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‘Ebony’ article explores ‘Why Black People Must Stand With Palestine’

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Kristian Davis Bailey

Ebony has published an excellent article by Kristian Davis Bailey, Why Black People Must Stand With Palestine. Bailey, a journalist an editor for Stanford’s The Daily, has written numerous articles about Palestine in the past. But this article encapsulates much of his past coverage and is a must read. 

Be sure to open Bailey links, especially the video he took while traveling with an Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) group last summer. Their tour guide, Issa, attempts to walk them down Shuhada Street but is prevented by the soldiers; “I felt like I was watching some dystopic mashup of the pass laws Blacks faced in apartheid South Africa and the cruel humiliation of the Jim Crow South.”

Here’s an excerpt:

I learned how the police brutality African Americans and other minorities face in the US is directly tied to violence in Palestine. Since 2001, thousands of top police officials from cities across the US have gone to Israel for training alongside its military or have participated in joint exercises here……. Our governments literally share resources and tactics with each other that directly harm our respective communities.

The experiences of African Americans and Palestinians with systemic mass incarceration are also strikingly similar.

I had heard story after story about how the Israeli military had used the “security threat” argument to justify the closing of Shuhada Street, shooting tear gas into a house full of women and children, barring my Palestinian-American friend from re-entering the country to continue her study abroad. Palestinians, Blacks and other groups in colonialist countries are “security threats” by our very existence of surviving under systems that seek to destroy us.

What is “safety” when the thing people are safe from is us? Who is looking out to protect the lives of Fadi or Trayvon? Why do our societies dismiss our narratives? And when our tax dollars fund the police and military systems that kill our communities here and abroad, what can we do to claim safety and protection for ourselves?

To me, our hope for this century may come from joint solidarity with marginalized people all over the world. Palestinians appeal not to the government that occupies and oppresses them, but to international bodies and universal principles of human rights for freedom. Similar to the Palestinians’ call for people of conscience to boycott and divest from companies that support their oppression, we might call on people abroad to pressure an end to “the New Jim Crow”—mass incarceration…….

…….Most of us know very little about the Palestinian struggle and mainstream Palestinian society seemed to think everything is okay in terms of race in the United States today. In our separation, both of our relative struggles as Blacks and Palestinians remain ignored by the larger society. The time is ripe to rebuild those connections. Strong Black solidarity with the Palestinian struggle seems necessary and urgent. We must work together to address the effects of money, policing and militarism here and in Israel/Palestine.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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19 Responses

  1. Citizen on May 23, 2014, 2:11 pm

    Yes, about time for this! What’s wrong with the Black Caucus in Congress?

    • just on May 23, 2014, 2:21 pm

      they are bought and paid for. perhaps the only truly equal opportunity trough around.

      seems a natural fit, though. Ebony is widely read…’s a good thing!

    • on May 23, 2014, 2:40 pm

      this black writer himself is lying and truth-perverting when he says that the jim crow south was trying to destroy them.
      thats ridiculous, even from just an economic standpoint. they were economically dependent on what use to be called “negro” slave labor(it’s perfectly okay if blacks call whites caucasians) unless you believe that the white southerners were willing to make their slaves work so hard that they would work them to death knowing there would be an ample supply of immediate replacements.

      • annie on May 23, 2014, 4:30 pm

        you might want to read up on jim crow, it was after the civil war until 1965.

        i would also urge you to read the whole article as well as watch the video for the context of what he is talking about. and there are other ways of destroying a culture besides working people to death.

      • Stephen Shenfield on May 23, 2014, 5:14 pm

        But that was exactly the situation at times and places where slaves were plentiful and therefore cheap. It was typical of the Deep South — thus the expression “being sold down the river” and also of Haiti (before the uprising).

      • Qualtrough on May 24, 2014, 2:31 am

        thetruthhurts–with ‘friends’ like you, Zionists need no enemies.

      • MRW on May 24, 2014, 7:54 am

        Uhhh…thetruthhurts, you’re really out on a limb here. Your understanding and knowledge of slavery and its aftermath are lacking. Take annie’s advice.

