Waldo Melmerstein, Israel Dutra and Juliano Medeiros
Posted originally in Portuguese on the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo in response to the article , also in portuguese, “O antissemitismo permitido no PSOL” [The antisemitism allowed in the PSOL], by André Lajst.
With indignation, we have read the article “The antisemitism allowed in the PSOL” (4/10), published on this Folha, in which the political scientist André Lajst accuses the PSOL and its secretary of International Relations, Israel Dutra, of sustaining positions about the Palestine/Israel issue without due knowledge of the theme, and motivated by antisemitism.
This argumentation line is not original: worried with Israel’s demoralization – whose official narrative is increasingly unmasked by the brutal treatment dispensed to the Palestinians, in particular the ones living in the occupied territories for fifty years , the defenders of Israel seek to delegitimize those who oppose this oppression by accusing them of antisemitism.
We reject this libel, and reiterate what the PSOL National Executive had already affirmed, that is, that we will not tolerate any kind of discrimination within our ranks. The supposed antisemitism of the PSOL, pointed out by Mr. Lajst, is so dissociated from reality as it would be if someone would mistake the just critique to the dictatorial, homophobic and misogynist Saudi Arabian government with Islamophobia.
It is worth noting that the moment chosen by Mr. Lajst is not casual. There is a tragedy developing in the Gaza Strip, wherein two million people live within the boundaries of a tiny territory, surrounded on all sides by the Israeli military forces, with the collaboration of the Egyptian dictatorship.
The water, light and employment shortage for half of its population makes life literally impossible for its inhabitants.
As much as they try to deny it, Gaza also has a history: around 70% of its population is composed of Palestinian refugees expelled from Israel in 1948 and by their descendants. This was already a reality long before Hamas ever existed. In the recent years, the attacks perpetrated by Israel have raised in scale and brutality, awakening wide global condemnation.
To draw attention to this unsustainable situation, the Gaza Strip’s social organizations have organized marches for the right to return. Through them, they seek to mobilize tens of thousands of people weekly until the 70th anniversary of the nakba (the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948), a few hundred meters from the frontier erected by Israel. The goal is to gather similar marches everywhere the Palestinians are located, including inside Israeli borders.
However, from the beginning of the campaign, Israel has made very evident its level of intolerance. On March 30th, as was widely reported by the international press, the Israeli army drafted around one hundred snipers to attack the march.
The pictures and videos on their own Israeli press show a macabre target practice “competition” against the demonstrators, a barbarism that was criticized all over the world. The European Union, for example, immediately demanded an independent investigation; as per usual, Israel denied the proposal.
Even within Israel, the civil society has organized demonstrations in repudiation of these attacks. Very harsh voices expressed themselves on the country’s main newspaper, the Haaretz. The columnist Gideon Levy employed a contumacious noun in his title to denounce the repression against the Palestinians: “The Israel Massacre Forces”
Another brave journalist from the same paper, Amira Hass, residing in Ramalah for years, opened her weekly column with the following question: “‘I was just following orders’. Is that what you will tell your children?”
Instead of saluting the “only democracy in the Middle East”, it would have been more prudent for Mr. Lajst to comment on the Gaza massacre. The historical records and Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinians show a pattern opposed to that of a democracy. We close this reflection with a brief inquiry: how to assess a regime that maintains a colonial occupation for 50 years?
Israel Dutra is the secretary of International Relations of the PSOL
Juliano Medeiros is the president of the PSOL
Waldo Melmerstein is a Jew and PSOL militant, researcher and Middle East specialist