Providence Leftist Radio Podcast: Small state – Big impact – Israel and the Ocean State
“What we are seeing in East Jerusalem right now could be the beginning of a third intifada, a wave of increased aggression from colonizing zionist forces to cast out the Palestinian populace. This would undoubtedly be met with defensive protest by the affected people, which would result in unscalable violence against them.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report in April that stated Israel was, “Crossing the threshold” into the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court’s definiton of Apartheid, which is when one racial or ethnic group not only dominates another through intentional, systemic, and inhumane acts, but also does so with the intention of maintaining a regime.
Event this Friday at 5pm: Free Palestine: Stop funding Israeli apartheid!
Despite years of disturbing reports by Palestinians, it is only now being more widely acknowledged that these atrocities are taking place. What’s more, the important declaration by HRW has been further legitimized by the broader awareness of current events as undisputable violence has seemingly erupted, unfolding before us across heavily moderated social media platforms and the occasional mainstream channel. Jerusalem continues to be a warzone. The Isreali national holiday Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the regime’s conquest and domination of Jerusalem on May 10th, has resulted in violence and destabilization to the people who live in the Old City. Protestors were met with the butts of assault rifles while Israeli forces carried out an incredibly disrespectful and unnecessary raid on the third most holy Muslim site in the world, Al Aqsa. Inside, where Muslims prayed and fasted during the final days of Ramadan, in the middle of a scorching heat wave and a ravaging pandemic, canisters of CS gas choked worshippers, and the deafening echoes of flashbangs reverberated against walls that have been standing since 705AD. Israeli police rushed the entrance, firing rubber bullets and swinging batons, assaulting Muslim men, women, and children who had nowhere to run or hide.
The spearpoint of the recent aggression in East Jerusalem can be blamed, in part, on the instigating activity by members of the ultranationalist Religious Zionist Party, who seek to expand Isreal’s borders, annexing the entire west bank while expelling Palestinian families in order to create an Isreali ethnostate. Some members of the party want to go so far in their archaic nationalism as to raze Al Aqsa mosque to ashes, and build the “Third and Final Temple of Israel’” in its place. As the world watches the colonized Palestinians in the streets defend themselves with shoes, rocks, and whatever refuse they can hurl against a military force funded with over $20 billion in revenue, our own State Department offered terribly tired and offensive non-statements on the 10th of May, saying, “We called on both sides to de-escalate, and we continue now to call on both sides.”
Articles written by popular media outlets routinely make comments about a rocket landing in Israel, conveniently forgetting to mention the schools and apartment complexes leveled by the Israeli military. On Jerusalem Day alone, an Israeli airstrike killed 20 people, including nine children. The weaponry used by Israel against the Palestinians frequently comes from the bloodied hands of the United States, as the United States has long been providing Israel with not only billions of dollars in military assistance, but also vast amounts of murderous hardware. These include metric tons of firearms, AH-64D Apache Longbow Helicopters, and munitions like the “Bunker Buster,” a 5,000 pound GBU-28 laser-guided bomb made by American-based company Raytheon Technologies, which have been sold to Israel for years. A single GBU-28 warhead costs more than a Palestinian family would make in a hundred lifetimes.
Comments from American press speak on Israel’s right to self-defense, ignoring the fact that Palestine has the same right. Undoubtedly, the United States sees much of itself in Israel, and considers the oppressor the only acceptable entity to have a monopoly on violence.
There are many historic reasons why the United States is so ineffectual when it comes to dealing with violence in Israel, but one specific reason will be confronted in this article as it pertains to the elected officials that hold office in our unassuming state of Rhode Island. The situation concerns Single-Issue Pro-Israel SuperPACs, who have spent millions buying candidates in 2020, according to opensecrets.org. These lobbyists have contributed to the United States failing to take any meaningful action in the region, and the dirty money reaches far across the world and into the pockets of our own legislatures.
According to Opensecrets.org’s Pro-Israel Money to Congress matrix, Representative James Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island’s second congressional district, has received $9,250 from Pro-Israel financiers in 2020. Another benefactor of the Israeli PACs is Democrat Representative David Cicilline, Representative of Rhode island’s first district. Representative Cicilline received $14,550 from Pro-Israel groups in 2020. However, Democratic Senator Jack Reed received the largest sum, totaling $20,750.
Most importantly, all three politicians have seats in committees that contribute to our government’s military industrial complex.
The United States House Committee on Armed Services, of which Representative Langevin is a member, is responsible for the “funding and oversight of the Department of Defense and the United Armed Forces.” Representative Langevin’s top two contributors in 2020 were military industries: General Dynamics, which builds missiles, tanks, and aircraft, paid him $37,375, while Raytheon Technologies, who built the GBU-28 bombs, contributed $26,000.
Representative David Cicilline is on the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism, and has responsibility to settle issues of “regional jurisdiction.” The committee is responsible for “political relations between the United States and countries in the region and related legislation, disaster assistance, boundary issues, and international claims.” In addition to pocketing $14,550 from Pro-Israel Groups, Cicilline received $45,000 from military powerhouse Lockheed Martin, who you may know for their indelible presence in New England, their many investigations for corruption, or their severe greenwashing (Hey, they’ve promised to bring renewable energy to the military!)
