Let’s not mince words: Israel is an apartheid state, occupying and displacing native Palestinians.
Even before its founding in 1948 as a Jewish state, Israel expelled and subjected Palestinians in an attempt to give the Jewish people a home following the devastating effects of the Holocaust. In creating a preventative measure for another anti-Semitic Holocaust, an apartheid state was established, slowly colonizing Palestine until only Gaza and the West Bank remained as “the world’s largest open-air prison.”
With the recent evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood by the Israeli Defense Force at the start of the month, tensions once again rose in the Israeli-Palestinian ‘conflict.’ Following the evictions, IDF forces accompanied Israeli settlers as they raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.
Following the raid, the international community’s eyes were drawn to Israel once again, watching countless videos of Palestinian buildings crumbling and Israeli citizens espousing rhetoric that promotes further colonial efforts at best and ethnic cleansing at worst.
For many, myself included, the Israeli actions against Palestinians were something that was confusing, muddled by claims that the conflict is “complicated.” In reality, the conflict is anything but complicated; it is the struggle of a colonized people struggling to exist within areas deemed unlivable by the United Nations.
There’s nothing “complicated” about the morality of human rights violations.
For myself, it is impossible not to sympathize with the struggles of the Palestinian people. No one deserves to live in fear of whether a state sanctioned bombing run will destroy your school or worry about armed forces raiding your place of worship.
“It is human nature to seek revenge in the face of relentless suffering,” the Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish wrote in a 2010 book. “You can’t expect an unhealthy person to think logically.”
Of course, the Palestinian people would turn to Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist group, to defend themselves. Hamas itself is morally repugnant, an extremist group in its own right, and does not represent the entire population, but Palestinians have been left with no other option to defend against a government that restricts their very access to fresh water.
Israeli citizens have a state-of-the-art defense grid known as the Iron Dome and shelters to defend from the actions of Hamas. Meanwhile, the Palestinians in Gaza are left with no warning before IDF weapons paid for by America and its allies destroy their homes and businesses, taking the lives of countless innocent men, women and children.
Israel’s excuse for silencing the screams of fearful Palestinians? Hamas MAY be in the buildings that they knock down. To the Israeli government, the use of force against a civilian population is not even a concern if they have the ability to possibly, without any concrete evidence, destroy a fundamentalist rebellion against their apartheid regime.
And what does the White House do in the face of these actions for all the world to see? They fund the Israeli occupation further with a $735 million stimulus.
Still, as the Israeli government and some of its citizens commit human rights violations against a native population much like America and Europe before it, it is important not to conflate the entire Jewish community with the actions of Israel’s far right regime.
“There is no room for anti-Semitism in the movement for Palestinian liberation,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on May 21. “Our critique is of Israel and their human rights abuses. This is not an excuse for anti-Semitic hate crimes.”
Jewish leaders have even taken an active role in protests for the liberation of Palestine, including at LSU itself. The “March for Palestine” on campus organized by Students for Justice in Palestine, the Black Student Union and Cooperation Rouge included speakers from the New Orleans chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization devoted to speaking out about the Israeli occupation.
Cooperation Rouge—formerly Democracy @ Work—echoed sentiments from Norm Finkelstein, a Jewish activist and descendent of Holocaust survivors dedicated to distancing Zionist and Jewish identity.
“The Zionists indeed learnt well from the Nazis,” Finkelstein said. “So well that it seems that their morally repugnant treatment of the Palestinians, and their attempts to destroy Palestinian society within Israel and the occupied territories, reveals them as basically Nazis with beards and black hats.”
Critique of Israel is not an act of anti-Semitism, but the condemnation of the actions of a far-right apartheid state. If all people have the right to self-determination, why has that right been stripped of Palestinians with the support of America and its allies over the years?
To critique Israel is not an act of hatred for the Jewish people but an act of sympathy for the people of Palestine, a people who have had their very humanity stripped of them, a people who fear for their lives on a daily basis with the entire world watching.
Domenic Purdy is a 20-year-old journalism junior from Prairieville.