Black Lives Matter this week posted a tweet that connects US Blacks and Palestinians in one struggle: “Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians. We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation. (always have. And always will be).”
Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians. We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation. ( always have. And always will be ). #freepalestine
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) May 17, 2021
This linking of race and nationalism exposes both movements as inherently racist. The fact that Progressives in the US are flocking to this dark corner of political activism exposes them as being driven by the same unholy sentiments.
But on the outside, Progressive discourse on this latest round of violence prominently frames Israel as the white oppressor in a social justice conflict. According to this month’s issue of the Reut Group “Trend Detector,” titled “Shifting Democratic grounds on Israel – The recent round of violence and discourse dynamics on the U.S. political left.”
The author, Daphna Kaufman, explains that “Progressive prisms frame the logic and language of activity on the left in opposition to the Israeli side of the conflict. Specifically, this is evident in conflating the conflict with the struggle for Black lives in the US, and in challenging the very existence of a special US-Israel relationship; A robust progressive organizational infrastructure and prominent progressive policy voices play a central role in mainstreaming on the left and in the Democratic Party the progressive brand of activism in opposition to the Israeli side of the conflict; Increasing doubt and uncertainty about Israel’s future is reflected in the current progressive discourse, particularly among Jewish groups.”
Kaufman found that “the pro-Palestinian bloc of lawmakers respectively contextualized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians through their own respective lenses—ranging from their religious heritage, their experience encountering militarized policing and US military funding, to human rights abuses abroad.”
She cites Rep. Ayanna Presley (D- Mass) who drew direct parallels between white and police brutality against Blacks in the US and Israeli dynamics vis-a-vis the Palestinians. She notes NY-Dem Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s tweet that lumps together downtrodden African Americans with the Arab squatters of Sheikh Jarrah: “Enough of Black and brown bodies being brutalized and murdered, especially children. Enough of the inhumanity. The White House must act.”
And there’s Se. Bernie Sanders’ New York Times op-ed: “… we are seeing the rise of a new generation of activists … in American streets last summer in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. We see them in Israel. We see them in the Palestinian territories … We must recognize that Palestinian rights matter. Palestinian lives matter.”
Yes, it was only a matter of time before BLM became PLM (despite the difficulties most Arabs have in pronouncing the P sound).
Kaufman cites Marya Hannun’s report in Slate, How Black Lives Matter Changed the American Conversation About Israel and Palestine, where she says that “not only does the US government give billions of dollars in military aid to Israel each year, but US metropolitan police forces receive training in Israel. The same surveillance technologies and security contractors engaged to quell protests in the US are also used by the Israeli military.”
Yes, it was Israel that trained Minnesota cops to place their knees on the necks of Black suspects for ten minutes while said suspects are turning blue and expiring.
There’s a segment on discourse on Jewish support for Israel as complicity with racism, citing the report, Dozens of US rabbinical students sign letter calling for American Jews to hold Israel accountable for its human rights abuses.
Kaufman argues that “by imposing blanket categorizations, progressive discourse can fail to capture, or actively distort, the Jewish experience, including that its vulnerability tracks differently. This flattening of identity and context can result in a failure to distinguish the pillars underlying the U.S.-Israel relationship, or Israel’s unique circumstance within the region, in conducting engagement.”
Arguing that there emerges a mainstreaming of anti-Israel policy rhetoric on the Democratic left, Kaufman points to the Squad platform that attributes policy prominence to anti-Israel rhetoric, combined with pushback against support for Israel from powerful progressive voices. This connection links disapproval of the Israeli campaign in Gaza to demands to restrict US aid to Israel. Since recent events in Israel have exploded, discourse opposing Israeli actions has frequently connected the issue to aid restriction, she says.
The most worrisome outcome, says Kaufman, is the growing rift between the liberal segment of US Jews – which may be as big as 70% of Americans who self-identify as Jewish – and Israel. She cites an article by James Zogby on the recent success of pro-Palestinian advocacy, where he admits that “if it weren’t for young, Jewish progressives … we would be in a very different place right now.”
According to Zogby, “the emergence of a vocal and organized community of Jewish Israel critics, ranging from the moderate group J Street to more radical factions, like IfNotNow and Jewish Voices for Peace, has created space for Arab Americans and other non-Jews to criticize the Israeli government with less fear of being brand an anti-Semite.”
I recommend Shifting Democratic grounds on Israel – The recent round of violence and discourse dynamics on the U.S. political left. It’s a sober read, but Kaufman managed to compile a wealth of anecdotal evidence about a trend you have been terrified by for several years now.