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AIPAC is losing the fight, but North Carolina’s government will cover for them

April 30, 2024

This morning, on the threshold of May Day, I was on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill at Polk Place, which is a commons area located outside of the university’s South Hall administration building. The area was occupied by peaceful protestors, and like students at Columbia, UT-Austin and elsewhere across the US and in Europe, they were angry at continued US support for Israel’s unjustifiable treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Like many people in the US, they wanted our educational institutions to disclose the profits made from investing in companies that themselves profit from the 75 year long occupation and war Israel has imposed on the indigenous people in Palestine. 

And like many students and peaceful protestors active on this issue, the state showed its fear and intolerance to this awareness by sending police at 6:00 AM to destroy their tents and table, their community food kitchen, and to arrest some for the personal satisfaction of the UNC administration and the government. A more cowardly, ugly bunch of elected leaders and appointed authoritarians you will not find, even in a country now rife with them at all levels of government. 

For the first time since 1947, the carefully crafted veneer of respectability surrounding Israel in the US with regard to its actions in Palestine has major cracks. Whole sections of this shell are exposing the reality of life for people in the occupied territories, and with this fracturing the obvious lies of the Israeli government regarding their actions in Palestine for many decades, along with US complicity in these actions, are visible to the world. 

This fracturing and its attendant, unwelcome exposure of the brutality of the Israeli government, fully sanctioned by the US and its so-called leaders since WWII, is a political disaster for Israel. Without being propped up by Western commercial investment and military support, Israel would not have lasted a decade. Its longevity is due solely to being joined at the hip with US foreign policy aims. As the US claws desperately for power on the world stage, Israel finds itself exposed to world opinion and, for the first time, world approbation. 

The students who organized at UNC and across the world see the hypocrisy and contradictions of US behavior in a world that increasingly needs real action on global warming, environmental destruction, poverty, famine, public health and other actual human needs. Instead we spend billions upon billions in money and resources to prop up strongmen ruling over false democracies, while our own democracy in the US is terminally ill. The students have more foresight than our elected officials, who are far more scared of obvious foreign agents like  AIPAC than they are of their own voters. The elected officials know that no matter which party wins in the farcical system we call democracy in the US, the moneyed interests in the US will be protected. They know how to function for their own benefit inside this system, and challenges to it cannot be tolerated. 

I would rather have any of the students who participated in the push for UNC to disclose its financial ties to Israel in the halls of power than any of the authoritarian, law-and-order waterboys for wealth that sit in our legislature and in the offices of the council of state. The students have something which was lost by these people long ago. They have the ability to see and respond in a rational and humane way to suffering, environmental degradation, disaster, economic inequality and war. These things, which are the politically manipulable stock in trade of the major political parties, will then not be disconnected from public consciousness. No one in government in this state has the courage and ability of those students, and no voter in the state should be under the illusion that the police assault refutes that statement. This morning’s actions exposed more cracks in our own authoritarian system, and elected officials desperate to prevent further fragmentation. They’re going to need a lot more Oppressive Glue™ to maintain the facade. 

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