The D.C. Circuit appeals court heard arguments last month in a bizarre case: the Jewish National Fund is leading a lawsuit against the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a nation-wide coalition of groups advocating for Palestinian liberation, on accusations of supporting terrorism. A look at the political economy of terrorism tort litigation shows how this lawsuit is not merely an instance of terrorism laws potentially trampling human rights; it is also an aggressive assertion of a right to colonize, and to do so in peace and quiet.
The anti-discrimination framework imagines a situation where authorities unjustifiably favor some categories of its population over others. While this analysis is not wrong, it obscures how Zionism – the political movement for a state for all Jews in the world and Israel’s official ideology – privileges even foreign Jews, to varying extents, over indigenous Palestinians. The systemic harm here is not merely discrimination; it is one of colonialism. And when we speak of colonialism – and especially settler colonialism, which seeks not only to rule native populations but to replace them – the logic of racial capitalism is seldom far behind.