Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Showed That A Mass Revolt Against Corporate Capitalism Has Begun

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In one paragraph from his latest book America: The Farewell Tour, Chris Hedges lays out what he sees as the logical conclusion of America’s era of corporate capitalism:
As deteriorating infrastructure and ongoing layoffs continue to beset the nation’s cities, more dramatic signs of neglect will appear. Garbage will pile up uncollected on curbsides. Power grids will blink on and off. There will not be enough police, firefighters, or teachers. Pensions will be slashed or paid sporadically. Decent medical care will be reserved for the rich. Those who die because they cannot afford health care-now 45,000 uninsured people a year-will perish in greater numbers. Fuel and food prices will climb. Processed food laden with preservatives, sugar, and fat will become the staple diet. At least a quarter of the population will lack adequate employment. Law and order will break down. Crime will become endemic, and in a nation where nearly everyone can get a gun, death rates from violence will rise. Riots, if the unraveling is not halted, will erupt across the country like wildfires.
With the country now being poised for a financial crash that many experts think will be worse than the one from 2008, this scenario looks realistic. But in the last year, signs have been appearing that the world’s poor and working classes are mobilizing to overthrow the plutocracy instead of being helplessly hurled into dystopia.
This January, strikes broke out around the world, with workers having participated in rebellions throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Throughout the spring, teachers carried out strikes for better pay and working conditions in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Africa. As these strikes continued for much of the rest of the year, hotel workers around the country started strikes during the fall. At the same time, the Poor People’s Campaign repeatedly carried out civil disobedience to demand economic justice, a strategy that Extinction Rebellion has mirrored in its climate action protests. Then France’s Yellow Vests created massive and intimidating protests in opposition to neoliberalism, which have spread throughout Europe and inspired working people around the world.
2017 didn’t have nearly as much organized, direct action from the world’s lower classes. This last year has been unprecedented in the past few decades of the worldwide labor movement, and the people have been moving to take down corporate power from many other fronts. Many of the people who’ve been assigned to do slave labor in America’s for-profit prisons have recently been organizing strikes for their freedom. The protests after the Parkland shooting, which were focused not just on gun control but on the violent consequences of social inequality, are also ultimately part of this intensification of class conflict.
These events, and the similar developments that we’ll no doubt see in the coming years, perfectly follow the predictions of the sociologist Peter Turchin. In 2012, Turchin observed that the three factors which precede social upheaval are the concentration of wealth and power in the control of elites, a decrease in living standards, and government indebtedness. Following the trajectory of society at the time, Turchin and his team concluded that the next major wave of social unrest would come in or around 2020. As Turchin has said about this finding, “My model suggests that the next [period of social unrest] will be worse than the one in 1970, because demographic variables such as wages, standards of living and a number of measures of intra-elite confrontation are all much worse this time.”
The unprecedented nature of America’s current wealth inequality supports Turchin’s point. Anthropology shows that some kind of mass uprising in our society is now unstoppable. Our job is to channel this unrest in a direction that will lead to the defeat of corporate power, an end to America’s wars, and the complete systemic implementation of economic and social justice.
There are countless ways this revolutionary anger can be diverted into societal self-destruction. Hate groups, far-right militias, and advocates of anarchic violence and terrorism have found many new supporters in recent years, and the rise of opioids and other self-destructive forms of personal stimulation are also the products of economic distress. But there are also good people out there who are trying to bring everyone towards constructive outlets for their frustration at the system. And in 2019 and beyond, they’ll help guide us towards a mass revolt.
Groups like the Democratic Socialists of America will continue to grow, as well as more radical organizations like the Socialist Equality Party. The Poor People’s Campaign and groups like it will keep disrupting corporate capitalism with blockades and sit-ins. The events of the Yellow Vests will keep being an avenue for working class anger, and even bigger protest movements will no doubt emerge in the coming years.
