In our globalized world, all of our struggles for justice are intimately linked and demand a high level of cross-movement work to succeed. Challenging the US government’s support for Israel and supporting Palestinian self-determination is a crucial point of unity for our movements.
Important points of commonality and shared interest between the Palestinian liberation movement and the social movements of the United States include the immoral military spending of the US government, its support for occupying powers such as Israel, and the repressive role that the US government plays in SWANA (South West Asia/North Africa – aka the Middle East) region more broadly. Most recently, the US, Israel and its allies are attempting to undermine the democratic struggles in the region and re-secure US military and economic interests served by the regimes with which they ally.
The US provides $3 billion in direct aid, and an additional $3 billion in other forms of aid, to Israel per year to support its ongoing occupation of Palestine and the military role it plays in the region. Ending US aid to Israel is not only critical for our solidarity with the Palestinian and other popular struggles in the region, but part of redirecting the US military budget to meet the needs of people in the US itself. Israel is a military and political proxy for the US in the region – it is central to the perpetual wars for resources, the oil economy, and US and European weapons trade.
Israel uses its ongoing occupation of Palestine as a laboratory for developing weapons and tactics of population control that are used against Palestinians and then exported around the globe through Israel’s multi-billion dollar Homeland Security industry. Israel companies and the State receive billions of dollars each year for programs like the Law Enforcement Exchange Program which sends police from around the US to train in Israel. Through this program and others like it, the most repressive police tactics are exchanged between Israel and notorious police forces in the US. A couple examples of how this has played out are that in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana National Guard was trained by the Israeli military in crowd control. Similarly the Oakland Police Department trained in Israel prior to its violent crackdown on the Occupy movement.
The potential for joint struggle is reflected in the parallels between this year’s Palestinian prisoner strike and the uprising in the prisons of Georgia and the hunger strike in California that started in Pelican Bay prison. The Palestinian prisoner hunger strike is the longest in history, taken up by thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, gained international attention and for some prisoners continues to this day. The steadfastness and demand for liberty of all those around the globe who are incarcerated as a result of racism, occupation and political repression is an inspiration and necessity in the fight for the liberation of all people.
In addition to the state of Israel, many organizations that provide political and economic support to Israel also collaborate with the US government on their shared interests – racial profiling of communities of color, particularly Muslim, Arab communities, and surveillance and targeting of social justice organizations. In 1993 a suit was filed and won against the Anti-Defamation League based on proof that it had hired intelligence agents with police and government ties to compile confidential information on Arab-American, African-American, Native American and progressive groups. The over 1,000 organizations that the ADL spied on included opponents of South African apartheid, the United Farm Workers, the Vanguard Public Foundation, Labor Council/AFL-CIO, NAACP, MADRE, Greenpeace, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The information gathered by the ADL was shared with the US and South African governments.
Today the ADL trains US police in counter-terrorism and provides surveillance information to the US and other governments. Since 2003, the ADL program has brought 115 law enforcement executives from across the country to Israel for intensive counter-terrorism and popular control training. In 2010 alone, the ADL trained over 10,500 law enforcement officers.
Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security gives over $15 million a year to similar organizations in the US to collaborate on training and surveillance of police, private security officers and community members. A key focus is the surveillance of and propaganda against Arab and Muslim communities but the civil rights that are being eroded and the technology and methods being used have a significant impact on communities of color, particularly African American communities, immigrants and activists.
The Israeli government and private corporations are contracted by the US government to build the US-Mexico “Wall of Death,” provide surveillance technology, and train border and security personnel. Elbit, an Israeli “defense” corporation is building both the Apartheid Wall in Palestine and the “Wall of Death.” Additionally, G4S, a British/Danish corporation, operates privatized prison in Israel and around the world—it also is contracted by the US government to transport and deport undocumented immigrants targeted by I.C.E.
The global forces of repression that target social movements and maintain the status quo work with a high level of collaboration; therefore it is incumbent on our movements to work together to build our collective power. Moreover, our struggles inspired and give strength to each other. The 65 plus year Palestinian struggle for liberation was in the hearts and named on the streets of every popular uprising for human emancipation and democracy and against US imperialism that swept the Middle East or South West Asia-North Africa in 2011. These uprising inspired others across Europe and the United States.
Zionism is a settler colonial project that engages in Israeli state building in Palestine based on the premise of “maximum land and minimum Arabs.” The founding of the State of Israel as a state for the ‘Jewish nation’ was accomplished in 1948, and the colonization of Palestine based on this ideology continues today. Israel is a state whose laws and policies privilege its Jewish citizens above others, particularly indigenous Palestinian residents and citizens.
Zionist institutions are organizations that support an agenda in which a Jewish state is maintained in Palestine at the expense of the safety, well-being, dignity and equity of Palestinian people, and which deny the Palestinian refugees and their descendants the right to return. This is often promoted through justifying Israeli occupation and oppression and active funding of the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land.