    • Donald on May 23, 2014, 2:52 pm

      It could be that they have enough of a fight on their hands trying to get white America to stop blaming black Americans for black poverty. Ta Nehisi Coates just published an article in the Atlantic calling for reparations. It’s a fascinating article (and so is his blog.) I’d link, but I have to go.

      Black liberals and lefties may feel they have enough problems trying to help their own people here–the last thing they might want to do is to take on the Israel Lobby and have the “anti-semite” label slapped on them.

      • LeaNder on May 24, 2014, 7:42 am

        Nehisi Coates is interesting writer. Haven’t checked his articles for a while.

        Black liberals and lefties may feel they have enough problems trying to help their own people here–the last thing they might want to do is to take on the Israel Lobby and have the “anti-semite” label slapped on them.

        Can’t help, but Norman Podhoretz comes to mind in this context. Somewhat the peak of the iceberg from my limited perspective.

        I have to admit that I rarely ever witnessed such raw and undisguised racism as in the Trayvon Martin case. It was a perfect window into the larger American psyche.

        And for ever reason I made a similar connection as Kristian Davis Bailey: the war on terrorism coming home? Demand for security versus the right to live? Once you establish a scapegoat people feel rather free to add their own, for instance Trayvon Martin, the burglar suspect that mysteriously mutated into a mad killer in the time frame of about 1 minute 20 seconds. Hardly enough time to explain the asshole, sorry I cannot help, that you may not be, who he thinks you are. Especially if he carries a loaded gun. Notice Trayvon wasn’t really unarmed, he used the concrete walk as a weapon, his lawyer told the carefully selected jurors.

        On Law and Disorder there is an interesting interview with attorney G. Flint Taylor. Chicago caught my attention before, when a group of law students checked death row cases, and found quite a few that should not be there. Could this story have been related to this case?

        I wish I could see the documentary by an academic US couple on death row again, which I saw many decades ago when I met them. The images of the black poet in his cage, how can you call it differently, awaiting his execution have burned themselves into my soul.

        Hasn’t Chicago recently abolished the death penalty? …

      • LeaNder on May 24, 2014, 7:56 am

        Milestones in abolition/reinstatement

        In January, 2000, Governor George Ryan established a moratorium on executions that would last over 10 years. At that point in Illinois’ history, the state had exonerated 13 death row inmates in the same time that it had executed 12. Illinois has not executed anyone since the moratorium began, but it has exonerated 7 additional inmates, for a total of 20.

        Although Ryan’s successor Rod Blagojevich kept the moratorium in place, the state continued to seek death sentences, adding 15 defendants to the state’s recently vacated death row. The death penalty was a major issue in the 2010 gubernatorial election. The election of Democrat Pat Quinn paved the way for votes on a bill to abolish the death penalty in the Illinois House and Senate, and on March 9th, 2011 Governor Quinn signed legislation that made Illinois the 16th state to abolish the death penalty. Since the legislation was not retroactive, Quinn commuted the death sentences of all 15 men on Illinois’ death row.

        A rather high percentage of innocent people on death row by 2000. No?

    • Kay24 on May 23, 2014, 2:58 pm

      They have sold their souls to the devil. They have been paid for their undying love and support, by an alien nation, that sends it’s aggressive lobbies to do their dirty work. Take Cory Booker for instance, a devoted servant of Israel, and most probably getting generous donations from AIPAC to run for senator.
      The majority of congress people, of all colors, and both parties, are helped by AIPAC to win, and once they win their elections, will dance the hora to Israel’s song.

    • Rusty Pipes on May 23, 2014, 5:16 pm

      Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been among those most likely to break ranks with Democratic leadership and vote against AIPAC sponsored/written legislation. Even so, they are well-aware that, no matter how apparently safe their districts, anyone who bucks AIPAC too frequently can meet the fate of Cynthia McKinney.

  2. adele on May 23, 2014, 2:19 pm

    This is what it is all about, solidarity between communities that face the same structural injustices. Bravo to Kristian Davis Bailey for helping to bridge the divide.

    Last year, Michelle Alexander wrote an amazing article also highlighting this same theme: Breaking My Silence – For years I have written about mass incarceration, while staying mute about drones and other injustices. It is time to connect the dots.
    For those interested, here is the link:

    Let’s keep on connecting the dots and building bridges of solidarity!