Acknowledging Representative Cicilline’s seat is important, however, because the winner of Palestine’s last election in 2006, with over 44% of the vote, was the Islamic Resistance group, Hamas. Hamas has been declared a terrorist group by the United States, Israel, and a series of other imperialist countries in the European Union. In this year’s Palestinian legislative election, which has been indefinately postponed because of recent violence in Israel’s apartheid, Hamas had been projected to win again. And do not be mistaken: it is, in fact, an example of apartheid. It is not, as the Wall Street Journal would have you believe, an “appropriation” of the term in the interest of “bashing” Israel. Rome Statute or not, and no matter how it is worded by the larger news sources, what is going on in Israeli-occupied Palestine is not merely a conflict, and Hamas are not the aggressors. It is not complicated, it is not an issue of anti-semitism or “both sides.” Plainly and simply, it is settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing, and, uncomfortable though it may be to acknowledge how our own locally elected officials are involved, we must do so, and we must demand that they, to borrow a phrase and put it lightly, “Knock it off.”
Furthermore, the Armed Services Committee, on which Senator Jack Reed sits, is considered one of the most powerful senate committees. It makes decisions on issues concerning the Department of Defense, military research and development, and aeronautic and space activities pertaining to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems or military operations, among other responsibilities.
Senator Reed received $133,875 in contributions from General Dynamics from 2015-2020. In that time, he was paid $95,300 from Lockheed Martin and $59,710 from Raytheon Technologies.
According to a Forbes.com article by Sebastian Roblin, published September 18, 2020 entitled “Israel’s Wish List: Here’s the $8 Billion In U.S. Weapons It Wants to Buy”, Israel is expecting to receive $38 billion in military aid between 2019 and 2028. The same article goes on to state that one of the orders on this frightening wish list is twenty-five additional F-35 Stealth Fighters, the same planes manufactured by Cicilline and Reed’s good friends at Lockheed Martin.
Such is an obvious case of corruption and political interference by foreign interests, facilitated by the powerful arms of the military industrial complex. Representatives Langevin and Cicilline, and Senator Reed, all sit in committee seats that decide the future of American militarism, foreign policy, how our intelligence networks are shaped, and the fate of millions of unsuspecting people around the globe. These dark relationships highlight the thread of a thousand strings which is the Qualitative Military Edge agreement between the United States and Israel. This binding resolution holds the nations together in a way that makes money for the capitalist military industries and facilitates the efficient murder of Israel’s neighbors.
In a situation where the politicians behind the decision-making processes concerning the legitimacy of Palestine’s government and Israel’s vast weaponry are receiving tens of thousands of dollars annually to support both Israel and the Military Industrial Complex’s interests, is there any chance for integrity and ethical line of action? Of course not.
Backdealing quid pro quo money handling by trusted Rhode Island Politicians fueling America’s predatory war economy on tax payer dollars to murder terrified and impoverished people around the globe isn’t the only issue that Rhode Island voters face when it comes to the Palestine situation. Language, how it’s used, and what it means is in danger of being molded into a clandestine weapon against any dissent from Israel’s apartheid. Last March, Republican State Senators Elaine Morgan (District 34) and Jessica De la Cruz (District 23) put forward legislation (S0690) for “all levels of state and local government to adopt the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of Antisemitism.”
Nina Tannenwald of Brown University, who wrote in an article published on the JewishRhody.com website on March 04, 2021, explicated the problems with this definition when she stated that it “mistakenly equates anti-zionism with antisemitism. No one can be required to be a zionist, just as no law can require someone to be a Serbian, Polish or Quebecois nationalist.” Nina Tannenwald’s article, titled “Getting at the Root of Anti-semitism,” criticises the Jewish Alliance and Bornstein Holocost Education Center for adopting this definition, stating that “this trivilizes real antisemitism” and worries about the future of protests in our universities and communities.
The reader can imagine the danger of such legislation put forward by Morgan and De la Cruz concerning freedom of speech, had the IHRA definition been adopted by the local and state government. Luckily, S0690 was removed at the sponsor’s request twelve days later.
Internationally, we can see this disingenuous language game being used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netinyahu himself. The International Criminal Court is seeking to investigate reports of war crimes committed by Israel in 2014 during a military offensive in Gaza, the processes of Israeli Settlement Policy, and the 2018-2019 Gaza Border Protests. Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that the International Criminal Court investigation into possible Israeli warcrimes is “pure anti-semitism.”
What we are seeing in East Jerusalem right now could be the beginning of a third intifada, a wave of increased aggression from colonizing zionist forces to cast out the Palestinian populace. This would undoubtedly be met with defensive protest by the affected people, which would result in unscalable violence against them.
Because of sensationalist fast-food-style media coverage, the gauntlet of horrors experienced by the people of Palestine, who have been struggling for generations against a superior force of mechanized aggression, has become normalized in our society. Pictures of settlers looking through scoped rifles between gaps of barbed wire at families playing football in the tan dust of a decimated courtyard barely register for the desensitized American public.
We at Providence Leftist Radio Podcast urge you to take the struggles of oppressed people seriously, and join us in recognition of their situation and solidarity in their righteous survival against unimaginable odds.
Readers must remember not to assume that because this state is so small, that the politicians in it have such a similarly-sized footprint. Do not assume that the foreign policy of a Rhode Island Representative or Senator is but “spare parts” to their political profile. Do research and find out who is lining the pockets of the people that you vote for. Understand that because of the corruption in American government, even if you do everything correctly as an informed voter, our political apparatus is still a fixed game. Be aware of legislation like S0690 that looks to sew your lips shut on important issues that you may have legitimate criticisms about, and stop any bills that limit your right to protest in the street and voice your anger.