Palestinian liberation is “key matter of our time,” say Black leaders

The Electronic Intifada,
18 August 2015

than 1,000 Black activists, artists, scholars, students and
organizations have released this statement reaffirming their “solidarity
with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of
Palestine’s land and people.”
The list of signatories includes scholar-activists Angela Davis and Cornel West, political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli, rappers Talib Kweli, Boots Riley and Jasiri X
and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. Forty organizations
signed, including the Florida-based Dream Defenders and St. Louis-based
Hands Up United and Tribe X, which were founded after the killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, respectively, as well as the 35-year-old Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis.
This statement was originally published at and also appears in Ebony. You can also read this statement in Arabic.
The past year has been one of high-profile growth for
Black-Palestinian solidarity. Out of the terror directed against us –
from numerous attacks on Black life to Israel’s brutal war on Gaza
and chokehold on the West Bank – strengthened resilience and
joint struggle have emerged between our movements. Palestinians on
Twitter were among the first to provide international support for protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, where St. Louis-based Palestinians gave support on the ground.

Last November, a delegation of Palestinian students visited Black organizers in St. Louis,
Atlanta, Detroit and more, just months before the Dream Defenders took
representatives of Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, and other racial
justice groups to Palestine. Throughout the year, Palestinians sent multiple letters of solidarity to us throughout protests in Ferguson, New York and Baltimore. We offer this statement to continue the conversation between our movements:
On the anniversary of last summer’s Gaza massacre, in the 48th year of Israeli occupation, the 67th year of Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba
(the Arabic word for Israel’s ethnic cleansing) – and in the fourth
century of Black oppression in the present-day United States – we, the
undersigned Black activists, artists, scholars, writers, and political
prisoners offer this letter of reaffirmed solidarity with the
Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s
land and people.
We can neither forgive nor forget last summer’s violence. We remain
outraged at the brutality Israel unleashed on Gaza through its siege by land, sea and air, and three military offensives in six years.
We remain sickened by Israel’s targeting of homes, schools, UN shelters, mosques, ambulances, and hospitals.
We remain heartbroken and repulsed by the number of children Israel killed in an operation it called “defensive.”
We reject Israel’s framing of itself as a victim. Anyone who takes an
honest look at the destruction to life and property in Gaza can see
Israel committed a one-sided slaughter. With 100,000 people still homeless in Gaza, the massacre’s effects continue to devastate Gaza today and will for years to come.
Israel’s injustice and cruelty toward Palestinians is not limited to
Gaza and its problem is not with any particular Palestinian party. The
oppression of Palestinians extends throughout the occupied territories, within Israel’s 1948 borders, and into neighboring countries. The Israeli occupation forces continue to kill protesters – including children – conduct night raids on civilians, hold hundreds of people under indefinite detention and demolish homes while expanding illegal Jewish-only settlements.
Israeli politicians, including Benjamin Netanyahu, incite against Palestinian citizens within Israel’s recognized borders, where over 50 laws discriminate against non-Jewish people.
Our support extends to those living under occupation and siege, Palestinian citizens of Israel and the 7 million Palestinian refugees
exiled in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The refugees’ right to
return to their homeland in present-day Israel is the most important
aspect of justice for Palestinians.
Palestinian liberation represents an inherent threat to Israeli
settler colonialism and apartheid, an apparatus built and sustained on ethnic cleansing,
land theft, and the denial of Palestinian humanity and sovereignty.
While we acknowledge that the apartheid configuration in
Israel/Palestine is unique from the United States (and South Africa), we
continue to see connections between the situation of Palestinians and
Black people.
Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including the political imprisonment of our own revolutionaries.
Soldiers, police, and courts justify lethal force against us and our
children who pose no imminent threat. And while the US and Israel would
continue to oppress us without collaborating with each other, we have
witnessed police and soldiers from the two countries train side-by-side.
US and Israeli officials and media criminalize our existence, portray
violence against us as “isolated incidents,” and call our resistance
“illegitimate” or “terrorism.” These narratives ignore decades and
centuries of anti-Palestinian and anti-Black violence that have always
been at the core of Israel and the US.
We recognize the racism that characterizes Israel’s treatment of
Palestinians is also directed against others in the region, including
intolerance, police brutality and violence against Israel’s African population. Israeli officials call asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea “infiltrators” and detain them in the desert, while the state has sterilized Ethiopian Israelis without their knowledge or consent. These issues call for unified action against anti-Blackness, white supremacy and Zionism.
We know Israel’s violence toward Palestinians would be impossible
without the US defending Israel on the world stage and funding its
violence with over $3 billion annually.
We call on the US government to end economic and diplomatic aid to
Israel. We wholeheartedly endorse Palestinian civil society’s 2005 call
for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)
against Israel and call on Black and US institutions and organizations
to do the same. We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle
for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time.
As the BDS movement grows, we offer G4S, the world’s largest private security company, as a target for further joint struggle.
G4S harms thousands of Palestinian political prisoners illegally held in Israel and hundreds of Black and brown youth held in its privatized juvenile prisons in the US. The corporation profits from incarceration and deportation from the US and Palestine, to the UK, South Africa and Australia. We reject notions of “security” that make any of our groups unsafe and insist no one is free until all of us are.
We offer this statement first and foremost to Palestinians, whose
suffering does not go unnoticed and whose resistance and resilience
under racism and colonialism inspires us.
It is to Palestinians, as well as the Israeli and US governments,
that we declare our commitment to working through cultural, economic and
political means to ensure Palestinian liberation at the same time as we
work towards our own.
We encourage activists to use this statement to advance solidarity
with Palestine and we also pressure our own Black political figures to
finally take action on this issue.
As we continue these transnational conversations and interactions, we
aim to sharpen our practice of joint struggle against capitalism,
colonialism, imperialism and the various racisms embedded in and around
our societies.
Over the past year, strengthened resilience and joint struggle have emerged between Black and Palestinian liberation movements.

Tess Scheflan