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04/21 Choose Solidarity Bonanza: All Day Call-a-Thon

rectangular pink graphic, with a bouquet of wildflower on the right side. On the left side, black text that reads "Solidarity income-based dues" and red text below that reads "Give your 1 percent for the 99 percent"


Part of what makes DSA unique is we are a truly member-funded, member-led organization. We’re asking members to contribute 1% of your income to DSA as Solidarity Dues. This is common in working class organizations like unions, and it helps ensure we have the collective, democratic power to keep building our sustainability and win real change.
 
We have an ambitious goal of doubling our number of solidarity dues paying members (to 4,000 members) by May 31st! It will take all of us to get there!
 
Join us Sunday, April 21st from noon – 6 pm ET (9am – 3pm PT) for our Choose Solidarity mass phonebank – come for a shift or call with us all day!! Every 90 minutes, we’ll hear from our Socialists in Office, plus updates from chapter and national DSA leaders, and more! Connect with other DSA members, talk about the organizing we’re doing together, and ask them to make the switch to Solidarity Dues.
 
Training and support will be available to all who need it. All you need to bring is yourself, your computer, and your phone.

Join when you can and stay as long as you’re able. We also encourage chapters to sponsor a timeslot and connect with members in their local and across the org to take on this work together.
 
More Scheduling Info to Come!

noon – 1:30pm ET

Zohran Mamdani – NY State Assembly, 36th District

1:30 – 3:00pm ET

Jabari Brisport – NY State Senate, 25th District
Marcela Mitaynes – NY State Assembly, 51st District

3:00 – 4:30pm ET

Phara Souffrant Forrest – NY State Assembly, 57th District
Ithaca DSA

4:30 – 6:00pm ET

Sarahana Shrestha – NY State Assembly, 103rd District
Mid Hudson Valley DSA

The post 04/21 Choose Solidarity Bonanza: All Day Call-a-Thon appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

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History of the DSA Budget 2017-2020

The following article is adapted from posts on DSA’s National Discussion Forums.

Hundreds of members watched the National Political Committee deliberate over our budget these past few weeks. As we navigate the difficult decisions about how to move forward collectively, it’s worth reviewing the recent history of our budget process during the years of peak growth for the organization.

Revenue and expense data from 2017-2022: ProPublica. Data from 2023: DSA open budgeting documents (member-only).

2017: The Trump Bump

DSA members at the 2017 National Convention in Chicago. Photo courtesy: Chicago DSA and the Midwest Socialist.

After years as a small but stable socialist organization, DSA’s strategy to build ties with the Bernie campaign led to seismic changes. Even after Bernie’s campaign ended, Trump’s election galvanized a huge number of people to get involved in politics, and tens of thousands did so by joining DSA. As DSA’s secretary-treasurer, Theresa Alt said in the report she penned with then Operations Director Sasha Hammad on the 2017 budget, “in the past year we have taken in income and gained new members beyond all our expectations.”

At the 2017 convention in Chicago, DSA members passed Resolution #35 requiring annual budget reports to the membership, and Resolution #21, setting up a monthly dues system which included national distributing 20% of monthly dues income to chapters.

However, the implementation of approved spending was often delayed. As Alt and Hammad note in their report:

Spending has lagged behind income, partly because dues sharing with chapters began in August so is not yet reflected, and more so because it takes time to hire staff and some new staff are still in the future.


Chart summarizing DSA's revenue in 2017

Chart summarizing DSA's expenses in 2017

 

2017 Actuals

Total Revenue 2,071,631
Expenses
Staff 536,436
Consultants 187,144
Overhead 82,511
Supplies, Printing, and Shipping 170,156
Organizing and Education 475,444
Misc. 69,519
Total Expenses 1,521,208
Surplus (Deficit) 550,423

 

2018: The Surge Continues

San Francisco DSA at the 2018 Women's March

San Francisco DSA members at the 2018 Women’s March in San Francisco. Photo courtesy: DSA SF.

As membership growth continued, budgeting was conservative and uncontroversial. In 2018, Budget and Finance projected a moderate membership decrease and recommended that the organization continue to build reserves. Instead, membership increased by 33%.

