recent killings of peaceful Palestinian protesters, children and
journalists by Israeli military snipers marks a turning point in the
movement against Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestine.
nonviolent protests by thousands in Gaza
over the past month, known as the Great
March of Return, have resulted in dozens dead and hundreds
injured by the live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas of Israel's
military. As a result, the ground is shifting in the Israeli
occupation of the Palestinian land, reflecting the urgency of the
human rights violations taking place there, and the ongoing efforts
of the Palestinian-led movement for justice, freedom and
States, during this season of bourgeoning movements for women's
rights, gun control and black lives, people are starting to
understand the commonality of injustice, inequality and
state-sponsored violence around the world. With a younger generation
committed to racial justice, social equity and human rights,
attitudes towards Israel's occupation of Palestine are shifting, even
as many mainstream Jewish organisations remain silent.
Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman faced accusations of
antisemitism from Israeli officials and calls
for revoking her citizenship for rejecting an invitation to
travel to Israel to receive an award from the Genesis Prize
Foundation, dubbed the "Jewish Nobel".
said she declined to attend the ceremony in Israel
due to distress over "recent events" (referring to the
killings of Palestinian protesters) and because she "did not
want to appear as endorsing [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin
comedian Sarah Silverman spoke out in support for Ahed
Tamimi, the Palestinian girl who was imprisoned for slapping an
Israeli soldier and has since been called the "Palestinian
Rosa Parks". As both Portman and Silverman are known for
their support for Israel, their unexpected reactions to and protests
of Israel's actions showed that there is a shift in Jewish-American
attitudes towards the occupation.
Durham, North Carolina became the first US city to ban police
training in Israel, while students at New York's prestigious
Barnard College's students voted to divest from Israel. Several US
lawmakers such as Senators Dianne Feinstein, Bernie Sanders and
Elizabeth Warren have voiced their opposition to the shootings of
Palestinians attending the Great March of Return, as Jewish
millennial activists from IfNotNow
have faced arrest for shutting down congressional offices as they
tried to make elected officials take a stand.
are signs of change in Israel as well. An Army Radio broadcaster said
he is "ashamed to be Israeli" in light of the military's
killing of Gaza protesters. Some Israeli soldiers stationed in Gaza during the attacks on protesters have
reportedly reached out to Breaking the Silence, the dissident Israeli
group that publishes soldiers' testimonies that are highly critical
of the occupation.
the Israeli human rights NGO, has urged Israeli soldiers to refuse to
fire at unarmed Palestinian protesters. Meanwhile, a new Jewish-Arab
movement called Standing Together started working towards
transforming Israeli politics and invigorating a fractured left.
movement for justice and equality has its turning point, in which the
violence perpetrated against it provides clarity to the greater
society, if not the world community, regarding the moral bankruptcy
of the oppressor's cause.
the US civil rights movement, such flashpoints included Bloody Sunday
- the brutal attack by police on civil rights protesters on the
Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 - and the bombing of
the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, which claimed the
lives of four black girls in 1963.
Africa, the turning point was the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, in
which Afrikaner police opened fire on thousands of black protesters,
killing 69 and wounding 180. Another turning point came 16 years
later, when South African police killed as many as 700
black students in Soweto who were protesting compulsory Afrikaans
Palestinian movement for justice and equality reached a similar
turning point when Israeli soldiers chose to fire upon thousands of
unarmed, non-violent protesters. Israel can no longer justify a
system protecting rights for Jews only, any more than apartheid South
Africa or Jim Crow America were able to maintain a country for whites
only, as pressure, protests and boycotts ultimately forced change.
Arabs are now the majority population in the land that encompasses
Israel and Palestine, and yet they are second and third-class
citizens at best, and at worst, landless refugees made captive in
their own home.
is an apartheid state whose government apparently has no intention of
providing full and equal rights to Palestinians in a democratic
one-state solution, or allowing Palestinian independence through a
two-state solution. Israel is continuously expanding
its illegal settlements in the occupied
West Bank, Gaza is an open-air detainment camp in which the
prisoners cannot escape, and US President Donald Trump has placated
his white Christian nationalist base and made
way for the "rapture" by taking Jerusalem off the
of a dehumanising occupation have also conditioned the hard-right
leadership in the nation of refugees, that is Israel, to brand
African refugees as "infiltrators "
and "monkeys" who are a threat to the country's Jewish
character and existence.
his Trumpesque border fence with Egypt, Netanyahu has called African
migrants a greater threat than "Sinai terrorists". All this
despite the fact that Ethiopian Jews, just like Palestinians, are
facing discrimination and violence in Israel on a daily basis.
II of the United Nations' Genocide
Convention defines genocide as any of the following, with the
intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in
whole or in part: "(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing
serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c)
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to
bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d)
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e)
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
Israel, a nation created in the wake of the Holocaust, should take
this definition to heart as it assesses how it treats Palestinians.
longer can the Israeli government pretend Palestinians are not human,
or invisible, or will simply go away. Israel cannot justify the
misery it visits upon Palestinians through the military occupation,
the killing and imprisonment, the restrictions on movement, the
demolition of homes and the construction of illegal settlements on
Palestinian land any longer. Reactions to Israeli military's latest
killing and maimings of nonviolent Palestinian protesters are proof
that the Palestinian movement for justice has passed a turning point
and change is coming.
commentary was originally published by Aljazeera.com