From Ferguson to Palestine

Nidal El-Khairy




This poem always reminds me of the Palestinian People, and after seeing the above drawing, decided to include it in my posting. I subscribed to the ei, and donate when i can, because it is my duty. Meaning, I always had questions as a Jew, and went back and forth with my support of israel in my 44 years ( I use lower cases with israel, because I refuse to acknowledge that entity untill the Occupation is over), but decided a few years ago, to reject "it"/israel. No matter how hard it is for me to read and see images of this horror, I am commanded, to bear witness. I feel love for all oppressed people. Enjoy-

"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise."
Maya Angelou


This author was active in North America's struggles for social justice about
50 years ago. Comparisons between the situations highlight the uniqueness
of each as well as their similarities.

In the case of Palestine (or in its many expressions), there is a "legal"
justification entirely unbalanced. In both cases, the "legal" decision turns
out to be a sham, a "joke", weighted against common decency and
justice. In Palestine: a judicial so-called "decision" and Military
Law etc . In the US a judicial process in which (unlike a trial in a Court
of Law) there is no "cross examination", only one side is heard.

The words of gospel-civil rights singer Mavis Staples in "Down in
Mississippi" still ring true:

"They've got a hunting season on rabbits...
It's always open season on me..."

("hunting season" means a license is needed.)

This is a reality known day after day in Palestine. It is always
"open season" on Palestinians. It is designed to be that way.

This reality has been forgotten by many blacks in the US. One woman
expressed on radio" I thought it had gotten better. I am a nurse but
I am a black woman. I am a Mother of three but I am a black woman..."
She expressed her desire to leave...

Many blacks of younger generations are unaware of the racist realities.
A black President, black Attorney General, White House medals to civil
rights workers found dead in Mississippi (Goodman,Cheney,Brown) in 19065, black Justices of the US Supreme Court...

The optimism of younger days has been buried. The power of the state
at the end of a gun has not been altered.

(NOTE: Subsequent articles in US newspapers indicate that the
handling of some of the evidence may have been improper.)

The basic facts of oppression are similar in Ferguson, MO and

A child of the inferior race is not respected even if unarmed. His anger
is not justified in the eyes of the majority....

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


Hi Peter,
Thanks for replying to my posting. How interesting is it, that you and I never met, perhaps, from different backgrounds, but feel the same way about all human rights issues. I know this is a page about the Occupation of Palestine, but just watched the video of how brutal the Hong Kong police were today. They locked up a student, and I think his name is Joshua Jong, and he vowed to go on a hunger strike, until their Movement's issues were addressed. Since Palestine has shown solidarity with Ferguson, I am wondering how, or if we should do the same? Would you share your thoughts on this with me, or give me some advice on starting an online petition?
Jane Zacher


I have given for social justice ("civil rights") over and over again. Indeed l feel(but do not "know") that the many friends I have marching against the failure to indict in Ferguson, MO appreciate the horrors of earlier days when we faced very similar obstacles. Perhaps we had unwarranted youthful optimism and illusory ideas of change.

Depending on what you are and have---your commitment, talents,passion, etc---I would analyze:

1. WHAT is going on.

2. WHY is it happening

3. "WHY is it happening?

4. WHAT will transform power?

Read the late historian Gabriel Kolko's brief early book (1969) THE ROOTS
OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY, especially "The Epilogue".
If you know US history you know the Vietnam War was not over and that
" the New Left" to which he is referring is in that copntext.

The book is not easy reading but analyzes the roots of colonialism in antiquity,
several other colonial ventures (Portuguese, Spanish, South Africa, US) and
in particular late 19th century and current Zionism.

I could go on with other referenc es but prefer to leave that to your determination,
your judgements.

Good luck and, as always, thanks for the complement. I am just doing
what I can do, no more.

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


I feel that on the whole it cheapens and in a way is insulting to the Palestinian cause-- especially considering that Black people as a whole in the States have nothing as bad as those Palestinians under occupation in the PWB or locked up in the Gaza Strip. I feel that that valid message in Ferguson itself-- although not the one on the rampant militarisation of the police forces in the USA-- has been eclipsed to a great extent due to hedonistic actions, especially looting for the sake of looting.

Making this comparison smacks of taking a very specific far-left line to me, although I certainly appreciate the artist's work in general.


I am not going to get into a battle with you, and really sad about your statement. You and I do not know each other, but the idea that you would say that black people in America, haven't had it as bad is rude and hurtful. So is your use of the word "cheapen". The poet who wrote this, was not "cheap" . There are strong parallels, and perhaps your experience is a little different than mine. It seems to me, that your ability to sympathize with anyone who has been oppressed, is lacking. I am from the U.S., and although white, live in mostly inner city neighborhoods, and have seen the cops brutality beat down mostly people of color. I chose this poem, because of the spirit of anyone, who has been beat down, rising up, and not taking any crap, including me. So if you would like to be a thug with a keyboard, and feel the need to use this forum to show off your very expensive education with the haughty language, then do it. But i believe that you and I going back and forth, would really "cheapen", the entire conversation. So "Kyle" , when you live my life, and see 5 white police officers beat the daylights out of a 12 year old black little child, for trying to climb over a fence, to see a football game, or get beat up by police officers, for trying to stop them from illegally stopping and searching a pregnant black woman on the way to the doctor, let me know. Ali, this is one for the books, it really is. I am so sad to see that "kyle", is so disconnected from the basics, and feels the need to show off his intellectual abilities. Why can't we all just cool out with the egos, and be upset, usng plain language? I have a college degree too, but fortunately, do not feel the need to turn a public forum into the college debate club, or asert my abilities. I really am sad about this. I really am.


I don't believe anything is "cheapened". If one has worked in the Mississipi sun
with blacks who are oppressed, or elsewhere with those who because of
their racial or economic conditions are oppressed one remembers. I remember
studying for a masters degree and my teacher (later Dean, later leader of
the health program in another state...)who was black and always dressed in suit
and tie. At the end of one class he said that he was parked a few blocks away
but "as soon as I leave here I am just another n." You know know about lynching
and about today's discrimination not only against blacks but many groups
defined as "inferior"...including Palestinians.

It has nothing to do with "left" but with survival.

Personally I cannot fight for all at once. One applies the few talents one has
where one thinks they will have a significance.

Once more, I strongly recommend Michael Prior's book THE BIBLE AND
COLONIALISM: A MORAL CRITIQUE which focuses on many eras through
many centuries includes Zionism among them.

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


Thank so much for your advice. I shall read the above information after my classes are over this week. I was at Temple University for a semester, but will not return, so in an educational limbo. I chose that school for it's financially accessible Liberal Arts Education, but will not return, because of the mess the Board made out of the school's historically strong African American studies program. I have an Associate's, but found along the way, the importance of the African American story, in my own life. The above books, that you recommended, might have been required reading, or suggested as well, and I thank-you so much, for helping me expand my understanding of the world around me. I have my eyes on Goddard in Vermont, but it's expensive. I have found one adjunct teacher at Community College, who said she would write a letter, but I am afraid she might not, due to my connection with Temple S.J.P., and her upcoming Dissertation at that same school. Philadelphia is turning into a corporate university town, with strong ties to israel, so everyone is afraid of losing or not getting a job. Hopefully, I can find alternative funding to attend, as well as live in what I consider an "intellectual Shangri-La", with progressive values. Thanks again,
Jane Zacher

Nidal El-Khairy