The reaction of Zionists and Israel’s apologists to the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement, which has scored some significant victories in the last few years and is being felt by the colonial occupiers, is textbook and could have been predicted. As Gandhi said, first they ignore you, then they mock you, then they attack you and then you win. The movement has gone beyond the first two phases and is now in the critical third phase, which is when they attack you with everything they’ve got.
The University of California system, which includes ten campuses throughout California, under the presidency of Janet Napolitano, has been trying to adopt the US State Department definition of antisemitism, which equates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. President Obama’s Stare Department adopted the language in 2010, which characterizes any speech perceived to “demonize,” “delegitimize,” or set a “double standard for Israel”, as antisemitic. According to the State Department website, “blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions,” “multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations,” and “denying Israel the right to exist” all qualify as expressions of anti-Semitism. So, not only are Palestinians supposed to recognize their occupiers’ “right to exist”, which means their right to occupy, but now, we, US citizens, are also expected to recognize “Israel’s right to exist”. I suppose it may even be okay to question the US’ right to exist, but Israel’s is not okay! The position also, in a way, demands that organizations can’t focus “on Israel only for peace or human rights”. In other words, organizations that deal with “peace or human rights” must focus on Palestinians, too, for violation of Israelis’ human rights; otherwise, they’ll be labeled antisemite with possible future consequences.
Some have said that Israel is like the 51st state for the US. I disagree. I think it’s more than that. Millions of Americans living in all 50 states live in poverty, with no access to affordable healthcare, housing or education, which can’t be said about Israeli settlers. No US state acts as a reliable, permanent and statewide military base and as an arms depot dedicated to endless wars, occupations and regime changes throughout the Middle East, with a settler population that’s by necessity dedicated agents of imperialism and imperialist aggression and oppression.
But, the consciousness and awareness about the continuing genocide is on the rise throughout the world. Due to the student governing bodies’ resistance to the resolution presented to the UC Regents, which acts as its Board of Trustees, the resolution failed in October. Then, in November, Dick Blum, who is one of the regents and the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein, a rabid Zionist, threatened the regents that his wife “would engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university, if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties” for students who are found to be in violation of the new definition. Zionists would not go to such lengths if the boycott movement weren’t working.
While this was going on last month, the students’ governing body at UC-Santa Cruz voted to divest from companies doing business in occupied Palestine. This came at the heels of a series of other recent victories for the movement, including the decision by the European Union to label products imported from illegal settlements, built on land occupied in 1967. Although, that move is far from enough and is indirectly validating the occupation of the rest of Palestine, it is a positive step. Also, some stores in Europe have begun boycotting Israeli products on their own, due to pressure by their customers. These are all due to the BDS movement.
I hear sometimes from some individuals that boycotting doesn’t work. What these individuals are doing, wittingly or unwittingly, is deny and undermine an important tool available to oppressed people everywhere in their struggle for social justice and freedom. This is one of the ways the political establishment tries to discourage us from participating in the boycott movement. Trying to make people think they’re powerless and nothing they do will ever change anything is one of the old methods used by ruling classes and oligarchies. But, here’s the thing: if they’re concerned and worried, then it means it’s working. If they’re discussing and strategizing and threatening us, then it means it’s working. If they’re attacking and misrepresenting us and are trying to undermine and discredit us and the movement, then it means it’s working. Some say the same thing about the Black Lives Matter movement, that it’s useless and nothing will ever change, denying the gains of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, which used similar methods, including boycotting. The truth is: not only such grassroots movements and people’s direct actions do work and can make a difference, they’re the only way real change can be accomplished.
The other way that defenders of the apartheid regime try to dissuade us from joining the movement is by claiming that the boycott hurts the very people we’re trying to help, namely Palestinian workers who work for the businesses that we’re boycotting. This is the same criticism as that made by opponents of the abolition movement that claimed freeing the slaves working in the plantations in the South would hurt the slaves by taking away from them the livelihood that their masters were providing them with.
