“With a heavy heart, we’re calling on the Los Angeles punk community to take a stand. Witnessing multiple war crimes committed and the day to day updates on the civilians lives lost due to the expense of battle. Kristine, Juju and Jezel are organizing a benefit to raise awareness on our attempts to cease fire, aid Palestinians refugees and children, and stop military aggression. There will be a Palestinian vocalist highlighted in the band Ingrad as well as multiple Palestinian speakers to raise awareness. Pamphlets and many other educational resources will be provided as well as our lovely vendors who will be donating as well. Anwars, a Palestinian owned restaurant will be vending. 100% of doors goes to ANERA who’s on the ground in Gaza now. This is a peaceful benefit, respect the space and Free Palestine.”
The first “Punks for Palestine” was manifested in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, November 5th, 2023. Punks for Palestine as an idea started off as a conversation between two friends, Abdullah El-Khatib from the band Inqirad, and Jezel Huapaya a.k.a. “Cheetah.” After seeing countless images of devastation in Palestine, especially videos of mothers and children suffering and being murdered, a fire was ignited within them. They talked in depth about all that they learned and saw happening to innocent Palestinians. They felt the need and desire to help, and realized they had a whole community of people around them. A punk community was nearby that has a spirit of questioning and dismantling the status quo, going against the grain, and being an anti-war movement.
Cheetah made contact with punks in the Los Angeles community, including Kristine from the band SOH, who ended up helping with organizing and securing the venue. Also, their friend Juju joined their forces to establish the event, and Cheetah’s friend Katie made the artwork for the Punks for Palestine flyers. They all worked together to get vendors as well. Over 20 vendors participated in the event, and many of them had raffled items for donation. There were also several speakers, including Abdullah, Zahid Khondaker, a Jewish individual named Meghan from the band Dame/Arret, individuals from Mexico, and educators from Brooklyn. It was an eclectic group of people.
The show was all quickly put together, as the pressure was high to take immediate action to help Palestinians. As such, the first flier had just the list of the vendors, and the second flier then added the bands. Even so, there was a large turnout of punks that attended. Through classic word of mouth, and vendors promoting the show, it helped the show become a success. They raised about $8000 from the show itself, and the vendor raffles. Donations continue to be raised by their efforts, as the community is sharing the donation link online. The $10,000 goal has been reached to give to American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA).
ANERA was chosen after diligent research, and seeing that they are quite active and working close to the Gaza strip. It was hoped that the humanitarian aid was close enough to Gaza to reach survivors. It was difficult to find an organization that was able to deliver aid to Palestinians in Gaza due to Israel’s blockade. Aid was delayed, but given at a later time.
Punks for Palestine spread all over social media with good reviews and feedback. Although, this included some individuals who were pro-Zionism that contacted Cheetah on social media, being hateful, while others voiced their excitement and gratitude around the show being put together. During the show, they made sure to have extra security to maintain it as a safe space, and luckily there were no conflicts that night. Since the first Punks for Palestine, several Punks for Palestine benefit shows have been put together in Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, and Nevada. In January 2024, punks are already putting on benefit shows for Palestine with different titles. Overall, Punks for Palestine has been inspiring many people, and it has been embraced by the punk community, and continues to show solidarity and support for Palestinian rights and liberation.
Cheetah, Juju, Kristine, and Abdullah