End U.S. support for Israel, demand justice for Palestine

Illustration by Jaida Noble

Democrats show their true colors as U.S. imperialists when they fund Israeli war crimes.

The liberal media were up in arms a few years ago when Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The move was widely condemned.

Unfortunately, there has been no such outcry as Biden continues this recognition by purposely maintaining the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The bipartisan support for Israel’s apartheid project continues regardless of which party is in power.

The Zionist project is a settler-colonial project based on ethnically cleansing the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea of the non-Jewish and indigenous population.

Ethnic cleansing is a fundamental aspect of creating a Jewish democracy, a contradiction in terms not unlike the Jim Crow “democracy” in this country’s past or the apartheid “democracy” of South Africa.

The expansion of settlements and annexations of land today are a continuation of the 1948 Nakba, translated to The Catastrophe. This was when Zionist paramilitary groups razed towns and villages, brutalizing the Palestinian population and displacing hundreds of thousands of the local inhabitants. 

This settler terror was similar to the horrors the U.S. military and settler militias perpetuated during Western Expansion. Zionist settler violence continues today as settlements are expanded. 

This violence includes setler violence like the seizing of Palestinian homes and brutal beatings of Palestinians but also formal state violence.

Israel’s use of an apartheid wall separating Palestinian communities, the use of checkpoints to control Palestinian movement, the lockdown of the Gaza Strip’s borders preventing the importing of food and medical supplies, and the regular military excursions into the Gaza Strip are all examples of state violence.

Israel should be understood as an apartheid regime with separate legal systems in the West Bank, unequal access to land ownership, unequal access to public roadways, and other systemic inequities. 

These tools of settler violence and systemic violence are used to make life miserable for Palestinians and encourage emigration.

The U.S. supports this project because such support is tied to strategic military hold in the region by proxy. Israel’s advanced air force is more significant than any base the U.S. could maintain in the region.  

What’s more, Israel is able to act when the U.S. is not.

For instance, as public opinion shifted to support the Egyptian revolution in 2011 against the U.S.-backed dictator, the U.S. government could no longer supply Egypt with crowd dispersal weapons like tear gas and rubber bullets while saving face. Instead, Israel was able to step in and fill this role of arming the notorious dictatorship.

It is important to discuss Israel, specifically, because of the central role U.S. support and funding play in allowing Israel’s crimes to persist. It is also important because of the central role Israel plays in the U.S.’s imperial plans and adventures. 

That is to say, if you’re an American caring about social justice, you should care about Palestine. 

Or as the Marxist journalist Hadas Thier wrote for Jacobin Magazine, “Sorry, you can’t be ‘progressive except Palestine’.”

And yet, our progressive representatives regularly fall short of expectations when it comes to this question, voting for budgets that include billions of dollars of military aid to Israel.

New York Congressman, Jamaal Bowman, is one such politician. 

With progressive credentials including membership in and endorsement by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), he still voted for general military aid as well as an extra billion dollars for Israel’s Iron Dome program before recently attending a propaganda tour of Israel which involved visiting Israel’s right-wing head of state.

This voting record and formal visit are in direct opposition to the calls to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Israel for its crimes against humanity. BDS is a campaign based on the international solidarity campaign that helped bring down South Africa’s apartheid regime.

BDS has been endorsed by every aspect of Palestinian civil society; it is the international support that the Palestinian people are calling for. The call for BDS involves three demands on Israel: end the occupation and the apartheid wall, provide full equality for Palestinians living in Israel, and allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands.

People are often discouraged from supporting the Palestinian cause because they feel they do not know enough about it. Professor Eve L. Ewing addressed this exact issue in a recent interview about solidarity between the U.S.’s Black freedom struggle and the Palestinian freedom struggle.

Ewing said, “This idea of, ‘You don’t know enough,’ is actually a strategic deployment that is intended to silence people and to move them away from what they know in their heart.”

Anyone who watched the bombing of Gaza and the killing of civilians and children this past spring knows enough to be opposed to Israel’s crimes. And it’s not difficult to learn more, pick up a book like Haymarket Books’ “Palestine: A Socialist Introduction” or attend a Palestine solidarity event to both support and to learn more.

Another major deterrent to supporting Palestine is the fallacy equating criticism of Israel with antisemitism pushed by groups like the Anti-Defamation League.

Antisemitism has no place in our struggles for liberation. It should be called out and pushed out every time we see it. But apartheid and Judaism are two different things.

Seattle teacher and activist, Emma Klein, helped pass a recent resolution in the Seattle Education Association in support of Palestinian liberation. 

In an interview with Tempest Magazine regarding that campaign, Klein explains, “Claiming that resistance is antisemitic is a tool that’s used to silence people, to frighten people, to make people feel like they can’t speak up. In fact, what Israel is doing has nothing to do with the Jewish faith, but the Israeli government is using Jewish identity to propel itself forward.”

Indeed, the resolution passed by the Seattle teacher’s union is a great example of how we can build support for the Palestinian cause. Building boycott or divestment campaigns in our universities or communities is another important part of the work. A final, daunting but crucial task is breaking the bipartisan consensus to support the apartheid state.

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