Seeking justice in the name of hate: In Defence of BDS

Jan 9, 2023
BDS protest in Melbourne, Australia against Israel's 2007–present Gaza blockade and 2010 attack on a humanitarian flotilla, June 2010.

“As long as Germany declares the Jews to be an inferior race, poisoning and persecuting them, decent, self-respecting Jews cannot deal with Germany in any way, buy or sell or maintain any manner of commerce with Germany or travel on German Boats.”

With this clarion call born of principle and necessity, a respected Rabbi and leader of the American Jewish community of the early 1930’s called for an absolute boycott of German goods as the “duty of all self-respecting Jews.”

He urged the boycott not because German’s were white, or Christian, or blonde haired and blue eyed. And few if any in the United States accused him of any such mindless targeted hate. The boycott, which was fundamentally rooted in human rights, was necessary in an effort to try to stem the growing odium and bloodletting sure and soon to follow.

Today, a similar call to boycott a later day hate also built of religious and cultural supremacy and persecution in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, is reduced by Zionists to the all too expedient talisman of anti-Semitism, no matter what’s its words, its speaker, or its purpose.

“Antizionism is antisemitism. Zionism is an integral component of the Jewish identity.”

Armed by these glaring self-serving words of ignorance and duplicity, a Tel Aviv based law firm announced with perverse pride and desperate Constitutional rewrite a complaint it filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act with the Department of Education against the University of California, Berkeley Law School over its “failure” to punish several student organisations for the temerity of adopting a pledge to engage in a non-violent boycott of Zionist or pro-Israel speakers.

It is not by accident that the plea of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise framed almost a century ago in response to the palpable taste of national socialist hate and the looming clouds of genocide, have long been seen as heroic, yet today there are many who applaud a nation state built of the same vile ambition; those who seek to silence principled voices unwilling to accept the deadly acridity of unchanged flavour.

On so many levels, this civil action against a famed law school like the hollow show-tune words that proclaimed its filing, speaks to a double standard of life and law that serves as the very foundation of a racist colonial project that all at once has kidnapped the millennium of Judaism and, with routine ease, once again seeks to strip the U.S. Constitution of the very vitality, the very mainstay of its historical speech paradigm.

Which is more glaring, is hard to say.

Is it the deadly whoopla of contemporary Zionists who, like their predator geo-political ancestors of but a 150 years ago, seek to reduce the Judaism of thousands of years, to mere flock of aimless geese awaiting salvation through the arrival of European tour guides to escort it across the sea en masse to steal Palestinian lands, Palestinian liberties, Palestinian lives?

Or it can it be that the long-settled unanimous law of NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.announced by the Supreme Court with grand daring and constitutional pride, not popularity, more than 40 years ago that boycotts undertaken through the exercise of speech, assembly and petition are essential to First Amendment rights protects all but those who dare to challenge Israel and the dutiful political theocracy of its Zombie-like Zionists?

Or is it the self-evident double standard of an Israeli law firm which deigns to walk through the constitutional doorways of another place and history to dictate the parameters and importance of its speech and assembly rights, while applauding with absolute obedient silence the lack of any such consequential freedom in the heartbeat of his own?

Let us begin with NAACP v. Claiborne. Though time and time again Zionists have tried to restitch a simple but broad and compelling narrative into a narrow as applied test of limited constitutional consequence, that handy partisan invention has been rejected repeatedly by courts throughout the United States.

Claiborne finds its genesis in a 1966, on-again-off-again boycott of white merchants in Claiborne County, Miss., initiated by the NAACP to secure compliance by both civic and business leaders with a lengthy list of demands for equality and racial justice. Although there were some periodic acts of violence the boycott was known largely for picketing, distributing leaflets, giving speeches and holding rallies. Causing serious economic hardship to many of the local merchants, years after the boycott began the Mississippi Supreme Court found all of the boycott as illegal holding the NAACP and 129 codefendants jointly and severally liable for $1,250,699 in damages and attorneys’ fees. On appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States the verdict was vacated, with the court holding that “boycotts and related activities to bring about political, social and economic change are political speech, occupying the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”

