Israeli Assaults on Palestinians: Silence is Complicity

MLK quote - "To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it."

Cat Zavis

Image from the Apartheid Wall in Palestine

Watching live videos of young Israeli Jews in Jerusalem chanting, with unbridled venom and violence: “Death to the Arabs,” “May your village burn,” and other epithets (that belie a breath-taking inhumanity), is beyond heartbreaking. How can one not feel shaken to your core watching this? 

But this behavior, sadly, is an expected outcome of a society that is grounded at its core in Jewish supremacy and in its expulsion—from their land and homes—of the Indigenous Palestinian people who had been living there. History matters, and this history matters a great deal. 

Israeli society—since its inception—has treated Palestinians as the “other”, and despite the fact that there was a thriving Palestinian society long before the Israeli state was created, the Zionist movement and then Israel behaved as if the Palestinians living there either didn’t exist or had to be “dealt with” so that the Jewish-majority state could be established. To be exact, as David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, wrote in a letter to his son Amos in 1937—11 years before the establishment of the Jewish state—“We must expel Arabs and take their places…and, if we have to use force—not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places—then we have force at our disposal…”

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The behavior we are witnessing now is not an aberration, but rather what happens when processes of dehumanization, rooted in settler colonialism, are played out. Right now we see these processes unfolding at an accelerated pace in the government and throughout the society as a whole, in the courts, and on the streets. While Israeli settlers are often the ones we see acting in the most violent ways, they are operating in tandem with the broader society and with the government, which aid and abet them and whose structures reinforce Jewish supremacy and a system of apartheid that privileges Jews over everyone else, most of all the Palestinians.

What is to be done to avoid being a “good German” who knows what is happening but does little or nothing? What is our responsibility as individuals who live in a country that funds Israel to the tune of billions a year?

There are, in fact, some concrete actions we can take.   

1. Speak the truth. We can engage in serious education within our communities to share the history and current day reality of the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic), when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land and homes before and during Israel’s creation and that continues to this day.

2. Stand with Palestinians who are challenging Israel’s apartheid system in multiple ways, including calling for the end of funding from US “charities” going to settler organizations. Right in South Florida, where I live, the Falic family, owners of Duty Free Americas, is funding settler organizations that are responsible for enormous violence against Palestinians. 

3. Support the global Palestinian-led movement that calls for a boycott of Israel until it complies with the most basic principles of human rights and international law—a boycott similar to what was initiated by the global community during the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

4. Call for an end to US military aid to Israel, which is funding ethnic cleansing and Israel’s ongoing harm against the Palestinian people, including being beaten and tortured, detained and imprisoned without charge, facing restriction of movement, theft of land and demolition of homes, just to name some of the daily indignities.

5. Stop saying we didn’t know—because we do know. We know and until we take action, we are complicit.

And honor and join in partnership with Palestinian communities across the globe that are fighting for the freedom, liberation, justice, and dignity that they, and all peoples, so deserve. 

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