Linkages between the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and contention elsewhere

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Rashid Khalidi argues:

Israel’s apologists in Washington, London, and Berlin naturally trotted out the standard clichés about Israel’s right to self-defense, but they could not mask the changing tone both in the political arena and in the large demonstrations in support of Palestinians in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere. For perhaps the first time, public discourse in all four of those countries (which share legacies of dispossessing indigenous peoples) featured discussion of the settler colonialist nature of generations of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Activists reinforced parallels to the oppression highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, and many young Americans now connect the injustice they have seen in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, to what they saw in Sheikh Jarrah and other locales where security forces use the same U.S.-manufactured tear gas and the same militarized policing tactics.

Terms that were never employed in the past about Israel, such as “systemic racism,” “Jewish supremacy,” “settler colonialism,” and “apartheid,” are being debated and becoming part of U.S. and left-wing Israeli public conversations.

While it is far from my area of expertise and specialization, I do watch the media coverage on Israel’s ongoing inability to resolve a conflict between being Zionist, being democratic, and holding all the land they have.

It also crops up in intersectional climate change activism, which is based around the idea that each injustice should be understood alongside each other, and that strategies for resolving them all simultaneously should be pursued. Campus fossil fuel divestment (CFFD) campaigns have often experienced internal conflicts about whether it is strategic or ethically obligatory for them to express solidarity with Palestinians and condemnation for Israeli conduct. Oftentimes, this involves a discussion of whether Israel’s critics are antisemitic — one argument used to condemn and reject the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement intent on applying external pressure to Israel. This has been at the heart of recent ructions in Canada’s federal Green Party.

On the other side, those who are critical about linking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with issues like environmental protection see the debate as absorbing a lot of time and energy for little purpose. There’s little or no prospect that any statement by environmentalists will affect Israeli government conduct. Some would say the effort to link these conflicts stems from a desire for a feeling of personal moral purity among activists, rather than an assessment of what impact their actions could really have. As the catastrophic momentum and severity of climate change continue to worsen, there is a fair case to be made that we need to focus on the issue and not be diverted down unproductive tracks. Indeed, if some nefarious pro-fossil outfit wanted a strategy for distracting progressives from a focused and effective call for fossil fuel abolition, stirring up arguments about notional but passionately held disagreements in which those arguing have little or no actual influence would seem to be a sound strategy.

2 thoughts on “Linkages between the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and contention elsewhere”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *