In mid-October, the apartheid Zionist government of Israel announced that it would be building 2,000 more units of settlement housing in the occupied and oppressed West Bank of Palestine. The development went relatively uncovered in mainstream media, regardless of its significance and momentous nature.
The announcement of the new West Bank settlement construction is Israel’s most aggressive expansion attempt in decades. Even more concerning, the settlement construction is in clear violation of the deal that normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The entire basis of the agreement was that Israel would pledge to freeze plans to annex large chunks of the West Bank. While the construction of settlements isn’t technically immediate annexation, it serves the same purpose: Israeli apartheid extension into occupied Palestinian land.
It seems that Israel intends to not only ignore parts of the normalization deal, but also to even more brazenly break international law. Israeli settlements are nothing less than a genocidal abomination.
The Palestinian community in the West Bank was already facing the brutal yoke of apartheid in the form of a violent police state and random attacks from Israeli settlers. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that in the first six months of 2020 alone, there were 143 attacks by Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries. Over half of these attacks occurred in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak.
As if this reality weren’t horrifying enough, a recent report revealed that Israeli settlements discharge millions of cubic meters of sewage into the West Bank every year. Almost all of this sewage flows directly into Palestinian villages in the area. More settlements with their racist violence and sewage waste are exactly the opposite of what the West Bank needs. What the West Bank really needs is the immediate end to Israeli military occupation and apartheid.
Trump’s pressure for ‘normalization’
These new settlement plans come in a year when Israel has achieved a series of global political victories with the backing of the Trump administration. The largest of these victories have come in the form of normalized relations treaties with three majority-Muslim countries: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
For decades, all three countries refused to recognize Israel and solely recognized Palestine. However, the Trump administration’s willingness to withhold foreign aid based on refusal to recognize Israel has prompted a major sea change.
Further contributing to the treaties was Trump’s promise to lift U.S. sanctions on Sudan. While the lifting of sanctions is a positive development, the event that triggered it was insidious. The U.S. essentially held countries hostage until they bent to imperialism and Zionism.
As a result of the normalized relations treaties, Israel achieved another large victory in the Trump era. On Oct. 22, Benny Gantz, the leader of the supposed opposition to Netanyahu in Israel, announced a deal with the UAE that focuses on commitment to Israeli military superiority in the region. The core of the deal was the sale of F-35 fighter jets from Israel to the UAE.
Beyond Israel gaining diplomatic momentum and trade partners, these developments are concerning in that they symbolize a growing U.S.-backed alliance against Iran. Earlier this year, the U.S. military murdered Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general who played a crucial role in defeating ISIS.
Increased economic and military pressure on Iran from Israel and the UAE could prove problematic for the Islamic Republic, an anti-imperialist bulwark in the Middle East.
Both major U.S. parties support Israel
While state and settler violence against occupied Palestine escalates, both the Democratic and Republican parties dogmatically support Zionism and its apartheid system. For decades, both parties have squabbled over which party most fervently supports the racist Israeli state. After all, Israel amounts to a strategic U.S. military base in Western Asia.
There is certainly truth in the idea that Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policies are the most hardline and aggressive of any U.S. president. Trump’s pro-Zionist push began with the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and has continued in the form of arm-twisting normalization deals, military aid and a “peace plan” that really is nothing more than a sanctioned Israeli power grab.
However, Barack Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden, oversaw a deal in 2016 that sent $38 billion dollars of military aid to Israel. This deal occurred less than two years after Israel viciously carpet-bombed Gaza City, killing thousands of innocent people.
While there are material differences between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in some policy fields, their position on Zionism is not one of them. Whoever wins this election will continue to support racist apartheid in Israel and Netanyahu, as he continues an escalating crusade against the Palestinian people.
You won’t hear either candidate denounce settlement expansion, the imprisonment of political figures like Maher al-Akhras and Ahmad Sa’adat, or the attacks on Israeli teenagers who refuse to serve in the military.
People’s movement needed to combat Zionism
Now more than ever, all progressive people and organizations must unite in a movement against Israeli apartheid, Zionism and U.S. imperialism. The hateful ideology of Zionism cannot be allowed to grow without resistance domestically and globally. In particular, progressive Jews and Jewish organizations must combat Zionist socialization in our community harder than ever.
Zionism is not an ideology that benefits the majority of Jews — only the wealthy and the fascist. Zionism is a disease that has plagued and misled the Jewish community for decades. It cannot be allowed to do so any further.
The liberation of the Jewish people will not be achieved through a fascist Zionist state, but only through the end of Israeli apartheid, the liberation of Palestine and of the global working class and oppressed communities.
As Israel is emboldened by Trump to intensify its aggression, all progressive and revolutionary organizations must stand together in unity against this phenomena. We must take to the streets and demand an end to Israeli oppression and support the liberation of Palestine.
Down with imperialism! Down with Netanyahu! Combat Zionism!
Lev Koufax is a young Jewish activist based in Baltimore.
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