Palestinians salute Black solidarity, call for joint struggle

Israel advocates are alarmed by growth in Black-Palestinian solidarity. (Sarah-Ji/Flickr)

Palestinians have welcomed the declaration signed by more than 1,000 Black activists, artists and scholars in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

This comes as an Israel lobby group is expressing concern at the growing cooperation between Black activists and Palestinians.

The statement, whose endorsers include scholar-activists Angela Davis and Cornel West and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, urges full support for the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.

First appearing in Ebony earlier this month, the statement emphasizes “return to their homeland in present-day Israel” as “the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said that the Black activists’ “support for BDS against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid is particularly inspiring as it translates principled positions into morally consistent actions that are capable of righting injustices.”

The BNC is the broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement.

“The US civil rights movement has always been a key inspiration for us in the BDS movement,” Nawajaa added in a statement from the BNC. “We are deeply moved by this powerful proclamation that evokes the spirit of that heroic civil rights struggle.”

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, called the statement “a poignant testament to the organic links that connect the Palestinian struggle for self-determination with the struggle of the oppressed around the world, including ongoing struggles for racial and economic justice by Black people in the US and across the world.”

“Despite the obvious differences, there are compelling similarities between the forms of oppression that both Palestinians and African Americans live under,” Barghouti added. “Dehumanization, dispossession, racial injustice and discrimination, state violence, criminalization of entire communities and impunity are all key characteristics of the oppression faced by Black Americans and Palestinians.”

The Black activists’ statement calls for joint campaigns against G4S, the multinational security firm that works in Israeli prisons in the occupied West Bank and runs detention centers that are part of the US system of mass incarceration that targets people of color.

Alarm

The Black activists’ statement – and the Palestinian response – represent the kind of solidarity that is ringing alarm bells in the offices of Israel lobby groups.

This week, the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) warned in a report that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) “and its allies continue to deepen their involvement with social justice-oriented organizations on campus.”

“This year saw efforts by anti-Israel groups to build coalitions with progressive campus organizations that deal with issues such as LGBT rights, fossil fuel divestment, private prison reform, racial discrimination and immigration reform,” the ICC report states.

In particular, ICC – which evidently closely monitors the Palestine solidarity movement – says it “observed strong ties between SJP and many African American student groups during the 2014-2015 academic year.”

“As recently as May 2015, SJP student activists were actively involved in Black Lives Matter-linked demonstrations,” it states.

ICC also notes an “increasing number of SJP-backed slates and candidates winning legislative and executive positions within student governments.”

“These candidates are running on platforms that call for reform on a wide range of social issues; BDS is now mentioned alongside other issues such as private prison divestment, minority rights and fossil fuels,” it adds.

But ICC assures Israel supporters that anti-Palestinian activists are “fighting back” by “forming coalitions to educate the broader campus community, and working to build support for Israel on campus.”

The Israel lobby group says that media reports alleging that BDS is taking over college campuses are exaggerated.

It warns, however, that “if the current trends on campuses nationwide persist, the result could be dangerously close to that reality.”

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I write and tweet about Palestine all the time. Here (http://www.mrs-t.com) and any place I can. Because, I believe, as Black Americans we have to continue to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We can’t allow ourselves to be isolated and expect to win. Our struggle IS and always has been GLOBAL! As it was when we supported Madiba (A name affectionately used to refer to Nelson Mandela) as he fought APARTHEID in South Africa and we fought RACISM in America. That fight continues today! Hence my “epiphany”! Cable News has had hours of shows dedicated to the use of the so-called “N” word. Careers ended for the use of it. Paula Deen comes to mind.

Charges of Antisemitism likewise killing careers. Helen Thomas comes to mind.

Charges of homophobia killing careers. Isaiah Washington comes to mind.

But most importantly, all have POLITICAL CORRECTNESS attached.

For just a moment close your eyes. Imagine yourself being PALESTINIAN, here in the United States, watching the Republican debate and hearing every last Republican candidate say: “If elected my FIRST phone call will be to Bibi (affectionately used to refer to Israeli PM Netanyahu) to assure him, there is NO daylight between Israel and the United States!” “We stand with Israel because of our shared Values“!

What a Palestinian might feel, hearing this is, what you are really saying is:”no matter what you do to Palestinians “we got your back”! Including illegal settlers burning an 18 mo old Palestinian baby to death?