After the first quarter of 2018, Budget and Finance brought a proposal to the NPC to increase spending by $150,000, which passed unanimously. Although the 2018 budget projected a substantial deficit, the organization actually took in a million more than it spent.

Two issues that became apparent during this time: 1) the difficulty of projecting income and 2) the long lead time between authorizing expenses and actually spending funds. In October 2018, Secretary-Treasurer Alt said DSA had $1.8 million in assets but also substantial pending expenses, including hiring several field organizers and the national convention in 2019.

2018 Budget vs Actuals

  2018 Budget 2018 Actuals
Total Revenue 1,045,934 2,623,523
Expenses
Staff 770,600 681,118
Consultants 107,500 238,116
Rent, Equipment, & Other Overhead 102,600 104,642
Supplies, Printing, and Shipping 143,400 111,426
Organizing and Education 339,100 230,432
Dues Shares to Locals 78,720 73,858
Priority Projects 42,310 35,036
Misc 79,150 114,628
Total Expenses 1,663,380 1,589,256
Surplus (Deficit) (617,446) 1,034,267

 

2019: Calm Before the Storm

Sara Nelson giving the keynote address at the 2019 national convention

Sara Nelson giving the keynote speech at the 2019 DSA National Convention. See the full remarks here.

After it became clear that DSA had permanently changed and was now a national force, DSA’s leadership looked to build capacity. The budget brought by National Director Maria Svart and the Budget and Finance Committee in January 2019 more than doubled DSA’s annual spending.

As Svart states in her director’s report:

DSA is “maturing” after a couple of years of struggling to manage explosive growth. We have accumulated resources that we now have to decide how to allocate… Maria advocates spending some on operations capacity at the national office to support the entire staff and membership, in addition to field staff to support chapters.


This was the first year that the NPC engaged in sustained debate over budgeting. NPC Members such as Natalie Midori and Jeremy Gong pressed for more information about the budget. They were particularly concerned about the lack of a long term plan for staffing increases. DSA’s lack of infrastructure started to show. During the
director’s report Svart gave to the NPC during the July 2019 meeting, she stated, “we continue to struggle in our search for a Finance Coordinator and financial work is accumulating.”

Despite the uncertainty, 2019 saw DSA incur several new recurring expenses. We joined the Movement Cooperative (giving chapters access to tech tools like Action Network) and moved to a bigger office. 2019 also saw the launch of DSA’s biggest campaign: Bernie 2020.

DSA also revised its reserves policy to require six months of operating expenses even as we also substantially expanded staff. As Svart reported to the 2019 convention, “This spring we finally felt we could afford to expand staff, so we began hiring. Our staffing now stands at 16 full-time and one part-time, with five more positions projected and in the hiring process. Once that hiring is complete we will have 23 full-time and one part-time staff — still small for an organization of our size, but almost double what we were a year ago. For comparison, during the 2017 national convention we had a staff of seven full-time and one part time workers.”

The increased spending did not pay off right away. Membership declined in 2019 and income was far below projections. The year also saw several increases to the budget despite income coming in below projections, including the 2019 convention going way over its initial budget.

As the minutes of the May 2019 NPC reports:

Discussion of budget changes. Original budget was too low on a number of items. New total convention budget about $100K more at $900K. Discussion of price per person being too high, existing fundraising plans and ideas of ways to cut cost.


At the convention in Atlanta, Chapter Dues Share was expanded by
Resolution 55 which increased the rate of dues share for small chapters and expanded dues share to unincorporated chapters. Convention resolutions also began to direct the NPC to hire specific organizer positions, with Resolution 3, mandating a labor organizer, and Resolution 57, a housing organizer. In addition, many resolutions expressly called for staff time without mandating a new position. The new NPC extensively discussed how to reconcile the different calls for new staffing but did not make a firm decision in 2019.

At the end of the year, we had spent about a quarter of our reserves and looked to be set for another deficit if 2020 resembled 2019. With more staff coming on board at the end of 2019, DSA’s income was being entirely taken up by payroll, overhead, and dues share. Intense conflict and negative publicity from the convention gave plenty of evidence to pessimists who saw DSA’s steam running out. However, 2020 was anything but a continuation.

