Editor, The Messenger:

On Friday, Nov. 1, an opinion piece appeared in The Athens Messenger accusing me and my City Council campaign of anti-Semitism due to my support for Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS seeks to end apartheid in Israel through a campaign of public and financial pressure, similar to that which successfully ended apartheid in South Africa.

If the author of this letter was hoping to pressure me into a retraction of my support for a free Palestine and BDS, they will be disappointed. I will always stand on the side of the exploited and oppressed, whether here in Athens or around the globe. In the apartheid state of Israel, it is clear that Zionist settler-colonists are the oppressors and the Palestinian people are the oppressed.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to which much of the Palestinian population has been displaced and confined, essentially function as open-air prisons. And the borders of these prisons are ever-shrinking, as the Israeli state continues to blatantly defy international law through the destruction of Palestinian homes and the construction of new, Zionist settlements.

The logic of settler-colonialism, whether the European settlement of the Americas or the Zionist settlement of Palestine, is a logic of genocide. And we can expect that the genocide of Palestinians will not end until Israel ceases to function as an apartheid state (the aim of BDS), or until the Palestinian population has been entirely erased.

As an internationalist who believes that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I therefore continue to believe that a commitment to BDS should be a priority for our city.

There is nothing anti-Semitic about this stance. Zionism is a political ideology, not a “core tenet of Judaism” as the author of the letter attacking me has claimed. This is exemplified by the existence of robust, Jewish-led organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, which have endorsed and campaigned for BDS. I am proud to stand with them in supporting this growing global movement against the apartheid state of Israel, just as I am proud to support the struggle of Jewish people against anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world.

Ellie Hamrick

Athens City Council candidate

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