The following day, Cable News was NOT ablaze with “did you hear what Carly Fiorina said last night”?

The reason is simple.

In the US there is “NO POLITICAL CORRECTNESS” for Palestinians!

What a shame! And I do mean “SHAME”!

FREE PALESTINE!

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It is heartening to see so many African Americans rally in support of the oppressed Palestinian people. Last summer during the slaughter in Gaza, I was disappointed that most high profile black politicians , celebrities and especially President Obama were shamefully silent . Dr Cornell West was brave and did not remain silent !. Hopefully this will help the long struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom !!

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

― Nelson Mandela

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I believe this is the beginning of a tidal wave of support for Palestine. That support will overwhelm the Zionist lobby as more young people get involved.

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. MLK
Let's hope that those who once stood for that principle, like progressive Jews in Congress and the Congressional Black Caucus, will clear the webs of injustice from before their eyes, so they might see clearly again.

Hope for something that's languished for decades, while they've just looked on?

I suppose many have long hoped for much less with even more reason not to but they certainly don't offer much.
And without them, there isn't much.

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AIPAC/Israel has spent much time, effort and presumably dollars to
silence civil rights advocates, the Black Caucus (many) and others using
their now-familiar methods.

As a person of no color (??) who marched in support of many of my
brothers and sisters years ago (eg Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King
et al), I find the situation with Zionism's oppression of Palestinians
unique in some ways but similar in so many others.

On Highway 51 in 1965 we sang:

"Ain't going to let Paul Johnson (Miss. Governor at that time)
turn me around, turn me around/Keep on a -walking, keep
on a- talking, walking down to freedom land..."

Palestinians do not sing as we did unfortunately I(except in
mosques).

The Resistance movements in Palestine welcome all support
I am sure in the struggle for justice.

Not "heartening". A well meant phrase but near to
patronizing. Those of us with guts must stand up and
be counted. This is the role of supporters worldwide.
Not "leaders". Just supporters.

[Petitions have their role and place but are almost an
evasion of putting your body on the line.]

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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RE: The relationship between The Congressional Black Caucus and the larger Congress. I think it's important to note that AIPAC lobbying, money and other "now-familiar methods" of silencing the CBC are not really the key methods of repression. The CBC, like any group within that group, must maintain a good working relationship with other members in order to further their specific agendas. It's pretty simple really. I'm sure you realize that Mr. Loeb but it's worth mentioning in order to avoid accusations of conspiracy theorizing (see Mearsheimer & Walt).
It's even more effective actually. It's similar to any relationship between subordinates and an employer or other such superior, in that the subordinate voluntarily represses their own urges in order to remain secure. It's not unlike the way a citizenry will support politicians, espousing unethical or immoral policies, out of fear.

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With all due respect, I strongly disagree with the the
views of John Costello.

I have advocated in other areas before the US Congress
and my testimony has been printed for consideration by
Congressional subcommittees on five separate occasions.
[All my goals relative to legislation were achieved.]

Not all are enamored of Mearsheimer & Walt. I mention
only two, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein. I have
not wasted my time with M & W but do not think I
am innocent of Congressional operations. My father was
an advocate.

I suppose the defeat of Senator John Fullbright(D-Ark)
after his having raised questions concerning AIPAC's
activities legality under the Logan Act was just coincidental.

Accusing critics of uninformed "conspiracy theories" is
a wellworn way of protecting AIPAC from any and
all critical response . I myself have testified
before Congressional subcommittees in other areas on
five separate occasions. [All the legislation I proposed or
opposed became law.] In addition, my father was an
advocate and twice a US Ambassador. I do not consider
myself an innocent on the workings of Congress.

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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With all due respect to Mr. Loeb, who points out very clearly that he certainly deserves it, I don't believe he read my statement beyond my expression of some doubt that direct influence pedaling is what keeps the Congressional Black Caucus in check. I did not say that accusations against AIPAC are conspiracy theories but that they will be made, which is his point too, I believe. I said, in so many words that, in my humble opinion, it's more a matter of a fear of marginalization.
Mr. Loeb seems to be saying I'm wrong and that CBC members are more in the way of venal targets for lobbyists. Perhaps some are but I believe most of them are decent people who would like to do more but are, as I said, afraid.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.