2019 Budget vs Actuals

  2019 Budget 2019 Actuals
Total Revenue 4,376,620 2,976,946
Expenses
Staff 1,856,000 1,247,267
Consultants 320,000 314,410
Overhead 690,203 462,783
Supplies, Printing, and Shipping 182,478 263,120
Organizing and Education 364,000 176,289
Dues Shares to Locals 180,000 195,535
DSA/YDSA Conventions 728,722 670,366
Conferences 380,875 242,094
Priority Committees 41,580 14,606
Total Expenses 4,743,859 3,586,470
Surplus (Deficit) (367,239) (609,524)

 

2020: The Storm

DSA members march in support of NYC-DSA’s #DEFUNDNYPD campaign

DSA members march in support of NYC-DSA’s #DEFUNDNYPD campaign. Photo courtesy: NYC-DSA

Despite a flat 2019 in terms of membership growth (total members decreased from Dec. 2018 to Jan. 2020), DSA continued to spend down its reserves, rolling out Chapter Dues Share to newer unincorporated chapters (as approved by the 2019 convention), launching a digital campaign, and spending on the Bernie Sanders independent expenditure campaign.

In March, however, the Bernie campaign’s discouraging results were upstaged by the beginnings of the COVID 19 pandemic. On March 13, the NPC had an emergency meeting which allocated $25,000 to an emergency fund devoted to supporting new organizing efforts. Around the same time, the Emergency Workers Organizing Committee (EWOC) was launched as a joint project between DSA and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). This increased spending would be more than offset by DSA halting all travel in response to the pandemic.

Then, on May 25, Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, triggering protests against police violence across the country. Members around the country participated in the uprisings and played leading roles in the struggle in chapters such as Twin Cities DSA, drawing more new people to DSA. This surge in activity was not, however, met with significantly increased spending, which was often limited by the restrictions of the pandemic.

Although staff continued to be hired, with the total number increasing from 20 to 32, the pandemic limited the ability of DSA to spend funds and the year closed with over a million dollar surplus. Projected expenses were very close to the budget, but dues revenue increased by 75% as we finished out the year with the DSA 100K Recruitment Drive. 

As 2020 closed, DSA had over $3 million in its bank account, and a political debate brewed over how to best use that collective resource.The decisions were made all the harder by the difficulty of projecting income and the inability to predict when in-person organizing could safely resume. After several years of building capacity to handle the influx of new members, DSA also was committed to a much higher level of recurring expenses. This reality, in combination with DSA’s nature as a mass membership organization, continues to make budgeting a recurring challenge for our democratic decision making process.

2020 Budget vs Actuals

  2020 Budget 2020 Actuals
Total Revenue 3,494,823 5,312,077
Expenses
Staff 1,855,653 1,822,508
Consultants 490,400 457,806
Overhead 754,312 196,447
Supplies, Printing, and Shipping 359,600 964,240
Organizing and Education [not separated out] 275,405
Dues Shares to Locals 324,444 400,251
DSA/YDSA Conventions 192,300 9,453
Priority Committees 15,000 0
Misc. [not separated out] 5000
Total Expenses 4,143,569 4,131,110
Surplus (Deficit) (648,746) 1,180,967


Additional, member-only sources are available on Quinn’s
original post. To see the post and discuss this article with other members, check out the National Discussion Forums. If you don’t have an account, sign up here.

The post History of the DSA Budget 2017-2020 appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

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Impossible Choices? Choose Solidarity! Your April Dispatch

Here’s your April Dispatch! This month, check out chapters’ Trans Day of Action photos, sign up for volunteer opportunities, learn about local Green New Deal work, and more. Read on to get involved. 

And to make sure you get our newsletters in your inbox, sign up here! Each one features action alerts, upcoming events, political education, and more.

