In 1972, Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-California) introduced a bill on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus (founded in 1971), calling on Congress to pressure South Africa to end apartheid and other racist practices. CBC members would introduce at least 15 more such bills until the U.S. Congress finally passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986.
Congress wasn’t any more liberal in 1986 than in 1972, but a broad anti-apartheid movement had developed in the interim. Over 5,000 people were arrested for protesting in front of the South African Embassy in the U.S. Spearheaded by Black activists, the movement to divest, or cease operations in South Africa, forced universities and businesses to withdraw investment dollars.
However, the real game changer was the growing success of the armed wing of the African National Congress — uMkhonto we Sizwe.
During her heroic address to Congress, prior to a July 18 vote to support Israel and deny it is an apartheid and racist state, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) told Congress, “Don’t forget, apartheid South Africa once had bipartisan support in Congress too.”
Tlaib is the first Palestinian American woman elected to Congress. During the debate on the pro-Israel resolution, Tlaib delivered a scathing indictment of Israel’s genocidal policies impacting Palestinians. She quoted from current Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who recently said about Palestinians: “Beat them up not once, but repeatedly. Beat them up until it’s unbearable.” And he said Israel must: “Crush Palestinian hopes for a fully sovereign state.”
Tlaib and nine other colleagues boycotted Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress. A press release from Tlaib and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri), who also voted against the resolution, read in part: “It’s contradictory to claim to support human rights when you’re arming the oppressors with billions of dollars of bullets and bombs. It is hypocritical to claim to be deeply concerned about attacks on Palestinian families, and then smile for a photo op with the president of the government enabling these human rights abuses and maintaining the status quo.
“The facts are clear, and the international consensus is resounding — Israel is an apartheid state. To assert otherwise in the face of the colossal body of evidence and the consensus of the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem — the largest human rights organization in Israel — and countless others is to deny this reality.” (tinyurl.com/mrxn7r4n)
The lopsided congressional vote came as no surprise. Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid — $150 billion between 1999 and 2022. The U.S. is Israel’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade at $50 billion by 2023. Much like their relationship with apartheid South Africa, U.S. corporate investments in Israel are the deciding factor behind any congressional vote.
But as with South Africa, the progressive anti-Israel movement, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, is growing. And the militancy of Palestinian resistance is also on the rise in what many now call the third Intifada.
Massive ‘pro-democracy’ demonstrations by Israelis are taking place right now. But none openly oppose the oppression of Palestinians — essentially exposing the apartheid nature of Israel.
Workers World fully asserts that the apartheid state of Israel has NO right to exist. Founded with the brutal, forced removal of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians, Israel should never have been recognized as a state. Palestinians were never given a say on Israeli “statehood” imposed on them by the United Nations-brokered cease-fire in 1949.
Without the billions of dollars in backing from the U.S. in weapons and trade, Israel could not exist today. We demand, “Stop U.S. money and weapons to Israel!”