Cancel culture has been around for decades, but the effort to silence pro-Palestinian voices is escalating.
By James Zogby | Responsible Statecraft | Dec 7, 2020
…when we rightly welcome a discussion of the injustices done to the indigenous peoples of America or the crimes of slavery and Jim Crow, how can we deny Palestinians the right to protest their expulsion and dispossession?
In the very month in which I read articles condemning the “cancel culture” – which some apply exclusively to the “left’s efforts to silence or shame views with which they disagree” – several disturbing incidents caught my attention.
A Palestinian American Congresswoman was called an anti-Semite because she greeted the announcement of President-elect Biden’s pick for Secretary of State with the hope that her right to support the movement to Boycott, Divest, or Sanction Israel (BDS) would be recognized. An accomplished Arab American woman, of Palestinian descent, appointed to a position in Biden’s White House was condemned for an observation she made as a student, two decades ago, in which she pointed out how it must have been despair that drove young Palestinians to become suicide bombers. The California Board of Education removed Arab American studies from a model ethnic studies curriculum and eliminated any mention of Palestine. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the State Department will adopt a definition of anti-Semitism that conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. As a result, he will designate the BDS movement as an anti-Semitic “cancer” and may also sanction respected human rights organizations because of their criticism of Israeli policies.
Though these incidents are different, they are examples of the pervasive “cancel culture” working to silence voices that are critical of Israel or supportive of Palestinian rights. Collectively, they raise several important concerns.
In the first place, silencing Palestinians and their supporters is born of bigotry. Denying Palestinians their fundamental right to express pain and to protest is to deny their very humanity.