The people who’ve been fighting for equality in recent years have already created some changes, like the New York free college tuition policy that Bernie Sanders made possible, the minimum wage hikes that many American cities and states have enacted this year, and the concessions from Macron that the Yellow Vests have won. If we keep working to build our social movements, these changes could give way to an upheaval of capitalism. And given all that’s happened this year, history’s trajectory is in favor of this goal.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Because Americans Accepted Bush’s Normalization Of Extraordinary Rendition, The U.S. Can Now Capture Assange

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George W. Bush can still be used as an avatar for the evils of the American empire, because Bush’s presidency never really ended. The surveillance state, the lack of liberties like due process and the right to privacy, and constant direct warfare have all been part of our national reality since 9/11. The fundamentals of this Orwellian paradigm haven’t changed since then, and Obama and Trump have further established them by expanding America’s wars and by cracking down on whistleblowers.
As the U.S. gets ready to detain and prosecute Julian Assange, the consequences of staying complicit with this takeover’s earlier years are now ironically clear. When Bush authorized the CIA to carry out wildly unusual amounts of extraordinary rendition, the American people were told that this and the other new law enforcement measures would only be used to catch terrorists. Many people believed the government’s explanation, and those who didn’t believe it were powerless to stop this and the other policies of the “War on Terror.”
The initial results were tolerable, at least for non-Muslims who didn’t challenge the empire. In 2003, CIA agents used extraordinary rendition to detain Muslim cleric Abu Omar from the streets of Milan, Italy and send him to be interrogated and tortured in Egypt without trial. Throughout early-to-mid 2002, the current CIA director Gina Haspel authorized the torture of multiple Muslim prisoners in a Thailand “black site,” with the prison’s tactics having included beating an innocent pregnant woman in the stomach, anally raping a man with meals he refused, and freezing a shackled prisoner until he died. The prisoners in Guantanamo have been detained without trial, and a U.N. report from last year says that torture is still taking place in the prison. These precedents have helped Bush and Obama establish an unaccountable and extrajudicial drone assassination program that continues to primarily kill Muslims who the CIA brands as “terrorists.”
But because Americans assumed that these “security” measures would only ever affect the un-patriots and the Muslims, the U.S. government will have the ability to capture Assange through extraordinary rendition after he’s driven out of the Ecuadorian embassy. Reports have indicated that the Justice Department’s prepared indictment against Assange focuses on the Manning-era WikiLeaks releases, which means that the U.S. plans to prosecute Assange only for engaging in the routine journalistic practice of publishing leaks.
If the U.S. succeeds in this, any journalist who publishes government leaks-including the ones from corporate outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post-will be eligible for prosecution from the Trump administration. Earlier this year, the New York Times’ own lawyer David McGraw explicitly warned against prosecuting Assange, having said that “I think the prosecution of him would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers…from everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”
But like was the case during the past steps in this 21st century takeover of the American national security state, the political and media class are fecklessly helping bring on the collapse of liberty. Despite the fact that the attempt to prosecute Assange is part of the Trump White House’s attacks against journalists, mainstream “Resistance” Democrats have rationalized the White House’s action as “karma” for Assange’s effort to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. And even though there’s no evidence that Assange worked with or got the Clinton emails from Russia, and even though the emails contained crucial information about Clinton that voters deserved to see, pundits have made Assange out to be a Russian stooge who should be disposed of.
Assange, who’s already undergone incomprehensible suffering during his mostly isolated eight-year confinement in the embassy, is an example for those who try to challenge the power of the deep state. For the journalists and activists who expose the evils of corporate capitalism, the crimes of the U.S./NATO empire, and the lies of our government, the current atmosphere is about as intimidating as it was during those scary first few years after 9/11. The main difference is that speaking truth to power now gets you called a Russian operative instead of a terrorist ally.
