By Iqbal Jassat
Does the current wave of protests across America sparked by the brutal murder of George Floyd by a white police officer present an existential threat to Israel? I hope so.
Astonishing as it may sound, though, Israel’s propagandists and defenders have been shocked to “discover” suddenly that the parallels between America’s structural racism against its black citizens and the colonial-settler regime’s violent denial of Palestinians’ human rights are glaringly real and very obvious.
Ironically, the “shock and awe” of being confronted with the reality of widespread systematic discrimination against blacks which mirrors the immorality of Zionism’s inherent racism has led to defenders of Israel slandering the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The absurdity of trying to defame and discredit protesters as “violent looters” is utterly disingenuous and displays a naivety which is reflected in the failure of both the Trump administration and Israel’s right-wing regime to acknowledge that repression and the denial of rights will not be tolerated any longer.
Trump’s refusal to hold police officers and National Guards accountable for their normalised and almost casual brutality is reminiscent of the last gasps of the white minority rulers in apartheid South Africa. Ultimately and reluctantly they had to come to terms with the fact that racism is unjust, immoral and above all unsustainable.
It is thus quite revealing that defenders of Israel are terrified by the intensity of the protest movement in the US which has spawned solidarity across Europe and other parts of the world. The protests are gaining momentum.
Pro-Israel lobbyists refer disparagingly to the legitimate demands made by protesters for equality and justice as “mayhem”. This is intended to conceal the fact that resistance to oppression, whether by blacks in America or by Palestinians against Israel’s brutal occupation, is entirely legitimate and justified.
One dimension of the current situation which Israel’s cheerleaders seem to be entirely unhappy about is what Caroline Glick insists is “the radicalisation of white progressives” and the threat they represent to US-Israel relations. In an article in Israel Hayom, Glick makes the amazing claim that the protests which she calls “riots” are “not a consequence of increased police brutality towards African Americans.” Instead, against all the evidence laid bare by black victims of America’s disproportionate criminal justice system, police brutality and the inherent racism to which they are subjected routinely, Glick insists that, “The violence [sic] we are seeing is a result of the steep radicalisation of progressive white Americans”.
While it is true that substantial number of whites in America are extremely fed up of the status quo and are rallying alongside their black fellow-citizens in solidarity, it is dishonest to imply that the merciless murder of George Floyd is inconsequential.
Incredibly, but not surprisingly, as Israel’s propagandists do she goes on to describe #BlackLivesMatter as a “radical group” and “anti-Semitic”. Such allegations are designed to discredit the legitimate protest movement the actions of which have clearly shaken Trump and his buddy Benjamin Netanyahu, but which have, nevertheless, inspired others around the world.
Israel relies on discrediting and slandering critics of its apartheid policies, but despite Trump’s shoddy response it cannot be denied that the world recoiled in horror when the graphic video of George Floyd’s neck pinned to the ground by the knee of a killer in police uniform went viral. Such brutality by a law enforcement officer would not have surprised many Israelis or, indeed, Palestinians. It is, after all, par for the course in the occupied Palestinian territories. Hence, the solidarity expressed on protest banners for Palestinian victims of Israeli knees on their necks and brutal killings, aided and abetted by US support for the Zionist state, was to be expected. Likewise, the Palestinians are backing #BlackLivesMatter.
Such solidarity fuelled the anti-apartheid movement against white minority rule in South Africa, as indeed it will spread support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign against apartheid Israel. It was always inevitable that the protest movement in America and the rest of the world would find common ground with Palestinian demands for justice.
The Trump administration’s gifts to Israel of billions of dollars, military aid and bogus legitimacy for its Jewish settlements, occupation and annexation of Palestine are now imperilled. That is why Israel in particular is on edge following George Floyd’s killing by an American police officer. There will indeed be consequences.