The Biden-Lapid “Jerusalem Declaration”: Strategic partnership of imperialism, Zionism and settler colonialism

Below are key points identified by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in responding to the Biden-Lapid Declaration (“The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration”) issued on Thursday, 14 July 2022. While the declaration largely holds nothing new, it once again reveals the joint commitment to imperialism and Zionism that is responsible for the past 75 years of colonization in Palestine.

“Imperialism here means more arms, more support and more money for Israel. It means Phantom jets, atomic bomb secrets, and the building of an economy capable of facing the permanent blockade and state of war which we try to impose. Here millions upon millions of … American dollars are converted into a concrete force which increases Israeli strength and should therefore be taken into account in our calculations for the battle.

Our enemy then is not Israel alone. It is Israel, Zionism, imperialism, and unless we have a clear scientific knowledge of our enemy we cannot hope to triumph over it. The opinion which attempts to “neutralise” the Palestinian question on the international level by contending; “Why not try to win America to our side in the battle instead of allowing it to remain on Israel’s side?” is an erroneous and dangerous opinion because it is unscientific, unrealistic and far from being accurate. It is dangerous because it camouflages the truth about the enemy facing us and leads to erroneous calculations during the battle.” – Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine, 1969

The very signing of the document in occupied Jerusalem itself underlines the imperialist and settler colonial basis of this strategic partnership.

The document speaks to “shared values and shared interests.” These are the shared values of the U.S. ruling class, the shared values of colonialism, domination, and exploitation of the land, wealth, resources and people of the world for the benefit of the few. These are not shared values or interests that represent us nor that we should seek to uphold – they represent the “shared values” of imperialism, settler colonialism and oppression.

Biden and Lapid further claim a commitment to “democracy and the rule of law.” Instead, the US and Israel exempt themselves from any accountability under law, demonizing boycott campaigns and labeling attempts at accountability at the United Nations and International Criminal Court as “singling out.” There can be no democracy that is constructed through  settler colonialism and permanent occupation, nor on the basis of Zionism, a racist ideology.

While the declaration declares cooperation with the Zionist regime to be “sacrosanct” and “bipartisan,” a growing number of people in the United States reject this framework entirely and refuse the ongoing funding and colonization of Palestine with U.S. weaponry aind dollars. Repeatedly asserting these words will not change the reality that people are increasingly aware of the reality in Palestine and the dangerous role of the U.S. in the region.

Additional U.S. dollars being funded by working-class taxpayers to send ever more weaponry to the Israeli occupation will not shore up a crumbling colonial project. People want money for jobs, education, healthcare and basic needs, not to prop up a colonial entity in occupied Palestine.

The statement begins where this strategic partnership has always found its bedrock – not in high-minded phrases about “democracy” and “shared values,” but in “maintaining…its qualitative military edge.”

Phrased in terms of “defense,” this military edge is now and always has been highly aggressive, rather than defensive. Israel continues to bomb Syria on a regular basis, threaten Lebanon with war, bomb Gaza, threaten Iran and assassinate Iranian scientists. This is much like the U.S. strategy of aggressive imperial invasion cloaked in the words of “defense,” as we have seen from Vietnam, Grenada and Panama to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and beyond.

It is the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance that are practicing self-defense, protecting their people from the terror of colonialism on a daily basis and providing the leading path toward justice, liberation, decolonization and real peace for the region.

The Unity Intifada/Battle of Seif al-Quds in 2021 showed the real weakness beneath  the billions of dollars of armaments held by the colonial occupier. Referred to here as the “hostilities with Hamas over eleven days in May 2021,” this struggle was actually a confrontation of the entire Palestinian people throughout the entire land of Palestine, from the river to the sea, and in exile and diaspora, against colonialism, land confiscation and home demolitions. The Resistance in Gaza responded to protect Palestinian homes and land in Jerusalem and showed its strength honed through years of struggle.

Biden and Lapid also engage in warmongering incitement against Iran and the Resistance. Iran has the right to self-defense, and it is the U.S. that has repeatedly undermined treaties and commitments unilaterally, while imposing unilateral sanctions in an attempt to starve the people of Iran through economic warfare.

Once again, a U.S./Israeli project speaks of “changing the face of the Middle East” through normalization and the Abraham accords. Like Condoleeza Rice’s pledge of a “new Middle East,” this is more of the same: reactionary regimes, destabilization, warmongering and imperial domination. The real changing face of the region is reflected in U.S. troops finally pushed out of Iraq, in the victory of Lebanon 16 years ago against Israeli attacks, and in the rising of the Unity Intifada/Seif al-Quds.

Biden and Lapid attack the “delegitimization” of Israel and assert “Israel’s rightful and legitimate place.” However, the reality is that the Israeli regime, the Zionist project in Palestine, is an illegitimate, settler colonial project built on the forced dispossession of the Palestinian people, and this is increasingly recognized not only around the world but in the United States.

This illegitimate settler colonial project is, contrary to the assertions of Biden and Lapid,  in fact “singled out” for protection and impunity, rather than for meaningful consequences, including at the International Criminal Court and the United Nations. In fact, the US has imposed sanctions on the ICC in order to undermine cases against its own leaders as well as Israeli officials, for their conduct in Afghanistan and Iraq. The ICC has heard almost solely cases against African officials and has presently opened an investigation in Ukraine, while Palestinian victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be placed on the back burner, “singled out” for being silenced and ignored, despite the thorough work of many committed and distinguished legal teams.

Both the U.S. and Israel have repeatedly shown that, contrary to their assertions in this document, they do not in fact “support the freedom of expression,” particularly when it comes to the right to boycott Israel!

