Charges of anti-Semitism are going to dog Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, & Tlaib as long as they’re in the US Congress & speak out for Palestinians & BDS. In the best interests of Palestinians, they cannot afford to be flamboyant or reckless in their formulations. That doesn’t mean they should be conciliatory with Zionists but that they show political wisdom. Genocide is at stake.

Nevertheless, this latest flap accusing Ilhan Omar of anti-Semitism over her tweets against AIPAC is just an attempt to demoralize her. Does anyone recall even a peep of protest out of Chelsea Clinton, Meghan McCain, Nancy Pelosi, or any of the politicians when the Rohingya genocide was at full peak? Did they protest during the carpet bombing sieges of Gaza or against Israeli snipers taking down young kids, journalists, medics at the Great Return March? Have they ever spoken out against the persecution of Muslims in the US or elsewhere? Do they give a rat’s ass about human rights anywhere if there isn’t money in it for them?

(Photo is Pelosi at AIPAC convention)

After 53 years of political activism & feminism, often holding a minority point of view, I must admit that I don’t think women ever get used to the disrespect men show when we dare disagree with them. It doesn’t resonate with that sense of inferiority we once felt. We’ve long since gotten rid of that nonsense. What it evokes is outrage & quite frankly pity that so many men refuse to see women as their peers.

Columbia University scholar Hamid Dabashi has written a shameful, even scurrilous, critique of Michelle Alexander’s NY Times article “Time to break the silence on Palestine.” His critique in Al Jazeera is titled “The incurable parochialism of American intellectuals.” Let us dispense outright with his lengthy introduction citing French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville in “Democracy in America,” a book written 184 years ago. It has no relevance whatsoever to Zionism in America & the struggle of Palestinians. The debates around Israel & Palestinians are much more rancorous today than they were in 1967 when it was actually possible to discuss the issue with most Jews because Zionism was not yet firmly entrenched. Israel, Zionism, & for that matter American colonialism did not exist in 1835. To suggest that intellectual discourse has not been changed by the Civil War, US colonialism, Jim Crow, two World Wars, countless other wars, the development of Zionism, the Jewish Holocaust, the formation of Israel, & the Civil Rights Movement is sophistry.

Dabashi doesn’t just patronize Alexander by calling her article a “debut opinion” & a ‘bashful confession’ about the Palestinian struggle but he accuses her of intellectual parochialism & “moral cowardice.” One wonders how he treats the enemies of Palestinians. Alexander wrote a defensively formulated polemic in the bastion of Zionist apologetics. She is not speaking to the editorial board of the NY Times nor to AIPAC but to American Jews hoodwinked in the past 50 years by Zionist propaganda. She is aware of the political traditions among American Jews in the civil rights struggles & other progressive movements of the 1960s & that is what she is appealing to. We know that many liberal Jews who identify with Zionism, faced with the scope of Israeli apartheid & genocide, are rethinking their support for Israel. Alexander is appealing to their political traditions which were obvious in the late 1960s but have been lost to Zionism for 50 years.

Dabashi is not the only critic of Alexander’s piece who takes her to task for not citing any Palestinian voices. Exactly how persuasive does he think that would be to those confused by Zionism? It is not uncommon in political writing to cite others to prove one’s arguments in defense of those persecuted because the testimony of others on colonialism, apartheid, genocide has a force all its own. Otherwise, what is the point of international solidarity?

Alexander is excoriated for using the term “silence” when, as Dabashi correctly points out, it is more a matter of systematic repression & deceits. Are we going to fault her for committing herself to Black justice in the US & only writing now about the Palestinian struggle, just months after being appointed an opinion writer for the NY Times? Is that how we treat our allies? In truth & with all due respect, Dabashi should reserve such harsh judgements for those Palestinian supporters who dare compromise the movement by associations with anti-Semites & Assadists. Alexander is not Louis Farrakhan who is tainted by hatred for Jews. She is an uncompromising voice against racism & violence against the Black community. Hating on Jews would be beneath her dignity.

There is nothing more detestable than compromise on Zionism & the Palestinian struggle for justice. That is not what Alexander’s article is. As movement builders, we should recognize & respect the importance of her article in speaking to liberal Zionists & appealing to their highest aspirations for justice. To attack her in such a demeaning way is simply shameful. It is no way to treat an ally but it is a surefire way to lose them. The point is to win people, including Zionists, over to Palestinian justice & Alexander’s article is an important contribution to that work.

“Minnesota nice” is a term used to describe the passive-aggressive culture where I grew up in the northern state of Minnesota. That isn’t just due to its primarily Northern European ancestry but because genocide against & ongoing oppression of Native Americans is part of the fabric of the culture—albeit every attempt to repress consciousness of that reality. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar who just announced her candidacy for president is the very essence of Minnesota nice. Shy & diffident for the cameras, she is notoriously abusive with her staff & has the highest staff turnover rate in the entire US Congress. She was the county attorney that prosecuted about 50 animal rights protesters, including myself, for protesting experimentation on live animals in 2001. She’s a careerist & opportunist who will play the populist to garner votes but is fundamentally committed to the status quo, not to social justice. Tank her candidacy before it has time to take off.

The continent of Africa dwarfs several other large countries combined. There are several wars going on with millions killed, massive neoliberal plunder creating millions of refugees, & important political resistance In several countries. Try to think of the last time you read a report on any of that. Of course the news blackout serves to keep us ignorant at a time when the US, Israel, & European countries are increasing their military presence in Africa.

My mom & dad in their American Gothic pose. Taken sometime in the 1980s after my dad had retired as an electrician. May they Rest In Peace after spending a lifetime trying to make us all Republicans. They raised 19 kids & only got one liberal & one socialist in the lot.