Beginning with the slogan that uses the words “from the river to the sea,” the Biden administration began making claims that protests all over the world to liberate the over 2 million Palestinian hostages in Gaza are anti-Semitic. However, the modern-day usage of the slogan is a response to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party’s platform dating back to 1977.
The Likud Party’s platform begins with saying “The Right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.” It also defines the State of the Jewish People as “founded in 1948” after being in what it declares as “exile” for more than 2,000 years. The first two bullet points of their platform read as follows:
a. “The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable and is linked with the right to security and peace; therefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan, there will only be Israeli sovereignty.
b. “A plan which relinquishes parts of western Eretz Israel, undermines our right to the country, unavoidably leads to the establishment of a “Palestinian State,” jeopardizes the security of the Jewish population, endangers the existence of the State of Israel. and frustrates any prospect of peace.”
While the term has a long and sordid history that has been used to signify the destruction of both the Palestinian and Israeli states by extremists on both sides, context matters. In the most recent cases, the slogan is used to advocate for the freedom of the thousands of Palestinians who have been incarcerated without due process, murdered every year by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli police, have their homes and land stolen from them, and have been disallowed from participating in elections among so many other issues.
“…between the Sea and the Jordan, there will only be Israeli sovereignty.”– Israel’s Likud Party Platform
As the online debate rages on over who has rights to the land, the focus here is on the Biden administration, along with other Western governments, that are trying to equate tens of millions of people all over the world with anti-Semitism. Human rights for oppressed populations is not racist nor is it anti-Semitic. Arguing so is seemingly no different than racists claiming we’re anti-white for speaking out against racism or anti-cop for speaking out against police brutality.
If you’re a white anti-Racist, surely you’ve been labeled a race traitor.
Neither is a fair assessment. Especially when hate groups are ramping up their rhetoric which will inevitably lead to hate crimes. By labeling people who only seek to ensure the rights of innocent Palestinians as they are relentlessly being slaughtered by indiscriminate Israeli bombings, more and more people in the West are becoming more comfortable with equating Palestinians with Hamas or all Muslims with terrorism. Yet another dangerous trend.
Much of that has been driven by false stories by the media, President Joe Biden, Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken, and others making claims of horrific acts without evidence and balking at independent investigations into their claims. By doing so, they are forcing people to either believe them or not. And if you don’t, they immediately label you as anti-Semitic without evidence.
In other words, their false claims lead to false accusations to silence dissent.
There is no question that both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have been on the rise since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. It should go without saying that except for racists and bigots, no one is advocating for the loss of any life. Particularly, innocent lives. Assuming and associating “Free Palestine” sloganeering with supporting terrorism isn’t just disingenuous, it’s extremely dangerous for human-rights-focused citizens all over the world.
We live in a supposed democracy where free speech and self-determination are key tenets to making democracy work. But immediately demonizing people’s humanity as we watch the genocide of Palestinians in both the West Bank where Hamas doesn’t operate and Gaza where more than 10,000 innocent civilians have been murdered is creating some of the worst divisions ever seen in the US. Divisions former president Donald Trump could only dream of creating.
In the weeks since the attack, I have warned the White House and Department of State against using such charged language. A message Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre seems to have ignored. Instead, she continues to lead the charge of falsely equating regular civilians with extremists and hate groups akin to those from Charlottesville in 2017 who chanted “Jews will not replace us” en masse. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Nothing could be more damaging to someone’s life and career.
There is no question that this is certainly a trying time in the United States. But demonizing and alienating a large portion of the population won’t win you any popularity contests and it sure as hell won’t win you any elections (just ask Hillary Clinton). At this point, it’s going to take more than campaigning in rural midwest towns to win back the votes that have seemingly been lost to the fascist ideas of collective punishment being brought upon the Palestinian people.
It’s time to start questioning what is said and change tactics. Otherwise, we’re doomed.
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