Stunning to hear @RashidaTlaib claim “behind the curtain,” those who prevent a “free Palestine” are the “same people” who exploit “regular Americans.”
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) August 3, 2021
Rep. @RashidaTlaib has once again used an antisemitic trope claiming that Jews profit from racism in America.
Enough is enough.
Rep. Tlaib’s ugly rhetoric must be denounced by all. https://t.co/oKO1i5KwED
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) August 4, 2021
The Israel Lobby appears obsessed with the progressive women of color who’ve won election to Congress over the past few years. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar in particular have invoked fear and loathing not even seen regarding neo-Nazis or Jew-hating white supremacists. When someone singles out a particular gender, religion or nationality for abuse we call that racism. We call it bigotry. This is certainly the case with the continuing attacks on them for their views on Israel-Palestine.
The latest iteration of this near-fatal obsession is the attack by the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt (see tweet above), the AJC, and their media darlings on Tlaib for her remarks highlighting the intersectionality of the struggle for justice of African-Americans in Detroit’s inner city and Palestinians in Gaza. Here are Tlaib’s full remarks so you can compare them to the intentionally truncated, misconstrued version offered by them on social media:
For me as a Palestinian-American, we also need to recognize as I think about my family and Palestine that continue to live under military occupation and how that really interacts with this beautiful Black city that I grew up in. I always tell people that cutting people off from water is violence. And they do it from Gaza to Detroit. And it’s a way to control people, to oppress people and it’s those structures that we continue to fight against.”
“I know you all understand the structure we’ve been living under right now is designed by those who exploit the rest of us, for their own profit. I always say to people ‘I don’t care if it’s around the issue of global rights, and our fight to free Palestine, or to pushing back against those who don’t believe in a minimum wage or those who believe we don’t have a right to healthcare and so much more.’ And I tell those same people, that if you open the curtain and look behind the curtain, it’s the same people who make money and—yes they do—off of racism, off of these broken policies. There is someone there making money and you saw it, it was so exposed during the pandemic.]
Can anyone claim that Israel doesn’t “profit” from Occupation and mass violence? Of course it does. It profits in the sense that it advances its own interest in maintaining an evil unjust system offering full rights for Jewish citizens, lesser status for Israeli Palestinian citizens, and no status for occupied Palestinian. It profits literally from the military complex which earns billions from the sale of advanced weapons systems and technology, which feed the maw of the garrison state. Israeli weapons exports are a major source of profits for Israeli companies and export revenue for the country’s economy. Israel is known the world over for the products of its surveillance state produced by companies like NSO, Cellebrite, Circles, Anyvision and others. Some of this technology is even in use by American police departments and intelligence agencies, where it is used to spy on high school students, and peace and social justice activists.
Nor does this have anything to do with anti-Semitism. Tlaib clearly indicates this is criticism of Israel’s oppression of Gaza and Palestinians in general. There isn’t a word about Jews, hence it cannot be called anti-Semitic.
Note also the truncated version of Tlaib in which a few words are put in quotation marks to offer the impression that they convey the full sense of her remarks. Know that when propagandists do this they are manipulating the truth for their own malign purposes. If you wish to dispute someone’s views you must do so offering their full, unexpurgated version so readers will be able to judge for themselves. Instead, the Lobby offers a spoon-fed version that conveys only its own distorted view of reality.
Now, we must look at the motivation of Greenblatt, the Lobby and Jewish members of Congress who attempt to exploit these statements for political profit. Their use of the term “anti-Semitic dog whistle” is vile and repulsive. Such smears deny Palestinians, Muslims and people of color the right to articulate their grievance and suffering. When whites did this to Southern Blacks in the 1960s, we had a word for it: racism. Today, we have a word for it as well. Peter Beinart in this essay called it “anti-Palestinianism.” I think it’s only fair if Jews can have a term to describe their suffering that Palestinians have their own term as well, as I argued in yesterday’s post.
But these vicious attacks also encompass anyone who takes the side of Palestine. In particular. the Squad’s Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Bush, Pressly and Omar have also come under fire for showing solidarity with Palestine. This attests to another obsession of the Lobby: that American minorities (in particular African-Americans), many of whom have a history of similar suffering, would join a national movement demanding full, equal rights for Palestinians in Israel-Palestine. It’s already happening. Black Lives Matter has articulated this intersectionality powerfully. This is a movement that cannot be stopped. That prospect freezes them with fear. So they react with hysteria and try to put their finger in the dyke to hold back the flood.
When a religious group or nation convinces itself, based on fear or ignorance, that another such group is the enemy, this impulse must be confronted and rejected. We must not permit the Greenblatts of this world to drive a wedge between us.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.