Well before NAACP v. Claiborne, boycotts have bequeathed an essential and lasting international footprint in the chase of justice and equality, a battle that knows not the limitation of any given time, place or party. As noted by T’ruah, in its amicus (friend of the court) brief on behalf of more than 2,000 Jewish clergy in opposition to the anti-BDS effort framed in Arkansas Times v. Waldrip, as long ago as 1770 a colonial boycott was called for by a legislative resolution of Virginia against British and European goods. Two years earlier Boston merchants had voted to block English trade, a boycott later joined by various businesses in New York and Philadelphia and by every-day colonists who undertook a protest against imported British products.  Framers, Alexander Hamilton who was one of the signatories of the United States Constitution and John Jay who was president of the Continental Congress, the first Chief Justice to the Supreme Court and later the Governor of New York both boycotted merchants who engaged in slave labor.

In 1791, English merchant James Wright stopped his sale of sugar from the West Indies because it was produced by three-quarters of a million slaves who had been kidnapped to Barbados and Jamaica to be used as the cornerstone of the sugar-exporting industry. Less than a century later the formal “boycott” was born when Irish workers used, essentially, as slave laborer’s, grooms, coachmen, and house-servants organised a protest against Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott who, after retiring from the army to become a land agent, sought to raise their rents; evicting those who could not afford to pay.  Faced with a growing protest driven by tenants who refused to work, local businesses that would not accept his money and with his mail delivery stopped, Boycott was forced to leave Ireland.

Fast forward to Germany 1933 where “In the wake of Adolph Hitler’s rise to power,” T’ruah, in its amicus, cites the effort by Rabbi Wise who played a prime role in organising the boycott against German goods in an effort to expose and isolate the country for its attacks on Jews and others for nothing more than their faith, culture and history.  Though a failed effort, it is beyond challenge that this plea for a non-violent boycott against regimes built of racial or religious supremacy and tyranny was later echoed by most of the world, excluding Israel, against South Africa-an earlier but less deadly iteration of its own Zionist apartheid today.  And in Martin Luther King’s Constitution: A Legal History of the Montgomery Bus Boycott  famed law professor and author Randall Kennedy notes that the Montgomery Bus Boycott gave rise to Gayle v. Browder  which “effectively overruled” the separate but equal racial poison of Jim Crow, approved of in Plessy v. Ferguson.

Elsewhere non-violent boycotts, large and small, be they by movements or people have proven to be the launch paradigm upon which the drive for liberty and justice was ultimately built and obtained. In 1930 Mahatma Gandhi led a 240-mile march in India to the Arabian Sea as part of a boycott against Britain’s colonial salt laws. It proved to be not just essential to the end of the salt tax and the release of political prisoners, but was a prime stoke of the fires of independence which ultimately drove Britain from India.

International boycotts against predator corporate or state policies are not at all an anomaly. To be sure, there have been numerous successful boycotts against multi-national corporations involved in the manufacture of dangerous products or permitted the use of child workers, or provided inadequate safety and industrial hygiene measures, or had a lack of drinking water, or no minimum wage or caps on work weeks, or were in bed with support for military regimes or which exploited migrant workers or placed their corporate coffers ahead of blatant human rights abuses. For example, among such boycotts which ultimately proved successful were those begun against Nestle in 1977, Nike in 1990, Pepsi in 1997 and Gap and Taco Bell in the early 2000’s, with resulting changes in product and work safety and conditions and the end of relationships with totalitarian regimes. In 2003, Liberian women went on a sex strike to end the country’s civil war; it worked with its primary organiser and leader Leymah Gbowee awarded a Nobel Peace Price for her efforts. In PereiraColumbia female partners of gang members also went on a sex strike demanding the end of gang violence and fewer guns. Within a few years the murder rate in Pereira had dropped by some 26%.

Domestically, in the United States boycotts have a storied and successful history as well. For example, in 1965 on Mexican Independence Day, Cesar Chavez and other Latino farm workers launched the “Delano Grape Strike” in support of Filipino-American grape workers for better wages and working conditions. Ultimately prompting an international boycott, it proved successful and led to the nation’s first farm workers union: the United Farm Workers of America. In 1984, when Food Lion refused to sign a “fair share” agreement to improve employment and economic opportunities for black workers, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) organised a three-day protest and boycott of dozens of stores it operated in various Southern cities. The boycott ended after Food Lion signed an agreement which required increased minority opportunities including more management positions and signing on with more minority-owned vendors.

