I will begin by mentioning that a few years ago the leading Jewish academic Judith Butler gave a talk at Temple University about the ethics of anti-Zionism. The most powerful statement she made, which resonated deeply with me, was that Israel is threatened by democratic liberalism. She went on to explain what she meant: that anti-Zionism, from which Israel is so afraid, is simply a call for Israel to be a democracy for everyone and to implement international resolutions in giving the refugees their right to return to their homes.
International law, in my opinion, is a farce, it is a joke. Over the past few years we have seen that the jurisdiction of international law extends over poor countries, but it does not punish the colonizer for their violence against the colonized. Israel is a case in point: European colonizers displaced the indigenous Palestinian people 62 years ago and the United States and European nation-states that have a vested interest in maintaining this colonial system—in fact the last one remaining—will go to extremes to ensure that Israel maintains its domination.
One of Israel’s greatest weapons, aside from those they employ to repress militarily, has always been its propaganda. The best example is the creation myth: “A land without a people for a people without a land.” Not Palestinians, but Israeli historians have revisited the documents of the founding of the state of Israel and have re-written the history: the Palestinians are not accidental refugees of war, but were ethnically cleansed from their homelands. There was a plan in place which was implemented village by village and city by city to rid Palestine of the Palestinians. (For examples of these revisionist historians and histories see Benny Morris, a Zionist Israeli Jew, and Ilan Pappe, an anti-Zionist Israeli Jew). The Palestinians have been telling this history for years–including both my grandparents. Americans in particular still lack education on the history of the creation of the state of Israel. This is a shame predominantly because we are Israel’s greatest funders. Instead of spending our money on the urban public education system or healthcare for our citizens, we send $5.5 billion a year toIsrael, which is used to maintain an illegal occupation, to keep the Palestinians that were expelled in 1948 out, and to punish anyone who wants to stand in solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinians—and the freedom flotilla is an example.
Israel is not losing the unwavering support of the developed world, and it will not be condemned by international law in any meaningful way. Israel (and everyone else) knows this, so why should it change its violent tactics? The international community has long given Israel the green light to use its military capacity to the fullest—from its creation until today. Israel was not a miracle, nor was its creation story impressive. Israel was created through ethnic cleansing and can only be maintained through repression and violence. The truth is I personally was not surprised by Israel’s act of violent piracy in the Mediterranean. After the 1,500 Gazans killed last year in the Gaza massacre, who really is shocked that Israel killed 9 activists? Moreover, I am not expecting a serious response from any government or any international organization. The powers of the UN are seriously compromised when the US can veto any plan of action that can check Israel’s power and put an end to its Apartheid regime.
What Israel is losing, however, is its propaganda machine. At this point media is so easy to come by, so why would any of us look to the corporate media for our information? What will really pose a challenge to the state of Israel are people all around the world whose greatest power lies in pressuring their governments through solid grass roots movements to pressure and isolate Israel, as the world did with South Africa, until it ends its Apartheid. Negotiations between the PA, Israel, the US, and the EU are useless. Such negotiations have revealed a historic trend whereby Israel only gains more land, more power, and greater support. Negotiations assume a certain equality between the parties involved which does not exist between the Palestinians and the Israelis. With the Palestinians living on 12% of 22% of their historic lands (Palestinian controlled territories in the West Bank), what can they possibly negotiate? To negotiate you need leverage. This is why the ANC and Nelson Mandela refused to negotiate with the racist, white Apartheid regime in South Africa. And this is why today the South African peoples, more than anyone on earth understand that Israel is a pariah state and can only be checked through a movement of the people—like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS).
The boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is growing. It remains a small force of international activists, but this year more student bodies at universities are pressuring their administration to withdraw all funds that support the Israeli military and settlements, and more artists have cancelled their shows in Israel (Carlos Santana, Elvis Costello, and Gil Scott Heron). This is the critical moment and these are the crucial movements that will put an end to Israel’s unchecked power and domination. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is just one part of this growing movement, and in the end it is ordinary people who will support other ordinary people against racist governments such as Israel, South Africa before it, and Jim Crow USA before that.
Here in Palestine, the Palestinian are not so much shocked at how low Israel can go, because more than anyone else they have been victims of this domination. Most people here are surprised at how brash and unpremeditated the attack on the Freedom Flotilla was. In other words, Israel is destroying its own image. People here are aware that attacks on international supporters (rather than on Palestinians) creates an international outcry. And the outcry is beginning, but I think that the greatest result of this outcry will be the growth of the grassroots base of the solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people, which in time will create the necessary conditions to isolate Israel as a pariah, apartheid state—like South Africa. In my personal opinion the attack on the Gaza Flotilla demonstrates that Israel knows that it cannot go on this way much longer. The Israeli state is holding on to its domination and pushing the limits while it can.