Palestine Will Win: Solidarity From a Self-Respecting Jew

by ERIC MANN originally posted on CounterPunch online magazine, September 3rd, 2014.

In the midst of an Israeli military slaughter of civilians in Gaza and now, its announcement it will commandeer 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank—the largest Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land in 30 years–to build homes for Jewish settlers the title “The Palestinian people will win” may seem delusional and hyperbolic. But it is not a rhetorical device; it is a moral argument rooted in a reading of anti-colonial history. Israel has browbeaten the world, manipulated anti-Arab sentiment, and attacked its critics to justify its escalating occupation. It is possible that this recent escalation of barbarism may become a tipping point in world public opinion to oppose Israel ethnocide and support the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people. Discrediting and dismantling the Israeli ideological arsenal and getting our government to withdraw all military aid from Israel is a key battleground for the human rights movement in the United States.

When I first joined the civil rights movement in 1964 as a field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality and first heard the militants from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee chant “Hell no, we won’t go” to fight in the war in Vietnam I understood that the Black and Vietnamese national liberation struggles were an ideological, strategic, and emotional common reality. From the beginning I believed the civil rights/Black liberation revolution would win “Freedom Now” and we would see that “Jim Crow Must Go.” But my first years of anti-Vietnam war work were marked by an excruciating sense of outrage and despair. I watched in horror as my own government—that Dr. King would later call “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” —dropped napalm, cluster bombs, fragmentation bombs, and Agent Orange on a civilian population—eventually killing 4 million people. I felt the people of Vietnam were heroic; but I had little hope that we could truly end the war with Vietnam intact and independent. Then someone gave me a copy of Vietnam Will Win by Wilfred Burchett, an Australian supporter of the National Liberation Front of Vietnam. He explained in great detail the long-term military capacity of the Vietnamese people to withstand U.S. barbarism, but—as was later expressed to us directly by Vietnamese representatives to the U.S. peace movement—also explained that key to that victory was a powerful anti-war movement in the United States that could weaken, undermine, and eventually destroy public support for the war and force the U.S. government to withdraw all troops from Vietnam.

Applying these lessons today, we have to turn our focus to the United States government, which is Israel’s largest military and ideological ally. We should demand a complete cutting off of all U.S. aid to Israel, our government’s disassociation from Israel’s policies, and aggressive support for Palestinian self-determination and national liberation.

This tactical plan involves three components.

1) Support for the Palestinian political project. This will support and end to Israeli interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinian people, an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and conditions under which Palestinian people have the right to travel and meet and receive humanitarian aid from all over the world.

2) An international ideological counteroffensive against the Israeli government’s colonial master narrative. As one element of a far broader campaign I will address the Israeli government’s charges that Jews in Israel and throughout the world who oppose its occupation, partition, and oppression of the Palestinian people are “self-hating Jews.”

3) Strengthening a broad, multi-racial united front in the United States rooted in Black and Latino communities with strong support from people of all races and classes, including Jews, to demand the complete and immediate cutting off of all U.S. military aid to Israel.

The Story of a Self-Respecting Jew

The Israeli thought police have tried to silence or intimidate Jewish critics and opponents in Israel, in the U.S., and throughout the world by labeling them “self-hating Jews.” Israel’s argument is that these Jews have responded to anti-Semitism by trying to disassociate themselves from their Jewish identity and history—and thus side with Israel’s “enemies.” Israeli ideologues argue that since Israel is “the Jewish state” and thus speaks for all the Jews in the world those who disagree are by definition “anti-Semitic” and “self-hating Jews.” But in fact, there are many Jews in the U.S.– especially those who have been part of the civil rights, anti-war, anti-apartheid, environmental justice, and international human rights movements–who have contempt for the Israeli ideologues who would rather foster anti-Semitism against their Jewish critics than engage in an honest debate—let alone look in the mirror. I think we consider ourselves “self-respecting Jews” or some concept similar to that and out of that self-respect and an independent political perspective based on the principles of human rights and self-determination for oppressed peoples comes respect for the people of Palestine…

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