On March 20th, I will be going to the National March to Support Palestine and Protest AIPAC in Washington, DC. Why am I going?
I’m going as an American, to say no to the lobbying regime, to government by money, and to the undue influence of corporations and foreign governments in the election of our leaders and the making of our laws; to stop the legalized bribery and blackmail that allow a country to give millions to our lawmakers and in turn get billions from them; and to stop our tax money from making the brutal occupation of Palestine possible, through more than $3 billion a year in unconditional aid. I’m going to oppose the suppression of free speech in academia, mass media and politics that hides the truth of what is going on in Palestine from most Americans, because the very notion that one cannot criticize a government, its elected leaders, its policies or the actions of its military is anti-democratic and un-American. I’m going because a State that deprives half its population of the most basic rights is not a democracy; it’s a hypocrisy.
I’m going as a person of Jewish heritage, because this racist and violent occupation is waged in my name. I’m going to expose the lie that this is a conflict between Jews and Muslims or Jews and Arabs and not between a ethno-supremacist colonialism and its victims; the lie that being Jewish means uncritically supporting a political State regardless of its action and the price it exacts from others; and the lie that supporting Palestine makes a Jewish person ‘self hating’. I’m going because those who represent a history of discrimination, ethnic cleansing and genocide have a special obligation to oppose oppression wherever they find it. I’m going because I know that ‘never again’ means now.
I’m going as a human being, to hold the State of Israel to the Geneva Conventions and all relevant UN resolutions, because double standards undermine the very foundation of International Law. I’m going because I oppose nationalist extremism and supremacism whatever form they take, by whomever they are practiced, and against whomever they are directed. I’m going to say ‘enough’ to an endless ‘Peace Process’ that only enables the ongoing absorption of land, appropriation of resources by the powerful party, and the concentration of the powerless into ever-smaller reservations, ghettos, or Bantustans and regular massacres of an unarmed population deprived of even the right to flee. I’m going to reaffirm the inalienable rights of all people, including the right to life, security, dignity, self-determination and return to the homes and the land of their birth. I’m going because we will not survive this century by walling ourselves in with ‘our kind’ while walling out mankind; because I see in Palestine not a conflict between two peoples, but a conflict between the most basic principles of humanity and a petty tribalism fueled by fear of the ‘other’. I’m going because every child who is murdered in Palestine is my child.
I’m going as a witness, because in repeated visits to occupied Palestine I have seen with my own eyes that everything I was told about Israel and Palestine a lie. I saw that guard towers, walls, barbed wire, crowded checkpoints, searches, harassment, arbitrary imprisonment and unaccountable summary executions are not the answer, but themselves the problem. I’m going for my Palestinian friends who endure intolerable injustice with dignity, equanimity, humor and deep humanity; because to experience the hospitality, generosity, thoughtfulness and gentleness of these people is to appreciate the cruel unfairness with which they’ve been maligned.
Finally, I’m going because – despite all we hear – this is actually a problem that is very easy to solve. Once we realize that Israel’s actions are not driven by legitimate security needs but by a deliberate and systematic project of colonial expansion and population transfer; once we realize that Israel does not want peace, but the perpetuation of a status quo that assures an emerging Greater Israel and the increasing containment of the occupied population; that this situation is only made possible by unconditional US support, which absolves Israel of its moral and legal obligations; and that this support is in turn only made possible by the fear that AIPAC and the rest of the pro-Israel lobby manage to instill in our politicians, it is easy to see that the road to Jerusalem leads through the Washington Convention Center.