The ongoing public activism in the United States and around the world for a ceasefire in Gaza and equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians is a significant battleground in the century-old conflict. It shows that traditional pro-Israel propaganda is losing its effectiveness in the face of more visible and explicitly apartheid policies by Israel. This has led to widespread mobilizations by pro-Palestine and pro-justice movements, as people across the globe recognize the Palestinians’ suffering and their battle for national rights as one of the last anti-colonial struggles in the world.
Even before the October 7 Hamas attacks on southern Israel, signs of this trend were visible. The brutal Israeli counterrampage against civilians and institutions of life in Gaza that followed has clarified Israeli policies and turned global sentiment against Israel’s aggressions. This public pressure forced even backers of the war in the West to reluctantly push for a week’s truce and negotiated exchanges of detainees by Israel and Hamas before the fighting resumed.
One of the most compelling political developments has been the steady stream of students and young professionals in the United States and beyond standing up for equal rights for both Palestinians and Israelis. They have done this through global mass actions like demonstrations, legal suits, strikes, media campaigns, and public expressions of support by athletes, artists and others in society. This has sparked countercampaigns by pro-Israel groups to shut down the voices of pro-Palestine activists and to criminalize elements of Palestinian identity itself.
Public sentiment in the US and globally has been shifting away from a traditional, heavily pro-Israel stance to a more even-handed position that seeks to end Israel’s occupation and military savagery against Palestinians. This is due to Israel’s harsh, often criminal policies, which are now visible for the whole world to see every day, including the brutality in Gaza that jurists and scholars increasingly evaluate in the context of genocide.
Partnerships stitched together by Palestinian activists with progressive groups across the world have also amplified the calls for justice. This expanded rapidly after the Black Lives Matter movement heightened people’s awareness and focus on social justice demands that persist among subjugated and colonized people in many countries.
Young people and university students lead this new wave of activism for social justice because they see the damage being done to people’s lives everywhere by colonial policies, whether against African Americans in Missouri, Palestinians in Gaza or Jenin, or ethnic minorities in other countries.
When credible reports by international groups like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch describe Israel’s policies to control Palestinians as apartheid, the world’s conscience – led by its youth and students – kicks into action to rid us of this scourge. Equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians is their goal, as happened in South Africa after decades of nonviolent and occasional military struggle.
The global wave of activism for Palestine has elicited wild accusations that the protests are motivated by anti-Semitism or support for Hamas. This reflects the desperation of Zionist and pro-Israel groups who recognize and worry that their traditional propaganda in the West is flailing.
Other arguments are being made about why the global wave of action for universal social justice and ending settler-colonial occupations is not sincere. Some say that activists unfairly pick on Israel but ignore other governments that treat people harshly. Others argue that Israel treats its Palestinian citizens well because a few of them are in parliament or that Israel is a good place because it respects LGBTQ rights.
Diversionary propaganda like this will mount, but it will fail as it has been failing in recent years – because the pain, cruelty and criminality of settler-colonial apartheid grab the attention and drive the activism of all decent human beings everywhere who want to work for a better world.
Israel does have many impressive qualities in science, education, agriculture and other fields, but they are drowned out by its soul-grinding settler-colonial apartheid reality we see on television daily.
So we march in the streets for social justice and liberty for all as good people have always done to fix their world’s weaknesses and right its wrongs.
News, World, Politics