Reflecting on the War in Gaza - Little Tokyo Service Center

Reflecting on the War in Gaza

3/9/24

Something heavy has been on our minds. As we do our best to navigate it, we wanted to share a peek behind the curtain with you, our community and supporters, about our process and intentions. 

As a nonprofit in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, the war in Gaza has at times seemed a world away. But as a social justice organization rooted in the Japanese American experience, the conflict has also felt too close to home. Our statement in 2023 denounced the senseless loss of life abroad and the uptick in hate-based violence at home (which our Japanese American community knows all too well). We also encouraged folks to: “Speak up against hate. Learn more about the root causes of the conflict. Engage in meaningful and open-minded dialogue with your networks. Check on your loved ones.” And we took that to heart. 

Since we issued that statement last year, and as the war has continued escalating, we’ve done a lot of listening, learning, discussing and reflecting. Our internal DEI committee organized a documentary screening and discussion with staff around the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and testimonial stories from Gaza and the West Bank. They created open spaces for staff learning and discourse, and shared educational resources. Our Teen Group (a youth leadership group of teenage residents in our affordable housing) discussed the war at one of their meetings, using that safe space to have open dialogue, ask questions, and share feelings. Some of our staff participated in a learn-in organized by Nikkei Progressives, which brought in expert voices from Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestinian Youth Movement and Palestinian Feminist Collective. Our leadership at both the staff and board levels have discussed LTSC’s values and mission in relation to global events, and this war in particular. We’ve checked in with our values. We’ve checked in with ourselves. 

Our initial statement attempted to toe the line between not staying silent and not wanting to take up space on an issue that doesn’t directly impact our work. It’s where we were at the time. But as we’ve listened and learned, we’ve grown. We recognize the historic struggle of the Palestinian people, the overwhelming and ongoing humanitarian violations in the West Bank and Gaza, and the egregious failure of world powers to righteously intervene. We support those calling for an immediate ceasefire, free-flowing and unhindered humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the release of all hostages. We continue to stand against increased Islamophobic and antisemitic rhetoric and hate-based violence. 

As a social justice organization, we can’t only support policies that impact our direct work. The principles and values upon which our work is based and that motivate us to serve our mission, as well as the connections that these issues have to the people and communities we serve, are at the core of what our organization stands for. It’s our “why”. While we’re not experts on this particular issue, nor are we the right organization to work on this issue directly, we will always do our best to stand in solidarity with communities experiencing injustice, to create space for voices more expert than ours, and to be humbly transparent with our process to call folks in as we navigate uncertain terrain. 

We’re grateful for the space to learn and grow, and be in community with all of you. Here are a few things we’ve been listening to, watching, participating in and learning from, that might interest you too:

Read

 

Listen

 

Watch

Follow

 

Take Action

  • Call or email your members of Congress to demand a permanent ceasefire. 
  • Donate to the Palestinian Youth Movement: The Palestinian Youth Movement is a grassroots movement that organizes Palestinian youth in Palestine and in exile throughout the US and Canada.
  • Attend Mehfil LA’s Mehfil for Palestine event on April 13, 2024, an evening of South Asian arts and social justice in opposition to genocide.

Disclaimer: LTSC does not officially endorse any fundraisers, mutual aids, or campaigns.

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