Some ultra leftists even argue foolishly (if we can call such nonsense an argument) that if Palestinian workers don’t work for colonial occupiers, they’ll have to work for their own bourgeoisie, so what’s the use, they ignorantly ask. These so-called “leftists” (who in practice end up on the side of the rightists) have no concept of a movement for national liberation and self-determination. Such movements don’t even exist in their vocabulary. What they don’t understand is that there can’t be socialism which they call for, without national liberation and self-determination.
The boycott is working and that should make us feel encouraged to double our efforts in support of the movement. Remember products that are made in Israel have a barcode that start with 729 and 871.
We’re hearing from Russisn government officials that the US isn’t fighting ISIS in Syria, despite their claims that they’re there to “destroy ISIS”. Well, that isn’t really telling us anything those of us who have been paying attention didn’t already know. Of course, the US wouldn’t bomb ISIS. The terrorists are paid mercenaries fighting against the Syrian government, which the US and its allies want to see overthrown. That makes them an ally, if not direct hired guns. That’s also why they won’t give the Russians the coordinates of ISIS positions so the Russians could bomb them.
When Russia realized the US wasn’t bombing ISIS and began doing it themselves, the Obama Administration complained that Russians were bombing Syrian “moderates”. So, the Russians said “okay you give us their positions and we’ll bomb them” which the US refused. Any 6 year old who hasn’t limited himself or herself to getting the news from CNN, Fox New, MSNBC or other American TV stations and major newspapers, can understand that the Administration is lying when they say they’re fighting ISIS. What they’re doing in Syria is what they did in Iraq and Libya: regime change. Remember that in 2012, Obama used a pretext for attacking Syria, similar to Bush and Cheney’s, when they decided to do regime change in Iraq, namely, that Syria possessed and was using chemical weapons against its people. They said Syria has crossed the US declared red line. And of course, it goes without saying that the US has the exclusive right to decide which government has crossed the US red line, where the line is, when it’s been crossed and what the punishment is. And as we now know, the punishment for a government for killing its own people is for the US to attack and kill even more of its people. And of course, this only applies to those that don’t follow US orders; otherwise, plenty of governments friendly to US kill their own people, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and many others. Saudi Arabia, which is a close US ally is also massacring people in Yemen, Turkey is killing Kurds and Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians. If killing one’s own people warranted bombing and committing regime change, the US itself should have been subjected to it a long time ago, unless Black Lives Matter activists are just imagining things.
When Obama’s pretext for attacking Syria didn’t work and seemed to invoke opposition, they began to more heavily depend on terror groups like ISIS and Al-Nusrah to do the job for them. Faced with a stalemate, over a year ago, the Administration told the American people that it was going to go in and bomb Syria, purportedly to defeat ISIS. But, as it turned out, their target was Syria’s infrastructure, power plants, water treatment facilities and government weapons depots. In the mean time, all that time, ISIS was extracting oil from their captured territories and selling to Turkey to finance their operations, right under the watchful eyes of the US. Major Western newspapers reported on this. When reporters asked US State Department about it in their briefing, they denied by saying Turkey wouldn’t do that because “they’re a NATO member and a trusted ally”.
When Russians finally intervened, the US began air dropping heavy weapons to “the moderates”, which is a code word for ISIS. The terror group now is in possession of US made TOW antitank weapons, which the US presumably gave to “the moderates”, even though their own spy agencies have said that there are no “moderates” among forces fighting the Syrian government.
Conclusion: the Obama Administration is lying to the American people. They’re not in Syria to fight ISIS terrorists. They’re there to do regime change with the help of the terror group, which elevates rather than diminish the threat of terrorism by destabilizing the region and creating conditions for even more instability, chaos, massacres, terror and wars. The American people must demand an immediate withdrawal of all US troops from the Middle East and an end to military interventions and endless wars and spend the money at home to create jobs, repair infrastructure, provide universal free healthcare and education to all.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the US presidential election campaigns and debates that are supposed to be a reflection of democracy and free competition of ideas for policy are a joke. Hidden behind all the rivalry, rhetoric, fear mongering, promises, lies and cheap nonsensical tough talk is the reality of a military and corporate empire owned and controlled by a super wealthy oligarchy that has complete control over policies, plans and priorities. What we witnessed during the latest so-called debate between Republican candidates, which CNN presented like a boxing match, complete with the lights and sounds and the singing of the national anthem and calling the names of the contestants as they entered the ring, was a display of ignorance and stupidity. Boxing contestants actually make more sense than them. Some want to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Some want to start a war with Russia. Some connect Iran to ISIS, ignoring the fact that Iran is one of ISIS’ main enemies. And some just talk nonsense.