Boycotts come in many shades of challenge. Following an unsuccessful international boycott of J.P. Stevens products of some four years, along with traditional strikes and mass picketing, the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union moved on to apply tertiary pressure upon the banks and corporate lenders, insurance companies and Wall Street investors which JP Stevens relied upon. Other strategies included hundreds of individuals and organisations such as unions, religious and political organisations purchasing a single share of its stock in order to crash the company’s annual meeting to directly confront management. Meanwhile, thousands of protestors  marched around Stevens Tower. Described at the time as the “biggest labor-management war of the last two decades” the battle– which was very much the real-life manuscript for famed movie Norm Rae– ultimately prevailed with the union’s multi-faceted tactics leading to the first collective bargaining agreements between J.P. Stevens and more than 3000 of its workers at its ten plants in the Carolinas and Alabama. Today the AFL-CIO maintains boycotts against 22 hotels in 5 states and the District of Columbia, 2 food and beverage businesses including products made in Mexico, an e- cigarette manufacturer and two law firms.

It is fitting indeed that the transcendent message of NAACP v. Claiborne was recently parroted by a district court in Washington, D.C. albeit in a context other than a boycott. In rejecting the application by the former president in Thompson v. Trump to dismiss a lawsuit, the court reminded those who seek to tamp down on non-violent dissent that “Expression on public issues has always rested on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values … [that] speech concerning public affairs is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government [and] embodies our profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.”

Not long thereafter in United States v. Hilliard  a decision from the Eastern District of New York the court affirmed the constitutionality of boycotts chiding a party to the litigation for their failure to recognise that “Claiborne involved an economic boycott over racial discrimination by white merchants, which is the type of peaceful political expression on public issues that has always rested on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”

While these cases do not specifically implicate efforts to silence BDS, nevertheless in their striking dispositive language and sweeping constitutional application they serve as an ever-present reminder that non-violent speech is not a verbal beauty contest but a guarantee of freedom from state efforts to silence unpopular words or assembly. Nowhere is that cue more telling or lasting than it was in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, where the Supreme Court agreed that a statute which provided: “”[w]hoever places on public or private property a symbol . . . but not limited to, a burning cross or Nazi swastika, which one knows or has reasonable grounds to know arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, colour, creed, religion or gender commits disorderly conduct and shall be guilty of a misdemeanour ” violated the First Amendment.

There is nothing sui generis about these cases which echo numerous decisions that have come before and will follow to be sure including many that have rejected legislative assaults on the non-violent BDS movement. And while the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals– which speaks directly to the diversity and speech concerns of the body politic of Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and the Dakotas (don’t venture out alone at night venues)–recently upheld anti-BDS legislation on the grounds of the so-called commercial speech exception, its twisted dishonest mental gymnastics is directly at odds with Claiborne and all other decisions that have faithfully held that the First Amendment is not one to be decided based upon the faith, politics or pockets of its proponent.

Given the Eighth Circuit’s reversal rate of almost 80% these last 15 years, were todays Supreme Court a bench driven not by personal political posture but constitutional precedent, it might well look to the keen journey of various lower courts which have previously struck down legislative attempts to ignore Claiborne and to silence BDS in clear violation of the First Amendment.

For example, in Jordahl v. Brnovich,  the court sided with those challenging an anti-BDS statute in Arizona noting “The Act’s history instead suggests that [its] goal is to penalise the efforts of those engaged in political boycotts of Israel and those doing business in Israeli-occupied territories because such boycotts are not aligned with the State’s values.” Koontz v. Watson  drew a similar conclusion finding that the “goal of the Kansas law requiring that persons contracting with the state certify that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel was either viewpoint discrimination against the opinion that Israel mistreats Palestinians or subject matter discrimination on the topic of Israel and that both are impermissible goals under the First Amendment.” In Amawi v. Pflugerville Indep. Sch. Dist.  the court rejected a Texas anti-BDS statute which prohibited boycotting of Israel as boycotts against Israel were inherently expressive conduct and thus protected speech. And in Martin v. Wrigley the District Court rejected a Georgia statute that for employment purposes required parties to certify they are not engaged “in a boycott of Israel is no different that requiring a person to espouse certain political beliefs or to engage in certain political associations. The Supreme Court has found similar requirements to be unconstitutional on their face.”

