The following is a resolution passed unanimously at DSA Santa Cruz’s April 2022 chapter meeting. It calls on national DSA leadership to truly honor our organization's commitment to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and for the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
For those who have not been following the complicated story of the struggle within DSA around this issue, here is the context. At the 2021 DSA National Convention, the DSA overwhelmingly reaffirmed its commitment to the BDS movement as a central pillar of any socialist politics. Subsequently, a DSA-endorsed progressive congressman from New York, Jamaal Bowman, went back on his campaign platform and voted for US funding for Israel's “Iron Dome” weapons system. He also went to Israel in November 2021 on a trip sponsored by J-Street, a liberal Zionist organization, and took photo-ops with prominent Israeli politicians. Many in DSA's BDS/Palestine Solidarity Working Group objected and demanded Bowman engage with the Working Group to fully commit to the principles of our organization, principles which he himself ran on. When Bowman refused to engage in this process, the Working Group began to call on the DSA to rescind its endorsement of him and ultimately expel him from our organization, with which he clearly has fundamental political disagreements.
The National Political Committee (NPC), DSA's highest elected executive body, refused to take this course of action and a public dispute between members of the NPC and the BDS Working Group played out on social media. This all came to a head last month when a slim majority on the NPC voted to disband the national BDS working group and suspend its leaders from any position in DSA national leadership for one year. The purported reason for this de-chartering of a national working group—an action that the NPC may not even have had the power to take—was the critical tone and supposed misinformation being spread on social media by leaders of this Working Group, which the NPC accused of wrongly calling out Bowman's turnaround in his support for Israel. Subsequently, Bowman in fact reaffirmed his commitment to Iron Dome funding and backing Israel, and it appears that there was no misinformation spread by the Working Group. Under immense pressure from Palestinian rights groups and DSA members, the NPC has now walked back the disbanding of the working group, but is maintaining the suspension of its leadership.
The resolution below is similar to resolutions being passed by chapters and organizations across the country aimed at putting pressure on the NPC to fully reverse its undemocratic unilateral action. It is essential that DSA uphold principles of international solidarity, even when they are electorally inconvenient. It is crucial that we stand with the Palestinian people, and it is equally crucial that we build an organization in which internal debate is allowed and encouraged as a vital part of the socialist project.
Whereas the State of Israel has carried out a regime of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people; and
Whereas the U.S. government continues to fund and arm the Israeli settler state, sending billions of dollars in military aid with congressional approval; and
Whereas our position as a left, anti-imperialist, working-class group striving for the freedom, peace, and safety of oppressed peoples here within the imperial core, ourselves residents of a settler colonial state, is only strengthened by principled and active solidarity with Palestine; and
Whereas an array of Palestinian civil society organizations has called for a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to comply with international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
2. Granting Palestinian/Arab citizens of 48’ (‘Israel’) their right to full equality.
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194; and
Whereas the Democratic Socialists of America national convention voted to support the BDS movement in 2017, reaffirmed its commitment in 2019 by establishing a BDS & Palestine Solidarity national working group, and in 2021 included BDS in our National Platform; and
Whereas the U.S. is committed to spending $3.8 billion per year on military funding to Israel until at least 2028 (to put this in context, that's $3,867,482 per year from Santa Cruz County, money which could instead pay for 48 elementary school teachers or 52 clear energy jobs, for example). [https://uscpr.org/militaryfunding].
Whereas our lives are already negatively intertwined with our comrades outside the US, through our government’s contributions to apartheid structures in the Israeli state, and as socialists it is our responsibility to redirect that harm within the imperial core away from our comrades, reinvest that money and energy in our own communities, and foster solidarity by joining Palestinian civil society’s call for a US policy of BDS of Israeli apartheid.
Whereas the illegitimate vote by the National Political Committee to decharter the BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group was the latest overreach (according to the national Bylaws, the NPC does not have this authority) and continues a pattern of crossing the BDS picket line in defiance of DSA’s stated mandate to support BDS.
Whereas the illegitimate vote to decharter overrode the decisions made by the majority of convention delegates at the 2019 Convention that established this Working Group in the first place, and was won by only a simple majority, lacked credibility, and will harm our larger organization if any part of it is allowed to stand.
Therefore be it resolved that we, the Santa Cruz chapter of DSA, stand in active solidarity with the DSA BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group, and while we approve of the NPC’s recent decision to reverse its attempt to decharter, we call for the reinstatement of the leadership of the Working Group, reversing the NPC’s one-year ban on members of the steering committee from participating in national positions.
We concur with the Working Group’s Statement in response to NPC’s egregious and illegitimate punitive acts and the authors of the For An Internationalist DSA in their support of dissenting NPC members when they write: “we invite you to commit to struggling through conflict, to remain true to our anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist values, and support us in standing with our Palestinian and Palestinian-allied comrades against censorship.”
Be it further resolved, DSA Santa Cruz will publicly announce the resolution in the form of this statement on its website and social media accounts, and send a brief notification of the resolution statement to NPC.
DSA Santa Cruz
April 2, 2022