Back in 2008 and 2009, when liberals were enthused about Obama’s candidacy and subsequent victory, many were boasting of his intellect and smarts. I remember reading an article in Mother Jones in early 2009, where the author thought Obama was so smart that he was beyond criticism because whatever the criticism, he would turn out to be right and the critic wrong, since he was “the smartest person in the room”, as the author put it (liberals can beat conservatives at ridiculousness any day of the week). When I wrote “I don’t want a ‘smart’ president”, someone asked in puzzlement if I wanted a dumb president, completely missing the point that the president is the leader of the empire and a smart leader means a more efficient and a more lethal empire and more efficient wars and mass murder by the empire.
Now, liberals are screaming about the egomaniac, narcissistic, racist and misogynic Donald Trump and to ensure his defeat, are asking people to vote for Hillary Clinton, who admittedly is no idiot, which is not good news to millions of people here and abroad. Trump will most likely be undermined, discredited and tossed aside eventually by the ruling class and their political establishment in Washington because they don’t deem him qualified to lead the empire – unless they can groom and train him, which doesn’t seem very likely.
Trump isn’t necessarily the most right wing, reactionary or even the most racist candidate, though he probably is the least informed about the needs and requirements of the empire. What makes him different from other right wing and reactionary candidates like Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio is that he openly puts his bigotry on display, whereas other racists like Clinton or Rubio or Cruz don’t. His supporters love it when he says he doesn’t “have time for political correctness”, not just because of his openness, but also the fact that he’s breaking with the tradition of hiding one’s racism and making it okay to be openly racist.
But, that’s what the ruling class isn’t ready for. Not that it thinks or feels differently, but it doesn’t think it’s the right time for it. Fascism is always ready to raise its ugly head in capitalist societies, but the timing has to be right and right now it isn’t. I know some will disagree with that and point out the level of police brutality against Blacks, the massive surveillance, the mass incarceration and militarization of the police, among others, as signs of fascism, but I don’t think we’re there, yet.
In any case, Trump may be the face of coming fascism, but his open racism could at the moment be a liability rather than an asset for the ruling class. Clinton on the other hand, is more prudent and more reliable to be the leader of the empire and has proven to be a loyal servant of big Wall Street money, imperialism and imperialist wars. Clinton’s prudence and smarts is an asset for the ruling oligarchy that she wants to serve, as was Obama’s, which the class noticed and vetted and helped him get elected. What the liberal author of the article in Mother Jones forgot is that if the leader of people’s enemy is smart, it’s good for them, but not for people. And this is the problem with liberals: they have no concept or understanding of classes and class interests.
Sanders, likewise can be trusted to be the leader of the empire, especially since he can have a pacifying effect on liberals, while supporting imperialist wars and imperialist allies and giving the impression that he cares and might actually try to alleviate people’s suffering, as was the case with Obama. But the ruling oligarchy doesn’t feel at the present time that they need him for pacification purposes. The level of discontent isn’t at a level that would make him essential.
The class of billionaires are still weighing and considering their options, but Clinton is looking more and more like their best choice. Considering these facts, anyone who considers himself or herself progressive and still supports Clinton is either a liar or completely detached from reality. Real change will only come from the streets, whether it’s by Black Lives Matter or Occupy Wall Street or a joint movement by both.
When Rep. Steve King, Republican from Iowa, who supports Ted Cruz for president, was asked by Chris Hays of MSNBC last Wednesday what he thought of Trump’s idea to ban all Muslims from entering the US, he said it has opened a needed debate that wouldn’t have happened if Trump hadn’t suggested it, implying that it’s a good debate to have. When Mr. Hays asked why he wouldn’t say the same about Christians when they commit mass murder and acts of terror, he replied that those aren’t “real Christians”, to which Mr. Hays correctly responded that that’s what Muslims say about Muslim terrorists, that they’re not real Muslims, to which Mr. King replied that the difference is that Islam advocates violence, whereas Christianity doesn’t.
