The Mapping Project Stands with Palestinian Political Prisoners

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is republishing the following statement from the Mapping Project, a multi-generational collective of activists and organizers on the land of the Massachusett, Pawtucket, Naumkeag, and other tribal nations (Boston, Cambridge, and surrounding areas) who wanted to develop a deeper understanding of local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine and harms that they see as linked, such as policing, US imperialism, and displacement/ethnic cleansing. Read more about the Mapping Project here.

The Mapping Project Stands with Palestinian Political Prisoners

Political prisoners are the oxygen of all liberation movements.

They are political prisoners because they have exacted a meaningful cost on the oppressor and because they have worked tirelessly to materially decolonize the land and organize for liberation.

In Palestine, the primary genocidal force is the settler. Settlers, backed by the military, wage daily colonial war: theft of land, water, and resources, restriction of movement, restrictions on speech and political activity, and the murder of our people. As in all anti-colonial struggles, settlers and the soldiers who protect them must be confronted. And as with all colonial entities, self-defense, protection of community, and liberation of land are criminalized.

One of the tactics the zionist entity uses in its colonial war on Palestinians is so-called “administrative detention,” in which Palestinians are kidnapped from their homes, incarcerated, and held without charge or trial. These detentions can last years and can be renewed indefinitely.

On September 25th 2022 thirty Palestinian prisoners in “administrative detention” began an indefinite hunger strike. On October 9th twenty more prisoners joined them. On October 13th, these prisoners suspended their strike. In a statement issued by the Higher Emergency Committee of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, which includes all factions and political forces, the prisoners declared that “the strikers made their voices heard to all of the free people of the world. This latest strike, which lasted for 19 days, represents a cry of rejection and intifada in the face of the unjust administrative detention that steals lives as well as land and history.” In this statement, the prisoners also reaffirmed their commitment to boycotting the zionist courts at all levels.

We stand in solidarity with these Palestinian political prisoners and all Palestinian prisoners. They are our leaders and our teachers.

We, in the Mapping Project, have focused our work on analyzing the infrastructures of oppression where we live. In that spirit, we recognize that individuals and institutions in our region sustain and profit from the colonial infrastructure of administrative detention in Palestine, as well as the caging of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples on this continent, and as such bear responsibility for harm done to Palestinians and to all colonized and incarcerated peoples.

At Harvard University Law School, Alan Dershowitz is a professor emeritus. Besides engaging with and defending sex trafficking, Alan Dershowitz has made a career of justifying administrative detention and advocating for the force feeding of prisoners. Dershowitz also infamously argued that judges be empowered to issue warrants authorizing torture and has called for the destruction of entire Palestinian villages as collective punishment. Alan Dershowitz has done and continues to do such repulsive “work” as a Harvard professor — just one of many examples of how Harvard serves as a platform for honoring and amplifying the most egregious promotors of colonial violence and incarceration.

Hewlett Packard (HP), a company with corporate offices in downtown Boston, provides critical infrastructure to Israel’s prisons, facilitating Israel’s administrative detention of Palestinian political prisoners. Hewlett Packard and its connected companies have provided a variety of data management and computing services to Israel’s prison system since at least 2015. HP and its connected companies have also received a contract in 2017 (through 2023) to provide computing servers for Israel’s police who throw Palestinians into prison. HP and its connected companies have also previously provided “tracking” technologies to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and broad technological support to the California Department of Corrections’ “Offender Management System.”

Across the Charles River from HP’s Boston office, Israel’s largest private weapons developer Elbit Systems just opened a new office in Cambridge MA. Elbit Systems manufactures drones, large weapon systems, surveillance towers, ammunition, and other weapons and technologies, which facilitate Israel’s surveillance and incarceration of Palestinian people. Elbit’s weapons and technologies similarly facilitate the US government’s tracking and incarceration of Black and Brown migrants: US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a favorite customer of Elbit’s “Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT),” 80 to 160-foot tall structures equipped with cameras and radar systems capable of identifying migrants from as far as 7.5 miles away. As of September 2020, US CBP had 50 of Elbit’s Integrated Fixed Towers in operation along the US-Mexico border, which it utilizes in coordination with its fleet of Elbit Hermes 450 drones to track the movements of Black and Brown migrants in order to detain them.

