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Liberty and Justice? US Support for Israeli Apartheid

There must be a push to divest “from companies that profit from violent, oppressive, and discriminatory practices.”

The American pledge of allegiance professes that the United States will uphold liberty and justice for all. As the imperial actions of the United States show, this is clearly not the case. Noam Chomsky has been covering this perspective for years, but the late veteran journalist Helen Thomas, part Lebanese, is also fierce in her criticism. She infamously said Israel should get out of Palestine. In an interview with Democracy Now! she told Amy Goodman that President Bush was “arming Israel against the Palestinians in every way in Gaza” and that she can’t understand “how the US can provide F-16s, gunships, Apache gunships, phosphorus, possibly phosphorus, and cluster bombs and so forth to kill helpless people, children who are starving to death. They control the checkpoints. They control the arrivals and departures, supplies and people. And the Americans…remained silent to that suffering. He [President Bush] has blocked by a veto at the UN any stoppage of the warfare, and he continues to supply Israel.” In a later interview with The Real News Network, she noted that this horrid policy had continued, noting that “the Palestinians are dubbed as terrorists and all the Muslims are terrorists. I mean, this is so unfair.” From here it is important to understand how US taxpayer money is funding the occupation of Palestine, and what can be done to stop it.

There is a shocking level of US support for the brutal occupation. American organizations, as noted by Adri Nieuwhof of The Electronic Intifada, “transferred about $274 million to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza between 2002 and 2009.” End The Occupation has an even more direct figure: $30 billion dollars. This is the amount of military aid the United States government gives to Israel, which it uses to maintain its illegal “military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip [while also] misus[ing]…U.S. weapons in violation of U.S. law to kill and injure Palestinian civilians, destroy Palestinian civilian infrastructure, blockade the Gaza Strip, and build illegal settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem.” Between 20002009, according to their number crunching, the US “licensed, paid for, and delivered more than 670,903,390 weapons and related equipment to Israel” which were used to kill over 2,000 Palestinians.

Freelance journalist Ben White uses a word that Israeli apologists, Zionists, would hate to hear: apartheid. White writes in The National, thatin South Africa, there is the memory of Israel’s historic relationship with the apartheid regime…Israel’s “collaboration with the racist regime of South Africa” was condemned in the UN’s General Assembly…what has really struck many in South Africa, and elsewhere, are the similarities between the historical apartheid system, and Israel’s current policies towards the Palestinians. The common element of both systems is the consolidation and enforcement of dispossession, securing control of and access to land and natural resources for one group at the expense of another. Yet there are also important differences…Though there are numerous examples of de facto segregation and institutionalised discrimination within pre-1967 Israel, the apartheid comparison really began to take hold as Israel expanded its colonisation and control of the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip…Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, which in 2017 will have lasted for half a century, has evolved into a complex system of control and exclusion, with Jewish settlers living among non-citizen Palestinians whose freedom to live in their own land is managed by a bureaucratic apartheid system of “permits” and physical obstacles and barriers.” Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, UN Human Rights Rapporteur John Dugard, and many others also declare the situation an apartheid.

There must be a recognition of what has to be done next. For one, there must be a push to divest “from companies that profit from violent, oppressive, and discriminatory practices,” as End to Occupation puts it. This would be a push for investors to “withdrawal their stocks and funds from corporations complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights [while] individual consumers are called on to show their opposition to Israel’s violations by participating in a consumer boycott of Israeli companies, goods and services or of international companies involved in Israeli policies.” This is part of the broader Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign. We must work in our communities, online and offline, to support the BDS campaign to help end Israeli apartheid, while also pushing electorally to stop Zionists, like capitalist reformer Elizabeth Warren, from getting into power.