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First They Came After BDS: AIPAC and their Governmental Courtiers are Silencing Dissent

The character assassination against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her criticism of AIPAC is just the surface layer of how Israel is trying to crush those who oppose it. When gaslighting and misinformation campaigns don’t stop people from speaking out against power, power’s next step is always to silence dissent through intimidation from law enforcement. And this is what Israel is doing.

The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill called the The Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. While not technically unconstitutional, the bill declares that state governments can refuse to do business with companies that boycott Israel, which is a practice that violates the First Amendment. And while this bill isn’t likely to pass the House any time soon, 26 states have already enacted anti-BDS laws, with their tactics consisting of blacklists of BDS supporters, prohibition on government contracts with businesses that boycott Israel, and divestments on pension funds for pro-BDS companies.

The consequences of this have started to mirror the repression of the McCarthy era. Last December, a children’s speech pathologist named Bahia Amawi lost her job because she didn’t sign a pro-Israel contract with the local Texas school district. The contract asks that someone who signs it “does not currently boycott Israel,” that they “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and that they won’t do anything “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.” These demands imply that if anyone who’s signed the contract is caught deliberately not buying foods that are tied to Israel or the West Bank, or caught engaging in speech that favors BDS, they’ll be deprived of employment.

America is well prepared for this kind of crackdown against free expression. The post-9/11 construction of the surveillance state has made it so that all Americans can have their phone calls and digital communications processed by the NSA’s servers. The FBI and the CIA have served as the U.S. government’s secret police, with the history of these agencies being filled with torture, racial and religious discrimination, and the targeting of activists.

The country’s paradigm of militarism and permanent war have resulted in the militarization of police departments, and in the erosion of civil liberties like due process. In recent years, social media companies have been partnering with government authorities to surveil and censor disfavored people; Israel is even directly collaborating with Facebook to decide what should be censored. The state has all the tools it needs to wage war against those who oppose Israel, or who challenge any other part of the U.S./NATO empire’s agenda. Click To Tweet

The precedent for a campaign against BDS supporters has also been set by America’s long, ugly history of witch hunts against dissidents. In the 1950’s, the target group was “communists.” In the first years of the War on Terror, it was “terrorists.” In recent years, the anti-Russia hysteria campaign has created a similar effort to root out those deemed to be “Russian assets.” Right now, the main targets are those who in any way support diplomacy with Russia, along with those who in any way oppose Israel’s war crimes.

Throughout all of these McCarthyist campaigns, an abandonment of objective facts and a contempt for basic liberties has happened because of the complicity of America’s political and media class. Not wanting to displease their bosses from the newsroom or lose the support of their big money donors, pundits and politicians consistently fall in line with agendas that benefit the centers of power.

It’s this establishment group-think that makes facts irrelevant when these figures decide to smear Julian Assange as a Russian agent or make Ilhan Omar out to be an anti-Semite. During these moments of collective outrage against a designated villain, the only truth that matters is the collectively decided truth.

“There is a dim, primitive intelligence which guides these Twitter outrage groupthink orgies to advance the interests of the people who participate in them, kind of like the way lynch mobs of the American south were not random acts of mob violence but deliberate acts of terrorism directed to keep Black southerners afraid of demanding equal rights,” writes Caitlin Johnstone. “This wasn’t a random outburst, it was a political means toward political ends. This fact-free smear will be used to try and kill Omar’s re-election bid, and the damage that has been done to her reputation will serve as a head on a spike to deter any other would-be AIPAC critics on Capitol Hill in the future.”

As this effort to silence criticism of Israel escalates, so does the violence against those who stand in the way of Israel’s project for a fully expanded Zionist ethno-state. The IDF’s attacks on unarmed Great March of Return protesters last year showed that Israel is lashing out against those who challenge it with increasingly open violence, as colonialist states tend to do when their futures are threatened. And while BDS and the resistance efforts of the Palestinians are bringing Israel closer to having to halt its ethnic warfare operation, Palestine continues to routinely experience terror; just this last week, Israel used excessive force at a border protest, killing the Palestinian teens Hassan Shalaby and Hamza Ishtiwi.

We can resist this by loudly and unapologetically speaking out against Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians. Americans, especially business owners and those with large platforms, need to forcefully defy this effort to intimidate us into tolerating a campaign of displacement and ethnic cleansing. We shouldn’t fear the repercussions; the people of Palestine are counting on us to give them a voice.

“…then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” ~ Martin Niemöller

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Rainer Shea

Rainer uses the written word to deconstruct establishment propaganda and to promote meaningful political action. His articles can also be found at Revolution Dispatch
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