by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Two weeks ago, Black Agenda Report asked why black America’s enlightened and powerful political class of preachers, politicians, media figures, celebrities and business leaders were conspicuously silent while US F-16 fighters, drones and artillery bombarded defenseless Palestinians penned up in Gaza, an open air prison with six times the population density of Manhattan. Last week, Black Agenda Report pointed out that even as Israeli ground troops invaded Gaza and the death toll climbed toward a thousand civilians, disproportionately children, the Congressional Black Caucus unanimously endorsed the ongoing massacres in the name of Israel supposedly “defending itself.”
We explored the three reasons for their silent, and in come cases their very loud complicity in the crimes of apartheid Israel;
The black political class, from the CBC, the NAACP, NAN, the Urban League and even NNPA, the organized voice of black owned newspapers, nowadays consistently represents the interests of their funders over their supposed constituents. A fair number of those funders are zionists and pro-zionists.
The black political class has always been slavishly subservient to the Democratic party. They place its interests so far above their own that when the CBC members refused to demand or take part in hearings around the Katrina disaster almost a decade ago, even after it was clear that authorities intended to force the exile of more than one hundred thousand African Americans from the New Orleans area. Now that a black Democrat sits in the White House, cowardly CBC members would rather chew off their own feet than contradict him. After all, if a black president can be denounced by other black politicians, how safe are their own careers?
Israel is an open ethnocracy, in which full membership in society is only granted to Jews. It’s the 21st century’s premiere apartheid state, surrounded by walls and barbed wire, crisscrossed with Jewish-only roads between settlements overlooked by military outposts, on land that was the villages, farms, graveyards and orchards of Palestinians only 60 years ago, sometimes only a year or two ago. Israeli politicians make open appeals to anti-Arab and anti-black racism, and talk about removing Arabs is ordinary stuff. For idle amusement, Israeli youth forms mobs to terrorize Palestinian villages, or assault Arabs and Africans on the street, and Israeli grandmothers gather on the hillsides overlooking Gaza to cheer as white phosphorus rains down on Palestinian children. The massacres in Gaza are only an intensification of Israel’s daily violence of occupation, settlement and ethnic cleansing.
For the black political class, the first two are reasons not to criticize the state of Israel, or the president.
The third is an insoluble contradiction between reality and the myth of their own origin as having emerged from the just struggle of the Freedom Movement against racism and Jim Crow in the US. It’s a contradiction they wish fervently to ignore, one they wish someone else would solve, or that would just go away before too many people notice. But it’s already too late for that.
There’s a dead dog in the room. No matter how intently the CBC, the black political class, and even the black church, whose uncritical embrace of corporate funded black political leaders make it as guilty as every other part of that class – the longer and harder they hypocritically pretend to ignore the stink of ethnocracy and apartheid the more it clings to them.
The only force that can free our black political class from its embrace of racist apartheid and genocidal occupation in Israel is us — all of us down here on the ground. Our leaders, from the Al Sharptons, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the big black pastors, to the Urban League and NAACP, all of whom claim they once opposed apartheid in South Africa but are its willing collaborators with it in Israel, must be called out and forced to publicly choose which side they’re on.
It’s past time for equivocation, it’s past time for politeness. They can join the global movement to boycott, to sanction and to divest from the apartheid settler state of Israel. They can become allies of millions of Jews, Muslims, Christians and others working for a single, secular government of all the people of Israel-Palestine, or they can remain on the wrong side of morality and history. They can be remembered and reviled with their allies, the racists, the colonialists, the warmongers and imperialists.
This is no time for a lofty declaration of principles, of which there are several going around. A declaration of principles calls nobody out, and is directed at nobody in particular, as if the discourtesy of calling some culprit or collaborator’s name outweighs the deaths of innocent children in Gaza. It’s no time for causes.com or change.org petition, another Facebook page or Twitter hashtag. All these tropes of social media activism are dead ends for the well-intentioned provided by corporate social media to make us feel as if we’re doing something, but all of them impede rather than help any actual organizing.
Not of these corporate social media platforms, not Facebook, not Twitter, not change.org nor causes.com provide organizers with the email contact info of the people who sign the petitions, who “like” the Facebook page, who retweet and use the hashtag of the day. All of them keep the signer, retweeter, liker emails for their own lists, not yours. Each and every one sells analyses of the patterns of people you influence and are influenced by to the highest bidder. What bamboozled kind of “organizer” uses tools that prevent her from recontacting the people she has supposedly “organized”?
We at Black Agenda Report bill ourselves as the black left’s journal of political thought and action. So here’s some action. We’re launching a petition demanding that the Congressional Black Caucus denounce the Israeli occupation, the racist ethnocracy that Israel has made itself into, and the apartheid policies of the Israeli government. We’d like to see ten thousand signers, and those signers WILL be recontacted by us and our allies directly. The petition will be live and online at 8AM Eastern Time tomorrow morning.
If you’re on our email list, you’ll receive notice of this tomorrow morning, along with a link to our article on James Brown. Thanks.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and may be contact via this site’s contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.