Vol 5 No 2 Summer 2021

Symposium on US-Israel

In May 2021, Israel unleashed another of its periodic and brutal bombings of the Occupied Territories, focusing its attack this time on the Gaza Strip. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), relying on United Nations reports, estimated that around 77,000 Palestinians were displaced due to the bombings and 256 killed, to an order of more than twenty to one compared to Israeli causalities from Hamas rockets. In many ways, this was business as usual as far as the occupation is concerned. Israel has carried out similar, even more brutal campaigns in the recent past, with only the most tepid criticisms, if any, by the US media. But this time, the reaction was different. Not only did the Palestinians’ physical and human cost get ample coverage, the main organs of the corporate media — even the New York Times, for decades the most reliable apologist for Israel — condemned Israel for its actions. This scale of criticism in mainstream American media and political elites has not been seen in decades. To make sense of it, Catalyst invited three of the most respected analysts of US-Israel relations to analyze the change. We proposed that they answer a simple question: What explains the sudden opening for criticism of Israel’s actions toward the Occupied Territories? Understanding this shift is of great importance if the Left is to advance its support for Palestinian rights.