But, the truth is that those who commit mass murder actually are real Muslims and real Christians, as well as those who say the mass murderers aren’t real Muslims or Christians because it’s not about religion; it’s not what either religion advocates or teaches or doesn’t, but what people do, whether in the name of religion or not. If people’s actions defined their religion, Christianity would be by far the most violent, the most tyrannical and the most oppressive religion, responsible for millions of violent deaths throughout human history. Both religions advocate peace, as well as violence; they both contain teachings of kindness and humanity, as well as reaction and intolerance. It’s rather ironic to talk about the virtues of Christianity compared to Islam, while supporting discrimination against Muslims.
Religion is an excuse for bigots’ intolerance and discrimination, whether it’s by liberal bigots like Bill Maher or Sam Harris or Republicans, just as it is an excuse for violence by reactionary and murderous groups like ISIS. Violent gangs will take advantage of opportunities to commit murder for their agenda and bigots will always find a reason to discriminate. If it’s not religion, it’ll be something else, like race or national origin or ethnic background. It’s not Islam that’s responsible for the creation or actions of ISIS, any more than Judaism is for the ongoing genocide against Palestinians or Christianity for the violence and mass murder imposed on tens of millions of people around the world by supposedly Christian nations.
Groups like ISIS rise up during social and political chaos, turmoil and lawlessness and take advantage of a lack of central authority and during vacuum in or lack of governance or during a failed state, much, if not all of it, brought on in the region by the US and its NATO allies, such as in Iraq, Libya and now Syria. To suggest that Islam, or worse Muslims in general, are responsible for the current terrorism in the region, the vast majority of whom happen to be Muslims, is to turn the facts upside down and disregard reason and logic. It’s no secret by now that the US and its allies were the ones who armed, funded and trained Islamist fighters and mercenaries, including the very ISIL or ISIS that Obama says he wants to “destroy”, in order to help topple the Syrian government.
Nor is this the first of its kind. The US did this before in 1980’s in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, with the aid of Pakistan. And, it’s now using Turkey in Syria and against Russia. Turkey, a close US ally and NATO member not only has been actively supporting and arming ISIS, it’s also been buying oil the terror organization steals from Iraq and Syria, which helps fund its terrorist activities.
Liberals like Chris Hays might from time to time speak out against attacks on Muslims that has increased significantly of late, but as long as they refuse to hold the US and its allies responsible for the chaos, violence, destabilization and terror, their argument remains weak and ineffective. What’s needed is the understanding among the American public that the problem and the real source of violence and terror in the world is no other than the US government.
Let’s get something straight here about Ronald Johnson’s murder by Chicago police officer, George Hernandez and the Cook County state’s prosecutor’s refusal to charge the officer with murder: the prosecutor is not there and was not hired to charge police officers with murder and lock them up. Her job is to put away young black men and women because those are the ones that the wealthy white ruling class deems dangerous and is afraid of. The police are their protectors, defenders and servants because they’re the ones who hire and train them and pay their salaries. When shit hits the fan and people are on the streets, it’s the police that will be tasked with wiping the shit off the fan, not the rioters and not the poor. They’re their hired hitmen, their mercenaries, their gangster thugs, assassins and their soldiers, in the true sense of the word. When US troops execute unarmed and defenseless people who are considered the “enemy” in foreign countries, do they get charged, prosecuted and sentenced? Of course not. Doesn’t that show that not every life is valuable to them? Didn’t Ferguson police emails that were obtained and revealed after the murder of Michael Brown refer to people as “the enemy”? Doesn’t that tell us everything we need to know? The ruling wealthy class treats inner city minorities and the poor in general, just as they treat oppressed people they occupy overseas. In fact, the inner city police in the US looks and behaves much like an occupying force. The ruling white supremacist oligarchy doesn’t make a distinction between the American poor and Iraqi or Syrian oppressed populations. They will and do kill just the same.
