Co-written by *Kevin Zeese
This week, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which promoted giving Palestine to the Jewish people, will be celebrated in London. Around the world, there will be protests against it calling for Britain to apologize for the damage it inflicted. Students from the West Bank and Gaza will send letters to the British government describing the negative impacts that the Balfour Declaration, and the Nakba in 1948, continue to have on their lives today.
As Dan Freeman-Maloy describes, the Balfour Declaration is also relevant today because of the propaganda co-existing with it that justified white supremacy, racism and empire. British imperialists believed that democracy only applied to "civilized and conquering peoples," and that "Africans, Asians, Indigenous peoples the world over -- all were -- 'subject races,' unfit for self-government." That same racism was directed at Jewish people as well. Lord Balfour preferred to have Jewish people living in Palestine, away from Britain, where they might serve as useful British allies.
In the same time period, Bill Moyers reminds us in his interview with author James Whitman, the laws in the United States were viewed as "a model for everybody in the early 20th century who was interested in creating a race-based order or race state. America was the leader in a whole variety of realms in racist law in the first part of that century." This includes immigration laws designed to keep "undesirables" out of the US, laws creating second class citizenship for African-Americans and other people and bans on interracial marriage. Whitman has a new book documenting how Hitler used US laws as a basis for the Nazi state.
Injustice Is Legal
The US government and its laws continue to perpetuate injustice today. For example, contractors who apply for state funds to repair damage from Hurricane Harvey in Dickinson, Texas, are required to declare that they do not participate in the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement. And Maryland Governor Hogan signed an executive order this week banning any state contractors from participating in the BDS movement, after local activists defeated similar legislation for the past three years.
Participation in boycotts should be protected under the First Amendment, as the right to protest Israeli apartheid should be. But, that right may also be taken away. This week, Kenneth Marcus was made the top civil rights enforcer at the Department of Education. He runs a group called the Brandeis Center for Human Rights, which actually works to attack individuals and groups that organize against Israeli apartheid on campuses. Nora Barrows-Friedman writes that Marcus, who has been filing complaints against pro-Palestinian student groups, will now be in charge of investigating those cases.
Dima Khalidi, the head of Palestinian Legal, which works to protect pro-Palestinian activists, explains that in the United States, "talking about Palestinian rights, and challenging Israel's actions and narrative, [open] people up to a huge amount of risk, attacks, and harassment -- much of it legal in nature, or with legal implications." These attacks are happening because the BDS movement is having an impact.
This is just one obvious area of injustice. Of course there are others such as immigration policies and travel bans. And there are racist systems in the United States that are not based in law, but are enshrined in practices such as racially biased policing, slave-wage employment of prisoners and the placement of toxic industries in minority communities. The Marshall Project has a new report on racial bias in plea bargains.
The media, as it did in the early 20th century, continues to manipulate public opinion to support military aggression. The NY Times and other mass, corporate media have promoted wars throughout the history of US empire. From the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Iraq to the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam and all the way back to "Remember the Maine" in the Spanish-American War, which began the modern US Empire, the corporate media have always played a large role in leading the US into war.
Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) writes about a recent New York Times Op Ed: "Corporate media have a long history of lamenting wars they themselves helped sell the American public, but it's rare so many wars and so much hypocrisy are distilled into one editorial." Johnson points out that the New York Times never questions whether wars are right or wrong, just whether they have Congressional support or not. And it promotes the "no boots on the ground" view that it is fine to bomb other countries as long as US troops are not harmed.
FAIR also points out the media's false accusation that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile there is silence about the secret Israeli nuclear weapons program. Iran has been compliant with the International Atomic Energy Agency, while Israel has refused inspections. Eric Margolis raises the critical question of whether the Trump administration put the interests of Israel, which opposes Iran, before the interests of the US when he refused to certify the nuclear agreement with Iran.
North Korea is a country that is heavily propagandized in the US media. Eva Bartlett, a journalist who has traveled to and reported extensively about Syria, recently visited North Korea. She presents a view of the people and photographs that won't be found in commercial media, which give a more positive perspective on the country.