The National Lawyers Guild emphasizes the legitimacy of the right of the Palestinian people to resist illegal military occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and urges the United States to stop enabling and arming Israel’s perpetration of its atrocities. The NLG stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle against the settler colonial state of Israel and calls on our members and allies throughout the United States and around the globe to stand and act in support of that struggle.
The United States government not only immediately condemned the recent military actions carried out by Palestinian resistance after it has spent decades supporting and enabling Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people that are the direct cause of the current actions; in fact, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a commitment to “emergency aid” in the form of additional weaponry to be sent to the Israeli occupation regime. This comes atop the existing nearly $4 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel every year. These condemnations have been echoed by politicians across the U.S. political spectrum, including those who campaign as progressives and anti-racists.
The National Lawyers Guild urges public recognition of the right to resist unlawful occupation “by all available means, including armed struggle,” as noted in United Nations General Assembly Res. 37/43. Armed struggle “against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination” is explicitly contemplated under the Geneva Conventions. Major human rights organizations have recognized through detailed investigation and findings that Israel is perpetrating apartheid, a crime against humanity, against the Palestinian people. 
Instead of condemning Palestinian resistance, the U.S. is obliged under international law to cut off all military, financial and political support that enables Israel’s brutal occupation. The U.S. ruling elite has shown its blatant hypocrisy and morally unfathomable racist and imperialist agenda by unconditionally and continuously supporting Israeli violence and oppression against Palestinians on a permanent basis, and then expressing outrage at any Palestinian resistance.
By continuing the flow of weapons and aid to Israel, the United States is participating as an aider and abetter of apartheid and attempted genocide in Palestine, for which U.S. officials can and must be held accountable. The United States continues to designate Palestinian resistance organizations as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” despite the fact that they are engaged in exercising their fundamental and protected right to self-defense and to liberate their land and people from occupation and colonialism. These lists allow for the persecution, criminalization and economic coercion of people resisting apartheid, genocide and colonialism, which is itself a crime. We call for all Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations to be removed from the U.S. list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” and “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”
Palestinians have repeatedly called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, a call adopted 16 years ago by the NLG. We reiterate our statement of May 2021, “Statement in Solidarity with the People of Palestine in their Struggle Against the Settler Colonial State of Israel,” in which we noted: “Arab states have imposed a boycott of Israel for decades for its ongoing occupation of Arab land, including Palestinian and Syrian land. The United States has expended a tremendous amount of military and financial pressure to undermine and break the Arab boycott of Israel, from the Camp David accords with Egypt in 1978 to the more recent attempts at a “deal of the century” and the “Abraham Accords.” These normalization campaigns, sponsored and funded by the United States, aim to expand the complicity of Arab states with Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity while denying the Palestinian people international support. Normalization with Israel is a U.S. project designed to advance Israeli impunity.”
At this historic moment, we reiterate our calls and commitments of two years ago. As a community of legal workers and advocates who prioritize human rights and support for justice and liberation of oppressed people, we must stand firm in our solidarity by:
- Clearly and unequivocally condemning Israeli state and colonial violence against the Palestinian people from Gaza to Jerusalem, in the West Bank and throughout historical Palestine.
- Escalating our pursuit for legal accountability for Israeli colonial violence, ethnic cleansing, ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the crime of apartheid, in our global and local legal institutions.
- Affirming the legal right of all Palestinian refugees to return to Palestine. International law upholds the Palestinian right to return. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3236 (1974) reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property.
- Affirming and protecting the legal right of Palestinians to resist the colonizing power that seeks to annihilate them. International law also upholds the right of self-defense for peoples under colonial and foreign domination and subjugation, “reaffirm[ing] the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”
- Demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners and an end the use of torture and administrative detention. There are currently approximately 5,250 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including nearly 1,350 jailed without charge or trial under arbitrary and unlawful administrative detention, as well as 39 women and 170 children.
- Supporting the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions of all institutions whose conduct is complicit in Israeli crimes, complicit in Israeli apartheid, complicit in the occupation of Palestine, or complicit in any denial of Palestinian human rights.
- Defending the Palestinian movement and community in the United States, including students, activists, and scholars who are targeted by Zionist lawfare institutions for their support of Palestinian human rights, and the criminalization, surveillance and harassment of Palestinians by U.S. political and police forces.
- Demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel and holding all U.S. leaders accountable for their political support for Israel’s crimes. Israel is committing these human rights violations with U.S. aid, in violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance acts.
- Demanding that the United States stop its political and economic intimidation, including sanctions, to pressure states to normalize relations with Israel.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the first national, racially integrated bar association in the U.S. to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human, and civil rights.
Statement by the National Lawyers Guild International Committee
October 8, 2023
 Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” April 27, 2021. https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution; Amnesty International, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians” Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,” 2022, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/5141/2022/en/; Btselem, “A regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid,” 12 January 2021, https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid; Al-Haq, “Israeli Apartheid: Tool of Zionist Settler Colonialism,” 29 Nov. 2022, https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/20931.html.