Protesting Genocide Is Not Anti-Semitism!

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After a top Israeli leader promises “total annihilation” of Rafah, Washington State’s congressional delegation backed a bill branding criticism of Israel and Zionism as “anti-semitic,” providing further legal pretext for … Read more

After a top Israeli leader promises “total annihilation” of Rafah, Washington State’s congressional delegation backed a bill branding criticism of Israel and Zionism as “anti-semitic,” providing further legal pretext for police repression.

The following is a joint statement from the following Washington DSA chapters: Seattle DSA, Tacoma and Pierce County DSA, Snohomish County DSA, Olympia DSA, and Palouse DSA.

Last week, in a 320-91 vote, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill that brands criticism of Israel and Zionism as “anti-semitism.” The bill is designed to create further legal cover for the massive police crackdown on non-violent Palestine solidarity protests. As the death toll in Gaza surpasses 35,000; as Netanyahu’s government unleashes further horrors on civilians in Rafah; as international outcry grows against Israel’s policy of mass starvation; and as arrests of student protesters surpass 2,000 nationally, Washington’s entire congressional delegation – with the exception of Pramila Jayapal – voted in favor of the bill.

Our DSA chapters condemn this “new McCarthyism,’ and we join with Jewish Voice for Peace in rejecting this cynical attempt by elected leaders to distract us from their complicity in genocide. JVP spelled this out in an April 25th statement:

“As the largest anti-Zionist Jewish organization in the world, we unequivocally reject the conflation of antisemitism with anti-Zionism and reaffirm in the strongest terms that there is no place for antisemitism in our movements. We condemn the false accusations of antisemitism leveled against principled, anti-war protesters to discredit our movements. We understand these accusations for what they are: a cynical distraction from the ongoing atrocities in Gaza.”

A follow-up JVP statement continued:

“The peaceful student protesters have been portrayed in the mainstream media as violent, antisemitic mobs, even though it’s clear that the only violence happening on campuses is being perpetrated by Zionist agitators and cops. These smears are a distraction from the urgent work at hand. Now more than ever, we must stay focused… During Passover, we held Seders in the Streets to protest U.S. complicity in genocide, refusing to let our traditions, our histories, and our identities be used to justify the mass slaughter of Palestinians. On college campuses, student chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace have been involved in organizing dozens of encampments.”

Politicians from both parties, alongside corporate media outlets, have ignored widespread hate-speech, doxing, and violence directed against Arab and pro-Palestinian organizers, while amplifying anti-semitic statements from a small number of individuals – usually unaffiliated with protest organizers. They downplay the leading role of Jewish students in the movement; they ignore the multi-racial solidarity on display in the protest encampments; they twist the meaning of protest chants and slogans; and they refuse to acknowledge the clear statements from movement leaders condemning all forms of discrimination and prejudice.

Worse still, the vote in Congress came just days after the widely reported statement by Israeli Finance Minister and security cabinet member Bezalel Smotrich: “There are no half measures. [The Gazan cities of] Rafah, Deir al-Balah, Nuseirat — total annihilation… You will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” This specific bible verse referenced by Smotrich, in which God commands the death of the entire Amalek nation, has been repeatedly invoked by Israeli officials, especially since October 7th. It forms part of South Africa’s case in the International Criminal Court that Israel is carrying out a genocide in Gaza.

The utter hypocrisy of our political leaders in the face of this openly declared genocidal policy by Netanyahu’s government cannot be accepted. Despite the calls by DSA’s elected leaders and others to end US military aid to Israel, despite the global condemnation of Israel’s racist Apartheid system, our political leaders in Washington – from both parties – are focusing their fire on the mass movement against genocide.

We are proud of the Young Democratic Socialists of America chapters across the country who are at the forefront of many campus protests and Gaza solidarity encampments. We are committed to building a mass socialist, working-class movement powerful enough to end the bloody and racist legacy of US imperialism, which we see on full display in Gaza today.

We must use this moment of mass student protests to further expand the anti-war movement into working-class communities and within organized labor, aiming to build enough power to challenge the foundations of US capitalism. There is no shortcut to winning socialist change, but with our eye on this prize we must focus our efforts today on broadening and strengthening the Palestine solidarity movement. A critical part of this is organizing to popularize the following demands:

  • Immediate and unconditional ceasefire, withdrawal of all Israeli military forces from Gaza and the West Bank, and the return of all hostages and political prisoners on both sides.
  • End Israel’s siege of Gaza, end the occupation, settlements, and apartheid system on Palestinian lands, and ensure the right for all refugees to return.
  • End all US military aid and arms sales to Israel and to reactionary regimes throughout the region – for a massive infusion of humanitarian aid to rebuild Gaza.
  • Money for healthcare, climate action, housing, and education, not war and occupation!
  • End all police repression of the Palestine solidarity movement and drop the charges against all those arrested – reverse all laws designed to silence criticism of Israeli and US policy.
  • Build a mass Palestine solidarity movement rooted in the US working-class and linked to the project of constructing an independent, workers’ party in opposition to far-right Republicans and pro-imperialist Democrats.