Meanwhile, the rot in the underbelly of American imperialism keeps growing bigger. Last month, the Pentagon failed its first-ever audit, with the U.S. military having been revealed to systematically engage in accounting fraud that’s left $21 trillion unaccounted for. According to a recent Brown University study, America has spent nearly $6 trillion to pay for the War on Terror. As the Washington foreign policy establishment and the mainstream media push for another military budget increase that will put the official annual defense spending at $733 billion, the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 12 nations combined. With all costs considered, the country’s annual military spending is over $1 trillion.
This monumental siphoning of America’s resources into the Bush/Obama/Trump era’s permanent war is happening while the country’s infrastructure is in a pathetic state, and while a U.N. report this year stated that America is the most unequal developed country with 40 million of its people living in poverty. For the last half-century, the American empire has been collapsing both internally and externally, with the dollar being in decline, America’s hegemony disappearing in favor of countries like Russia and China, and all of America’s recent invasions having failed.
America is straining its military powers abroad while living conditions in the homeland deteriorate. And the response from the capitalist ideologues and “American exceptionalism” advocates is to impose tighter surveillance and policing so that the dissenters will be silenced. This is what the recent Russophobia from U.S. elites is about, and it’s why left-wing, anti-war, and independent media outlets have lately been censored by online companies in the name of stopping “Russian propaganda.” The next step in the effort to crush dissent will involve violence from the police forces that Trump has helped militarize.
It’s fitting that while Assange is being demonized by the media, George W. Bush gets adoring headlines when he gives Michelle Obama a piece of candy. Like was the case when policies like extraordinary rendition were started, the establishment’s attitude is that our president Bush should be admired while the atrocities and attacks on liberties he’s responsible for should be ignored. This was encapsulated by Michelle Obama’s comment this year about Bush: “he is my partner in crime at every major thing where all the formers gather. I love him to death.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Neoliberalism And The Rationalization Of Corporate Tyranny

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To understand the pathologies behind our paradigm of militarism, institutional racism, and extreme inequality, we should focus on the ideology that the ruling elites use to advance their agenda. This ideology can be called neoliberalism, since neoliberalism is the term for the extreme version of capitalism that the ruling class has made into conventional political thought. And neoliberalism is an exceptionally useful worldview for a power elite to propagate, because it gives those who share their ideology the same mindset that the elites themselves have.
Like every dominant class throughout history, the plutocrats see those in the lower rungs of society as inferior. But neoliberalism lets this hostility towards the poor spread among the broader population. Following in the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and propagated by right-wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh, an attitude has developed among many people that one’s economic position is always their own fault. Resentment towards perceived freeloaders is widespread, with even lower-class people often being suspicious that their economic peers are siphoning off society’s resources through welfare.
When this impulse to blame the country’s decay on laziness and “degeneracy” is fed by the dominant political forces, the ruling elite’s belief in the supreme moral value of wealth and the need for a corporate capitalist “free market” becomes the worldview of much of the rest of society. The super-rich believe that “freedom” means the ability to gain unlimited amounts of wealth without accountability, and this is essentially how most conventional political thinkers also view freedom. The domination of the neoliberal consensus applies to both the mainstream “conservative” and “liberal” sides, since the Democratic Party reliably helps Wall Street and large corporations while marginalizing potential progressive reformers.
In reality, our political system is controlled by neither conservatives nor liberals. Electoral politics, government agencies, the courts, the universities, and the media have been bought out by corporations and billionaires. America’s economy is tied in with permanent wars, which are waged to sustain the demands of a global corporate-controlled empire. Our politics and our culture have been subverted by a tiny ruling circle, whose agenda isn’t to advance the traditional definitions of conservatism or liberalism but to protect their own wealth and power. And these elites have gotten many people to rationalize their tyrannical rule-or to even be unaware that a dominating class exists-by branding the accumulation of wealth as a personal freedom that shouldn’t be limited.
