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Trita Parsi: Blind Support for Israel Erodes Western Democracies
Opinion
By Opinion
Published 3 weeks ago on
April 26, 2024

A University of Southern California protester, right, confronts a campus public safety officer at Alumni Park during a pro-Palestinian occupation on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP/Richard Vogel)

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The outrageous clampdown on protests against Israel’s slaughter in Gaza are not isolated incidents. They reveal a larger, ominous reality: To sustain blind support for Israel, Western countries are forced to erode their own democracies.

Trita Parsi

Opinion

We are seeing clear signs of this. In the US, the Israeli gov has helped pass laws at the state level that require companies and individuals to pledge not to boycott Israel in order to be eligible for government contracts.

Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly is being shut down on university campuses.

Extreme Anti-Democracy Measures in Europe

In Europe, even more extreme anti-democracy measures have been taken. Germany and France have, to various degrees, outlawed protests in support of Palestinian freedom.

Germany has outlawed slogans (!) such as “From the river to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.” Even conferences on these issues have been outlawed, including forbidding a former EU minister to speak on these matters on German soil.

Not too long ago, Western countries justified the invasion of countries around the world because of their lack of freedom.

With no sense of irony and self-awareness, Western countries are eroding their own democracies to sustain their support for Israel while continuing to preach human rights to the rest of the world.

In some ways, this shouldn’t be a surprise. The link between militarism abroad and eroding civil rights at home has long been known.

In 1821, John Quincy Adams pointed to this in his call for America to avoid foreign policy adventurism:

“[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own… [If America engages in militarism] the fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit…”

JQA’s famous speech was not just a call against militarism; he tied it directly to the liberties at the very center of America’s founding.

Loss of Democracy Even if Trump Loses

What is new in the current situation is that it shows that it isn’t just America’s own militarism that undermines democracy and freedom at home (think of all the freedoms Americans lost during the Global War on terror), but also America’s support for the militarism of others.

At a minimum, it should be clear to Americans that continued support for Israel’s slaughter comes not just at the expense of Palestinian lives, regional stability, and the U.S. potentially getting dragged into yet another war.

It also comes at the expense of America’s democracy — even if Trump doesn’t win in November.

About the Author

Trita Parsi, PhD, is executive VP of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Read more by Trita Parsi by clicking here. 

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