It’s not that capitalism doesn’t want to value human life. It just can’t. it’s not because of this or that state prosecutor or mayor or police chief, but because a society divided so sharply between rich and poor will by necessity and by nature be repressive towards the poor and the minorities. Decades of racial profiling, killing in cold blood, often followed by planting a gun or drugs on the corpse of the victim and mass incarceration didn’t happen for no reason, by accident or due to the misguided and draconian policies of a particular administration. The repression, especially of Blacks, is built into the very fabric of the corrupt and oppressive capitalist system.
What would happen if every police officer, who shoots a black man in the back and kills him, ends up in jail? Won’t that make it harder for city officials, who are supposed to keep the city running for the ruling class, to hire new cops and send them into working class neighborhoods to maintain order? One of the “perks” of being a soldier or hitman for the capitalist class is the sense of power and ego and the feeling of being untouchable and the ability to target practice on live walking, breathing people. The joy of it is especially more when they’re black and running away. Officer Jason Van Dyke of Chicago police fired 13 additional bullets at 17 year old Laquan McDonald, while he was already on the ground and motionless, as if he was target practicing on a watermelon!
City officials had seen that video. They knew it was a cold blooded murder, but still kept it a secret and kept the killer on city payroll until a journalist could afford to go to court and ask a judge to order the tape released. Only then, after over 13 months, on the day of the video being released, did the City decide to charge the officer with murder. That video was clearer and the murder harder to justify compared to the case of Ronald Johnson, whose hand couldn’t be seen clearly. And, if you can’t see it clearly, then the conclusion is clear: he must have had a gun!
So, you see, they have to pick only the most egregious and most obvious ones to prosecute, and only when the truth comes out and they can’t cover it up anymore. What would happen if the State’s County prosecutor started charging these thugs with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, battery, theft, filing of false police report, etc., which far too many of them commit and are never punished for? The poor and the oppressed minorities would love her for it, but those aren’t the people who matter; they’re not the ones with the political clout and power and billions of dollars to protect.
“No criminal charges should be filed”, said Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s prosecutor, “because the crime cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt”. Remember that it’s supposed to be up to a court and the jury to decide if the officer can or cannot be proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”, not the prosecutor. Her job is not to judge if the guilt is “beyond reasonable doubt”. If the tables were turned and Ronald Johnson had shot and killed the officer, instead, would she still refuse to charge him with murder because “it couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt”?
The video clearly shows Ronald Johnson getting out of his car and running away from police officers, who could be seen in the video, when one of them shot him 5 times in the back and killed him. But, what the Prosecutor has said is that he was running towards the park and towards two other officers who were at the other end of the park, who supposedly could be in danger! So, they shot and killed him before he could have run through the length of the park and shot the two officers who were standing there! She also said that the police later found a gun near where he was killed, although the video shows nothing in his hand, while he was running away. But, he had to have had a gun because if he didn’t, it would have been hard to justify shooting him in the back, while he was running away from them? The need for the authorities to have him with a gun means he had a gun.
You see, if nothing can be seen in the hand of a man who’s fleeing from police, it must be that the video is low quality and grainy. Besides, it’s not the job of the police, who shoot and kill people, to prove they had a gun. It’s up to their family to prove that he didn’t. They teach in law school that you can’t prove a negative, but they won’t let those minor and inconvenient details get in their way. Iraq was invaded and over a million of its people were killed because their leader couldn’t prove that they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. It wasn’t up to US authorities to prove that they did. And after an entire nation was destroyed on false premises and lies, no one was ever brought to justice. Lives don’t matter to the white wealthy ruling class, especially the black and brown type.
Let’s face it: the police regularly and routinely and as a matter of unwritten and unspoken policy, shoot and kill people who run away, despite Supreme Court ruling that deems it illegal. But, the law itself is nothing but scribbles on a piece of paper. Real policy is what real rulers with real power find beneficial, convenient or necessary for their interests to follow, whatever the law says. It’s also supposed to be up to Congress to decide to go to war with another country and protesters are supposed to have the right to protest without being harassed, beaten and arrested and people are supposed to have a right to privacy, including private communication. At the end of the day, the law in a capitalist society is really for the voiceless and powerless to follow, not for the powerful. We all know what happened to bankers who defrauded investors and homeowners which caused an economic turmoil and recession: they received large bonuses!