This economically centered concept of “freedom” is popularized by giving Americans-especially white Americans-the sense that they have the opportunity to succeed in the game of capitalism. Of course, the vast majority of white working class people never become part of the capitalist class. But the promise that they can theoretically become the commanders of the capitalist apparatus is rooted in the Western mentality of individualism, which is psychologically compelling for someone who’s told that the masters of business are society’s deserving “winners.” And the fact that becoming part of the capitalist class would entail domination over society’s “losers” is justified by the darker part of Western culture that glorifies conquest. This aspect of our culture derives from the mentalities behind colonialism and slavery, and it’s now being used to justify our current period of exploitation.
The shallow culture of consumerism enforces this lack of concern for the common good, as well as the regimentation and lack of community that our modern suburban paradigm has created. America’s culture is in a crisis of empathy, where people are encouraged to only think of their own interests while ignoring the circumstances of those who are different from them. Anthropologically, it makes sense for a population in these circumstances to largely be cynical, suspicious of outsiders, and loyal to authority.
It’s also clear that Donald Trump is a symptom of the system that he exploited towards winning the 2016 election. A society that bases itself in exploitation and conquest while ignoring its own fallibility and injustices was the perfect habitat for Trump’s rise.
Trump won’t be the last of America’s late-stage capitalist authoritarian leaders, and he likely won’t be the worst. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, a homophobe and racist who seeks to impose torture and military dictatorship, is a potential vision of the political forces that will enter the American mainstream within the next ten or twenty years. Like Trump and the other right-wing populists, Bolsonaro’s agenda is also a deeply anti-democratic iteration of neoliberalism that aims to use the police power of the state to enforce corporate tyranny.
People are willing to support the agenda of these leaders both because of the cultural mentality of neoliberal capitalism, and because of a more explicitly authoritarian mentality that stems from neoliberalism. In a passage from the 1950 sociology report The Authoritarian Personality, the report’s authors assess that social factors similar to our current dynamic of class hierarchy are what cultivates a predisposition towards being loyal to power:
[A] basically hierarchical, authoritarian, exploitive parent-child relationship is apt to carry over into a power-oriented, exploitively dependent attitude towards one’s sex partner and one’s God and may well culminate in a political philosophy and social outlook which have no room for anything but a desperate clinging to what appears to be strong, and a disdainful rejection of whatever is relegated to the bottom.
Psychologically, powerful supporters of neoliberalism like Obama and Trump share a lot with the adherents of neoliberalism who have no power. What unites the powerful with the supporters of power is the belief that the rich deserve their wealth, and that the poor don’t deserve to be helped. As the clinical psychologist John F. Schumaker recently wrote about the empathy deficit that modern consumerist capitalism has created: “Only the odd diehard biophile or flower child still preaches love as the revolutionary force that could awaken a higher humanity and reverse our death march. People have become less loveable, both in terms of their loveableness and, more crucially, their ability to love.”
The lesson is that if we want to make things better, we need to spread compassion and generosity throughout our daily lives. Even more important is the creation of a mass movement that seeks to overthrow corporate capitalism, and then create a society which protects the planet while ensuring that every person has a safe and comfortable life.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Democrats’ Opposition To Ending The War In Syria Represents The Hypocrisy Of Mainstream Liberalism

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As we move into the 2020 election cycle, and as the conflict between progressives and the Democratic establishment intensifies, war and foreign policy are major parts of the grievances that the left has with mainstream liberals. Since this wasn’t so much the case during the 2016 Bernie vs Hillary conflict, something good may come from Democratic elites’ recent endorsement of continuing America’s war in Syria.
The main problem with Trump’s withdrawing troops from Syria is that it doesn’t go far enough. As Congressman Ted Lieu has said in response to it: “If you believe in the rule of law [and the] constitution, you should support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. There was no congressional approval to send U.S. troops into harms way for Kurds or humanitarian reasons or to oppose Russia or Iran or Turkey.” And even if America’s involvement were legal, it wouldn’t be beneficial. An active military presence does the opposite of stabilizing a region, and America’s “War on Terror” has overall createdmore terror throughout the world. To solve the crisis in Syria and elsewhere, we need to let the region manage its own affairs.
