Institutional leaders must affirm that advocacy for Palestinian rights, as well as concern for and celebration of Palestinian lives, is squarely within the sphere of legitimate discourse.
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.