The Hypocrisy of US So-Called
Progressives, Such as Cory Booker, Towards the Palestinian
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN,
December 3, 2018
Israeli boot-lickers can be disguised even as progressives!
Israeli dispossession of the Palestinian people, by the
continuous theft of their lands, 1947-2006
Fraying principles: The hypocrisy of US progressives towards the
Fraying Act I
Back in early November, the organisation
Jewish Voice for Peace
(JVP), one of the few remaining American Jewish organisations that has
the decency to publicly support the human and civil rights of the
Palestinian people, put out
an urgent notice.
The notice asked supporters of the Palestinian cause to protest against
the recent action of a progressive US senator.
The urgency was generated by the announcement that, following the murder
of 11 Jews killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the Democratic senator from
would “support the long-stalled Federal Gag Bill (aka the Israel
anti-Boycott Act) as a “response” to rising anti-Semitism”. What makes
Booker’s action so questionable is that (1) the Boycott has nothing to
do with anti-Semitism and (2) Booker’s mislabelling it as such clashes
with his normal support for liberal causes. It represents a fraying of
his professed liberal principles.
Booker has a record of consistently supporting socially progressive
issues. He has taken a stand in support of the legalisation of same-sex
marriage, single-payer health care and women’s rights. But there is a
catch. Democratic politicians are often liberal on domestic issues while
choosing to be quite illiberal on issues related to foreign policy in
the Middle East. This discordance is particularly seen when it comes to
the rights of oppressed Palestinians.
Booker decided to play this domestic/foreign policy gambit. He did so by
publicly conflating criticism of Israel’s racist and aggressive
behaviour with anti-Semitism. This is a decision that mixes apples and
oranges (or hatred of Jews with criticism of Israeli state policies) and
therefore does not make logical sense, though it is politically
Why did he do it? The answer is most likely a product of both a
friendship and political self-interest. Booker is close to his fellow
New Jersey senator, Robert Menendez, who is a strong Zionist, and this
friendship may well have helped him understand the political benefits of
allying with the pro-Israel lobby. Booker knew that there might be a
political price to be paid for coming out in support of the Zionists—the
move would cast a shadow over his liberal persona. So, best to make this
move at a moment that would likely minimise the blowback.
Thus, it may be that Booker saw the late October murder of 11 Jews at a
Pittsburgh synagogue—the most lethal anti-Semitic action in US
history—as just the right moment to justify the move. He may have been
right. Other than the JVP’s statement, the sound of fraying principles
Booker is not alone in the cultivation of this particular blind spot.
There are other US senators who abandon liberal consistency when it
comes to Israel. For instance, there is
Robert Casey of Pennsylvania.
Casey is also a supporter of liberal domestic legislation, particularly
when it comes to health care. Though “pro-life”, he at least has the
common sense to support subsidised access to contraception. Nonetheless,
in Casey’s opinion Israel is “America’s most trusted ally”, and the
boycott of that country constitutes a “pernicious” movement. Casey has
never expressed any public criticism of Israel’s illegal treatment of
the Palestinians nor its occupation of Palestinian territory in
violation of international law.
Fraying Act II
The politically inspired refusal to be consistent to standards of
decency is not restricted to the issue of Palestine. Consider the
recently published picture
showing former Democratic Vice-President Joe Biden, whose name has been
mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential
nomination, presenting George W. Bush, former Republican president (and
arguably a war criminal), with the 2018 Liberty Medal at the National
Constitution Centre in Philadelphia on 11 November 2018.
The offered reason for Bush’s receiving this honour is in recognition of
helping wounded post-11 September veterans get back on their feet
through healing and career training”. Given that most of these veterans
were wounded in a war that then-President Bush started under false
pretences, one wonders what Biden and the National Constitution Centre’s
Board of Trustees were thinking when they decided to honour him in this
fashion. After all, the Liberty Metal is designed to recognise those who
to secure the blessings
of liberty to people around the world”. I don’t think that anyone with
even a little knowledge of the second Iraq war can believe that was
George W. Bush’s real motive.
We can admit that consistency is a hard thing to achieve for all of us.
This would be particularly true for politicians immersed in a system
dominated by special interests and “party whips”. Yet the fraying of
principles related to human rights that now pervades US politics and
particularly the liberals’ readiness to acquiesce in the denial of other
people’s rights, speaks to a significant devaluing of conscience and an
unconscionable shallowness when it comes to ethical judgement. Perhaps
it should give pause to all those Democrats raising glasses of cheap
champagne to the party’s victory in the mid-term elections. Just how
consistent in their assumed liberal principles will our new US
The truth is that these newly elected Democrats are stepping into a
struggle for the political soul of their party. Their professed
liberality should help move the party in the direction of rational
change, both as to its priorities and its leadership. The result should
be a shift left to ensure things like health care, gender equality,
same-sex marriage, abortion rights, a serious attitude towards climate
change, infrastructure investment, and
respect for international treaties and laws.
This includes an empathetic response to the injustices visited upon the
Palestinians by “America’s most trusted ally”.
But, alas, this cannot be done under an old guard that is stuck in the
rut of tradition, tied hand and foot to special interests, and insisting
on keeping control of a party which, under their leadership, has lost
the ability to act with any sort of originality.
Here is where the all too easy fraying of principle threatens the
Democratic Party. Will our new Democrat representatives be loyal to
their progressive principles, or will they buy into a corrupt
by just following their Pied Piper leadership? Time will tell, but if
they don’t “rock the boat” now, the prevailing paralysis will bode ill
for both their future and ours.
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