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Stop funding Israeli war crimes

Lea Kayali
Stop funding Israeli war crimes

Last Saturday, people from across Massachusetts gathered in Copley Square to demand an end to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians: the barrage on Gaza, the lynch-mob attacks, and the dispossession of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. As we marched to the Israeli consulate in Boston, tens of thousands of protestors also took to the streets in cities across the country. It was the largest showing of solidarity with Palestine that I’ve ever seen in the US. The mounting pressure is essential: the US government is the largest foreign financier of Israeli war crimes.

Here in Copley, we spoke about how the bombs being dropped on Gaza are paid for by American tax dollars. As of May 18, 212 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s latest air raids. More than 58 of those killed were children. This blood is on American hands. The US finances the Israeli military with a colossal $3.8 billion annually — and that’s just direct funding. President Biden just approved a $735 million sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel. Many of the groups puppeteering the Israeli extremist settler movement are headquartered in the US and registered as American non-profits. In other words, to add insult to injury, American donors who fund the expulsion of Palestinians are getting a tax break for every check they write.

The politics of US complicity are local, too. The Boston Police Department wastes public resources sending officers to Israel to perfect racist policing tactics. When they return home, they use those techniques on the streets of Black neighborhoods or against protestors. Police often use the same, supremacist, rhetoric to describe Black people as Israeli officials use to describe Palestinian communities. These connections extend beyond policing. Boston’s Logan Airport also contracts the same security company as Israel’s Ben Gurion, and was the first to adapt a racist and ineffective Israeli security practice. Activists in the US and Palestine must connect our movements — our oppressors are swapping tactics, too.

All of this money should be going into the communities harmed by policing and imperialism instead. Local organizers have long been calling to defund the Boston police and invest in Black and Brown neighborhoods. Abolitionist groups in Massachusetts like Families for Justice as Healing rightly argue that systems of incarceration, too, should be abolished; and that public money should funneled into community resources, not prisons. The same logic applies to Palestine. After all, the average American pays about as much to the Israeli murder machine as they do towards the public library system.

Just think of what we could do with $3.8 billion a year — or $10 million every day. In addition to building up communities of color here in the US, we should be shelling money out to repair years of catastrophe we’ve funded in Palestine, and in the communities devastated by the “forever wars.” For example, Israel has a long history of targeting Palestinian schools as a means of terrorizing children. If we stopped sending military aid to Israel, today, we’d raise enough money for Palestinians build 50 schools in Gaza in a week.

Now more than ever, I see progressives in the US taking a stand on Palestine and connecting systems of oppression domestically and abroad. Groups like the Muslim Justice League in Boston argue that the national security complex drives both the war on terror and the war on drugs. US support for Israel is a critical piece of the structure of white supremacy and imperialism. Removing it is necessary part to dismantle injustice everywhere.

As Representative Pressley said last Friday on the House floor: “We cannot stand idly and complicitly by and allow the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people to continue.” In order to turn this righteous sentiment into practice, we must end all US support to Israel.

Lea Kayali is a Palestinian community organizer with BDS Boston and the Palestinian Youth Movement.

BDS, Gaza, Israel, Lea Kayali, opinion, Palestine

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