From Our Co-Chairs — Facing Impossible Choices, We Choose Solidarity

The 24-hour news and doomscrolling cycles are designed by capitalist tech companies to be difficult to look away from — and it doesn’t get any easier when the information coming through the screens is overwhelmingly awful. It’s meant to make us feel helpless. But we’re not. As socialists, we know that when we organize people, recognize and build our power as the working class, and fight back, we win. Using our power builds more power; solidarity begets solidarity; bigger fights mean bigger wins.

This week, we saw DSA chapters helping to lead the charges in Wisconsin, Connecticut, New York, and beyond, working to organize voters to send a message to Biden that we will not let him go unscathed as he continues to finger-wag at an ongoing genocide. Whether it’s “Uncommitted,” “Uninstructed,” or “Leave it Blank,” voters are turning out in the hundreds of thousands to give the Dems a taste of exactly what they’re dog-walking us into if they don’t listen to the supermajority of constituents who want a ceasefire now.

Organizing beyond the ballot box is key to building a mass movement, and last weekend, DSA chapters across the country participated in a Trans Day of Action, supported by our Trans Rights and Bodily Autonomy Campaign Commission and our Queer Socialists Working Group. Conditions for trans people vary widely across the country, so the Trans Day of Action became a beautiful patchwork of local campaigns and projects as our locals analyzed and responded to their most pressing local issues.

In Pennsylvania, the Lancaster DSA Organizing Committee launched a sanctuary campaign. Boston DSA canvassed for a genderqueer socialist State House candidate. Denver DSA capped off a week of action and held a rally at the State House in support of improved name change laws, sponsored by socialists in office Elisabeth Epps and Tim Hernández. Dozens more chapters planned solidarity picnics, clothing swaps, rallies, banner drops, and so much more, and we’re just getting started.

At the national level, DSA continues to prioritize encouraging members to make the switch to Solidarity Income-Based Dues (SIBD) so we can continue to level up our collective resources and pay for the often-unrecognized support that these campaigns require: from staff support, to organizer trainings, to tech tools, and beyond. 

Check out our Choose Solidarity! Campaign kickoff call, featuring incredible organizing work our members are leading across DSA. If you haven’t made the switch yet, please consider signing up for solidarity dues today. And if you’re in chapter leadership, please keep an eye out for contacts from the SIBD team about ways your chapter can plug into this work locally!

— DSA Co-Chairs Ashik Siddique and Megan Romer

Tuesday 4/9 — Join our Green New Deal Campaign Commission’s Solidarity Dues Call-a-thon

Let’s socialize for Solidarity Dues! Join the Green New Deal Campaign Commission Tuesday 4/9 at 7pm ET/6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT for our third Green New Dues solidarity income-based dues phonebank.

Apply for DSA’s National Electoral Commission! First Round Due by Friday 4/19

The National Electoral Commission of DSA is accepting membership applications to welcome its first cohort of rank-and-file members! 

The National Electoral Commission convenes members working on electoral campaigns to support class struggle election campaigns, develop skills and mentor organizers, coordinate a national strategy, and build our electoral power. 

We are looking for members who are excited to get to work with us supporting endorsed campaigns, developing trainings and skill-sharing opportunities, and building our network to build our power. Members should also have experience consistently contributing to campaigns or chapter electoral projects in the last 3 years. 

Interested in joining? Tell us a little bit about your experience and why you want to apply! Questions? Reach us at [email protected].

Choose Solidarity Bonanza — All Day Call-A-Thon Sunday 4/21!

Over 2,000 DSA members have committed to giving their 1% for the 99% so far, and we know this is just the beginning. We want to double that number and reach 4,000 Solidarity Dues-paying members by May 31st. But we need to hit the phones to hit our goal! 

Join us Sunday 4/21 for the Choose Solidarity Bonanza! You’ll hear from DSA electeds in office, get chapter organizing updates, and experience that warm feeling we get from talking to DSA members around the country and building the democratic socialist movement. Every hour a member spends on a Solidarity Dues phonebank raises approximately $1k for the DSA over the year — just imagine what we can do with 100 callers hitting the phones for a whole day!

