CounterPunch / November 27, 2020
I never cease to be amazed at how people with an agenda will so quickly and easily see anti-Semitism everywhere they look. It has reached the point where anyone who dares accuse Israel of violations of international law and human rights is painted with the ugly brush of anti-Semitism.
Happily, however, the paint doesn’t stick as it once did. Gone are the days when one takes seriously the bizarre concept of the ‘self-hating Jew’, the Jewish man or woman who, for example, supports the human rights struggles of the Palestinian people and dares to speak out against the apartheid regime that Israel has become.
But what horrors the Zionists imagine when a Palestinian actually criticizes anything related to Israel ! And that is just what has happened with the appointment of Antony Blinken, a Jew, as secretary of state in the incoming administration of that self-proclaimed Zionist, Joe Biden. Michigan member of the House of Representatives Rashida Tlaib had this comment to make about Blinken:
“So long as he doesn’t suppress my First Amendment right to speak out against [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies. The Palestinian people deserve equality and justice.”
Many Zionists were outraged, and attempted to portray Tlaib as anti-Semitic. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom from various indignant sources:
* Dov Hikiknd, founder of Americans Against Antisemitism: “Biden names a Jew to his cabinet. What’s Rashida’s response ?! ‘Welp, as long as that Judische pick doesn’t stop me from focusing my hatred on one country, Israel, then he’s a good Jew!’ It’s not your 1A right you’re trying to protect but your vile Jew-hatred! That’s ALL yours !”
* Chad Felix Greene, and author: “You are absolutely free to be as antisemitic, racist, dishonest and hateful as you like, Rashida.”
* Naom Blum, associate editor of Tablet Magazine: “Would she have said this if the nominee weren’t Jewish?”
Allow this writer, if he may, to answer that last question: Yes. The reason is simple: Blinken has reiterated Biden’s policy towards Israel:
“Some of these issues came up in our primaries. Joe Biden has spoken out strongly and stood strongly against the BDS movement, which he has criticized in no uncertain terms. He’s also been very clear that he would not tie military assistance to Israel to things like annexation or other decisions by the Israeli government with which we might disagree.”
So where is Tlaib’s anti-Semitism in any of this? Blinken opposes the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement; many states have banned their citizens from boycotting Israel (a clear violation of the Constitution). Might not Tlaib have some legitimate concerns about Blinken perhaps suppressing her
“… First Amendment right to speak out against [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s racist and inhumane policies”?
When convenient, U.S. politicians wave the constitution about as if it were delivered to them personally by God, perhaps even before he gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. And like the tablet that Moses received, these elected officials only site the constitution when doing so supports some position they hold. Freedom of speech is all well and good, unless it is speech that criticizes the sacred cow of campaign contributions, with which pro-Israeli lobbies are most generous to those they think are deserving of their largess.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that boycotts are protected by the first amendment as long as their goal is not merely to inflict economic harm, but to influence political action. The political harm that the BDS movement has inflicted and continues to inflict on Israel is not the goal: it is simply the means to the goal of forcing Israel to recognize and respect international law and the rights of the Palestinian people.
This is not unprecedented. In 1959, the Boycott Movement against apartheid South Africa began. Spokesperson Julius Nyerere stated its purpose:
“We are not asking you, the British people, for anything special. We are just asking you to withdraw your support from apartheid by not buying South African goods.”
This movement gained great support in the United States, with Congress even overriding a presidential veto in 1986, banning the boycott.
The Israel government sees any criticism of it as a threat to its very existence, and elected and appointed officials in the United States rush to its defense every time. These same officials, and Blinken is included in this number, ignore the fact that with each new illegal settlement, Israel is not only threatening but actually destroying the existence of Palestine. This writer has long lamented the fact that Palestine has no rich, powerful lobby. Justice, international law and human rights are unimportant to these U.S. officials; in the hallowed halls of Congress, it is money that talks.
According to them, anyone who criticizes illegal settlements; indefinite detentions with no charges filed; land theft; extra-judicial killings; destruction of olive trees; regulations preventing Palestinian farmers from farming their own land; bombing of schools, United Nations refugee centers, mosques, hospitals and residential neighbourhoods; the arrest and incarceration of children; separate laws for Israelis and Palestinians; Israeli-only roads, etc. is doing so only because of hostility toward Jewish people.
Since it is likely that most of these officials, elected or appointed, are not incredibly stupid, one can only draw the reasonable conclusion that they have no interest in seeing the truth if it is blocked from view by campaign contributions and luxurious ‘fact-finding’ junkets to Israeli resorts.
Hopefully, Tlaib will not be silenced. Her voice, and that of any other officials who respect human rights and international law over political expediency, must continue to be heard. The Palestinian people live in a perpetual nightmare, thanks largely to the United States which supports and finances their oppression.
Conditions worsened greatly under the administration of Donald Trump, and will hardly improve much in the Biden administration; Blinken has been clear on the fact that the U.S. will continue to give Israel nearly $4 billion annually, despite its flagrant, ongoing human rights abuses. The more Tlaib and others like her stand up to this atrocity, the sooner it will end.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press)