There are dozens of anti-BDS laws in states across the U.S. that directly attack the right to boycott. In New York City, the City Council called hearings to stigmatize and attack campus activism for Palestine  when public university students and faculty adopted a motion for the boycott of Israel at CUNY Law School. Dozens of members of Congress have demanded an FBI investigation of the Mapping Project, atop decades of FBI and police surveillance, infiltration and targeting of Arab and Palestinian community organizing across the country.

Israeli officials routinely deny entry to people – particularly Palestinians – for their support for the boycott, while labeling the boycott itself a form of “terror” and setting up ministries and special offices in an attempt to suppress it.

Despite all of this, the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel is growing. The normalization campaign is a failing attempt to shore up the reality that around the world, more and more people are adopting the boycott campaign in their universities, labour unions, churches and institutions, not to mention the cultural and academic boycott and the boycott at the point of purchase.

Two Israeli arms dealer facilities of Elbit Systems  in the UK have been shut down due to the direct action of Palestine Action. From the ongoing Arab boycott that has still not been broken despite the normalization machinations of reactionary regimes at the behest of imperialism, to the growing boycott campaigns internationally in the 1970s and 1980s, to the post-Durban campaigns of the early 2000s for boycott and divestment from Zionism and Israel, to the 2005 BDS call and the resolutions in hundreds of student governments, labour unions, academic associations, food co-ops and other associations – just in the US alone!

Once again, the statement attempts to link the boycott of Israel and accountability campaigns at the ICC and the United Nations with a “surge in antisemitism.” In reality, it is Israel and Zionism that are allied with right-wing and fascist forces around the world. There is no interest shown here in dealing with fascism and neo-Nazi;  instead, Biden and Lapid an attempt to smear Palestinians and those struggling for Palestinian rights, freedom and liberation.

While the statement labels Palestinian resistance as “terrorist attacks,” it is entirely silent on the ongoing extrajudicial execution of Palestinians, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the confiscation of Palestinian land and the mass arrest and incarceration of over 4,700 Palestinians. Here they completely ignore   the over 60 Palestinian martyrs whose lives have been stolen this year while defending their land or simply going about their lives under colonial siege, many of their bodies held hostage and prisoner by the Israeli regime.  Even the Palestinian U.S. citizens killed in 2022 that Biden is supposed to represent  – famed journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh and beloved father Omar As’ad – receive no mention or regard worth noting from the U.S side..

We mourn the Palestinian martyrs, we salute their heroism and steadfastness, and we note that it is, contrary to the assertions in this statement of empire, the commitment to freedom, tremendous innovation and creativity, love of life and of humanity of the Palestinian people, their revolution and their resistance that inspires us – and the people of the world. This is why everywhere there is a just cause, the flag of Palestine is there, in the streets, a universal symbol of liberation and the promise of humanity for a better future, free of imperialism, Zionism, racism, capitalism and exploitation.

The statement praises U.S. and Israeli collaboration in “technology.” It is clear that a collaboration between the US intelligence services that have wiretapped the world, and the infamous tech industry of the NSO Group and its Pegasus spyware used to infiltrate the personal communications of human rights defenders, activists and journalists – including Palestinian U.S. citizen Ubai Aboudi and Palestinian French citizen Salah Hammouri – is a threat to the security and rights of the people of the world. Big tech companies are already censoring anti-imperialist voices and especially Palestinians, attempting to stuff the truth back into the bag after people around the world have witnessed the reality of life in occupied Palestine.

The fleeting reference to the Palestinian Authority only confirms that Biden does not view the PA as an independent entity, but instead as a security subcontractor for the Israeli occupation, with training and funding for these security forces provided by the United States. The rights and interests of the Palestinian people are instead shunted off to “economic peace,” the repeated and failed attempt to pacify the Palestinian people and their resistance by giving a few crumbs to Palestinian capitalists.

The most pressing issues of the Palestinian people are completely disappeared – that is, the right of millions of Palestinian refugees exiled from their homes for 75 years of ongoing Nakba to return; the right of over 4,700 Palestinian prisoners to be free from Zionist dungeons; the reclamation of land, justice and accountability for ongoing crimes. However, erasing the Nakba in such a declaration can do nothing to undermine reality, where the strength of the resistance is proven every day in struggle.

The statement concludes by musing about “joint endeavors, undertaken between their peoples at every level of government and civil society.” Contrary to the assertions in Biden’s declaration, such endeavors are aimed at bolstering militarized policing, heavier digital surveillance, the impoverishment of the peoples of the world, the enrichment of military corporations and war profiteers, the destruction of indigenous agriculture, the division of the peoples of the region, and the fomenting of war around the world. This is an alliance of the ruling class at the expense of the peoples of the world, with the Palestinian and Arab people and all peoples of the region at the forefront. We must meet this alliance by seeking to dismantle all such joint endeavors and build instead the joint projects that are much needed for the world: joint resistance, joint struggle and popular movements that resist imperialism, Zionism and the reactionary projects they impose.

As the liberation of Algeria and Vietnam inspired the world, including the movements for justice and liberation in the imperialist nations, and as the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia have continued to resist U.S. imperialism despite blockades, invasions and assassinations, today, the hope for humanity shown by the Palestinian resistance – and the resistance of Lebanon, Yemen and beyond, amid every sign that the empire is crumbling, makes clear that another, better world is possible. It is directly opposite to the vision of Biden and Lapid – but it is the vision of justice and humanity, for the peoples of the world.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Long live international solidarity!