We’ll start at 12pm ET/11am CT/10am MT/9am PT and go until 6pm ET/5pm CT/4pm MT/3pm PT. Hop on for a shift or stick around for the whole day, but whatever you do, don’t miss the Choose Solidarity Bonanza — our first ever ALL DAY Solidarity Dues Call-A-Thon!

Can’t make it on 4/21 but ready to make some calls? Check out upcoming Solidarity Dues phonebanks here and get signed up for a time that works for you!

Green New Deal Feature Article, with Kentucky’s Louisville DSA

Check out our interview with the leaders of Louisville DSA’s Get On The Bus campaign! Get On The Bus is one of the many exciting Green New Deal Building for Power campaigns that chapters are developing and leading across the country.

April Committee of Grievance Officers Call Saturday 4/6

The Committee of Grievance Officers is hosting our April HGO Gathering. If you’re a grievance officer for your chapter, join us! We’re shaking up our usual format to debut big changes to the grievance program at the national level to strengthen our organization for the long haul. We’ll discuss the recent overhaul of the national grievance program, share ways that you can help build out our national grievance work, and build relationships between grievance officers in chapters all across the country. Join us Saturday 4/6 at 5pm ET/4pm CT/3pm MT/2pm PT!

RSVP for our International Committee’s State of the Mexican Elections Call Wednesday 4/10

Join the International Committee Wednesday 4/10 at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/5pm PT to discuss the upcoming general election in Mexico. In this webinar, you’ll hear from journalists Alina Duarte and Kurt Hackbarth about the historic nature of this election and why it’s important for us in the United States to follow it.

If you’re a DSA member interested in engaging with Mexican solidarity organizing both during and beyond the election, fill out our working group interest form to get involved!

RSVP for DSA 2024 Election Discussion Circles

What position do you think DSA should take on the 2024 presidential election?

Now is your chance to weigh in before the National Political Committee (NPC) makes a decision in April. Join members around the country in debating the presidential race in Discussion Circles: small group conversations hosted by individual NPC members, capped at 30 participants each. Sign up today!

The post Impossible Choices? Choose Solidarity! Your April Dispatch appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

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In Memory of Herbert Shore

Herbert Shore was a founding member of DSA in 1982 and of the San Diego chapter until he passed away in February of 2024.

November 18, 1939 – February 12, 2024

In Herb’s own words “I was born in 1939 in Brooklyn, New York to secular, Jewish, working class parents. My parents were not actually Communist Party members, but our lives revolved around the ‘fellow traveling’ milieu that existed until the mid 1950s. So you might say I was born into the socialist movement; though no one in my family knew Karl Marx from Groucho Marx.” Those roots stayed with Herb throughout his life.

After graduating high school Herb was accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) physics program. He also studied politics, reading “radical” books such as The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto in college study groups. He was an activist physicist, always striving for truth and building a better world for everyone.

He took part in the 1960 Cambridge Woolworth pickets and leafleted for civil rights events. After graduating from MIT, Herb earned his Ph.D in physics at UC Berkeley. Herb stated with pride that he became a professor because he didn’t want a job where his boss told him when to wake up and when to show up for work. When Berkeley was the center of the Free Speech Movement in 1964, Herb participated in sit-ins dedicated to student free speech and academic freedom.

In 1965 Herb moved to San Diego to teach physics at UC San Diego. A few years later he became a professor at San Diego State University (SDSU), teaching and performing research until he retired. He also spent a year working with the National Science Foundation reviewing grant requests from around the country.

When Herb moved to San Diego he continued his political activism speaking out and protesting the Vietnam War. He joined the New American Movement (NAM) in 1975, and became a founding member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in 1982. From 1965-2015, if there was a march or rally in San Diego to support peace or civil or human rights, you would find Herb there.

Herb and Virginia Franco met in the late 1970s and were comrades in DSA for over 25 years before they decided to get married. They were lifelong friends and their loving relationship inspired all who knew them.

As a founding member of San Diego DSA, Herb participated in local, regional, and national politics and hosted thousands of meetings in his home with his wife Virginia. He tirelessly struggled for a world where everyone was treated equally and with respect.

