Joining 132 others, two self-described progressive congressmembers, James McGovern (D-MA) and Alan Grayson (D-FL) lambasted the American Studies Association for having the audacity to join Palestinians in the boycott of institutions that are complicit in the military occupation of Palestinian land.
While these congressmembers are opposing boycotts, a nonviolent tactic used by the civil rights movement and advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King JR., and again used against the South African regime in the 1980’s, these congressmembers instead have and will support increasing and massive military aid to Israel, even though Israel systematically violates the rights of Palestinians. The weapons provided by Congress will be used to help the Israeli military “single-out” Palestinians for home demolitions, farm destruction, to violently and willfully break up their non-violent protests. It is McGovern, Grayson and the rest of Congress that provide the means to keep the people of Gaza in a planned state of grinding poverty, a people always on the brink of starvation. It is their vote that provides the means for Israel to build without hesitation and in open mockery to the stated position of President Obama, more and more illegal settlement housing.
Why is it that these so-called self-described progressives oppose nonviolent and legal consequences for an apartheid regime? Why are they instead by their actions supporting violent suppression of protest, and the forced ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people to ever smaller parts of historic Palestine? At what point will they take action for justice? Instead, they come to the aid of oppressive institutions that are finally being held accountable for complicity in the occupation.
They plea for “patience” while the status quo is killing any hope for peace. When is the time that they will recognize “the urgency of the moment and sense the need for powerful ‘action’”, as Martin Luther King wrote just over 50 years ago. Now is not the time to plea for peace that is void of any justice. That is not peace, that is mere attempts at pacification, and it will never lead to real peace.
It is true that Mr. Grayson and Mr. McGovern are not alone. In fact in congress there is not one that advocates for even a reduction of military aid to Israel, despite its refusal to abide by international law, despite the pleas of human rights groups and peace groups around the country and the world.
King reminded us that “we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.” It is not too late however, not yet. A growing grassroots and worldwide movement for justice and peace in the Holy Land will overwhelm those that stand supporting the status quo. We hope that Mr. McGovern and Mr. Grayson and others will join that movement, or at least have the wisdom to step aside.