As the year 2020 expires in an embattled welter of politicized suffering, I feel I need to address my fellow advocates for Palestinian rights, too many of whom seem not to notice – or actively deny – that, under cover of coronavirus hysteria, the unhealed wounds of Palestine are steadily infecting us all.
Yes, I know all of you face calumny enough from the Israel lobby without being smeared by pro-lockdown propagandists – many of whom, alas, cling to the name “progressive” even as they abjectly submit to the most massive civil rights violations of our lifetimes.
And I know the task I am setting for you is a hard one. After all, few Americans have paid much attention to Palestine in the past; how likely is it that today, punch-drunk from the creeping despotism unleashed as COVID-19 “health” regulation, a large public will turn from its troubles long enough to realize that the blows our country is tasting for the first time – curfews, closures, mass confinements, official lying, economic warfare – have been the lot of occupied Palestine for decades?
But there is no escaping the obligation to tell the truth: and that means, first of all, that we have to acknowledge the truth. And while advocates for Palestine are well aware of what the American government has done to that land – with its money and military hardware, the systematic violence of its client state, Israel, and the cruel deceit that is called U.S. “diplomacy” – too many remain strangely blind to the poisoning of our own nation with the same evils that have blighted the lives of millions in the West Bank and Gaza.
Yes, the venue is shifting – from foreign training ground to domestic soil – but we are only deluding ourselves if we refuse to see the connection between the two. The historian Alfred McCoy warned as far back as 2009 that what the U.S. was developing in the Middle East would inevitably come home to haunt us:
“the War on Terror has proven remarkably effective,” he wrote, “in building a technological template that could be just a few tweaks away from creating a domestic surveillance state – with omnipresent cameras, deep data-mining, nano-second biometric identification, and drone aircraft patrolling ‘the homeland.’“
By 2013, McCoy had concluded, sadly, that…
“that prediction has become our present reality.“
And it was only the start.
Israel rationalizes its imprisonment of Palestine as a “defense” against “terror”; here, state authorities prefer the pretext of combating an infectious disease. But the systems of control are ultimately the same.
Israel’s conduct in Palestine is not an isolated problem spurred by unique historical or religious circumstances; it is an international crime that threatens us all. In fact, Israel values its occupation of Palestine precisely because its methods and technology are so readily marketable. The longer we tolerate the repression of Palestinians, the sooner we will see that system replicated in countries around the world – including our own.Occupation By COVID: Palestine As a Viral Export, 2020