Everyone who knew Herb describes him as a friend and a very kind person. He respected everyone regardless of their beliefs or background. Herb fought Parkinson’s disease for 17 years, never giving up or losing hope. He is survived by his loving wife Virginia and her two children, Caroline Gomez and Martin Van Guilder. 

On his last night alive, reflecting on his philosophy of life, Herb said that everyone should try to make the world a little bit better. In lieu of flowers, he simply asks you to continue his work by donating time to your community.

The post In Memory of Herbert Shore appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

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Biden’s Bloody Choice in Gaza

American complicity is rooted in decades of US investment in Israeli apartheid — and Biden’s personal commitment. He won’t blink unless we make him.

In 1986, then-Senator Joe Biden described Israel as the United States’ number one “3 billion dollar investment.” Speaking on the Senate Floor, Biden argued that if there were no Israel, we’d need to “invent” one “to protect US interests in the [Middle East].” 

The US and Israel have long shared a ‘special relationship.’ Israel is by far the largest recipient of US military aid — nearly $300 billion between 1946 and 2023. Providing ‘investment security’, the Biden Administration has determined, is thus far worth at least 30,000 Palestinian lives, and likely many more. 

Already, the US has vetoed multiple UN attempts at a ceasefire. Biden has publicly transferred over $250 million in munitions and shell components. The Washington Post also reports that the White House has secretly approved over one hundred other weapons sales since October 7th, and publically, Biden is requesting much more from Congress — 14 billion dollars in taxpayer money — to aid in Israel’s slaughter. Perhaps most frighteningly, Biden risks embroiling the United States in yet another forever war in the Middle East. What is it all for?

It is clearly not, as Israel’s supporters in the political establishment claim, because Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, or that it’s essential to keeping Jewish people safe.

Israel is an apartheid state, not a democracy. Palestinians are second-class citizens in their own homeland, subject to discriminatory laws within Israel’s 1948 borders, held under military occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and locked in a concentration camp in Gaza, facing genocide. Jewish people are also clearly much safer in the United States than in Israel. Israel’s system of apartheid, military occupation, and process of colonization make spouts of deadly conflict and war all but guaranteed.

When Biden called Israel an investment, he meant it. And it’s clear from the lengths to which Biden and US political elites will go to protect their investment, it is extremely profitable. Put simply, Israel serves as an essential outpost for the American military — and its hyper-militarized settler society provides essential boots on the ground to secure American military and corporate interests. To what end Biden and the US foreign policy and military establishment will go to maintain this military outpost in country form is unclear. 

Israel in an Outpost for American Empire

The first political Zionists lobbied imperial powers to back, fund, and legitimize Jewish colonization of Palestine. The goal of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, Theodor Herzl, and other Zionist leaders argued, would serve Western imperialist interests. Jason Farbman, now Digital Director for Jewish Voice for Peace, writes that after Great Britain took Palestine from the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Chaim Weizmann, a prominent Zionist in the British government, pitched Jewish colonization of Palestine as an essential “safeguard to England.” Israel promised a European settler-colony across from the Suez Canal, sandwiched by the Mediterranean and Red Seas, proximate to recently discovered oil fields, and in striking distance of emerging Arab nationalist powers.

Zionist militias soon came into conflict with the English metropole, throwing off British rule and ethnically cleansing over 700,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948. Following the bloody campaign that established the Israeli state, the US and Soviet Union competed for the newborn nation’s favor, similarly identifying its strategic value, as England previously had. 

But despite Soviet courting, it was the US, not the USSR, that replaced Britain as Israel’s “imperial sponsor.” Already, Israel had proven its allegiance to the West against Arab Nationalism, joining the 1956 British and French invasion of Egypt in an attempt to reclaim the Suez Canal from Egypt following President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ’s nationalization orders.

Though at the time, the US opposed the 1956 invasion, by 1967 it fully supported the young country’s six-day-war against neighboring Arab countries — mainly Egypt, Jordan, and Syria — and seizing from its neighbors large swaths of territory, including Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, all of which remains under Israeli military occupation to this day. Israel demonstrated its usefulness to the United States as a Cold War ally and US aid to Israel quadrupled.