  3. bilal a on May 23, 2014, 7:52 pm

    former JVP writer explains what a One State solution MUST look like:

    “I have nothing against a one-state outcome in principle; as long as that one state guarantees it will always offer safe sanctuary to Jews fleeing persecution– the kind that didn’t exist in World War II ”

    asymmetric right of return.


  4. weareone on May 23, 2014, 8:30 pm

    @ adele

    “Let’s keep on connecting the dots and building bridges of solidarity!”

    Agreed, adele. They can’t conquer if we don’t allow them to divide.

  5. Kathleen on May 23, 2014, 10:56 pm

    Connecting the dots…so important

  6. kevin on May 24, 2014, 2:15 am

    I was with him until “Trayvon.”

  7. Basilio on May 24, 2014, 9:11 am

    I definitely agree that there’s a lot of injustice against African Americans and there has been since the beginning. However, today, they’re citizens who have economic opportunity, we have a president who is African American, while a Muslim or Christian of Arab background can’t hope to be elected. So many more white people in America feel an affinity with black people that Israelis just don’t with Palestinians. Black people have a much larger percentage of white people who support them rather than the other way around. The Palestinians are fighting an occupation. African Americans are not. I don’t see the struggle as identical. However, the system promotes the incarceration of African Americans because of America’s desire to penalize people and find easy excuses to jail people of all races (but mostly minorities), which doesn’t work, considering the history of victimizing African Americans and Native Americans. When you jail people for taking drugs, you are often victimizing people who have suffered so much and have been victims of something in their lives. You don’t solve any social problems, you make things worse. African Americans were being used and exploited historically for their labor, not to destroy them, physically, but it took away from their humanity. Israel’s not focusing on trying to exploit Palestinians, but, rather, to ethnic cleanse them like white settlers ethnic cleansed Native Americans, and they seek to do with American financing. Do both African Americans and Palestinians suffer from a lot of historical and present injustice? Most definitely. And I’m against the so-called “War on Drugs”.

  8. C Bendavid on May 24, 2014, 6:37 pm

    Well, if there is one single population that should understand that Zionism is not a colonialist movement, it should be African Americans. After all, the Back-to-Africa movement is pretty similar to Zionism. Even Marcus Garvey referred to it as ”Black Zionism”. Anti-Zionists like to say that if Jews should be given the right to recover a territory that they owned in the past, all other peoples should be given the same right. This argument is sophistic. There is a difference between a landless nation wanting to recover its homeland in order to have its own state and a people that already has a country and that wants to recover a territory that it owned in the past merely for the pleasure of expanding its borders. And the reason why African Americans thought about establishing their state in Africa is because they were a landless people as well.

    By the way, for those who keep saying that the Zionist movement was colonialist because they’ve read a quote attributed to Herzl or Zangwill, they should know that even though the first generation of Zionists was somewhat influenced by colonialism, ever since the 2nd aliya, the Zionist movement became outspokenly anti-colonialist. Ber Borochov, the founding father of left-wing Zionism (which was predominant at the time), condemned colonialism as early as 1905. Also, the Zionist movement offered an alliance to Arab nationalists as soon as 1913 (when it sent a delegation to attend the First Arab National Congress in Paris). In the 1930’s, Ben Gurion went further by proposing the idea of a Semitic (Jewish-Arab) confederation to Musa Alami. I really don’t see how this can be seen as colonialist. Interestingly enough, though, Marxist historians claim that the Zionist never stopped being colonialist. According to Pappe, Lockman, Shlomo Sand and their coterie, the Zionist movement decided to ”conceal” its colonialist views after WWI because after the Wilson 18 points, colonialism began to lose its legitimacy. It’s just untrue. Borochov condemned colonialism in 1905 (before WWI). Also, Wilson never referred to non-Europeans nations when he talked about self-determination. As for colonialism, it remained mainstream in the West until the 1950’s. Hence, there was no reason to hide one’s colonialism after WWI. The truth of the matter is that radical anti-Zionist is nothing but another marxist delirium (its not the first one and it won’t be the last). Albert Memmi was right when he said that a large segment of the left remains profoundly permeated with stalinism.

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