Democratic New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is visiting Israel as part of a congressional delegation that he is leading as these words are being written. Despite what is sure to be a busy schedule, Jeffries found the time to record a video that was posted on AIPAC’s Youtube channel. In it, he says that the congressional delegation is there to “reinforce our strong and ironclad commitment to the special relationship that exists between the United States and Israel.” He made sure to add that their presence there helps “reinforce “the commitment that we have to Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.” If the relationship is so strong, Mr. Jeffries, why the need for all these reinforcements? Perhaps someone is feeling a little insecure.
Psychological Underpinnings of American Politicians’ Support
Watching Jeffries’ video, one has to wonder what psychological disorder American politicians suffer from that no matter how racist and violent Israel becomes, they still feel a need to promise their undying loyalty to the apartheid state. Just how many more racist laws need to be passed through the Knesset? How many Palestinians need to be orphaned, killed, arrested, tortured and made homeless for American politicians to stop sending Israel billions of dollars every year? Is there such a number, or is this malady incurable?
This malady, it so happens, affects people of both parties and support for apartheid – which means funding it to the tune of billions of dollars each year – crosses almost every political divide.
A story in the Israeli daily, Haaretz from July 2023, reports that during an appearance by Robert Kennedy Jr. before a House Judiciary select subcommittee hearing, Robert Kennedy Jr. answered accusations of him being anti-Semitic. “I have spent my life fighting, my professional career fighting, for Israel, for the protection of Israel. I have a better record on Israel than anybody in this chamber today.”
Why is it that in 2023, this is an acceptable defense? Support for Israel should be cause for an accusation of supporting apartheid. The response to anti-Semites is tolerance. It is an investment in education for tolerance. When will the U.S. realize that defending Israel and the rights of Jewish people is not today, nor has it ever been, the same? Defending the rights of Jewish people requires education to reject racism across the board. Supporting Israel is supporting racism and violence. In other words, rejecting racism means rejecting anti-semitism and rejecting Zionism.
Still, in the U.S., the UK and Europe, wrapping oneself with the flag of Israel is a shield against accusations of anti-Semitism. It comes from the deeply ingrained yet false narrative that leads people to believe that Israel and Zionism are the same as Judaism. To conflate Zionism with Judaism is a serious mistake. The other side of that conflation, by the way, is to discount Jewish people who reject Zionism.
Are Americans not troubled that all candidates, no matter how progressive, refuse to be weaned off Israel?
Symptoms of a Pathology
One of the symptoms of the affliction mentioned earlier is that no more than a handful of elected officials in the U.S. dare criticize Israel. Those that do are cautious and hide behind the safe fig leaf of the “Two State Solution” and never challenge the legitimacy of the Zionist state. No elected official in the United States today calls for dismantling the apartheid state in favor of a free Palestine and a single democracy with full equal rights and one person, one vote.
Lying about Israel is completely acceptable. Indeed it seems to be a condition for anyone running for office. At a recent meeting in Washington, DC, Rep. Betty McCullom – who has been working tirelessly on a bill to protect Palestinian children from Israeli detention – kept repeating the mantra of Israel being a democracy. Like other more progressive politicians, she pretends that there is a “good Israel” and then there are the occupied territories where bad things happen. If Israel were a democracy, McCullom’s bill would not be necessary.
On July 30, 2023, the Israeli House of Representatives, the Knesset, passed legislation by which the penalty for a Jewish man who is found guilty of rape of a Jewish woman will receive half that of an Arab man who is found guilty of the same crime. The debate on Israeli democracy is absurd. It never was, never intended to be, and unless stopped, it will never be a democracy. Still, politicians in America seem to have a pathological need to call it a democracy and a “friend.”
A Troubling Trajectory
Another candidate that presents herself as a progressive is Marianne Williamson. At a small gathering in Washington, DC, I asked her about her take on the $3.8 billion question. “Well,” she replied, “Israel isn’t going anywhere.” Then she moved on to other, more pressing issues.
The truth is that Israel is going somewhere. It is, in fact, marching forward like Roman legions, destroying every inch of Palestine and doing it with complete disregard for the lives and the rights of Palestinians. With the help of the United States, it is also marching into countries worldwide that traditionally support Palestinian rights and eroding that support.
Even progressive candidates, who, by the way, have nothing to lose by telling the truth, refuse to discuss the fact that the $3.8 billion foreign aid package is a shot in the arm for a state that is wealthy, does not need foreign aid, and has been accused by Amnesty International of committing a crime against humanity. This pathology, this misguided affection for Israel that American politicians possess, is destroying the lives of Palestinians every single day.
Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News