One 2005 research paper from the US Department of Defense summarizes this relationship. On the one hand, the authors argue that “key to the Israelis’ strength in the Middle East has been the monetary support it has enjoyed from the U.S. since the early 1970s.” The US provides not only weapons and monetary aid, but will oftentimes foot the bill for Israel’s weapons purchases – providing the military subsidies that in turn pay for the American weapons. And the US provision of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense allows Israel to wage asymmetrical warfare on Palestinians under its rule.

In return, Israel provides crucial counterintelligence capabilities in the Middle East, and acts as a launching pad for US aggression in the region. Pro-Israel think tank the Washington Institute identifies a number of ways Israel helped the US get the upper hand in the Cold War: 

Israel’s daring theft of Soviet radar from Egypt in 1969, Israel’s positive reply to President Nixon’s request to fly reconnaissance missions and mobilize troops to help turn around Syria’s invasion of Jordan in 1970, and Israel’s sharing of technical intelligence on numerous Soviet weapons systems captured during the 1967 and 1973 wars.

Today, Israel plays an essential role in identifying and providing for the United States the locations and plans of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. In the lead-up to the Iraq war, Israeli intelligence was used to corroborate the US’s baseless claims of Iraq’s WMD stockpile, helping justify the US-led invasion. Similarly, Israel closely monitors — and acts as a belligerent toward — Iran, a U.S. antagonist. And for decades has bombed nuclear facilities in countries that could pose a threat to the US — Syria and Iraq — and has assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists. Last, Israel’s ongoing military occupation has required it to become an innovator in armaments, surveillance, and counter-terrorism efforts. After perfecting capabilities and technologies through implementing them on Palestinians under occupation, Israel can then provide cutting-edge technologies, weapons, and strategies, to the US military and police. 

Despite the large contribution made by Israel to US reach in the Middle East, that contribution is still only made possible by US economic and military aid. Any serious analysis would conclude that Israel answers to the US, not the other way around. And the idea that Netanyahu is simultaneously a free agent doing what he will, and that the US is powerless to stop it, relies on anti-semitic tropes in which a tiny country of Jewish people wields far more power than the world’s military and economic hegemon. Biden and US elites want to maintain their investment, and are greenlighting this genocide.

Biden Can End the Genocide Today

When pressed on actions the US could take to end Israel’s assault on Gaza, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller responded that Israel is a sovereign nation, and that the US does not dictate the policy of sovereign nations. Matt Lee, an Associated Press reporter, quickly retorted “Unless you invade them.” Though Miller laughed, dismissing the comment as “stand-up hour in the Briefing Room”, his original claim was an obvious lie. 

As the dominant economic and military power throughout the world, the US government coerces countries into serving its geopolitical interests and the demands of US corporations. In the 21st century alone, the US intervened in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, overturned election results in Haiti, and imposed brutal sanctions on Venezuela and Iran. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Between bites of ice cream and staring off into space, Biden claimed February 26 that a ceasefire would be coming the following weekend. This statement, quickly rolled back by White House staff, reflects Biden’s attempts at squaring his material support for Israel with his desire to present his government as one that cares about social justice and opposes the wanton slaughter of innocents. 

Though Trump infamously discarded any facade of a President’s commitment to things like “fact” and “truth”, for months now, Biden, and his administration have perfected US government “doublespeak” — an invented word inspired by the fictional language in George Orwell’s 1984, “newspeak”, and mode of thinking, “doublethink”, used to obscure the truth and make the government’s actions more palatable. 

When asked Biden’s message to Arab voters disgusted with Biden’s support for Israeli violence, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre hoped to remind them that “Israel has the right to defend itself”, a euphemism for dropping tens of thousands of tons of bombs on civilians, cutting off access to food, water, and energy, and massacring patients and children. In another press briefing, she argued that the mass death in Gaza is actually the fault of Hamas, who, according to her, “could surrender at any time” but instead choose to “jeopardize the lives of innocent civilians.” If we translate her comments from doublespeak to English, it’s clear she’s describing Israel’s mass murder of Palestinians as a collective punishment (a war crime) that will end when Hamas surrenders.

