On July 1st, Israeli lawmakers are hoping to realize their longstanding plan to annex large portions of the West Bank. They see the months before the 2020 US presidential election as the optimum time to move forward. If the Knesset enacts Netanyahu’s electioneering promise, it will be the first de jure annexation since 1967. The “international community” will be obliged to condemn the move, and some governments may impose a few sanctions, if only to appease domestic dissent. Formal annexation is indeed a dire threat, but, in reality, it is just one more red line for Israel to cross, after seventy-two years of ceaseless land grabbing that the UN has all but enabled. So, too, the recent warming of relations between Israel and the Gulf powers has made any significant dissent from Arab officialdom less likely.
Nonetheless, the looming prospect of annexation is a crossroads for the BDS movement. If it goes ahead, there will be no fig leaves left—the colonial settler project will be stripped bare. Liberal Zionists who claim to believe in the legitimacy of the Israeli state, but who oppose the expansionist project of Greater Israel, will have nothing left to cling to. The rhetoric of “solutions,” favored by the international political class, will fall on deaf ears, as more and more of their constituents realize that the most viable response on an international level is to boycott Israel. The vicious attack campaigns that have been launched against the BDS movement will lose some of their fuel.
What if the Israeli government pulls back from its threat? We would have learned that the appetite for formal expansion which set in after 1948 has intensified, and that it is only a matter of time before another attempt will be made. Joining the boycott movement is the first step for institutions and people of conscience in the U.S. and around the world in resisting this outcome. But we also need to stop U.S. lawmakers from supporting and funding Zionism in the same way that the mass protests for Black Lives Matter have coalesced around the demand to defund the police.
The BLM-inspired protests have focused on the U.S., but they have also shown us how imperialist and capitalist states cooperate in their enforcement of racism and white supremacy. The collaboration between Israel and the U.S. is a glaring example, and an urgent reminder that this is a moment to think internationally. Since its inception, the logic of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement against Israel has relied upon a strategy of defunding the Occupation as a means of delegitimizing Israel’s militarized apartheid state. As many people know, U.S. police officers routinely attend trainings by Israeli soldiers, from whom they learn ultraviolent “restraint techniques” like the knee-on-the-neck that killed George Floyd. This was true of the Minneapolis police department that has Floyd’s death on its hands, and is now under threat of being dismantled. Of course, U.S. police do not need to learn anti-Black racism and brutality from Israel; the history of policing in the U.S. is built on racist repressiob. However, these “deadly exchange” programs between police, immigration enforcement, the military, and special agent forces show how the U.S. and Israeli authorities are intimate collaborators in the brutally repressive business of racial profiling, shoot-to-kill, surveillance, detention, and deportation. To defund U.S. police and the Israeli military is to cut off the head and tail of the same snake.
Driving home the common links of repression, Floyd’s murder was twinned in many protests worldwide, by the slaying just a few days later of Iyad Hallaq, an autistic Palestinian student making his way to a special education school in Jerusalem’s Old City. Floyd and Hallaq would never have met but they were both victims of the same weaponized mentality of racial supremacy.
In 2015, more than 1,000 people of African descent signed a “Black Solidarity Statement With Palestine” which included the following:
Israel’s injustice and cruelty toward Palestinians is not limited to Gaza and its problem is not with any particular Palestinian party. The oppression of Palestinians extends throughout the occupied territories, within Israel’s 1948 borders, and into neighboring countries. The Israeli Occupation Forces continue to kill protesters—including children—conduct night raids on civilians, hold hundreds of people under indefinite detention, and demolish homes while expanding illegal Jewish-only settlements. Israeli politicians, including Benjamin Netanyahu, incite against Palestinian citizens within Israel’s recognized borders, where over 50 laws discriminate against non-Jewish people.
The statement called for an end to the $3 billion in U.S. aid which goes to fund Israel’s massive security apparatus, and endorsed the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel: http://www.blackforpalestine.com/read-the-statement.html. Since then, Congress has only increased its commitment to fund Israeli apartheid. Right now, in the midst of the most widespread protests against policing ever seen in the U.S., Congress is about to pass an unprecedented ten-year $38 billion package of military aid for Israel.
On the brink of Israel’s new annexation efforts, USACBI calls for a renewed commitment to the principles of BDS, and to Black-Palestinian solidarity. We call for the defunding and dismantling of U.S. police and simultaneously call for an end to U.S. funding of Israel’s apartheid system, and its ongoing illegal appropriation of Palestinian lands.
USACBI will announce future events and activities to confront annexation and build the movement for academic and cultural boycott. We also support the calls to action issued by Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network to protest and mobilize on July 1 and before..
Image credit: Joe Catron/Flickr