Mondoweiss / February 12, 2023
The news from Palestine grows more worrying by the day. Israel’s reactionary government promotes extreme advocates of Jewish supremacy and ethnic cleansing to positions of authority. Civilians are being killed on both sides– though far more Palestinians by Israeli forces.
Liberal Zionists in the U.S. are in crisis. They have long advocated for a “Jewish democracy” — and today the bitter fruits of that discriminatory system are plainer than ever. Palestinians live under a brutal military regime of oppression, as Shibley Telhami explained to a liberal Zionist group in Canada.
That was a kind of miracle, to see a Palestinian-American speaking of the Palestinian experience on a North American Jewish panel. The truth seemed to embarrass Israel advocate Michael Koplow, who acknowledged everything Telhami said about Israel’s crushing occupation, before trying to rationalize it by referring to Jewish history. Jews were long persecuted in Europe, Zionism was a natural response, Israeli Jews are convinced of the overriding need for Jewish safety and will never abandon the idea of a Jewish state.
So the violence will only end when all Palestinians are converted to Zionism. As anyone who has even glanced at colonial history knows, that will never happen. It is a Jim Crow ideology; it will never be acceptable to a subject people. It is a form of political narcissism to argue that Zionism serves anyone but Israeli Jews. Leaders in the Jewish community need to acknowledge this reality; and give up an ideology that undergirds apartheid.
The habitual response of the Democratic Party to the violence is to urge both sides to end the “cycle of violence,” as if both sides are equal. As if Palestinians are not the victims of heavily-armed soldiers and settlers.
This is a time for action. The challenge to liberal Jews– and other Democrats — in the U.S. is to honor our own history of expanding rights; and recognize that there will never be Jewish safety in Israel until all people in the land feel secure. When all people feel that they have rights.
The best answer to violence is the same movement that helped bring down apartheid in South Africa: BDS, or boycott, divestment and sanctions. Supporting BDS is something we can actually do to relieve the injustice.
Democrats support BDS by 3-to-1, according to one report, because it is based on tried-and-true activist principles. The more Americans (including liberal Zionists) who sign on to that campaign, the more real pressure will build on Israel and its supporters to change.
hilip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006