The White House has expanded its offensive against the rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination on two fronts, including the right to return to the lands taken from them by the Israeli state. Workers World supports the Palestinian people in their struggle for these rights.
The most recent front is in Palestine and involves a drastic cut in what is normally described as humanitarian aid. The U.S. cut its $200 million contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for its aid work in occupied Palestine on Aug. 24. The U.S. decision leaves UNRWA’s provision of health care and emergency aid as well as education for 526,000 Palestinian refugee children facing a serious shortfall.
By taking this step, the U.S. administration now adds collective punishment to its crimes against the Palestinian people. And it adds this cut to its earlier decision to recognize the city of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. This blow aimed at Palestine occurred when the U.S. Embassy was relocated there on May 14.
A leading organization in the Palestinian freedom struggle, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said in a Sept. 1 statement that it considers the decision of the United States of America to stop funding UNRWA as an additional confirmation by the administration of its partnership with the Zionist enemy in its declared war against the Palestinian cause and rights.
Back in the U.S.A., the administration has sharpened its attack on people who work in solidarity with Palestinians and with Palestine, falsely accusing them of anti-Semitism. Kenneth Marcus, Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the Department of Education, wrote a letter to the Zionist Organization of America promising to reopen an investigation of students at Rutgers University. These students are charged with anti-Semitism because they held a meeting in 2011 with a panel of Jewish Holocaust survivors under the heading “Never Again for Anyone.” The charges had been dropped by the Obama administration in 2014. (APnews.com, Sept. 12)
A Sept. 14 statement by Jewish Voice for Peace calls Marcus’ letter the beginning of an intimidation campaign because it threatens universities with losing federal funding. It says Marcus is abusing the DOE Office of Civil Rights.
Anti-Semitism, which was at one time blatant in U.S. ruling-class circles, still exists. Scenes from Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 made it clear that Nazis and Nazi sympathizers held vicious anti-Semitic beliefs along with racist, anti-Muslim, homophobic and misogynist tenets. That Marcus doesn’t start his investigation with the Charlottesville fascists makes it obvious it’s not anti-Semitism the administration aims to stop, but solidarity with Palestine.
These two steps by the Trump administration are completely in line with U.S. policy since Washington supported the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. More blatant, but continuity.
While Washington and Tel Aviv have not always agreed on every tactic over 70 years, they have always shared common reactionary interests in that area of West Asia where Israel is a regional power. Israel was and is a settler state, isolated from its neighbors and oppressing the Indigenous population it removed from their homes and lands. The Israeli state has been both dependent on Western — and especially U.S. — imperialism for military, political and diplomatic aid. And it has also acted as an enforcer of imperialist interests in the region against anti-imperialist peoples and states.
That the U.S. administration is more open and blatant about its oppressive role wipes out any remaining illusion that Washington can be an “honest broker” in the region. Those of us inside the U.S. must fight for the right to expose the Israeli state’s crimes and the reactionary nature of Zionist ideology. That is our challenge and our role.