As Israeli colonial powers escalated their brutal violence against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem over the past few weeks, many expected a somewhat sharp response from the new Biden administration.
But it did not come. Instead, we have heard again about how “deeply concerned” the US State Department is about “unilateral measures that escalate tensions” and about both Israeli and Palestinian officials “working decisively to end tensions.”
Some Palestinians expected more from “progressive” members of the American legislature. But they also put their words into words. Representative Andre Carson tweeted that he was “deeply disappointed” by Israel’s efforts to forcibly evict Palestinians from their homes. Representative Mary Newman called on the State Department to “immediately condemn this violation of international law.” Representative Mark Pokনmon co-wrote a letter with others, expressing “deep concern about Israel’s impending plan to forcibly displace some 2,000 Palestinians.”
And on his behalf, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the Israeli army’s move “inhumane” and said “the United States must show more leadership in defending Palestinian rights.” Just a month ago, in an interview with Rabbi Michael Miller, head of the Council on Jewish Community Relations in New York, “progressive” congressional women also discussed “valuing a process where all parties are respected” and building a “path to peace.”
Strongly absent from all these statements are the words that refer to the situation in Palestine, such as “occupation”, “racist”, “colonial-colonialism”, and “ethnic annihilation”.
While this is disappointing, it is not at all surprising that American politicians choose to use language that binds to the reality of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Yet, the problem here is not just what they say, why they feel compelled to say it
The language has long been introduced and engineered by powerful Israeli lobbies in the United States to whitewash the Palestinian reality by identifying Israeli racism and colonialism as “dispute resolution and mediation.” Focusing on “peace” as a topic of discussion between both parties involved in a “conflict”, this speech called for an imbalance of power between the occupiers and the occupiers and the Palestinians to demand justice for Israeli colonization and crime.
The fact that American politicians are forced to use racist language reflects not only the Israeli lobby enjoying the United States, but also the structural racism of American society and government. In other words, the hesitation to support the Palestinians is the root cause of white domination in American politics, racist classification, and inability to sincerely recognize socio-economic inequality, which strengthens and protects American soil.
American politics cannot truly embrace the values of justice, accountability and equality – which are part of the Palestinian and other progressive struggles – because it was created to feed white rights. And so the United States is like Israel: in both countries your rights and opportunities are inevitably decided on the basis of your caste or ethnic background.
Challenging this hegemonic language means challenging the whole political system and its power structure. And for members of Congress, it’s a dangerous proposition.
We have to acknowledge that some members of Congress continue to run, even after taking a progressive approach, and are the first to be elected to serve their communities, where they emphasize their power in American domestic affairs. A statement calling Israel “problematic” by their party organization could close many doors for them and prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities to their community. It could also mean losing their elected office.
Just look at the backlash from New York-based Human Rights Watch, which is gaining experience in publishing a report calling for Israeli persecution of Palestinians – racism. The American Jewish Committee said its argument was “anti-border”, while the International Legal Forum called it “anti-Semitic” “responsible for blood”. It is an attack that American politicians fear.
Their complacency is depressing but it is a reflection of US political reality.
But while condemning such offensive remarks by American politicians, we as Palestinians must also reflect our own perceptions and expectations. After so many years of pro-Israel US foreign policy, why are we holding back in the hope of hearing something different from American politicians? Why does the United States still matter to us?
The statements of Palestinian politicians that American politicians and other public figures still care so much about Palestine prove that they still see the United States as a legitimate peace broker, which has not been proven time and time again. They still have repeatedly broken old US promises.
Oslo Accords – The most talked about “success” of U.S. diplomacy has been steadfast from the beginning because the agreements were written in American political language – that is, in the language of the racial alphabet, not of justice. Yet Palestinian politicians remain faithfully committed to this tragic agreement, which only displaces the Palestinians and further intensifies the Israeli military occupation. More than that, the agreements distort our own political language, which is similar to that of the United States – used to obscure the reality of Palestinian oppression. It is used to cover the dictatorships of Fatah and Hamas, which have maintained their rule in the interests of the Palestinian people.
Changes in the political language of both the United States and Palestine can only come through a sustainable challenge to stability. And it will inevitably be with the raise. Perhaps at the moment we are living in now, the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, as well as in the West Bank and Gaza, have taken to the streets to confront the Israeli occupation, which will lead to change.
For those sympathetic to the Palestinians in the United States and elsewhere, observing the events in Jerusalem, it is important to understand that this is not an “appeal” for “human rights” and “peace”; It is a strong struggle for justice and dignity. It is also important for them to understand that Palestine does not fit into the divisive language of American or Western politics. The only real way to talk about what is going on in Sheikh Jarrah, the Al-Aqsa compound, the Damascus Gate and elsewhere in Occupied Palestine is through the language of the indigenous peoples and their struggle against racism, colonialism, occupation and ethnic cleansing.
The only way to talk about what is going on is to centralize the Palestinians and choose justice as a frame of reference. And we need more than talk, we need action. We need people to resist and join the uprising, to challenge the status quo and to help produce change in their own communities and elsewhere.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author and his editorial position on Al Jazeera.