to share, this is a good start.

  1. Join a local action or protest for the action.

Many groups throughout the country are organizing actions in response to this moment. Consider joining a protest or action. Make sure you’re familiar with the organizers and what the general goals of the protest are. Make an assessment of risk and consider discussing safety plans with other participants or your community.

About BLUU:

Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism is committed to expanding the power and capacity of Black UUs within Unitarian Universalism; providing support, information, and resources for Black Unitarian Universalists; and justice-making and liberation for Black people through our faith. Our vision statement reads: BLUU harnesses love’s power to combat oppression and foster healing as a spiritual and political imperative. We know the power of love to be life-changing, inclusive, relational, uncomfortable, unconditional and without end. Subscribe to our email list to learn more about our worship events, organizing opportunities, and youth ministry.

1 Comment

  • Thank you,
    I have felt so alone in my local church. Growing up, they asked me what I would do in times of global injustice. In their introductory video they claim to be a church of “deeds not creeds”. And yet when our nation is actively funding genocide the church services continued unaltered and almost without mention.
    I am worldly enough to understand that I shouldn’t be surprised by the combined powers of learned helplessness, racism and apathy. But my heart has been breaking. Thank you so much for making this statement and leading the way to a better world.
    Sending love and solidarity

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