City officials in Chicago said in court filings that releasing video of the incident could jeopardize the officer’s right to a fair trial, if he were to be charged, which he wasn’t, anyway. If they were so sure the killing was justified, why hide it for 14 months? But, that’s understandable. Releasing the video would indeed be unfair to the officer because people would find out about it and would demand to know why he wasn’t charged. It would have also been unfair to the City officials, who would be exposed as lying hypocrites and racist scums, to use the proper psychological and sociological terms. City officials, in general, including the police department, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and State Prosecutor, Anita Alvarez are nothing but despicable racist scumbags, who have nothing but contempt and hatred for the poor and people of color. That can be “proven beyond reasonable doubt”.
Despite many credible reports, including by major news organizations in the West, that Turkey has been buying oil from ISIS, which the latter takes from territories they have captured in Syria and Iraq, which helps them fund their terrorist activities, the US State Department denied the allegation in their press briefing on December 2nd. Deputy Spokesperson, Mark Toner, expressed confidence that it’s not true and said that “Turkey is a NATO member and a trusted ally”, even after a questioner held up Russian satellite photos showing hundreds of trucks entering Turkey from Syria unhindered, which really means “we don’t care” because “Turkey is a NATO member and a trusted ally”. He said about the satellite photos: “I just don’t know what to make of them. I’ve heard secondhand that they don’t show much”, and added that “we have our own way of getting” such information, and went on to accuse the Syrian government of not fighting ISIS and only fighting the “moderates”, even though ISIS is the most potent and most effective of the so-called “opposition”, who are trying to overthrow the secular government and establish their own Islamic caliphate and despite the fact that the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has said that “there are no moderates amongst the opposition”. And, never mind that they can’t even be called “opposition” because they’re mostly made up of foreign mercenary fighters. The lies and shamelessness has truly reached new levels.
Speaking of trusted allies, if you tell them that Saudi Arabia funds Islamic terrorists to spread their backward, extreme, violent and fundamentalist view of Islam or that they publicly behead women who get raped for the “crime” of being the victim of a rape, what do you think they’ll say? That Saudi Arabia “is a trusted ally”. It’s fair to ask what really is the difference between Saudi Arabia, which is a brutal and reactionary Islamic fundamentalist caliphate and ISIS or ISIL that’s trying to create one in Iraq and Syria? The difference is that Saudi Arabia is formally and openly “an ally”, which means it acts in the interests of US imperialism, whereas ISIS is not openly and formally an ally – not yet anyway – although they have no problem arming and training them, or terrorists like them, to overthrow governments that aren’t considered “a trusted ally” and don’t act in the interests of US imperialism.
The purchase of oil from ISIS terrorists by Turkey at half the market price became public lately, whereas these and other terror groups, including Al-Nusra, have been getting arms and ammunition, including heavy weapons, in Turkey and slipping into Syria to fight the government to create their Islamic caliphate for 5 years, with the complicity, support and help of the US and its allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. This was reported even by New York Times on June 11, 2014, when they wrote that the CIA was reportedly helping arm the “rebels” at Turkish-Syrian border.
Does anyone really think that if the Syrian government was an ally like Turkey or Saudi Arabia or Israel, they’d give a hoot about how severely they cracked down on their so-called “opposition”? Are they ever going to make a big deal about Turkey’s arrest and jailing of their journalists, or Saudi Arabia’s beheading of their political opponents or even about beheading of women who dare to get raped, not to mention Israel’s ethnic cleansing and war crimes? So, I don’t understand why liberals still want to support such a government by supporting Hillary or Bernie or Obama, instead of trying to expose them as the enemy of people everywhere. Do they really expect THIS government that has absolutely no principles or humanity or decency and all it cares about is to expand and protect the interests of multinational corporations and their billionaire shareholders at any cost, to do the right thing for its own people, such as about police brutality or poverty or homelessness or lack of access to healthcare or backbreaking debts or mass incarceration, etc?
