Santa Cruz DSA Palestine Statement

DSA Santa Cruz - 11.01.2023

As violence erupts across the middle east, DSA Santa Cruz stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We know that the only way peace can be achieved and the only way to end the sort of violence we have seen this week, is for the brutal occupation of Palestine to end.

We support the absolute right of oppressed people under the violent occupation of an apartheid state to resist that oppression and we oppose the genocidal reprisals that the Israeli state is already visiting upon the entire population of Gaza, nearly half of whom are under the age of eighteen. 

In times of escalating conflict, there is an impulse — often well-intentioned — to call for deescalation and an end to violence from all sides.  We understand this impulse, and we recognize the deep pain and trauma that is being felt on all sides. However, as socialists we cannot allow this to cloud our understanding of the political determinants of the current conflagration and we cannot allow an abstract “both-sides-ism” to creep into our analysis.  Yes, there is suffering on both sides. Yes, there are atrocities. But the context of this suffering is an overwhelmingly one-sided and brutal history of oppression, occupation and ethnic cleansing visited asymmetrically by the Israeli state upon the Palestinian people. In this context, the appropriate response is not to call for an abstract “end to the violence” but rather to insist upon an end to the violent occupation of Palestine. Full stop.

We have been profoundly disappointed by the default posture taken by most US elected officials, many of whom are backed by DSA, which at best parrots this kind of “both-sides-ism”, but more often is simply uncritical support for Israeli retaliation.  We denounce in the strongest possible terms these kinds of implicit endorsements of colonial violence.  But we also understand where they come from.  A left that has been on the back foot for so long, that has been disorganized and defeated on the international front over and over by the forces of neoliberal globalization and the Washington Consensus (of which support for Israel is a catechism), cannot be expected to articulate a full-throated and internationalist defense of the oppressed.  In the absence of a robust and internationally oriented workers movement, individual progressive politicians will inevitably find themselves drifting into the orbit of the hegemonic position which supports the status quo violence of the occupation and sees any effort to change it as “terrorism”. 

That said, we also recognize that the DSA’s authority to speak on these matters is profoundly compromised by our organization's ambiguous position on Palestine, and it is high time that we address this.  DSA has made great strides since 2016 on this question and many chapters, including our own in Santa Cruz, have made support for BDS a core component of our politics. But nationally we are divided on what this means.  We hope that this moment will allow many comrades in the DSA for whom this question has so far remained an abstract one, to reevaluate how we relate to Palestine, and to elected officials who undermine its cause.  We call on our own organization to let the scales fall from its eyes and to fully commit to the proposals made by the BDS working group at our August convention: support for Palestinian liberation and the BDS movement must be understood as the central question around which we build an internationalist, anti-imperialist politics. We cannot continue to back politicians who don’t understand this, and the DSA’s “big tent” approach must reach its limit at Zionism.  We must see American imperial hegemony as inseparable from the politics of the US’s most important client state in the hottest conflict zone on the planet, and any opposition to the former must take opposition to ethnonationalist colonialism in Palestine as a central tenet.  More than this, any domestic anti-racist politics must also start from a principled opposition to US-backed Israeli oppression abroad.  The tear gas used in Ferguson and the tactics used by the Oakland police and ICE to repress our movements at home and terrorize our communities are direct products of Israel’s occupation.  Capitalist militarism connects the oppressors of the world and it is our job to forge equally robust connections among the oppressed. 

The images of Palestinians bulldozing apartheid walls and of Israeli tanks on fire –– these images should be burned into the consciousness of all 21st century socialists.  As we confront racist cops in our own streets, as we picket our workplaces, protest our own border walls, and strike our rent, these are the images of resistance we should be conjuring. 

From the river to the sea — and then from sea to shining sea, Palestine and all oppressed people will be free. Victory to Gaza, Free Palestine, and Solidarity Forever and Ever!

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