In the wake of the January 6 insurrection, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have us believe that the United States and Israel have a common enemy. Pelosi implies that the American insurrectionists whose ideologies are rooted in racism, xenophobia and supremacy represent a threat to both the US and Israel—i.e., she believes antisemitism threatens the well-being and sanctity of the apartheid Jewish state, just as its existence among the ranks of the insurrectionists threatens American democracy.
That’s a big lie. What helped create Israel is the antisemitic motivations of British politicians. What poses a threat to Israel is anti-Zionism not antisemitism.(See: How Anti-Semitism Helped Create Israel: At a desperate moment in World War I, British elites appealed to what they saw as the monolithic, all-powerful forces of “international Jewry” to turn the tide of the conflict?—?and promised them Palestine.)
Israel fights its domestic anti-Zionist threat by, among other things, reining in human rights groups such as B’Tselem when they tell the truth about the nature of the state as an apartheid state. For example, Israel’s education minister has banned B’Tselem from lecturing at schools because its mission of ensuring “human rights, democracy, liberty and equality to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea” is antithetical to the Zionist creed.
Worth noting is that “so far neither the New York Times or Washington Post have reported on the B’Tselem report.”
For both Israel and the United States, the security threat today is deeply rooted in their histories and how they came to be. One difference is that supremacist, discriminatory and apartheid ideology is today enshrined in Israel’s Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People (the equivalent of a constitution), but thankfully not in the American Constitution any longer. (Although slavery is never mentioned in the Constitution, there are 11 clauses that allude to its existence.The 13th amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in 1865; the 14th amendment of 1868 granted citizenship to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States,” thereby granting citizenship to former slaves; the 15th amendment, ratified in 1870, extended the right to vote to Black males, etc.)
To understand the parallel between the two settler-colonial states better, read the following words [min 18:33] by Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University Eddie S. Glaude Jr. about the United States, while transposing specific references (in bold):
We’ve been having this conversation for a number of years. We saw it in real time over this last election [the Palestinian intifadas] when we think back on American [Israeli] history, we know that what is challenged, what has been the contradiction, what has been the serpent wrapped around the legs of the table upon which the constitution [Israel’s basic law] was signed, the declaration of independence was crafted, was this belief that white [Jewish] people matter more than others [certainly Palestinian Arabs], this ideology of whiteness [Jewishness] … we think about every moment of crisis that challenged the basic precepts of democracy [colonization and apartheid] it has been in defense of this belief that this country ought to remain a white [Jewish] nation.
In both Israel and the United States, as their respective histories indicate, the underlying cause of injustice is supremacy or, in other words, hate, intolerance and a sense of entitlement by one group of people over another. (See: ‘Yes, we’re racists. We believe in racism’: Embra-cing racism, rabbis at pre-army yeshiva laud Hitler, urge enslaving Arabs)
Today, the situation is much worse in Israel than it is in the United States. The US continues to lie about Israel while at the same time being more honest about itself than it has been for decades. So, whereas the news media and politicians are finally trying to reattach people to reality and facts, especially the fact that the majority of all terrorist plots and attacks (57% of 893) from 1994 to 2020 were perpetrated by right wing terrorists, they continue to lie about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state.
In connection with Israel, the big lie is two-fold. One has to do with its vaunted claim as the “only democracy in the Middle East,” when in fact it is an apartheid state (see: This is apartheid: The Israeli regime promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River).
The second big lie has to do with what Tony Blinken, Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state, calls “the Jewish homeland,” which in fact is a denial of Palestinian centuries-long history in their homeland and an embrace of the Zionist concept of Jewish nationalism. (See: Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History by Nur Masalha, in which the Palestinian historian clearly shows that Palestine is grounded in a distinctive Palestinian culture that long predates the Old Testament narrative of Israelite conquest, a history where Jews, Christians, Muslims and others lived together peacefully. Israel continues to ignore and erase this history in the interests of a modern invention rooted in ancient myths.)
For a refutation of Jewish nationalism, see The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand, which, according to a 2009 review, is “a definitive and learned polemic against this idea [the Zionist idea of Jewish nationalism] which has caused so much terror in our world today.” Trump’s racist acts/speech are being denounced?—?from his Muslim Ban to his “good on both sides” in Charlottesville, to his outrageous remarks about Mexican immigrants or his “China virus” taunts, to his refusal to condemn white supremacy and the Proud Boys by saying “stand back and stand by,” etc., etc.
However, what continues appallingly to be listed on Trump’s positive side of the ledger, without question or irony, includes this: the move of the American embassy in Israel to occupied and annexed Jerusalem and “renewed peace in the Middle East,” which has no Palestinian support and was recognized early on as being all “about shoring up Trump’s slumping electoral campaign and improving Netanyahu’s battered image in Israel [rather] than bringing peace to the Middle East.”
Writing in Newsweek on the day before Trump’s departure from D.C., Yishai Fleisher, International Spokesman, Jewish illegal “settlement” of Hebron, praises the disgraced Republican leader for attacking “calcified anti-Israel lies and instead [telling] the plain truth?—?and by doing so, lift[ing] the Jewish state’s international standing many-fold.” Trump’s inversion of reality about Israel is as effective as his big lie about the American election. But now that he is toppled, the US fights supremacy at home but continues to defend supremacy in Israel.
To my mind, the most positive aspect of Trump’s legacy in the United States is the change we are now observing in the national discourse, i.e., bringing to the fore that which comm-entators have been describing as “hiding in plain sight”—the white supr-emacist history and character of this nation. Because of that slow and painful shift in discourse since the Black Lives Matter protests began over George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a white policeman on May 25, 2020, we have all become better educated.
For example, I now know (and I didn’t before) about the Tulsa Race Massacre (also known as the Tulsa Race Riot), which occurred over 18 hours on May 31-June 1, 1921, when a white mob attacked black residents, homes and businesses; I know (and I didn’t before) that when racist laws in Oregon were put on the ballot for repeal in 2002, 30% of electors voted against the repeal.
The big question is whether, even with such facts in the foreground, the Biden administration can “pivot” or roll back the setbacks to its pluralistic aspirations that are now in high relief. With millions still supporting Trump, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. below, slightly paraphrased (originally, they were about Vietnam and the Vietnamese people), still ring true:
The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam [America], that we have been detrimental to the life of… [many peoples]. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.
America is talking about what the January 6 insurrection represents: the entrenchment of white supremacy and racism in American society at the highest levels. It is not talking honestly about its closest ally, about what Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians represents. US politicians on both sides of the aisle lie about it every chance they get. US Secretary of State Pom-peo’s declaration that the Israel boycott (BDS movement) is anti-Jewish, for example.
US Rep. Rashida Tlaib had this to say on Democracy Now!: It is so critically important that we call it [Israel’s racism] out. Our country continues to enable that country and enable Netan-yahu, who continues to spew anti-Arab rhetoric that allows violence towar-ds Palestinians to continue in a way that is so inhumane and doesn’t follow international human rights.
Bringing anguish to millions of Palestinians, the United States continues to support the fascist violence and aggression to which Israel resorts so as to continue to exist and expand as an apartheid Zionist Jewish state on Palestinian land.
Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.