And what of the attack on Berkley Law school? Title VI of the Civil Rights Act decrees that: “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, colour, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”

Assume for the sake of argument student groups at Berkley Law School which seek to participate in constitutionally protected BDS activity by boycotting Zionist or pro-Israeli speakers are recipients of “Federal financial assistance.” Nevertheless, while Jews have, by Israeli law, been awarded a supremacist seat in the hallways of Israeli government, politics and life, Zionism (with its Jews of Europe and North America, its Christians of the US South and its Muslims of the Gulf states) is not a race, a colour, or unique national origin under the guideposts of settled US law.

To be sure, while other international states and entities lacking any constitutional foundation let alone protection for individual speech and association have, by wave of magic wand alone, conflated and converted a political movement born of a political purpose and agenda to that of a faith, no such paranormal conversion has found de jure acceptance in United States courts. Cast from a less nuanced speech portal, be it a megaphone handled by a student, a professor, an activist, a writer or a parent at home, they are fully protected in pronouncing Israel as little more than a racist settler colonial project.

Moreover, The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) which enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not a grand state censor empowered to dangle US dollars over the market-place of ideas in an effort to control its parameters or to force open its private doors to welcome the boycotted speech of others.  Markedly absent here, over the years OCR has moved to intervene when US dollars have been used directly or incidentally to deny access to equal education opportunity, limited equal rights to public education based upon immigration or citizenship status, funded discriminatory-based discipline, denied equal opportunities for English learners, furthered discriminatory assignments to education services, assisted bullying, harassment and retaliation based upon race or undercut racial diversity. None of these considerations is implicated, let alone threatened, by the free-speech choices of Berkley law students who say no to the imposed sale of a theocracy that engages in mass violations of human rights.

Title VI claims are not new. And while the Israeli firm seeks to rewrite their reach and burden, unlike much of Israeli law driven by chest pounds, and little else, here faith hurled screams of “we are chosen” will do little more than draw a yawn. Putting aside the failed threshold requirements of sufficient state funding and a specific breach of legislated law, this matter is what is known in the law as an action seeking third-party relief; that is to say it seeks to hold Berkley responsible, as a whole, not for its own policies or practices but those of another … here several student groups that in the exercise of their private First Amendment rights did nothing more than to refuse a speaker’s podium to outside Israeli cheerleaders.

Long ago the highly respected Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in Zeno v. Pine Plains Cent. Sch. Dist.  that under Supreme Court precedent to survive summary judgement in a claim of intentional discrimination it must be established that Berkley had (1) actual knowledge of the alleged violation; 2) that the conduct amounted to was severe and with a discriminatory purpose; and 3) that Berkley exercised “substantial control over both the harasser and the context in which the known harassment occurs.” That is to say the “school must have “control over the alleged harassment” and “authority to take remedial action.” Moreover, a Title VI claim is not an ambulance chase. As noted by the Third Circuit in Whitfield v. Notre Dame Middle School  the challenged conduct must not only be “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” but generally speaking deprive “the victim of equal access to the school’s educational opportunities and has a “systemic effect on educational programs or activities.”

Under these attendant circumstances, the attempt to sting the United States Department of Education or to bully a university legendary for an activist student body empowered by speech and protests into recognising or redefining Zionism as an identified race, colour, faith or identity of unique national origin will fail. A plain read of the Tel Aviv based Title VI challenge against Berkley says … dismissed.

On the other hand, let’s assume the Berkley claim has legs and in fact survives a motion to dismiss as unfounded. Will its Zionist handlers impose the same claim and screed against hundreds of U.S. rabbis for being anti-Semitic? Indeed, recently some three hundred U.S. rabbis and organisations and at least one university, the Los Angeles based American Jewish University, announced a boycott which will ban “far right” Israeli lawmakers affiliated with the Religious Zionist bloc in the Netanyahu government from speaking before their communities.

That this boycott includes community groups and a university which receives federal money for its various programs would seem to render it no less within the reach of Title VI than the action filed against Berkley Law School. Although the stated purpose of the rabbinical boycott is to take a political stand against Zionists and ultra-Orthodox Jews who seek to change the Israeli “Law of Return”; who wish to undercut LGBTQ rights; to permit the Knesset to veto rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court; to annex the West bank; and to expel “Arab” citizens who oppose Israel’s government, are these rabbis who dare to challenge not the faith but the politics of Israel any less anti-Semitic for the flavour of their boycott?

So, Tel Aviv counsel spare us your righteous indignation. Yours is a Bar built not of the pursuit and protection of equality and justice, but by an oath of institutional surrender which willingly accepts judicial cellblocks against equality, assembly and speech.  Indeed, the paradox is dramatic. It is vivid. It is chilling.

You deign to step into the United States protesting the loss of your clients’ “rights” to input the market place of ideas, but yet do nothing to challenge the theft of parallel opportunity and redress for millions of Palestinians and their supporters in Israel and the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. A system of Israeli opportunity and justice owned not by principles of equality, diversity and aspiration but by a military crowned with the hateful tiara of the Knesset that proclaims and proudly so …. For Jews only.

At days-end, Zionists promote the tattered tease of a fanciful “democracy” all the time obscuring a faith-based privilege of an Israeli justice system empowered by a “Nation state” … one that exalts Judaism over the faith of all others. It is a legislative badland that has welcomed some 65 laws that favour Jews alone. A grand judicial censor that upheld the deportation of Human Rights Watch director Omar Shakir who was removed from Israel for nothing more than his call on firms to cease operations in settlements. Several weeks ago, that same judicial process cheered for the forced exile of Palestinian-French human rights lawyer Salah Hammouri, who had been detained without charges much of this year.

It is perverse to say the least that while its packages itself as a democracy Israel continues its decades old practice requiring all media outlets, authors and publishers to submit articles “relating” to security and foreign relations to military censors for pre-publication review.

Last year “the Israeli military censor barred the publication of 129 articles in the media, and interfered with the content of another 1,313.” At the same time the Israel Democracy Institute and the Israel Internet Association challenged a new regulation that empowered the state to obtain a court order permitting Israel to block any website posts including those on Google, Twitter and Facebook or any Israeli news sites or those outside of Israel for content removal from Israeli IP addresses on the grounds that a post could serve as an “incitement to violence or terror.”  Currently there are hundreds of books banned by Israel either because of content or place of publication. This includes Arabic translations of George Orwell, James Joyce and William Faulkner; of Sylvia Plath, Susan Sontag and Nelson Mandela; of Shakespeare, D.H. Lawrence, Orhan Pamuk, and Agatha Christie.

This year Israel announced a new “Procedure for Entry and Residency of Foreigners in Judea and Samaria Region,” which provides the Israeli military the unilateral power to select which international academics, researchers and students can teach, do research or study at Palestinian universities. Given however increasing military attacks over the last several years at various Palestinian universities such as An-Najah, Birzeit and Palestine Technical University — Kadoorie in which dozens of students have been shot or arrested as “inciters” it just might be fortuitous these days for foreign applicants to be denied admission to Palestine to teach, research or attend classes.  As part of its effort to control what Palestinian students can access in classrooms and out Israel has accelerated its effort to control the content and language of what is taught in Palestinian classrooms.

Elsewhere there are increasing on-line efforts to control what is taught and by whom outside Israel. Recently Zoom, Facebook and Youtube blocked an online academic event “ Whose Narratives? What Free Speech for Palestine?” co-sponsored by the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies program at San Francisco State University, the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUFCA), and the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI).”

Meanwhile dozens of Palestinian or pro-Palestinian organisations, faculty, researchers and teaching assistants are under siege at various American universities- with many shuttered, denied tenure or fired through lobbying efforts to bully and silence them. While attacks by Zionist entities on famed academics such as Steven Salaita and Norman Finkelstein are well known, Israel itself has never hesitated to try and muzzle what can and cannot be taught about its colonial project in US classrooms. The matter of the University of Carolina Ph.D. student Kylie Broderick speaks volumes about its calculated effort to control academic content:

“Israeli consular officials in the southeast U.S. arranged meetings with a dean at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to discuss a graduate student teaching a course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to two UNC professors with knowledge of the meetings, who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution, the Israeli official accused the Ph.D. student of antisemitism and said she was unfit to teach the course.”

For years the Israeli government with its global lobbyists and Zionist supplicants have tried to recast any challenge to Israel’s blatant violation of fundamental human rights and international law as “anti-Semitism.”

Though activists worldwide including Jews have confronted not Judaism but supremacist policies born of terrorism, nurtured by land theft and violence and heralded by a consummate system of Israeli Apartheid, it has not slowed the orchestrated effort to refabricate BDS and other non-violent efforts as little more than hatred of Jews. It is a constant: be it the fitted shroud over the human rights graveyards of Israel, or the corrupted screams of its crusaders, Zionists seek to define an acceptable marketplace of ideas through the crafted and cheap talisman of antisemitism.

It is this vile revision of political aim and purpose empowered by the call of human rights and justice for millions of targeted and displaced Palestinians that has fuelled insidious attacks on nothing more than pure speech and protest. Across the globe, principled voices have been slandered with countless singled out for prosecution and economic injury not for violence but righteous resistance against the heirs of a racist colonial project- one more hateful than ever with the tally of its most recent election.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism has been auctioned off as the universal bellwether of hate. That this chant has been taken up by some, perhaps many, does not make the brand itself any less tailored, dishonest or insufferable.  At its core, this marketing ploy is entirely irrelevant to settled US law and little more than mere deflection. Indeed, it is an interesting paradox that so many who decried as clichéd the UN General Assembly resolution which “determined that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination,” half a century later, themselves, reduce all who oppose Zionism as inescapably anti-Semitic.

In the United States dozens of laws have been passed to sanction those who support BDS or oppose Israeli policies by way of other non-violent iterations. Against the backdrop of the convenient mantra “they hate us, because we are Jews” …  or “self-hating Jews” … students, faculty, journalists, political activists and businesses alike have been intimidated and silenced; have lost employment; or been forced to spend limited resources to defend themselves against a finely fuelled and funded attack by Zionist hawkers ultimately underwritten by the political or financial coffers of Israel.

So let us walk forward not with empty words but open eyes. For more than a century boycotts worldwide have served as an peoples’ alarm against policies and practices that have not just mocked human rights, dignity and justice, but taken the liberty and lives of tens of millions for little more than their faith, skin tone or political beliefs. Be it the voice of Jews against the arrival of Hitler; Americans who toppled Jim Crow; a world that said no to the Boers of South Africa; or the principled refusal by many across the globe to accept a supremacist Zionist nation state today, boycotts have been the historical foundation of international resistance.

The universal right of self-determination is a fundamental cornerstone of international law and human rights. With this no principled person or schooled scholar can disagree. At its core stands a settled age-old collective norm that people and movements can confront, indeed must defy, political and economic power born of religious, cultural or historical supremacy. To do otherwise is to surrender to the deadly tyranny of majoritarian rule and eventual ethnic cleanse. Nowhere is that call more compelling today than it is as against Israel, a racist colonial project.

Legendary Anarchist Emma Goldman born of an Orthodox Jewish family in Lithuania was not opposed to Jewish migration to Palestine, but only as a welcome refuge from the growing clouds of European national socialism. She was however an ardent anti-Zionist seeing “Zionism as the dream of capitalist Jewry the world over for a Jewish state with all its trimmings, such as Government, laws, police militarism… in other words a Jewish state machinery to protect the privileges of the few against the many.”

Goldman, who was imprisoned in the United States on multiple occasions for inciting to riot, urging draft resistance and illegal distribution of information about birth control, and who was deported to Russia for sedition following the Palmer Raids, understood well that principled resistance exacts a heavy personal price, to be sure.  For those who fight Zionism all these years later, be it through BDS or other forms of struggle, Goldman left behind sage words of inspiration which echo from the historical pathways of resistance:

“The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause. If, then, from time immemorial, the New has met with opposition and condemnation, why should my beliefs be exempt from a crown of thorns?”


Article republished with permission from CounterPunch. Original article published on December 30, 2022.

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