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We Can’t Just Let Blinken Give Israeli Apartheid the US Stamp of Approval

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says “shared values” bind the U.S. and Israel. He must mean settler-colonialism.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference before a meeting with Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen on January 30, 2023, in Jerusalem, Israel.

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On his recent visit to Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the U.S.’s “ironclad” support for the Israeli state, which recently voted in the most fascist, anti-Palestinian, far right government in its history. In a stunning display of doublespeak, Blinken said:

Throughout the relationship between our countries, what we come back to time and again is that it is rooted both in shared interests and shared values. That includes our support for core democratic principles and institutions, including respect for human rights, the equal administration of justice for all, the equal rights of minority groups, the rule of law, free press, a robust civil society — and the vibrancy of Israel’s civil society has been on full display of late.

It does seem true that the relationship between Israel and U.S. is rooted in “shared values,” as Blinken suggests, but these values are more accurately described as settler-colonialism, displacement, oppression, ethnic cleansing, denial of Palestinian rights to freedom and equality, crimes of apartheid, land theft, evictions, home demolitions, checkpoints, building of settlements on confiscated land, harassment of Palestinians by armed settlers, a 15-year siege of Gaza, dehumanization, night raids of homes, imprisonment of children and annexation of the West Bank.

It is quite alarming to think that Israel’s systemic oppression of Palestinians and its denial of Palestinian rights is about to get even worse. The year 2022 had the highest death toll of Palestinians in the West Bank and the worst settler violence against civilians — even though it is a fraction of the number of Palestinians killed in the major Gaza assaults. In January of this year alone, the Israeli Defense Forces have murdered 36 Palestinians. Israel’s horrific massacre of 10 Palestinians in Jenin Refugee Camp on January 26, 2023, was the deadliest massacre in the West Bank since 2002.

In an op-ed in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, human rights lawyer Michael Sfard wrote that Israel’s new administration will be one that “does not conceal its intention to preserve and further entrench the apartheid tyranny over the Palestinians, while fully cultivating Jewish supremacy as a political and legal credo.”

But while there is talk about Israel’s current leadership being its most extremist government in history, there is an uncanny silence about its enablers, which carry a large share of the blame for Israel’s behavior: the United States, Europe and their mainstream media’s framing of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality that belittles the reality of Zionism as a settler colonial movement that advocates Jewish supremacy.

The U.S. Congress’s fear of criticizing the Israeli government makes it complicit in the ongoing suffering of Palestinians and the systematic segregation and discrimination of a population on the basis of race. International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the Jerusalem-based human rights nonprofit B’Tselem, and other groups have issued extensive reports that concluded that Israel practices apartheid. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Francesca Albanese, has come under vicious attack following her report highlighting Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid. Yet, our elected officials choose to ignore all this, including the International Criminal Court’s labeling of apartheid as “a crime against humanity.”

For far too long we have seen hypocrisy and double standards being utilized in defense of the Israeli apartheid state. It is outrageous and infuriating to see the U.S. government rushing to aid Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion by sending billions of dollars worth of sophisticated weapons, missiles and tanks, while in the same breath calling Palestinian resistance “terrorism” — regardless of whether it is a fully nonviolent protest or it relates to a desperate young man still grieving his grandfather killed by Israeli settlers who finds a gun and shoots at an illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

In January of this year alone, the Israeli Defense Forces have murdered 36 Palestinians.

While I remain vehemently opposed to violent resistance — I think it is ineffective and does more harm to people’s lives — it is important to note that international law guarantees the right of people living under a colonial occupying force to fight for their freedom.

The two-state solution promised to Palestinians in the Oslo Accords is no longer possible; the chances of a one-state solution with equal citizenship rights for everyone are even slimmer, since Zionists insist on keeping Israel a Jewish state with Jews-only democratic rights. Now many in the new extremist Israeli government are pushing for what I am calling the “out-of-state solution”: an attempt to transfer Palestinians — or keep oppressing them until they give up and leave — to neighboring Arab countries, dispossessing them of their homeland. But as a Palestinian, I know very deeply that Palestinians are determined to keep their struggle alive, so this too will ultimately fail.

It is hard for Palestinians not to feel helpless when they are subjected to these mega-injustices for so long. But they have shown tremendous resilience and are inspired by the collective support of people in the global community. Here at home, activists, local organizers, advocacy organizations and Palestine solidarity movement leaders must work together to resist the oppression and denial of Palestinian rights. And as the new government begins advancing its hard-line agenda, the international community must intervene to stop the normalization of Israeli state terrorism and daily killing of Palestinians.

Even at a time when Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank feel that the noose keeps squeezing tighter and tighter and they are running out of options, we must continue to support nonviolent resistance to Israeli oppression.

Even when our government tries to criminalize dissent, we must continue to advocate for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to show solidarity with Palestinians living under a brutal and vicious military occupation.

Even when our so-called “progressive” lawmakers don’t want to admit that the Palestinians are occupied and Israel is an apartheid state, we must continue to call them and demonstrate in front of their offices to put pressure on them to stop funding the Israeli killing machine and end the U.S. government’s complicity in Israel’s violence.

And even when our books are banned and hate mail fills our inboxes, we must continue to resist by writing and publishing books that amplify Palestinian voices and counteract Israel’s attempts at erasure of Palestinian culture.

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