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Down with Impunity

Bringing West Bank Rules to Chicago’s West Madison Street

by CHRIS GEOVANIS

If a supporter of Palestine had packed a pistol at a rally, his arrest would have been headline news. But Chicago Zionists get a pass.

Israel’s apologists spent more than a week building for their Tuesday Chicago rally in support of the mass slaughter of civilians in Gaza. Pro-Palestinian counter-protesters had a few scant days to organize a response – but met the Zionists body for body and chant for chant.

And occupation rules played out in Chicago at the dueling rallies, just as they do across occupied Palestine. Chicago police gave Israel’s advocates prime real estate in the center of the street in front of the Israeli consulate, which is located in a massive, high-rent downtown highrise that also houses a major train station. Palestinian allies? Cordoned off on a tiny corner hundreds of feet away, walled in by police horses, bicycle cops and dozens of Chicago cops, Homeland Security operatives, private police and their allies.

Chicago cops claimed they searched people attending the pro-Israel rally. They searched my camera bag when I entered. But they missed at least one Zionist supporter packing a handgun who was later detained after he bum-rushed pro-Palestine supporters.

That pretty much sums up the state of settler colonial relations, both right here at home in the vaunted democracy of the United States and in its proxy settler state of Israel.

This week, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel raised the prospect of another $225 million in aid to Israel, on top of more than $600 million in new aid approved earlier this month to support Israel’s war on the people of Gaza. That’s in addition to the billions of dollars in direct and indirect aid that US taxpayers provide each year to Israel for its apartheid state. So no shortage of funds for Israeli guns and bombs.

At the same time, Chicago has seen a rash of handwringing about gun violence from its current Mayor 1% — former Obama chief of staff, congressman and IDF volunteer Rahm Emanuel, who figures in a photo on the Facebook page of the Zionist arrested for packing at Tuesday’s Chicago protests. That arrestee is real estate dealer Andrew Glatz, who’s also peppered his Facebook page with photos of fellow Zionists and exhortations to support Israel’s agenda – and a pic of him with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Had Glatz been your usual run-of-the-mill person of color or, say, a supporter of the Palestinians, his arrest would have been fodder for screaming op ed headlines from Zionist apologist rags like the Chicago Sun-Times.

Instead, he’s getting a pass as a fan of the same IDF that has been collaborating for years with the Chicago police on tactics that range from crowd control to intelligence gathering.

Glatz sells property for the likes of the new Chicago tower of Donald Trump – also a big fan of Israeli war criminal Bibi Netanyahu — and Glatz’ commercial raison d’être fits nicely with Rahm’s larger mission of ethnic cleansing and displacement here at home in Chicago. So it makes sense that Glatz’ support of ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Israel would merit not a whimper from the local powers that be.

Glatz is charged with a misdemeanor, for illegally packing a gun to a protest. Had he been pro-Palestinian, he’d be looking at huge bail and tarring and feathering in the local press. Instead, he was I-bonded out of jail – shelling out not a penny for bringing a pistol to public space, and then sprinting across the street to assault people who think slaughtering civilians is a bad idea.

Emanuel, who’s stewarded a wholesale assault on neighborhood public schools, public health clinics and public pensions in concert with Illinois politicians, has yet to utter a peep about his Zionist fan. And Chicago’s top cop, Garry McCarthy, has offered no public explanation of Glatz’ kid-gloves treatment. That’s unsurprising, given the current Chicago regime’s tacit embrace of tactics that range from police spying on activists to police brutality against people of color.

Glatz’ treatment is embedded in a dominant paradigm in Chicago and across the United States, where refugee children of color are painted as toxic alien invaders and inner city poor are branded as shirkers unwilling to bring themselves up by their bootstraps – even though they have no boots.

“The Zionists at Tuesday’s rally believe that the lives of invading Israeli soldiers in Gaza are of more value than the lives of over 650 Palestinian civilians who’ve been killed in Israel’s latest onslaught, including over 130 children,” says Hatem Abudayyeh of the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. “At the same time, our counter-protest was corralled and policed like a criminal enterprise, when it was the pro-Israel protesters who harassed and assaulted us.”

The United States is the ultimate settler colonial state, built on the twin pillars of slavery and the genocide of indigenous peoples. So it’s little surprise that we confront special treatment for settler colonial behavior here, just as we continue to bankroll and cosign these policies in Israel. The injustice that Palestinians confront daily at Israel’s hands is the same kind of injustice the US state apparatus brings down on the heads of the poor, the non-white, the dispossessed and the disenfranchised within our borders on a daily basis. Just ask Detroit residents, who are being starved of water just as Israel starves Palestinians of water. Or just ask any poor American living with the legacy of Bill Clinton’s welfare ‘reform’.

Glatz’ special treatment does more than mirror the impunity that Israel’s settler state employs for its privileged. It was born here, in the United States, where its ravages are under full bore advance – and this is where it must be challenged and demolished.

Chris Geovanis is a Chicago media activist, advocacy journalist and member of the HammerHard MediaWorks collective. You can reach her via Twitter @heavyseas, via her Facebook page or at chrisgeovanis(at)gmail.com