Yet despite these facts, and despite the overall small nature of Trump’s military pullout, the political and media class have reacted to this news with hysteria. The fact that Senate neocons, cable news pundits, and pro-war Democrats like Hillary Clinton all oppose the withdrawal should immediately make people cautious of going along with their narrative. But since the issue is tied in with opposing Trump, many regular liberals have also lately been arguing for continued war.
But this hostility towards peace from establishment Democrats isn’t just about partisanship. It’s about protecting power. Hillary Clinton, Adam Schiff, and the other longtime Democratic politicians denouncing Trump’s decision are the same ones who voted for the Iraq War. They’re the same ones who either ignored or participated in the unprecedented drone wars and seven-country-wide bombing campaign that happened under Obama. They’re the same ones who’ve recently supported Trump’s illegal strikes against Syria, despite the continued lack of evidence that Assad has committed any chemical attacks. And they’re the ones who have been advocating for increased escalations with Russia throughout the last two years under the rationale of the still unsubstantiated “Russiagate” scandal.
These Democratic politicians and pundits have helped advance war because in America’s Orwellian oligarchy, advancing war is the way to be accepted by the people in power. For these public figures, supporting war is a necessary part of the goal to gain power and prominence. And for the people who believe the narratives of these figures, supporting war is a necessary part of fitting into their political tribe.
The same is of course true for Republican Party. But the hypocrisy of the Democrats’ support for war is that Democrats position themselves as the defenders of peace and compassion. While mainstream liberals claim to be allies for people of color, they enable the imperialism and neo-colonialism that perpetuates white supremacy around the world. And while Democrats claim to be the party of the poor, they support the wars and neoliberal policies that keep America’s plutocracy in place.
The Democratic Party’s support for these systems is ultimately about protecting class privilege and white supremacy, which rich white politicians like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer very much benefit from. As Jason Johnson of The Root assesses in his article from this June I Finally See It: Democrats Don’t Hate Trump As Much as They Love White Supremacy:
The Trump administration has literally and symbolically taken more kids against their will than R. Kelly with a fleet of minivans, and what have Democrats done in response to his latest violations? Did they shut down the government? Refuse to vote on any legislation? Grind D.C. to a halt? Nope.
For two weeks they went on CNN and waved their fingers and sent a magic school bus of congresspeople to the border camps until Trump’s own team came up with an executive order that’s still terrible. Why the lack of aggressive resistance? Too many Democratic leaders live with the privilege of white supremacist thinking — that fundamentally, since they’re white and Trump is white, everything will eventually be all right. That white power, even when abused, is still the natural order of things. For them.
2020 will no doubt be yet another rollout of Democratic candidates who posture against systemic injustice while working to prop it up. Democrats like Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke, who solidly support pro-war and pro-corporate policies, will be elevated by the corporate media. And candidates like Bernie Sanders, who are largely better, will be undermined by the Democratic establishment like was the case in 2016. Meanwhile, the Trump government will continue its reactionary attacks against poor people and people of color, with Democrats continuing to enable these attacks while attacking Trump when he carries out a policy like the Syria pullout.
The world’s vulnerable people can’t wait for America’s political system to fix itself. We need to overthrow corporate capitalism and dismantle the white supremacist power structure. And to do this, we’ll need to recognize conventional liberalism as an obstacle to the cause for justice.
As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Netanyahu, Likud, And The Farce Of Israeli “Democracy”

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The goal of today’s leaders of Israel is to carry out a program of vast cruelty and violence, while maintaining the public perception that they’re liberal democrats who advance peace and equality. But as the genocide against the Palestinians continues in front of the world, and as Israel slips into dictatorship, maintaining this image is an increasingly difficult task.
Concealing Israel’s ethnic cleansing operation
Israel presents itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, the operator of the most moral army in the world, and an upholder of equality. Yet by deliberate design, most Palestinians don’t even have the right to citizenship in Israel; the government has stopped granting citizenship to East Jerusalem Palestinians in recent years, and citizenship is all but impossible for Palestinians to get if they live in Gaza or the West Bank. And under the “administrative detention” policy, Palestinians can be indefinitely detained without charge, while Israel gives Palestinians far fewer rights in the legal process than it gives the more favored ethnic groups.
