Red Star: Defending the indefensible

Some have spent the last few years attempting to make solidarity with Palestine a crime. But any time a democracy bulldozes villages, unjustly imprisons teens and plans to deport refugees, one has a right to protest its actions.

Of course, you can bomb apartments, shell civilians and violate international law, but it’s all okay so long as you agree to train American cops in your techniques. War crimes disappear the second anyone retaliates.

The defense of Israel in America relies on three rhetorical tactics: accusations of anti-Semitism, assertions of Israel’s specialness and attacks on the character of Palestinians.

I’ll respond to the first tactic when I see a Tufts Zionist standing against the alt-right, instead of waving a flag at Muslim students.

The second claims Israel is a unique democracy in the Middle East. This is an imperialist lie that ignores the role America played in destroying Iranian, Iraqi and Egyptian democracy, as well as the role Israel and the United States played in destroying progressive movements throughout the Arab world. Were it not for American bombs, Saudi oil and Israeli tanks, democratic socialism might still be a viable option. Israel murders democracies, particularly in Palestine, where it helped create the Palestinian Authority to secure control of an economically inviable statelet. Palestine has served as a laboratory for military technology and a reservoir of migrant labor. Israel’s prosperity, like America’s or Apartheid South Africa’s or French Algeria’s, is based on an unconscionable combination of displacement, slaughter, exploitation and frothing nationalism.

Those who play the card of a unique Jewish state admit they find a closed-off society ruled for the benefit of one ethnic or religious group over and above the rest preferable to integrated democracy. Or they mumble about two states whilst allowing settlements that render two states impossible.

The other route, taken by Ben Shapiro, is to smear Palestinians living under siege. Before he was invited to speak at Tufts, Shapiro said, “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.”

Israel has blockaded Gaza for 10 years, limiting food, fuel and medical supplies. The blockade turned Gaza into an open-air prison under constant threat of bombardment. If someone forced you to drink water contaminated with feces, or shot off a third of your cousin’s skull, you might want to slap them too.

This is justified by a comically simple vision of history, that ignores the history between the Jewish-Roman Wars and 1945, then posits that the Mediterranean littoral — the origin point of cosmopolitan society — was an empty oasis ripe for the taking in 1948.

Outrage at Students for Justice in Palestine always rings hollow to me, especially when mouthed by progressives. BDS works. Solidarity works. If you are for Palestinian dignity you must also be against the reactionary government in control of Israel, and their neo-conservative and neo-Nazi allies in the United States. What also rings hollow are fear-mongering claims that we need to tolerate Israel’s crimes, because what if someday there’s a terror attack here?

There’s nothing anti-Semitic in demanding democratic rights and fair living conditions for the Palestinian people. Put me on the Canary Mission. It’s an honor.

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