After Israeli elections, we must resist Zionism

After Israeli elections, we must resist Zionism

IF NOT NOW, Student Organization

Last week’s midterm elections in the United States have drawn tremendous interest from both the media and the general public. The impacts of this vote are not to be understated. However, in what is becoming a common occurrence, the discourse surrounding this election overshadowed a similarly important election in Israel that happened just a week before voters went to the polls here in the States. The results of this election will have enormous ramifications on the struggle for Palestinian liberation and Jewish resistance to Zionism in the months and years ahead.

In what was Israel’s fifth election in just two and a half years, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu roared back into power on the back of an extremely far-right coalition of allied parties. While Netanyahu has at least attempted to evade associations with the far-right in the past, this time he dropped these pretenses. Israel’s few left-of-center parties, all of which still nominally oppose self-determination for Palestine, fell to an all-time low, while Netanyahu’s Likud party climbed back to first place. Despite a disturbing record of anti-Palestinian actions over his thirty-year-long political career and countless allegations of corruption, Netanyahu’s path back to lead the Knesset, Israel’s legislature, looks secure. This is because the Religious Zionist Party, led in part by literal former terrorist and Zionist militant Itamar Ben-Gvir, has agreed to give Netanyahu the votes he needs to attain a majority in the Knesset. Ben-Gvir makes Netanyahu look like a pacifist. It is deeply disturbing that Israel will now have a high-ranking political leader so racist he hung a portrait of a Jewish supremacist mass murderer of Palestinians in his home.

With this new Knesset majority, Israel will almost certainly ramp up its policy of settlement-building, colonizing land that belongs to Palestinians under international law. Controversial legislation like the 2018 Nation-State Bill, which legally establishes non-Jewish residents as second-class citizens and has ended any chance at a peaceful resolution to Israeli aggression, will certainly continue and intensify under the yoke of Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir.

Despite the far-right wave, Palestinian resistance remains strong. Electorally, Palestinian and Arab parties hold 10 Knesset seats, despite systematic voter oppression in Israel’s Arab-majority regions. In areas of the West Bank under siege by the IDF, Palestinian organizers are rising up to rebuild and secure their communities. New organizations like the Lions’ Den have stood up and won against the IDF and Israeli forces, sending their forces packing. In Jordan, a nation with a majority of its citizens descended from Palestinian refugees, demonstrations by thousands of marchers sent a message to the government, which has had a “peace” deal since 1994, negotiated by then-President Bill Clinton. In other nations, especially here in the U.S., resistance activists have been emboldened by the United Nations’ recent decision to refer Israel’s occupation of the West Bank to the International Court of Justice. The Boycott, Divest, Sanction Movement is gaining steam, with the student government of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH recently calling for the University to divest from the occupation.

We at Macalester IfNotNow are no strangers to this fight. In the last year, we have raised awareness of the Palestinian resistance and successfully urged MCSG to adopt the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism. This, if eventually passed by the college, will create a more holistic institutional understanding of what is included in antisemitism and how to resist it while simultaneously empowering the resistance. We believe that political education is key to this fight, and that upholding anti-Zionism will create a better future for Jews and Palestinians alike, free of supremacist oppression.

At Macalester, an institution with an unfortunately long history of antisemitic incidents, we as anti-Zionist Jews recognize that the fight for Jewish liberation is not tied to Israel’s nation-building project. Defending a supremacist government halfway across the world is a distraction from antisemitism that impacts us right here in Minnesota, and serves as a barrier to collaborating with our Palestinian allies. Our fights are in tandem, and it’s time we break these walls down.

To this end, If Not Now will be hosting a teach-in on the occupation of Palestine and the resistance to it this Monday, Nov. 21 at 4 pm in the Library 309 Barbara B. Davis Space. We hope that you will attend. To be educated is to hold power, and at a college like Macalester that espouses internationalism, we need to put our money where our mouths are. It’s time to learn about situations beyond our borders and ensure our values are consistent from the river to the sea.

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