Other means of Israel’s collective punishment against the Palestinians includediscriminatory curfews, the requirement for Palestinians to pay the Israeli court upfront before they can sue their employers for labor violations, check points that restrict Palestinians from traveling in and out of the occupied areas, and efforts to deprive Palestinians in the occupied areas of food, water and health care.
Meanwhile, Israel’s military is engaged in an effort to systematically harass and kill Palestinians. When they have the opportunity, Israeli forces lure and kill Palestinians in Gaza, bomb hovels in Gaza City, and take other measures to murder innocent Palestinians. The amount of recorded cases of abuse by IDF soldiers is staggering, and the Israeli military has actively enabled them. This deliberate and concerted effort to destroy Palestinian lives has been shown in Israel’s responses to the Great March of Return protests, which have been met with unprovoked IDF sniper fire that’s killed hundreds and wounded thousands in the last year.
These are among the many other ways Israel’s laws are designed to punish disfavored groups, including a denial of equal surrogacy rights for gay families and mass deportation policies that target black people. And Netanyahu’s public statements which claim Israel is committed to equal rights are contrasted to the vicious racism and open calls for genocide that members of his own government have repeatedly expressed. In a 2014 Facebook post, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked endorsed the contents of an article which says that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy,” and that “its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure” must be destroyed. Then last year, Deputy Speaker Bezalel Smotrich said that if Palestinians in the occupied areas don’t stop resisting Israel’s attempts at colonization, “the Israel Defense Forces will know what to do.”
Smotrich may be a member of Tkuma, which is further to the right than the ruling Likud party. But Netanyahu, who knows how it would look to the world if he more openly embraced Israel’s ethnic cleansing programs, distances himself from the extremists mainly in terms of rhetoric. Netanyahu still appointed Shaked as justice minister in 2015, and he still oversees Israel’s land grabs, resource blockades, and military attacks against Palestinians with full knowledge of the death and pain he’s causing.
When possible, Netanyahu and Likud’s other spokespeople will hide anything that suggests they’re carrying out this destruction of the Palestinians. And when the subject has to be addressed, they’ll use euphemisms to make their atrocities sound palatable; as the columnist Richard H. Curtiss wrote in 1988, “transfer” is “the Likud word for genocide.” And as Chris Hedges has assessed, Israel redefines its war crimes by calling the deliberate shooting of innocent Gaza youths “children wounded in crossfire,” by calling bombings of Gaza hovels “surgical strikes,” by calling Israel’s destruction of Palestinian houses and apartment blocks “the demolition of the homes of terrorists,” and by classifying killed Palestinian children as “human shields” despite the lack of evidence that Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
The goal is to conflate all of Israel’s atrocities with its legitimate efforts to defend from Hamas’ attacks, a framing approach that makes the genocide against Palestinians invisible to anyone who believes Israel’s narratives. But otherwise, it’s impossible for the world not to see that Israel has turned Gaza into a concentration camp while carrying out collective punishment onto all the Palestinians within its power.
Trying to ignore Israel’s drift towards authoritarianism
In his 2014 piece Why Israel Lies, Hedges concluded that “Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes.” And when Netayahu’s government treats the truth like this, it’s natural that the government has come to resemble a dictatorship in many other ways.
For instance, under the “Boycott Law,” any Israeli individual or organization who advocates for BDS is liable to be sued for damages. Under the “Nakba Law,” the Israeli finance ministry denies funding for organizations that don’t explicitly recognize the country as a Jewish state. In 2016 Israel passed a bill, promoted by Ayelet Shaked, that forces foreign human rights groups to reveal their funding for the purpose of intimidating those groups into submission.
