No Justice, No Peace
Uprisings across all 50 states continued into this week, with thousands protesting the police murder of George Floyd. A number of pro-Palestine organizations put out powerful statements in solidarity with the actions. Here’s parts from some of them:
Engaging in joint struggle and transnational solidarity is part of the legacy of Palestinian resistance. We will continue that legacy today by uplifting Black liberation struggles and looking inward to make our homes and communities a stronger base for joint struggle. We can’t be afraid or defensive about engaging internally within our community about anti-Black racism, state violence, and policing in the U.S.
As indigenous people of Palestine, we have firsthand experience with settler-colonialism, apartheid and racist violence wielded by Israel’s regime of oppression – with the military funding and unconditional support of the US government – to dispossess us, ethnically cleanse us, and reduce us to lesser humans. Our most important achievement as a people resisting colonial oppression, including through boycott campaigns, is our ability to remain steadfast and to resist their relentless attempts to colonize our minds with hopelessness, self-deprecation and surrender to their supremacy as fate.
The uprising in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s murder reflects the outrage and frustration with a society that values property over Black lives, that criminalizes poverty, and that refuses to confront its ugly truths. Like Palestinian intifadas, people are reacting not to one incidence of violence, but to decades and centuries of systematic racist oppression. They are shaking off a system that tells them they don’t matter, and saying ‘no more, enough is enough,'”
Eliot Engel is a sixteen-term Congressman and one of the most pro-Israel hawks in the Democratic Party. Last year we interviewed Andom Ghebreghiorgis, one of two progressive candidate that was mounting a primary challenge against Engel from the left. This was what Ghebreghiorgis told me about Engel at that time:
Sadly, Eliot Engel has been one of the staunchest supporters of Israel’s right wing policies. He has consistently failed to recognize Israel’s expansionist settlement activity and the entrenchment of the occupation as the main barriers to peace in the region, instead deflecting and claiming that Palestinians, living in increasingly worse conditions, are not willing to negotiate in good faith. Additionally, he has devalued Palestinian lives, failing to censure the IDF for indiscriminate killings during the Great Return March, for example. His support of Trump’s decision to unilaterally move the embassy to Jerusalem and approval of Israel’s recent move annexing the Golan Heights are just two unfortunate examples in which he has sided with Netanyahu over Democrats and over American interests.
This week Ghebreghiorgis dropped out of the race and threw his support behind former opponent, Jamaal Bowman. Bowman is a former Bronx middle school principal who supports The Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and other left policies. He’s backed by Justice Democrats and was just recently endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Bowman is not a supporter of BDS, but he’s suggested that we might need to condition military aid to Israel.
Engel has attacked Bowman over this position. He told Jewish Insider:
I would certainly regard him as anti-Israel. Conditioning aid for Israel is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Foreign aid doesn’t only benefit the countries that we are giving it to — it benefits the United States. This nonsense about conditioning aid is a bit arrogant because we’d essentially be telling Israel, if you don’t toe the mark, if when we crack the whip you don’t jump, we’re gonna pull it away from you. That’s not how one ally treats another ally.
This week Engel showed up at a news conference on police brutality and asked Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. if he could give a speech about the situation. When Diaz told him there was already a list of other local leaders who had to speak, Engel responded, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.” Diaz shot back, “Don’t do that to me. We’re not gonna do this. We’re not politicizing. Everybody’s got a primary, you know. I’m sorry.”
POLITICO asked Bowman about Engel’s hot mic blunder. “It’s disgusting, it’s abhorrent, it’s unfortunate, and it’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising,” he said, “It just exemplifies and shows everything we already knew. To say if I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care, it captures everything not just wrong with him but the political system.”
Odds & Ends
🗳️ Pro-Israel Democrat Steny Hoyer coasted to an easy win in Maryland’s 5th district on Tuesday, with over 70% of the vote. It’s unclear what the big takeaways from Mckayla Wilkes’s campaign should be. As Dave Weigel pointed out on Twitter, Wilkes was able to raise as much money as AOC did in 2018. However, her campaign never blew up in the same way that those of other left candidates did and then the COVID crisis hit this country. “I am so, so grateful,” tweeted Wilkes, “For every person who believed in me. I never thought that someone formerly incarcerated like myself would even be taken seriously. We lost. But it does appear we won more votes than any primary challenger to Hoyer in 40 years. I won’t ever stop fighting.”
🇮🇱 South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson (the infamous GOP lawmaker who yelled “YOU LIE!” at President Obama during a joint session of Congress) went on a deranged rant about Netanyahu and Trump on the House floor last month: “The similarity with America is obvious that political enemies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are abusing the legal system just as the false efforts to impeach President Donald Trump were a witch hunt. Forces who lose on issues at the ballot box seek to subvert the votes of citizens.”
H/T Lara Friedman
📺 Mitchell Abidor has a really interesting piece at Jewish Currents on the new season of Netflix’s Fauda, a show that has previously received praise for its portrayal of Palestinians: “In Fauda, neither Israelis nor Palestinians ever speak about the politics of occupation and expropriation, and not a single Israeli roadblock appears to remind us of the daily grind of Palestinian life. One house is blown up, and the unsafe water and blackouts in Gaza are passing parts of the series, but the fact of occupation—the daily injustices and indignities—are elided.” Read the whole thing at Jewish Currents website.
🇺🇸 Steve King, the infamous 16-year congressman whose racism is striking even by the standards of the Republican party, lost his primary on Tuesday. He was beaten by an anti-abortion Trump supporter who shares his views on immigration and has an A+ rating from the NRA, so there’s not exactly a lot to celebrate. Having said that, Steve King’s political career is hopefully over and we might never see him again. Ali Harb rounded up 5 of the former congressman’s most Islamophobic moments at Middle East Eye. I had forgotten about the time King told jokes about former Muslim-American Congressman Keith Ellison while being interviewed by the alt-right Breitbart website. “The rationale is that if infidels are eating this pork, they [the workers] aren’t eating it, so as long as they’re preparing this pork for infidels, it helps send ’em to hell and it’ll make Allah happy,” King said, “I don’t want people doing my pork that won’t eat it, let alone hope I’ll go to hell for eating pork chops.” In fairness, I think we all hope Steve King goes to hell, no matter what our religion. Good riddance.
Take care of one another and wear a mask while protesting,