It’s very disappointing that even the most progressive and anti-imperialist voices who dare speak the truth in this country, surrender and cave under Zionist pressure and blacklisting. Shortly after Chris Hedges wrote an insightful piece in Truthdig (December 15, 2014), in which he correctly likened ISIS to Israel, he got disinvited to a talk on Israel and Palestine that he had been invited to speak in the following April at University of Pennsylvania, and consequently and regrettably backtracked from his earlier position and made the following clarification (Truthdig, December 21, 2014):
“I oppose violence by either party. I have condemned Hamas rocket attacks as war crimes. And I support Israel’s right to exist within the pre-1967 borders.”
Here’s what he had originally written:
“Its [ISIS’] quest for an ethnically pure Sunni state mirrors the quest for a Jewish state eventually carved out of Palestine in 1948. Its tactics are much like those of the Jewish guerrillas who used violence, terrorism, foreign fighters, clandestine arms shipments and foreign money, along with horrific ethnic cleansing and the massacre of hundreds of Arab civilians, to create Israel. Antagonistic ISIS and Israeli states, infected by religious fundamentalism, would be irreconcilable neighbors. This is a recipe for apocalyptic warfare. We provided the ingredients”.
Israel was founded as a colonial settler state on racism and ethnic cleansing, using mass murder and terror. It was carved out of an existing nation with its own mixed population of Arabs, Jews, Armenians and others, to be the exclusive state for a particular people who were a minority in a country of majority of Arabs, based on biblical claims that the land “belonged” to Jews and therefore it had to be cleansed of non-Jews to create a “Jewish state”. Aside from the absurdity of claiming a stretch of land where people live as “belonging” to a particular ethnic or religious group to come and settle from around the world, at the exclusion of others, any such endeavor based on ethnic cleansing and a racist ideology will inevitably lead to countless mass murders, displacements, atrocities and genocide. There is no justification for such a racist project on any grounds. Such a colonial settler state built on mass murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide does not have the right to exist. What has the right to exist and must eventually exist after dismantling the racist and apartheid state of Israel is a democratic and secular state for all people of the land, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or race.
To say that Israel has the right to exist after you correctly liken it to the Islamic State that ISIS is trying to build is like saying the latter has the right to establish its own Islamic Caliphate, on the ruins of Syria and Iraq, after massacring thousands of people and making millions refugees who rightly oppose their genocidal project based on the terrorists’ religious beliefs.
To say that Israel has the right to exist is like saying Israel, as an exclusive “Jewish state”, has the right to exist, which leaves out the non-Jews which then legitimizes apartheid and ethnic cleansing because that’s what’s entailed in the idea of a state for only one particular people. By definition, a “Jewish state” isn’t and can’t be also for other inhabitants of the land. The home demolitions, evictions, displacements, stealing of the land and building settlements, along with the resistance that such injustices engender and the consequent crackdowns and killings are all natural byproducts of such a colonial settler and apartheid state.
To say that Israel has the right to exist is to say that the Palestinians who have been made refugees since 1948 don’t have the right to return to their homes and live as equals of other citizens. The whole concept of the state of Israel is built on denying Palestinians and other non-Jews their basic and human rights.
To say that you’re only opposed to the lands occupied after 1967 and not before, is to arbitrarily distinguish between one part of the Zionist project and occupation from others. Occupation is occupation. What difference does it make which occupation was done when? Do those Palestinians who were driven from their homes into refugee camps in 1948 have less rights to live on their ancestral lands than those driven from their homes after 1967?
To say that Hamas firing their primitive and ineffectual rockets into Israel is also a “war crime” is to equate them with the Israeli occupiers and obfuscate the issue of occupation, ethnic cleansing and genocide the Zionist state is subjecting the defenseless Palestinian people to, which would naturally lead to resistance in whatever shape the victimized people know how and can conjure.
My question to Mr. Hedges is: if you were going to say in your talk at University of Pennsylvania that you condemn violence by both sides and that Hamas too committed war crimes and that Israel has the right to exist along with the promise of an unfeasible and impractical and “demilitarized” “state” over some disjointed pieces of land surrounded by and dependent on Israel, with those Palestinians who are left within the borders of Israel not having equal rights with Jews and refugees not having the Right of Return, what would distinguish you as a progressive and as a socialist and anti-imperialist from those who say the same things in mainstream US media? And how are your positions now that you’ve clarified them different from even the US State Department?