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The Palestine Realignment
America could transform in response to this moment
A great shift is happening in American politics right now. 80% of Democrats want our politicians to demand an immediate and full ceasefire in Gaza. But 5% of our national elected officials are on board. 56% of Republicans want a ceasefire. 0 of their politicians agree. There is a mass disillusionment spreading through the U.S. population as we see our elected leaders by and large refuse to budge on an issue that is both urgent and viscerally important to millions. The vast majority of us want our politicians to call for an immediate ceasefire. We are also consuming large quantities of social media, and constantly seeing horrifying images of people in Gaza digging through rubble, holding the bodies of loved ones who have been killed by Israel, and weeping in the midst of mass destruction. This issue is immensely important, and it’s also hitting us in a deep, emotional way. How we respond could change the world.
The polling on Palestine cuts across numerous demographics. So when it comes to Democratic politicians, and Joe Biden in particular, alarm bells should be ringing off the hook. The latest polling, published today in the New York Times, shows Biden underwater in Nevada, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. I don’t need to explain to you how, if this holds or gets worse, Trump will sweep into the White House. Some people, primarily Democratic pundits and party evangelists, have responded to this information and the fact that Muslim and Arab Americans are angry at Biden by saying simply that Trump is worse. This response is wholly insufficient, both because it focuses on the election instead of on getting Biden to stop unconditionally supporting Israel, and because it only looks at the entirety of politics as Biden vs. Trump.
I detest Donald Trump, and I do not want him to be our next president. So if you support Joe Biden the first thing you can do is apply pressure to get our current president to stop supporting Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Because, no matter how they’re pressured, millions of people will likely choose to not vote for him if the current trajectory continues. People are simply horrified by what they’re seeing from Israel, and they know that we give Israel billions with no strings attached. They also know, increasingly, that upwards of 85% of the bombs raining down on Gaza are made by U.S. companies. As a Defense Department brief from October says, “The United States is ‘surging’ support to Israel, including air defense capabilities and munitions.” People know which side our government has chosen in this conflict, and the expressions of care for civilians in Gaza ring hollow when Israel continues to disregard them and we continue to send Israel arms and money.
And people should be upset. We should be furious. Hundreds of thousands or even millions of us across the country have cumulatively taken to the streets. Thousands and thousands of phone calls and emails have flooded Congressional offices. And the polling cited here is clear. We want our government to push for a ceasefire, and they refuse. Among the countless problems exposed in this moment, the utter disconnection from elected officials on Israel-Palestine ranks high among them. Millions of people are realizing in yet another way that the politicians we elected to represent us can and do refuse to listen to our desires and demands. But this time it’s even more visceral than usual. It’s tied directly to bombs falling on children. The House of Representatives just voted to send $14 billion more to Israel, billions more to fund ethnic cleansing and missiles targeting everything from UN schools to water supplies to bakeries. And they want to take that $14 billion from the IRS, where it was going to be used to force the super-rich to pay taxes. Can’t make this stuff up.
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Hopefully, this legislation won’t pass the Senate, and won’t be signed by Biden, but the status quo in DC remains funding Israel unconditionally. A lot of people see that and reasonably wonder if they’ll arm a genocidal state over there, what will they do here? Specifically, what will they do as climate change makes the world less stable? What will they do if Israel’s actions lead to a wider war in the Middle East? Will our politicians embroil us in another endless war? These questions are unpleasant, but more and more people are asking them, and they’re understandable. In the wake of 2020, when this country saw the largest protest wave in decades, and when public opinion swung towards more police accountability and reform, Congress responded with a massive police funding bill. Politicians in statehouses by and large did the same.
I say this both to highlight the disconnect between the public and elected officials and to say that the focus of the protest wave and the discourse in 2020 was police killing thousands of people across this country without repercussions. And politicians responded by giving them millions and millions of dollars. They chose to fund unaccountable police departments, and now they choose to fund an unaccountable and immensely violent nation that is killing civilians by the thousands. The leaders of Israel are not hiding their intentions. They speak openly about driving Palestinians out of the West Bank, and Gaza. And their actions speak even louder. They bomb ambulances. They bomb refugee camps. They bomb Southern Gaza and change its label from “safe zone” to “safer zone.” They are not hiding their goals.
So people in the U.S. are left to wonder, what are the red lines for our elected officials? As I wrote earlier this week some, like Lindsey Graham, have none; no amount of civilian death would cause him to change his tune. And Americans are seeing that. It’s frightening. Unconditional funding for genocide is terrifying, frankly, and it’s already starting to create a political realignment. But it’s not just that people might not vote Biden, or Democrat, it’s that people are fed up with the system as a whole. Some of course just won’t vote, some will even vote Trump if events continue along this path, but others are organizing. Others are seeing that the two-party system is insufficient and harmful and that despite the real differences between the two parties there is a profoundly disturbing agreement on the endless bombardment of Gaza and the mass murder of civilians. So people are joining organizations fighting for structural change and transformation, organizations trying to shut down the war machine, organizations that have a serious analysis of the systemic nature of imperialism and colonialism and capitalism.
Now none of this is a given. Biden could perhaps change his approach to Israel. Congress could change its funding priorities. At least 13 Democratic Senators are now calling for a “humanitarian pause” and their call could grow into larger numbers demanding a full ceasefire. But it’s unlikely, both because a month of pressure has only gotten a measly 18 out of 535 members of Congress to sponsor a ceasefire resolution, and because there are larger political considerations around the power dynamics in the Middle East, Christian fundamentalist Zionists, and Jewish Zionist organizations that make elected officials changing quickly appear unlikely.
Perhaps even more significantly, this issue does not exist in a vacuum. People are seeing this in the larger context of politicians being disconnected from the people, immense economic difficulty as billions are spent on war, and a general disregard for the working class and what the people of this country want. So they’re organizing for radical, systemic change. They’re organizing fighting unions. They’re organizing in their neighborhoods. And it’s hard to know what comes next, but it feels like we have accelerated dramatically towards a shift in the structure, towards a surge of militant working class power, towards transformation. As one observer wrote when
they saw protesters in Egypt flood into Tahrir Square for the first time in a decade, “We’re not freeing Palestine. Palestine is freeing us.” Let us keep working relentlessly to end the bombardment of Gaza, and ultimately free Palestine. And let us know how our freedom and transformation is bound up with theirs, and act accordingly.
Thank you for reading. If you’re about to become a supporting reader it allows me to spend more time writing for you. In gratitude - Josh
SupportPalestine Action: https://www.palestineaction.org/
Dissenters against the War Machine: https://wearedissenters.org/
Apply pressure for a ceasefire now: https://ceasefiretoday.com/
Take action with Jewish Voice for Peace: https://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/
Take action with the Palestinian Youth Movement: https://palestinianyouthmovement.com/
Take action with IfNotNow: https://www.ifnotnowmovement.org/
Support Boycots, Divestmest, and Sanctions: https://bdsmovement.net/