By JOHN LESLIE
Israel has labeled as terrorist groups five Palestinian NGOs, the Addameer Prisoners’ Rights group; Al-Haq rights group; the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC); the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC); and the Bisan Center for Research and Development. Additionally, they extended this designation to Defense for Children International-Palestine, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Israeli settler state claims without proof that these organizations are tied politically to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine(PFLP). The terror designation gives the Israeli state the right to seize assets from these organizations.
A statement from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch declared: “This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. While staff members of our organizations have faced deportation and travel bans, Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.”
The Biden administration has expressed concern about this latest Israeli action, but it is unclear whether it will act to oppose it. A group of Democratic lawmakers has introduced a resolution in the House of Representative condemning the action. The resolution calls the terror designation “a repressive act designed to criminalize and persecute important Palestinian human rights organizations.”
This action comes as the apartheid state of Israel continues to attack Palestinian human rights and plans to build 1300 more illegal settler homes in the occupied West Bank. This is in addition to more than 2000 settler homes authorized in August of this year. More than 680,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is deemed illegal under international law. In November of 2019, the Trump administration ruled that these settlements are “no longer considered illegal,” thus giving cover to further settlement building.
Nonprofits operating in the U.S. help facilitate the ethnic cleaning of Palestinian areas by raising money for these illegal settlements, and contributions are deductible from federal taxes. Israel is the single largest overall recipient of U.S. military aid in the world since the Second World War.
In 2021, home demolitions and the razing of structures built with humanitarian aid money increased substantially in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israelis demolished or confiscated Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing families and businesses. In some cases, Israel forces homeowners to demolish their own property in order to avoid fines or jail time.
According to one aid organization, “In the first quarter of 2021, the Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized at least 292 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing 450 people, including 246 children. This constitutes a 121 per cent increase in the targeting of structures and a 126 per cent increase in people displaced, compared with the same period in 2020 (132 and 201 respectively). Also, the monthly average of structures targeted in 2021 so far (97) constitutes a 37 per cent increase compared with the monthly average in all of 2020.”
Is Palestine solidarity “anti-Semitic?”
Israel makes accusations of terrorism or anti-Semitism to quell Palestine solidarity efforts worldwide and to stifle the voices of Palestinians fighting for their rights. This effort is seen here in the U.S., as pro-Palestine student groups are regularly attacked for so-called anti-Semitism. This is a dangerous game for the Israelis. By equating Jews and Israel as the same thing, the Zionists are reinforcing anti-Semitic tropes.
Is opposition to Zionism anti-Semitic? How has the Trotskyist movement answered this question? The 1971 Socialist Workers Party’s Resolution on Israel and the Arab Revolution states: “Our revolutionary socialist opposition to Zionism and the Israeli state has nothing in common with anti-Semitism, as the pro-Zionist propagandists maliciously and falsely assert. Anti-Semitism is anti-Jewish racism used to justify and reinforce oppression of the Jewish people. Marxists have been and remain the most militant and uncompromising fighters against anti-Semitism and the oppression of Jews.
“The source of the oppression of the Jewish people in this era is the capitalist system, which in its period of decay carries all forms of racist oppression to the most barbarous extremes. This was horribly illustrated in the holocaust directed against the Jews of Europe by German imperialism under the Nazi regime. Today, anti-Semitism remains widespread in all of the Western imperialist countries. Until the capitalist system is abolished in these countries there is the ever-present danger that a new variety of virulent anti-Semitism can arise.”
Who are the real terrorists?
Those who watched the Israeli terror campaign against Gaza earlier this year know that Israel is a terrorist state. Israel launched a savage all-out attack on a people who do not have an air force or army of their own. The Israeli campaign consisted of hundreds of airstrikes against Gaza. It destroyed many buildings, including high-rise towers, 40 schools, and four hospitals. Israel also attacked the al-Shati refugee camp. At least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the violence. Palestine solidarity activists and all supporters of human rights must unequivocally reject this attempt to smear the Palestinian liberation movement with the accusation of terrorism. We demand that the terror designation be removed and that any funds or assets be returned to these organizations. Further, in the United States, we demand an immediate end to U.S. taxpayer-financed military aid to the apartheid state of Israel and the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland and to have the right of self-determination—from the river to the sea.
Photo: Palestine solidarity protest in Queens, N.Y., in May 2021. (CNN)