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What Does “I Support Israel” mean?

A word about endangered books: There’s been a lot of news recently—way too much, actually—about books being banned from schools and libraries. Most have “woke themes,” about racism and other-gendered relationships. Some are children’s books. MAGAManiacs and religious zealots are pressuring librarians and school boards to ditch certain titles. Librarians are fighting back, as this article at my college alumni magazine describes. Take a look at my list at the Perfidy Press Bookstore. There’s a 15% off sale of banned books going on for the rest of this week, should you be inclined to pick one of them up.

It can happen here: A book burning after SA troops stormed the offices of the Dresdner Volkszeitung, a newspaper allied with the Social Democratic Party, ­Dresden, Germany, March 8, 1933 (New York Review of Books)

Israel’s Bloody Humanitarian Catastrophe

On Saturday, October seventh, on Shabbas, Hamas, operating from the Gaza Strip, a densely urban protectorate the size of Brooklyn and Queens, invaded Israel. More than a thousand Israelis were killed; several hundred hostages were abducted to Gaza. In response, Israel has given the “Queens” people 24 hours to hasten down to “Brooklyn,” (just to pile up there, barred from entering Egypt) before they commence to destroy “Queens.” Israel’s IDF told them which roads would provide safe passage, and the bombed those roads. Israel has cut off Gaza’s utilities and water supply. There’s little drinkable water left in Gaza. That’s a form of genocide. It’s collective punishment, also a war crime.

Airstrikes have destroyed hundreds of structures in Gaza, as these detailed maps and aerial photos in the NY Times show. As I write this, IDF troops are poised to invade Gaza after much destruction from the air, which has already devastated the enclave:

Gaza residence scavenge for belongings after Israeli air strikes, October 2023 (© Mohammed Baba, Doctors without borders)

In an Interview with the New Yorker on October eleventh, Tareq Baconi, a long-time observer of Hamas and the President of the board of the think tank Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, said:

If Hamas is decimated, the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle will continue in another guise and with another ideology. What I find frightening is that the Western powers and the Americans who are so bent on supporting Israel despite its apartheid somehow think that they can maintain this project cost-free.

Let me make something clear: If I tell you I am pro-Palestinian, it doesn’t mean that I am anti-Israel or some kind of an anti-Semite. Arabs are Semites too, by the way.

Who can deny that Israel oppresses Palestinians and has dispossessed hundreds of thousands of them ever since—and even before—achieving statehood? Yet that’s what the mainstream media persist in doing. Baconi goes on to say what the media has (deliberately) overlooked:

This is the first time I have been interviewed by The New Yorker, and it’s happening because Israelis were killed. What happened when Palestinians were killed in the thousands, just in the fifteen years that I’ve been covering Hamas? And so, when we really want to think about what this driver of violence is—and the pictures that have been coming out are sickening—we need to understand that colonial violence instills dehumanization both in the oppressor and in the oppressed. And it’s completely out of mind. It’s mind-boggling to me that Israeli protesters go out to protest for democracy in an apartheid regime. The only way they can hold that contradiction is if they accept that Palestinian lives are absent or expendable. And so we have to understand this violence, which, again, is heart-wrenching, in that context.

“I support Israel” is the obligatory catchphrase uttered by American politicians in response to attacks by Palestinians in the past, and so today. The stance strikes me as hollow and forced. It’s painless to support Israel when the US and other Western governments cheer it on and supply weapons to in support of its apartheid policies. Have they ever supported the right of Palestinians to self-determination? Not many have.

For centuries, Palestinians and countless other Semitic people have been unwilling pawns in a game of Great Power chess to subjugate the Holy Land, going back to Roman times. Now they find the squares they occupy cratered by Israeli bombs, 6000 of them in the first six days of this battle. First it was Christian saviors, then Jewish ones, intent on fulfilling biblical prophecies. Hamas’s viciousness pales compared to what has been visited upon the hapless residents of those “holy” lands. Apparently, all that history is either irrelevant to or forgotten by our political and opinion leaders.

I think that when people say “I support Israel,” what most of them mean is “I support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland and secular state.” But to make that support unconditional, without tough love, indicates either loyalty to a foreign nation, naivete, or willful ignorance of Israel’s chronic human rights violations and apartheid policies. The wheel of karma turns slowly, but what goes around comes around.

Give Now

More than 2.2 million people are trapped in Gaza, where indiscriminate bombing has turned a chronic humanitarian crisis into a catastrophe. MSF (Doctors without Borders) has 300 workers in Gaza who are in great need of medical supplies. Read about what their situation is here and donate if you can.



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