To a great extent, modern Israel resembles Soviet Russia, with the state exercising surveillance powers greater than those of the U.S. government, freedom of movement being forbidden for Palestinians in the occupied zones, and the state arresting many teens who refuse to serve in the military-with especially severe punishments applying to those who won’t serve for political reasons. Israel’s police state has lately been used to intimidate critical journalists, like when liberal Zionist writer Peter Beinart was detained this year and questioned about his political opinions and activities. And Netanyahu is going in the direction of dictatorship, with his government attempting to dismantle the power of Israel’s supreme court because of its inconvenient enforcement of human rights laws.
This July’s passage of the Israeli nation-state law, which makes Hebrew the country’s official language and proclaims the legality of all Israeli settlements, solidified that Israel wants to go in the direction of Jewish supremacy and social repression instead of becoming more liberal. Much of the country’s public is behind this decision, with a 2016 Pew poll saying that half of Israeli Jews support expelling Arabs and that around eighty percent want to have “preferable treatment” over non-Jewish minorities. Netanyahu and Likud didn’t rise through undemocratic means, and their agenda is completely within the mainstream of Israeli thought.
Going by the requirement that an ostensibly democratic country give all of its people the right to participate in government, Israel is not a democracy. And even if it technically qualifies as a democracy, it’s a “democracy” that fulfills Orwell’s line “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Where hope lies
As is always the case with populations who’ve been given a false view of the world by the propaganda of their governments, it’s hard to say how much blame these supporters of the ethnic cleansing operation deserve for having developed their beliefs. The support for Jewish supremacy, and the contempt for the people who Israel has displaced, are ingrained into many Israelis from a young age. And as Israeli journalist Amira Hass assessed last year, devaluing the lives of the Palestinians is tempting when one’s secure situation in life is essentially built on the destruction of Palestine:
Maybe even more appalling than the sight of the police and the Border Police — and their arrogant, alienated and hostile sneers at the Palestinians — is Israelis’ delight at their attractiveness, heroism and sweetness. Our own cruelty — moment after moment, day after day, month after month, year after year — doesn’t bother us. As long as our cruelty guarantees our generally good lives, it’s legitimate.
Evidently, most Israelis have taken the path of least resistance in this collective trampling of the conquered group. Netanyahu and the other right-wing Zionists seek to erase the Palestinians because the Palestinians get in the way of the grand plan for a fully expanded Jewish ethno-state. And for many of the people who are assigned the privileges in this new nation, disregarding the lives that this project destroys seems like a worthwhile compromise of morals.
So aside from dissenting Israelis like Hass, hope for improvement can mainly be found from outside of the country. Despite Israel’s attempts to expand its propaganda reach into worldwide Jewish life, vocal opposition to Israel’s atrocities is growing within the Jewish community, especially among younger Jews. The vast majority of countries don’t share the U.S.’ blind support for Israel. And Israel’s defenders have repeatedly had to resort to conspiracy theories about anti-Semitism when the U.N. has called out Israel’s human rights abuses, which makes Israel’s spokespeople impossible for most of the world take seriously. Meanwhile, amid the growth of BDS and the overwhelmingly bad worldwide publicity for Israel’s actions, change of some kind is clearly unavoidable.
The question is: to what degree will we take this effort towards justice and restitution for the people of Palestine?
After decades of Israeli transgressions, the two-state solution is no longer feasible. The solution, as Palestinian rights advocate Lana Habash has concluded, is complete decolonization: “The colonial project in historic Palestine, like all colonial projects — on this continent and elsewhere — is a dead end. There is no humanity in it. You cannot make it ‘more just’ while it still exists. For Palestinians and all indigenous people to have justice, they must have their land back. All Palestinians know this and so does Israel, which is why they try to keep that discussion off the table by shooting unarmed protesters, journalists and farmers.”
History shows that this option is entirely possible. Throughout the mid-to-late 1950’s, numerous African countries underwent widespread revolts against European colonial rule that ultimately succeeded. The Palestinians are on their way towards liberating themselves in the same way, but they need our help.