Not far from Elbit’s new office is Microsoft’s “New England Research and Development Center,” also located in Cambridge MA. Microsoft equips the Israeli state, army, and police — each responsible for the incarceration of Palestinians — with an array of products and services so extensive that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once remarked “Microsoft is as much an Israeli company as an American company.” Like Elbit Systems, Microsoft also bears extensive culpability for racist criminalization and incarceration across Turtle Island, providing services to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US police forces. Microsoft also develops software products such as “Youth 360,” specifically for criminalizing youth.

Also in Cambridge is Google, which provides a variety of computing technologies to the zionist state, while investing in zionist companies and surveillance products. Google bought Waze for $1.1 billion in 2013. Waze is a navigation software that grew out of the IOF’s efforts to navigate Palestinian cities in order to attack and incarcerate Palestinians. Google’s recent Project Nimbus enables surveillance and data collection on Palestinians, which also contributes to arrest/detention of Palestinian people. On this continent, Google is closely connected to the US military, FBI, and CIA, and has been complicit in the NSA’s mass surveillance program. Google itself colonizes Palestinian land, on which it builds computing facilities and offices, and in our area too, Google is a colonizer. Google accumulates real estate and contributes to increasing rents and property values, which displace poor and working-class people, especially Black and Brown people and migrants.

Also in Cambridge is IBM. IBM has helped several racist regimes keep records, from the German Nazis to the South African apartheid regime. Today, IBM powers the zionist entity’s population registry, which it uses to issue racist ID cards and to implement a colonial “divide-and-conquer” strategy in which Palestinians are differentially oppressed based on where they reside (e.g., ’48 Palestinians who have Israeli passports versus Palestinians who don’t). Moreover, IBM’s population registry enables the zionist entity to organize demographic information on a large scale, in order to streamline the mass detention of Palestinians in its prisons: as reported by Samidoun, “At any given time, there are hundreds to 1,000 of Palestinian workers who are detained simply for being in another part of their own homeland, occupied Palestine, without the permits of the occupier. These Palestinian workers are not included in the counts of Palestinian political prisoners most frequently used — currently approximately 4,450 — because that number refers to those labled as security prisoners.” IBM also supports Israeli companies through its “Alpha Zone” initiative, which has supported 103 Israeli start-ups. One of these companies, DigitalOwl, collaborates with the Shabak, Israel’s secret police, through a Tel-Aviv University program meant to create relationships between start-up companies and Shabak. Since administrative detention is not reviewed by courts, Shabak’s “approval” is needed for Palestinian detainees to be released. This secret police force, which IBM-backed companies collaborate with, not only keeps Palestinian political prisoners in captivity but is also known to torture them. IBM also enables racist incarceration on this continent: IBM helped develop COPLINK, a platform used by US police departments to share and analyze records, which is regularly monitored by ICE agents. As many as 25 Massachusetts police departments automatically feed most of their data into COPLINK.

Local police departments – from Boston police to a variety of university police forces – are also trained by the zionist entity in methods of counterinsurgency and criminalization. The tools and justifications for detaining Palestinians end up being used on this continent, while local police forces share their methods of criminalization with the zionist state. These exchanges are arranged by zionist groups such as the Anti-Defamation League of New England.

These are but a fraction of the Boston area actors facilitating Israel’s incarceration of Palestinian political prisoners. We recognize that the entities that constitute the infrastructure of zionist policing, prisons, and repression are the same ones that support carceral systems here on this continent. These entities must be resisted and dismantled.

The Mapping Project stands with the heroic Palestinian resistance and supports the ongoing demand to free all Palestinian political prisoners. Let’s make our support for Palestinian political prisoners and those oppressed by carceral systems here more than just symbolic. Let’s organize ourselves to disrupt the actual work of these oppressor institutions, wherever they are.

Glory to the martyrs!
Free Palestine from the River to the Sea!
Free All Political Prisoners!