Thinking about BDS (3): Borne on the Fourth of July

On this day in history in the year 1776 AD, fifty-six American political leaders declared war against the “coercive,” “intolerable” military occupation (about two years in length) that had been imposed on them by Great Britain. They felt pushed to the expedient of war after the failure of the boycott campaign they had initiated against their imperial overlords.

In their words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They’re venerated to this day for the war they started, and the (slave-owning) country they created in its wake.

Feel free to read the bill of particulars over which they started that war. Then compare that bill of particulars to the ever-lengthening one documented (among other places) at B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Then ask yourself: does it make sense to celebrate a war fought over the bill of particulars in the U.S. Declaration of Independence while criticizing BDS as an anti-Semitic attempt to “de-legitimize” Israel? Is it really wrong to “de-legitimize” a military occupation that has lasted 48 years, that Americans are obliged to support, that the American government refuses (unlike, say, Pakistan) to sanction, and that not only shows no sign of ending, but seems to be intensifying? If we can celebrate an eight-year war begun in response to a two-year occupation, why the vilification of those non-violently resisting an occupation almost a half century in length?

Something to think about tonight under the fireworks, courtesy of an American malcontent in Palestine.

Don’t get me wrong: though British rule over the American colonies was certainly unjust, I don’t mean to suggest that I regard the Revolutionary War as justified. I don’t think it was, so I don’t think the Fourth of July ought to be a matter of celebration.

According to David Bernstein, however, my views on this subject make me “abnormal” (scroll down to the bottom of the comments in the preceding link for the whole thread).

How is celebrating the conquest of East Jerusalem=celbrating the deaths of Arabs? When you celebrate July 4th, does that mean you are celebrating the death of the British. That’s pretty much the dumbest thing you’ve said on this thread. And I’m sorry you’re not troubled by the fact that the news sources you rely on make shit up. …

I think *normal* people distinguish between celebrating a military victory, especially one when your side was attacked in a war of annihilation, and celebrating the death of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks. When you celebrate a military victory, your celebrating that your side one, not that they killed lots of kids. And Jerusalem Day celebrates Jewish control of Jerusalem, not a military victory per se.

I suppose we ought to celebrate “Jewish control of the West Bank” while we’re at it. It’s not a military occupation “per se.”

I guess that’s why, as you pass the Jewish settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and enter the Arab town of Al Azariya, the trees are festooned with Stars of David and the number “67.” The IDF wants to celebrate the fact that in 1967, they established “Jewish control” over everything you see around you, while abstracting from the fact that the control is enforced by means of tanks and machine guns “per se.” If you’d like to be the kind of moron that David Bernstein thinks you are and wants you to be, feel free to indulge in that act of amnesiac evasion. But don’t do it while celebrating the Revolutionary War.

Ask yourself instead whether war was justified in the one case, and prolonged military occupation is justified in the other. As an American, you’ve likely internalized a lifetime of propaganda intended to convince you that you owe moral allegiance to the ideals of the American Revolution, and owe a blank check to the imperatives of the Israeli Occupation. This Independence Day, do something different for a change. Consider the possibility that you don’t.

Prior installments in this series:

Thinking About BDS (1): Infantilization, ‘Safe Spaces’ and Threats to Discourse

Thinking About BDS (2): The Rhetoric of the Race Card

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