An excerpt from a recent Democracy Now interview with Marc Lamont Hill, the co-author of Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics (2021).
…all the issues that are coming up right now really speak to the various ways that Palestinians have been made the exception to many of our progressive values and politics and actions, if you think about — or, rather, in activist circles. I’ll start there, in activist circles. You know, we have this person we call the ”PEP” — right? — the person who’s progressive except for Palestine. This is the person that’s outraged at Trump for his actions at the border, who’s disgusted by children in cages, who can’t stand to think about the erosion of civil liberties. But when it comes to Palestine, somehow, they don’t engage those same ideas in the same way.
And so, in our book, what we attempt to do is lay out the kind of policy groundwork. We lay out the frontier on which these battles are fought. We want people to understand not just the contradictions of the so-called left, but also to understand how those contradictions emerged. So, whether it’s questions about the right to exist, whether it’s questions about BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or whether it’s the attempt to make Trump the exception rather than part of a more aggressive articulation of the American rule, we are attempting to show that the American left — those who identify as progressive, radical, liberal, what have you — have not held up the bargain in terms of matching their own ideals and values on this question of Israel and Palestine. And that’s something that we want to raise.
I’ll give one quick example. Donald Trump, who we’ve made the bogeyman — and for good reason — moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And that was seen as outrageous. Of course, him acknowledging Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel goes against international law. It goes against the idea that we’ll allow Jerusalem to be a final status issue. But Donald Trump didn’t create that rule. Donald Trump actually was acting on decades of American policy. The Jerusalem Embassy Act was actually signed by Congress in 1995 under the times of Clinton. And every U.S. president has simply signed a waiver not to move the embassy, but no one has fought to actually get rid of the legislation. So, this is bipartisan American policy. Again, Trump was an ugly — he was American policy on steroids. But he was part of a bipartisan movement to neglect the values, the needs, the self-determination of the Palestinian people. And in our book, we try to lay that out in what we think is a compelling way.