I became acquainted with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) when two candidates who were DSA members, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were elected to Congress as Democratic Representatives. In general, I endorse many of the group’s aims, though not its call for untrammeled socialism. (I tend to favor a capitalistic system with socialistic modifications, similar to what obtains in Scandinavia. And yes, I do favor universal single-payer healthcare.)
But what I didn’t realize was how anti-Israel the DSA was, and, in particular, how antisemitic it is in endorsing the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. I say “antisemitic” because the BDS, in both its founding and in present policy, is not only critical of Israel, but is also “anti-Zionist” in wanting Israel to disappear as a country. And that I consider antisemitic. (For other people’s claims that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism, see here, here, and here).
There’s no doubt that the BDS chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is a call for a “one state” solution, with that state being Palestine. A mixed state, of course, will result in the massacre of Jews and the elimination of Israel as a secularly-based democracy—something that BDS supporters know but pretend they don’t when they make “kumbaya” noises.
I learned about the history of the DSA from reading this Daily Beast article from December (click on screenshot):
The long article talks about the transmogrification of the DSA, which went from a Leftist organization that was heavily Jewish and pro-Israel to an organization in which even the Jewish members want Israel gone. Here’s an excerpt about their vote on BSD (almost unanimously approved) and then a video showing what the the article describes:
The moment of decision is fascinating to watch. “All of those in favor of the resolution, raise your voting cards,” intones a DSAer presiding over the proceedings. A fluttering forest of red slips swings into the air. Many of those holding them grin with anticipation. “Thank you,” the emcee says. “All of those opposed?” A gray-haired man who looks profoundly out of place in the youthful room raises his card. “The motion carries,” comes the announcement, as the crowd explodes.
“There was jubilation,” recalls Chip Gibbons, the Washington, D.C.-based DSAer who wrote the first draft of the BDS resolution. “As a general rule, we tried to avoid applause at the convention for a number of reasons, but there was a spontaneous outburst of applause and an eruption of cheering.”
“It was electric,” says Olivia Katbi Smith, a Portland DSA member who had lobbied hard for the resolution. “The room was on fire. It was amazing. We had a Palestinian flag that we waved as soon as it passed. We started chanting.”
Here is what they chanted: From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. The river in this formulation is the Jordan, the naturally occurring eastern border of Israel and of the West Bank; the sea is the Mediterranean to the west. Uttered by advocates of the Palestinian cause for decades, the pithy slogan very pointedly makes no place for Israel. It evokes a strip of Middle Eastern land where Israel is no more, replaced by a unified Palestinian entity in the space it once occupied. It could be that this entity would welcome and protect a Jewish population. But when supporters of the Jewish state hear those 10 words, they worry about their potentially violent implications.
(It’s no secret that the phrase is highly charged these days. After professor and pundit Marc Lamont Hill this week called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” in a speech at the UN in which he also spoke in support of the BDS movement, CNN dropped its long-time contributor. Lamont responded at length on Twitter, saying he had not called for violence and contesting the idea that the phrase belonged to Hamas.)
This change is not only reprehensible, for it shows the DSA supporting a regressive territory that is homophobic, misogynistic, and intolerant, but also a call for the elimination of Israel. (That would take place through genocide and war, but I’m not saying that the DSA favors genocide.) I can no longer be friendly toward the DSA, nor support any of the candidates who march under its banner.
It’s not just the DSA who favors eliminating Israel, of course, but much of the Progressive Left. That includes not just Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib, but the newest Muslim member of Congress, Ilhan Omar, who not only supports BSD but wants a “one-state solution”. None of these candidates favor a two-state solution (my ideal, though its realization looks very distant now), and all either favor the BSD or won’t comment on it. Here, for example, is Ocasio-Cortez, the newest darling of the Left, waffling or being duplicitous about her views. In the interview below, Ocasio-Cortez could simply say “yes” if she did favor a two-state solution, but she just answers, when asked about it “this is a conversation.” Translation: she means “no, I don’t.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez now will not answer if she supports a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. pic.twitter.com/dK6B7t4Vod
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 18, 2018
Here she is on Firing Line, either deeply confused about Israel or waffling again. She refers to the “occupation of Palestine,” but doesn’t seem to know what it means.
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attacks Israel, calls them the occupiers of Palestine.
When pressed on what she meant she struggled to give an answer and then admitted she does not know what she is talking about. pic.twitter.com/e3Uq1eupD3
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 16, 2018
As lagniappe, here’s Ocasio-Cortz’s endorsement of the antisemite Linda Sarsour:
Our future is a shared responsibility.
This woman putting it all on the line for healthcare, women & LGBT+ rights is @lsarsour.
The far right constantly maligns her w/ false attacks + threats of violence.
Yet here she is, as always, fighting for everything our flag represents. https://t.co/QR4rYnclLt
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 5, 2018
Israel isn’t perfect, though one of its supposed faults, courting conservative dummkopfs like Trump, comes from liberals’ failure to support Israel, which, as the Beast notes, began long before Trump. This has forced Israel to turn for support to more conservative leaders.
But, given Israel’s faults, it’s a damn sight better than Palestine, and if there were to be two states, I know which one liberals would want to live in if given a choice. To suppose that a Palestinian state will be a liberal state, giving rights to women, gays, and those of other faiths, is to ignore history and believe in nonsense. Palestine is, and would be, a repressive theocracy. And that is neither democratic nor socialistic.