Of course, establishment officials also try to present Biden as really trying to rein in Netanyahu’s excesses, not fuel them. Every week, a new story includes White House leaks describing Biden’s anger and disapproval at Netanyahu’s actions. And in a recent press conference, Biden called the destruction in Gaza “over the top.” 

At a recent Security Conference in Munich, British journalist Tim Sebastian asked Democratic Party leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi if Biden could make the violence stop. Sebastian identified a number of  “levers” previous US presidents have deployed to get Israel under control when it’s gone too far off its leash in the past — “Eisenhower threatened sanctions in 1956 if Israel didn’t pull its forces out of Sinai. Reagan… held up delivery of fighter jets over Israel’s actions in Lebanon. George Bush Sr. blocked loan guarantees because of settlement building.” Pelosi, after first feigning these tools didn’t exist, replied that Biden “has said something about the settlements.” Sebastian quickly replied “but saying and blocking weapons supplies, for instance, are very different things, aren’t they?” Pelosi described Biden’s words as “a path.” A path to where, is unclear.

In fact, not only is Biden not deploying tools that previous Presidents have successfully used to rein in Israel’s excesses, but his administration has in fact gone out of its way to defend Israel’s actions. This includes not only government doublespeak, but also sending millions in arms without congressional approval, requesting more in aid, running diplomatic cover for Israel at the UN and International Court of Justice, and even launching airstrikes on Yemen to deter the Yemeni Red Sea Blockade which Yemen’s governing Houthis launched in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. US arms transfers to Israel violate not only international law, but US law that is meant to prevent transfers to countries engaging in war crimes, and those that illegally have nuclear weapons (Israel’s massive stockpile is an open secret).

Anything and everything Israel does, even when criticized by US officials, is done with the explicit or implicit approval of the United States. As long as the United States refuses to threaten funding, arms, and diplomatic cover to Israel, this genocide is just as much the fault of the United States. Contrary to Pelosi’s claim that “Netanyahu is calling the shots”, Biden has the real final say.

How Far Will Biden Go?

Despite overtures toward the movement for a ceasefire, Biden seems unlikely to drop support for Israel anytime soon. And the longer Israel’s genocidal war goes on, the increased likelihood of yet another prolonged US intervention in the Middle East.

Already the war has spilled outside of Israeli and Palestinian borders. In an effort to pressure Israel to end its war on Gaza, Yemen’s governing Houthi movement initiated a blockade on Israel-bound ships in the Red Sea. To the US government, of course, protecting international commerce and US capital comes before all else, though seemingly still not before Palestinian lives. The Houthis have declared that the blockade will end when Israel’s siege on Gaza ends. Instead of pressing for a ceasefire, though, the US has launched multiple airstrikes on Yemen, a country already devastated by a decade of civil war and a constricting Saudi-US blockade and bombing campaign. When asked if the airstrikes were working, Biden replied: “When you say ‘working’, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.” 

These are dangerous words from the leader of a country that’s spent the 21st century uninterruptedly intervening in and occupying nations in the Middle East. Beyond Yemen, the war has already in part expanded to other countries in the region, with Israel launching airstrikes on Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and Syria. Though the United States has not yet directly intervened in these countries, the longer the war goes on, the greater the risk of a broader regional, if not global, war, especially given increased political and military tensions between the United States and its rising imperial rivals, Russia and the People’s Republic of China.

Around the world, popular movements have mobilized in defense of Palestine, and against Israel’s genocidal war. No country’s anti-war movement has as great a task, nor as steep an uphill battle, as ours in the United States. Biden has the power to end this war, and the ongoing genocide. He also has the power to escalate the war to global proportions. It is on the US anti-war movement to prevent the latter, and force the former.

DSA organizes for a free Palestine and a ceasefire in Gaza through its “No Money for Massacres” campaign and a campaign to encourage voters to withhold their support from Joe Biden in primary elections – get involved today. The Democratic Left welcomes pitches about successes, setbacks and lessons learned by chapter’s organizing for solidarity with Palestinians at [email protected].

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