By Ray Hanania
More than 700 Israelis and Palestinians on Saturday marched together and demanded, with one unified voice, an end to the oppression of Palestinians by Israel’s government.
Israel has ordered the demolition of several homes in East Jerusalem and neighboring Silwan, forcing many families on to the streets. This policy of ethnic cleansing is being enforced by the government of indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Saturday’s protest march began in Silwan in the West Bank and ended in West Jerusalem, where organizers Peace Now rallied the crowd and called on Netanyahu to end his government’s discriminatory policies.
This large show of solidarity by Israeli Jews with their Palestinian neighbors was empowering and was even described as being unprecedented.
During his campaign, US President Joe Biden issued an unprecedented partnership pledge that spoke directly to Arab Americans. In it, he promised to restore funding to the Palestinians and work to reopen the Palestinian Liberation Organization mission in Washington. He also endorsed the two-state solution in the context of reaffirming “equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy” for both sides.
However, Biden has since nominated Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be America’s voice at the UN, the platform that gave birth to Israel and has fought to do the same for Palestine. During her Senate confirmation hearing last month, Thomas-Greenfield openly denounced the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement as “verging on anti-Semitism.”
BDS has rallied against Israel’s discriminatory policies with respect to the racist Jewish-only settlements. These settlements, generally considered to be illegal by the international community, are built on farmland and villages taken by force from Palestinian Christians and Muslims. They are a clear obstacle to achieving a final peace between the Arabs and Israelis. You don’t build a democratic nation on top of the rights of another people, which is the very definition of Israel’s establishment.
Many supporters of Israel’s apartheid policies point to how the US stole the land of Native Americans. But there is one difference between what America has done to the Native Americans and what Israel is doing to Palestinians: Israel doesn’t recognize the Palestinians who live under its occupation as citizens and denies them the most basic fundamental civil and human rights.
In contrast, although the US occupied Native American lands, the government gave them formal citizenship and the protections of equal rights guaranteed under the US Constitution. In many cases, the government even set aside large areas of land, known as reservations, to be controlled by Native Americans as full citizens.
Clearly, the past four years have shown us that, if the Palestinians are going to get a state of their own, several things must happen — and we are starting to see progress on these fronts.
First is that the Palestinian citizens of Israel are seeking to empower their voices by voting in increasing numbers in Israeli elections.
Second is the BDS movement shining a bright light on Israel’s illegal settlement construction by emphasizing that any products harvested or manufactured on stolen land are illegal and should be boycotted.
Third is that the Arab governments that matter are continuing to champion the rights of the Palestinians.
And, finally, more and more Israeli Jews are gathering with Palestinians inside Israel to stand up for equal rights for all.
Saturday’s rally was an example of Israelis and Palestinians jointly refusing to allow Israel’s right-wing government to extinguish the rights of Palestinians. The question now is when will Biden’s words on Arab American rights intersect with actions in support of a Palestinian state?