December 1, 2023 • Web

World AIDS Day 2023

“The time when humanity can watch the genocide of a people without acting is again upon us,” writes Nadia Bou Ali in Parapraxis Magazine. “The genocide is happening with no restraint beyond resistance,” but it is the resistance from which humanity draws the strength to act. This World AIDS Day, we share an image with a slogan from an early ACT UP action. On January 22, 1991, AIDS activists stormed the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, chanting “Fight AIDS, not Arabs.” Five days earlier, the aerial bombing of Iraq in Operation Desert Storm had begun, which would lead to an estimated 300,000 Iraqi deaths. The activists drew a connection between the billion dollars a day spent on the war and the claimed lack of money to fund domestic AIDS programs. The next day was planned to be the Day of Desperation, where activists staged disruptions in all boroughs of New York City, culminating in a massive action in Grand Central Station, where a banner reading “MONEY FOR AIDS NOT FOR WAR” was raised with helium balloons to the ceiling.

Palestinians today live and die under aerial bombardment more concentrated and indiscriminate than ever unleashed over Iraq. In their appeal to the world not to let them die in silence we hear an echo of the ACT-UP slogan SILENCE=DEATH, and it is in the spirit of the AIDS movment’s commitment to solidarity in the face of death that activists today respond to the Israeli campaign of annihilation. Some, like Writers Against the War on Gaza, Within Our Lifetime, or Jewish Voice for Peace draw directly from the tactics ACT UP used to turn the tide against death. A massive die-in at Grand Central Station last month was billed as “the largest action of civil disobedience in NYC since the Iraq War.”

This year, as Palestinians too confront the face of genocide through medical abandonment, we are reminded that the fight against AIDS has always been an international fight against imperialism and war. We draw inspiration from the courageous history of people with AIDS fighting to save their own lives, whose organizations and forms of struggle we see resurrected in the present movement for international solidarity with the Palestinian resistance. Equally, we salute the Palestinian people in their struggle against Zionism and for a dignified life on their own land.