This is my last post on Palestine activism at the US Social Forum. Thanks to everyone for being patient with me.
Palestine solidarity has woven itself into the fabric of the American left to a greater extent than ever before. Wandering the information and vending tables at the Forum, one could find tchochkes, books, articles within magazines and so on to a greater degree than any other left wing cause or movement. There were more workshops related to Palestine solidarity work, Zionism or BDS strategy than on any other comparable topic. In other words, more people were running and attending Palestine themed panels than on the wars currently being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan(!).
Naturally, left wing fashions are common at such an event. But the use of the keffiyah as a symbol representing a kind of left wing badge of honor is not matched by any other symbol. Just to recap: leftists have gone through stages, wearing Native American jewelry, African beads, Mao caps, berets with stars, Che T-shirts, etc.  Want to broadcast your super-leftism? It’s the keffiyah or nothing, buddy.
All of the left wing sectarian groups emphasize Palestine. Every newspaper thrust into my hands had an article referencing Israel, Zionism, or the Palestinian solidarity movement.
The only controversy surrounding a panel – resulting in that panel’s being shut down – was around a pro-Israel workshop submitted by Stand With Us. (Israeli shills.)
Activism around Israel and Palestine was once a tad more restricted to groups with an especially strong self interest, including Jews, Arabs, Muslims and anti-Semites. (L’havdil.) No longer. It is, in some ways, more pervasive than Nicaragua was in the heyday of Reagan’s proxy war, stronger on campuses than the fight against Apartheid was in the 80’s. This is not yet true in the mainstream, because that’s where supporters of Israel in politics and the media have greater sway. But it’s true inside the left proper. There’s a whole ecosystem now, and the center of gravity is more Dearborn than DC and more campus than house of worship.
Within that ecosystem, BDS is normative and growing. So is more explicit ideological combat with Israel’s right to exist, as opposed to fighting the occupation or a specific injustice towards Palestinians.
What do folks think about this? Does this match your experience? Is anything new actually going on? What will the results of this look like in two or five or ten years?
I think that the folks who warned Israel that ‘time is not on your side to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians’ were absolutely correct. There’s a corollary affecting American Jews. They gambled on Israel and Holocaust education, and we are seeing the results. It’s a strategy for hollowing out liberal Judaism and strengthening the orthodox, all the while donating to Israel’s one way ticket to hell in a hand-basket.
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