Sikh Solidarity with Palestine

By Guest Columnist Jan 13, 2009

Thanks to Sonny Singh Suchdev for this After two weeks of relentless attacks and an ongoing siege, the results are sobering: over 880 people dead, 30% of whom are children, and more than 4000 injured; hospitals, schools, universities, local markets, streets, homes and communities crushed to rubble; a blockade on humanitarian relief including food and life-saving medical supplies; a ban on foreign journalists and media entering the area; and a sealed border rendering 1.5 million people imprisoned within the boundaries of a siege. Hundreds of thousands of lives are being destroyed as they are marked dispensable for one reason only: they are Palestinian. The death toll is rising, and Israel has hinted to no end in sight as it continues to expand its offensive by air, land, and sea. According to Sikhi, all human lives are equal and should be cherished. Right now in Gaza, the lives of an entire people are being deemed worthless. We mourn the recent loss of over 880 Palestinian lives taken by the Israeli military. We also mourn the loss of the 9 Israeli lives taken by Hamas rockets. We are Sikhs who stand against the brutality of Israeli occupation and the ongoing siege, blockade, and massacre of Gaza. Now more than ever, we call on our Sikh sisters and brothers to think about what our faith and our Sikh identity really means. Why did Guru Nanak Sahib seek to abolish the caste system in South Asia? Why did Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib sacrifice his life for the sake of others’ (non-Sikhs) right to freely practice their religion and live free of persecution? Why did Guru Gobind Singh, our tenth Guru, give birth to the Khalsa – an armed body of full-time revolutionaries – in 1699? Because for Sikhs, fighting against all forms of tyranny and oppression is a spiritual obligation. We are inspired by this Sikh tradition of fighting not only for our own rights and our own sovereignty as Sikhs, but for the freedom and rights of all people – sarbat da bhala. Historically, Sikhs have known all too well what state repression and violent hatred look like. Sikhs too, like Palestinians, have faced campaigns of ethnic cleansing by emperors and prime ministers, dictators and elected leaders. Without a doubt, we have struggled and we must continue to struggle for our right to exist and our right to be Sikhs. But we must bring to the forefront our responsibility to fight for the liberation and freedom of all people. When we end ardas with, “Nanak naam chardi kala, tere bane sarbat da bhala,” we must pay attention to the power and weight of these words, take them to heart, and put the concept of sarbat da bhala into practice. What that means for us now, as Sikhs and as people of conscience, is to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza, the Palestinians around the world fighting for their right to return home, and the thousands of Jewish and Israeli activists calling for an immediate end to the siege and an end to Israeli apartheid. Together, we must all demand peace and justice. Get together with others in your community, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, and attend a local demonstration against the siege of Gaza. Make a donation to send medical supplies and other humanitarian relief to Gaza (; For those in the United States, call on the Obama administration to make his promise of “change” a reality by stopping the spending of U.S. tax dollars on bombs that kill Palestinians. For those in Canada, call on Harper to condemn Israel’s crimes against humanity and demand an immediate stop to the siege. Pressure both governments to urgently support the global movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel—a strategy that helped to end apartheid in South Africa 15 years ago ( To sign on to this statement, send an email with your name and city to: