Peace-Washing Orgs Fail to Condemn Massacres

As poet Remi Kanazi said on Tuesday’s SJP event, “We’re told to be ‘moderate,’ but that’s a code word for ‘Don’t defend your rights.’ Everyone should be against occupation, everyone should be against war crimes.”

J Street, Tritons for Israel, and the other “peace/democracy-washing” organizations use these terms to ignore gross war crimes (UN, documented cluster bombs, white phosphorus, collective punishment [banned after the Nuremberg trials], to name a few), human rights violations and systemic threats to peace and democracy in the region such as refusing to grant citizenship to occupied peoples.

These organizations fail to recognize that Israel is in fact the aggressor (which is the definition of an occupation: There’s an occupier and an occupied).

The occupied, Palestine, is protected under international law to protect itself.  This isn’t a “conflict” as these “peace-washing” groups call it, but Palestinian self-defense against violent occupation which receives funding, arms and training from the other imperialist military in the Middle East: the U.S.

These groups love to say: “it’s more complex” or “Let’s talk for seven hours ’til you agree it’s complex.” I base this off the many, many, many times this happened during my undergraduate years, but lesson learned: These groups — maybe some of the individuals are not but their leadership and the nature of these groups themselves  — definitely are not interested in a one-state solution that provides dignity and human rights for all, but are only interested in a solution that divides Israelis and Palestinians, which under current borders would mean Israel would have access to all major roadways, water sources and the best farming land.

J Street and these “peace-washing” organizations fail to condemn the many Palestine or Lebanon massacres, and fail to support the hunger strikers and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement among a host of other nonviolent Palestinian-led campaigns.

These and many, many more reasons are why I cannot morally or politically go to any J Street or Tritons for Israel or any “peace-washing” organization’s events, and why I encourage others not to as well. Plus I have never seen any of these organizations ever actually organize or build a movement to end the occupation. They remind me of the adage about “talk shop” campus groups: ‘They organize people to have events, instead of having events to organize people.’

Also, if any group wants to promote dialogue, please have your event/tabling not during the main event week of the group you want to have dialogue with. It’s almost like it’s competing which is a shame because there are 9 other weeks to present these views that aren’t during Justice in Palestine (this week!), whose views on the Apartheid differ from J Street and the other “peace-washing” groups.

Introducing his “This Poem will not End Apartheid,” Remi said, “Those organizing for Palestinian liberation always have two things on their side: history and truth. Palestinians are not helpless people in need of aid, but occupied people fighting for freedom. Inaction isn’t an option.”

—Nikolai Smith

Ph.D Student, Department of Philosophy