Can You Trust The Democratic Candidate If He Won't Mention Palestinians' Human Rights When Discussing Anti-BDS Legislation?

Over the past couple of days the Democrat and Republican candidates for governor have traded jabs about whose party is pro-Israel or anti-Israel. Much of this has centered on the anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) legislation Governor Christie signed into NJ law in 2016.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate has taken heat for the fact that his running-mate opposed the anti-BDS legislation as an NJ Assemblywoman. The Wall Street candidate has gone out of his way to distance himself from his running mate's vote on that bill—saying he stands firmly in the anti-BDS camp.

I wish he, and all who are speaking of this matter, would stand firmly in the camp that is concerned about the 50 years of illegal occupation that Palestinians have faced. I wish he and they would be concerned about the hundreds of thousands who were driven into camps in neighboring nations, into islands of poverty and isolation. I wish they would be concerned about what Israel has created—by systematically sucking beauty and life from a whole population so that Palestinian children in the occupied territories born today hardly have any living relatives who remember what freedom and peace was like.

Believe it or not, in several ways the Israeli/Palestinian situation reminds me of New Jersey. Not in terms of the brutal human rights abuses of course, in New Jersey it is often much more subtle.

Nevertheless, in a space that is similar in size to the Palestinian and Israeli lands, we have islands of wealth and opportunity and possibility standing side by side with islands of poverty and extreme danger. Sometimes that danger creeps over our 'borders' and the 'peace' that wealthy and powerful people feel living in a state of systematic oppression is disrupted. But most of the time, the islands stay isolated, and the poor suffer—until somebody wealthy wants to encroach on an island of poverty and they change zoning laws and build new 'settlements.'

I want to call out any aspect of our state that blesses the oppressor class that runs the state of New Jersey and makes 'the last' remain 'last.' And I think we need to be open to critiquing, firmly, any nation, Israel and the United States included, that carries out systematic oppression. For example, how about we boycott companies that build pipelines through Native Peoples' sacred lands.

It is not the role of the next governor of New Jersey to bless the ongoing oppression of Palestinians by the state of Israel. I disagree with and as governor, will work to reverse the Anti-BDS legislation that was passed last year as an assault on freedom of expression and people struggling for justice. But mostly, I am also repulsed when a billionaire masquerades as a "progressive" candidate for governor but refuses to speak honestly about human rights abuses of Palestinians.

If he won't talk about Palestinians I don't trust he'll talk about our own islands of oppression located within our precious state.

Seth Kaper-Dale
Green Party Candidate for Governor