The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) stands in solidarity with movements resisting Trump’s authoritarian, racist, misogynist, neoliberal, and violently imperial policies. Like many on the left, we have been disturbed by the hardening reaction and ongoing rightward shift of the U.S. state. We are concerned by the deepening conservative populism coupled with corporate capitalism that has led many to support the shredding of what remains of social welfare and the intensification of xenophobic policies. Trump’s use of nativism, Islamophobia, mass surveillance, and militaristic jingoism that began under previous regimes, and persisted if not expanded under Obama, continues to trouble us.
At the same time, we have been reinvigorated by the spread of popular resistance and mass protests across the U.S. We are inspired by the intensified coalitions that have linked immigrant rights, anticapitalist, feminist, environmentalist, antiwar, queer, indigenous, and antifascist movements and that have built on struggles such as Black Lives Matter, water protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and sanctuary activism. These movements portend a challenge and opportunity for progressives and other leftists everywhere.
As an organization committed to solidarity with the Palestinian freedom struggle and an end to U.S. support for Israeli apartheid and occupation, we have also been struck by the conjuncture between the Trump regime’s Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism and its antisemitism. We want to note the disturbing and telling ways that the Trump administration and alt.right movement’s support for white nationalism dovetails with its promotion of Zionism. There is an often seemingly paradoxical convergence between this simultaneous advocacy of white supremacy, Zionism, and antisemitism.
Those of us engaged in advocacy for Palestinian liberation have long been aware of the ways in which proponents of Zionism engage in forms of antisemitism by assuming that all Jewish people have (or should have) an allegiance to the state of Israel and shared political and racial worldviews. So, too, we have long observed the ways in which Israel itself can revive antagonism toward Jewish people due to its horrendous human rights record, illegal occupation, and apartheid policies. This expression of Zionism as settler colonial ideology can correspond with and be used to support other colonial projects. Concomitantly, Zionism allies itself with Western imperial racism by scapegoating and demonizing Islam, Arab states, and Muslim majority countries, a toxic convergence that is a feature of the blatant racism of the Trump regime. Consider, for example, the deeply conspiratorial racist, antisemitic, and ethnocentric worldview of Trump adviser Steve Bannon conjoined within the Trump administration to the political and financial ties of the Kushner family to Israel.
It is in this context that we urge progressives, leftists, and all people of conscience to take a public stance opposing Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, as well as white supremacy and antisemitism, here and elsewhere, and to challenge Zionism as a racist and oppressive state ideology. Zionism shares with white nationalism the belief in the racial superiority of a “chosen people.” It upholds the racial privilege of white Ashkenazi Jews over Arab Palestinians excluded from citizenship and rights in a state built on their dispossession and erasure and the occupation of their homeland, and against Mizrahi (and especially phenotypically ‘Black’ African) Jews. As an expression of settler colonialism, it engages in the denial of sovereignty to indigenous peoples and is based on the logic of annihilation and erasure of native lives and histories.
Support for Zionism, therefore, has no place on the left, or among liberals and progressives.
To be an antiracist today, one must be anti-Zionist. This basic principle has long been obfuscated in social and global justice movements in the U.S., due to policing of political thought related to Palestine, including in the academy. The draconian anti-BDS bill recently proposed in Congress is one of the latest examples of the criminalization of Palestine solidarity activism in the U.S. However, with the rise of the BDS movement in recent years, at last we are witnessing an opening to an honest and critical discussion of Palestine, Israel, and Zionism. Finally, we can see an increasing rejection of the warmongering, global policing, and repression practiced by both the U.S. and Israel ( and often in collusion with one another). We perceive a solidarity of opposition to Zionism, anti-Arab racism, and Islamophobia as imperative to the undermining of both U.S. neoliberal imperialism and of Israel’s brutal settler coloniality and illegal occupation.
We thus ask all those who oppose Trumpism, antisemitism, and white nationalism to also challenge Zionism and Israeli apartheid, and to join the growing movement for BDS and the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
One small step you can take is to endorse USACBI [http://www.usacbi.org/about/], if you have not done so already. You can also bring discussion of Palestine and anti-Zionism to conversations you are having with friends, colleagues, and fellow activists at this important political moment. If you wish to learn of more ways in which you can integrate Palestine solidarity activism in your grassroots or campus organizing, please reach out and contact us at the website above.