It’s been more than a year since the racial uprising that rocked the nation and the world-at-large. The murder of George Floyd ignited the public’s mass education on difficult topics such as racism, abolition, and exploitative capitalism. We started to see the acronym “BIPOC,” which stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, as an all-inclusive term to represent people affected by settler colonialism and racial capitalism. The state became the target of change. The goal for many – abolition.
The summer of 2020 was the catalyst of an international movement focused deeply on the ways in which the “state” is a bad-faith, oppressive effort across the world. To employ French philosopher Michel Foucault’s definition of the “state,” the movement realized that “the State is a codification of relations of power at all levels across the social body. It is a concept which provides a ‘scheme of intelligibility for a whole group of already established institutions and realities’. Further, ‘the State is a practice not a thing.”
This heightened ideology was tested as the world watched violence ensue in the Israeli occupation of Gaza with increased attention due to the past year’s uprising. In an increasingly escalating situation, beginning in February of this year, the Israeli occupiers began evicting families in the Palestinian territory, Sheikh Jarrah. After a few months of struggle and protests from the Palestinians, the Israeli state began launching missiles into Palestinian territory, killing 232 Palestinians – 65 of whom were children, and some of whom were beloved academics, scientists, and doctors. Hamas, Palestine’s guerilla military struck back in Israeli territory, killing 12. On May 20, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire.
This recent surge in violence brings up questions of state violence, settler colonialism, and language around terror. Dorianna Blitt, a Jewish member of Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS), a lobbying organization advocating for international communities to pull funding from Israel, says no one is entitled to the land.
“The role that Judaism plays in this violence and apartheid is disgusting,” Blitt says. “Yes, I’m Jewish, but that does not give me the right to someone’s land, or the ability to call Hamas a terrorist organization. Israel has been terrorizing the Palestinian people for the past 73 years. As Jews, we need to remember that our religion and culture does not entitle us to anything.”
As conversations develop more frequently and more widely about the “state” and settler colonialism, we are able to place these ideologies and movements in a worldwide context and better understand the philosophical underpinnings these systems.