Since 1989, B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has rigorously documented the many ways Israel violates the basic human rights of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza: through land confiscation, killing of Palestinians by security forces or settlers, forcible transfer of Palestinians, restrictions on movement, torture and abuse in interrogation, and administrative detention. It also reports on violations by Palestinians against the rights of Israeli civilians.
B’Tselem’s report on apartheid challenges what analyst Nathan Thrall terms the “separate regimes delusion” — the idea that Israel within the Green Line is a democracy that is somehow fundamentally different from its “temporary” military occupation of the Occupied Territories that has existed for more than 50 years. The report argues that over time the distinction between the two areas “has grown divorced from reality.” East Jerusalem has been annexed and the West Bank has been annexed in practice. “The entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group — Jews — over another — Palestinians.”
(you can read more articles by Gilbert Schramm at: https://mind-cast.com)
What the lives of American people of color and Palestinians have in common is first and foremost that they both matter. To remind people of this simple fact is not to suggest that other lives don’t matter—that is just nonsense—a cheap distraction and sophomoric talking point. The point of the slogan “Black Lives Matter” is to draw attention to the obvious fact that people of color in the US (like Palestinians) have systematically been treated with callous, often brutal and lethal, disregard.
As the 2020 election approaches, advocates of Palestinian rights have a seemingly difficult decision. On closer examination however, I think our course should be pretty clear.
On one hand there is Trump, whose Middle East policy in general, and with Palestine in particular, has been an atrocious “outsourcing” of US interests to those of Benjamin Netanyahu and other right-wing parties in Israel.
On the other hand, there is the Biden/Harris ticket. Neither of them has been exactly stellar on behalf of Palestinian rights. Still when one looks at other factors, the choice is starkly different—and our path forward should be obvious.
We can hardly promote the Palestinian cause if we totally lose democracy in our own country. Trump’s ongoing attack on almost every aspect of our democratic institutions has activists of every stripe completely caught up in their own issues. In this context, the Democratic ticket is far superior to Trump (and, sad but true, a non-vote or a vote for a third party will only help Trump). We need to be realistic here. In simple military terms, we need to secure our base of operations before we can look further afield. Sadly, to most Americans, Palestine is still a very marginal issue. Anyone who really hopes to help the situation in Palestine should support the Biden ticket without any sniping from the sidelines. Trump’s supporters will only use any criticism of Biden as a wedge to divide us.
The choice is stark. With Trump, there is no way forward. He simply ignores other views (even if they are majority views) and proceeds in his own unprincipled ways. The Trump/ Kushner/ Netanyahu trio is impervious as long as it is allowed to exist.
Live-streamed coverage of the Bahrain “Peace to Prosperity” workshop, phase one in the Trump administration’s release of its peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians, brought to mind a dark, smoke-filled room from an earlier period where other powerful men, British and French, divvied up Arab land after World War I. This time, Arab governments and the U.S. co-hosted the dismemberment of the Palestinians’ national aspirations, while sitting in TED Talk-styled respectability. Just as before, ideas like human rights, self-determination and political and economic sovereignty were completely lost on the architects of this new effort.
The glitzy presentations and marketing materials largely repackage old, failed ideas about the potential for economic development, even while Israel keeps control over Palestinian land. There is no acknowledgment of the existence of an Israeli military occupation, no mention of the likely formal annexation of the West Bank following Israeli elections in September, nor of Israel’s intention to continue its twelve-year isolation and siege of Gaza. Instead, the plan assumes what ails Palestinians is not a lack of freedom and self-determination, but the poor management of their economy and a lack of knowledge about how to run basic municipal services.