Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015. (Photo: Caleb Smith/Flickr)
The cover of respectability that obscured the brutal and immoral reality of the Israeli colonial project may have been permanently ripped away by Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry declaration that if re-elected, there would never be a Palestinian state and his racist rant on election day against his own citizens who happen to be Palestinians.
Many people in the U.S. and Western Europe were shocked by Netanyahu’s comments. However, for those of us who are aware of the platform of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, the only thing that was surprising was his candor. The rejection of a viable Palestinian state has always been Likud’s position, a position well known in Israel and the basis of Likud’s appeal, but rarely acknowledged and never discussed in the U.S. corporate media.
But it is not just the Likud Party - there has never been a serious commitment to a two-state solution from any of the mainstream Israeli parties, including the newly-constructed Zionist Union.
The two-state solution was always an illusion. From the beginning, it was a right-wing political diversion meant to confuse and fragment the international community and undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle for one, democratic, secular state for all of the people who live in the territory. Even after the Palestinian leadership adopted the two-state position in 1988 that then served as a framework for the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israeli leaders never seriously moved to finalize the process.
According to Ali Abunimah, editor of the Electronic Intifada website and public proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, what distinguishes the Netanyahu victory from the scenario that would have likely unfolded if the liberal Zionists from the ZU had won, is that Netanyahu’s win strips away the opportunities for the so-called "international community" to continue hiding "its complicity with Israel’s ugly crimes behind a charade of a 'peace process.'"
Abunimah’s analysis reflects the position that for most Palestinians the cultural and psychological assault, checkpoints, curfews, home demolitions, torture, targeted killings, assaults from armed settlers who kill with impunity – the daily reality of life under occupation – would have continued, no matter what party formation dominated the Israeli Knesset.
That is precisely why the two-state solution was such a valuable subterfuge and why liberal Zionists in Israel and the U.S. were so devastated with the results of the election.
They understood that even though the plight of Palestinians and a resolution of the conflict was not even a serious topic in the elections, Netanyahu’s last minute declaration and racist rant – and the "positive" response it generated among many Israelis – made the two-state issue and Israeli racism the embarrassing centerpieces of the election in the minds of the international community.
Even though Netanyahu’s comments only confirmed what everyone knew to be the real position of all the major parties in Israel, liberal Zionists, who have always attempted to have the best of both worlds – to enjoy the privileges of stolen land while simultaneously opposing the more crude elements of the colonial theft – understood that without the political cover provided by the endless “negotiations” toward a two-state solution, Israel could potentially face serious international isolation.
The Congressional Black Caucus and Black Participation in the BDS movement
Africans in South Africa make-up the most consistently militant section of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. This is not surprising, given that Israeli support for the racist South African regime was only eclipsed by the support that came from the U.S.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the moral voices that opposed apartheid in South Africa, upset the leaders of the Israeli state when he characterized Israel as an apartheid state. He has also expressed how deeply impacted he was personally by witnessing the degradation of Palestinian men, women and children by Israeli military forces. According to Bishop Tutu, the scenes of Palestinian humiliation that he witnessed in Israel would be "familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government."
The principled opposition to Israeli apartheid on the part of South Africans is in sharp contrast to the immoral support the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) gives to Israel.
Until now, members of the CBC were able to avoid criticism of their slavish support for Israel by arguing that they in fact supported Palestinian liberation by supporting the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the form of a Palestinian state.
However, with Netanyahu’s rejection of the two-state solution, coupled with what many African Americans see as Netanyahu’s "disrespect" for Obama with his speech to Congress, the CBC and other liberal black formations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, as well as some members of the black clergy, are now beginning to face serious questions about their support for Israel.
This development, along with the new generation of young African American activists leading the anti-police violence struggle who have established solidarity links with Palestinian activists, are creating the political conditions to challenge and reverse the influence of the pro-Israel forces in the black community that emerged over the last two decades and to also generate black support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, especially among black students.
Netanyahu and the Israeli voters that voted for him gave the Palestinian solidarity and BDS movement a strategic opening. The election may have finally stripped the veil of nationalist legitimacy from the racialized Ashkenazi Zionist project and exposed the genocidal violence, greed and generalized moral rot that is at the core of this project and at the center of all European invasions and colonialism since 1492.
For 67 years, Palestinian human beings have been displaced, degraded and dehumanized. Today the Palestinian solidarity movement has a new opportunity to intensify the efforts to expose and isolate the Israeli project as the most morally obscene capitulation to injustice on the part of the international community since 1945. Let’s thank Netanyahu for his honesty and take up the challenge we’ve been given.
~ Ajamu Baraka serves as Public Intervenor for Human Rights at the Green Shadow Cabinet