As this issue of Catalyst goes to press, Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza continues unabated. In truth, the campaign cannot be understood as Israel’s in any meaningful sense of the term. It is and has been, from the start, a joint operation with the United States. While the corporate media dutifully describes the Biden administration as doing its best to reign in Benjamin Netanyahu, the US president continues to ply the Israelis with bombs, financial aid, and diplomatic cover. More informally, an ominous pall has been cast over civil society, where criticisms of the genocide are routinely denounced as antisemitic, while open expressions of support for and even celebrations of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians scarcely raise an eyebrow — not just in Israel but also in American media.

The shadow of the inhuman US-Israeli campaign looms over this issue of Catalyst. We open with a telescopic essay by Seth Ackerman, in which he excavates the strategic vision that has underlain and guided Israel’s colonial ambitions through the decades, from the years prior to its birth to the present. Ackerman’s sweeping analysis is complemented by a Catalyst interview with Amira Hass, perhaps the leading journalist of the conflict, who reports on the events from her station in the West Bank. As Hass points out, while the cameras have been understandably trained on the Gaza Strip, a wave of violence has also been unfolding in the other of the two occupied territories — as one would expect from the longer perspective emerging from Ackerman’s essay.

It is hard to imagine any real progress toward an enduring and just settlement without some push from within Israel. Today the prospects for any such development seem slim, with the virtual absence of a Left in Israel’s political culture. But in an important survey, William Avilés and Earlen Gutierrez trace the history of resistance and organizing inside the US military. While much of the Left today is deeply and understandably skeptical of any political opportunities within the armed forces, Avilés and Gutierrez point out that the pessimism might be overdrawn — suggesting that the Left should not cede this political space to the Right, not just in the United States but also in Israel.

Part of the campaign in defense of Palestinian rights has been unfolding on American college campuses, led by thousands of brave students. The response from the media and, more importantly, from the college administration has been swift and vicious, including the absurdly celebrated presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, whose “defense” of the student activists was in fact a validation of the fictional charges against them. These episodes hearken back to the scene on campuses two generations ago, when a similar but much larger campaign was undertaken against the US destruction of Vietnam. Benjamin Serby reviews The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s, the recent and important book by historian Ellen Schrecker on that experience, its connection to the emerging New Left, and its contradictions.

One of the most encouraging signs in this respect has been the cautious but unmistakable shift in some of the largest unions toward opposing Israel’s brutal campaign. This could be one more source of pressure within the Democratic Party in support of a just settlement for Palestine. But this presumes, of course, that the Democrats maintain their historic connection to the working class — which several scholars have argued is rapidly weakening. In an ambitious and wide-ranging essay, Jared Abbott surveys the various positions and then proceeds to empirically adjudicate among them. Abbott confirms that the party’s links to workers have indeed frayed, and he offers a strategic orientation that might shore up its attractiveness to workers.


About the Author

Vivek Chibber is a professor of sociology at New York University, as well as Catalyst’s editor.

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