Israel is maintained by ethnic cleansing and colonizing of Palestinians and their land; a reality that Black and non-Black Indigenous people know well.
By Da’Shaun Harrison and josh briond
It’s well known in radical circles that Palestinian freedom efforts are connected to Black liberation movements. A look into the history of Palestine shows the various ways that solidarity between Black and Palestinian people is fundamentally necessary for the complete disarmament of global colonialism. After the British army forcefully took Palestinian land in 1917, the Mandate Years came next as Britain established and maintained military and political rule for thirty years.
The Mandate Years then enabled the birth of Israel after World War II, which gave way to the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians, known as Nakba. Nineteen years later, The Six Days War led to Israel seizing the remaining Palestinian territories of the East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza Strip; as well as the Syrian Golan Heights, and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Palestinians, on their own land, have experienced what they refer to as “Yawm an-Nakba,” or Day of the Catastrophe, for the past 70 years as a result of Israeli occupation.
Today, America and Israel share a unique relationship where each of them exist as white supremacist, settler-colonial ethnostates, with Israel puppeteered to protect American capitalist interests in the Middle East.
Following the Six Day War, radical Black leaders and organizations demonstrated fierce support for Palestine, as they saw the inherent connections between our respective oppressions stemming from colonial white supremacy. In the subsequent decades, Black and Palestinian writers, activists, and influencers have expressed sentiments of transnational solidarity through our work and activism. Palestinian writers such as Ibrahim Nasrallah and Samih al-Qasim internalized and invoked Black radical liberation politics into their writings, while Black writers like James Baldwin and Angela Davis supported, internalized, and incorporated Palestinian self-determination in their writings and speeches.
Black celebrities like Chance the Rapper, Waka Flocka and Vic Mensa, are contemporaries who have expressed their support for Palestine. Observations and writings of this canon continue to resonate with colonized people; Black and Palestinian writers and activists have not only related to and supported each others internal struggles, but also used them as a tool to better understand each other’s historical frameworks to movement build and draw internationalist networks of solidarity.
Today, the self-proclaimed independence of Israel is maintained by the ongoing ethnic cleansing and colonizing of Palestinians and their land; a sick reality that African/Black and non-Black Indigenous people know all too well.
Our struggles are interconnected in that both colonial empires use carcerality to oppress its respective marginalized communities. The Israeli and US governments share hyper-militarized strategies and resources. Law enforcement agencies in the United States learn tactics from Israel’s military, while America provides billions of dollars in military aid to Israel yearly. Israeli military forces use the same teargas canisters against Palestinian protesters that Ferguson police used against protesters after Michael Brown’s murder.
We draw parallels in how the prison industrial complex extends to both ethnostates in that United States hyper-criminalizes Black people while Palestinians live in the world’s largest open air prison under Israeli occupation in Gaza. We see direct connection to Israel’s mistreatment and ethnic cleansing of African and/or Black Jews to America’s longstanding history with Nazi eugenics and the forced sterilization of Black women in California prisons.
As Israel’s colonization of Palestine continues to bewilder pundits, historians, diplomats, warhawks and others of the like, some have argued for a “two-state” solution in which colonizers and the colonized independently govern on land that was once under sole Palestinian control.
In our response, we draw from current land thievery of the Americas to highlight why such a solution is not only impossible, but further antagonizes the hyper-marginalized.
America has, in a way, built a “two-state home.” One is comprised of a “white america”—an America built on the colonization of Indigenous land by way of the enslavement of African people. Then there is the Black and Indigenous Americas—homes built on shared resistance and cultures specific to both groups. This America is a survivalist one that spiritually and culturally thrives under the weight of white supremacist social order. Israel knows this separation intimately, having seized lands that they did not have claim to—much like America has done with Indigenous folk, and both diasporic and continental African folk.
We respond to the question of “why can’t there be a two-state solution,” with this: just as it was not America’s land to take from the Indigenous people, nor were African people’s bodies theirs to force into labor, Palestinian land was never Israel’s to colonize.
A two-state solution would legitimize colonial thievery and is thus not an option. It is impossible to build two states on land which was violently stolen through the ethnic cleansing of Indigenous people. Herein lies a link between Black liberation struggles and Palestinian liberation struggles.
Zionism is a racist ideology that relies upon illegitimate and violent means to validate and withstand its existence – which leads to its disquietude which largely motivates and enables the terror on Palestinians, because while they are still on the land that was taken away from them, Zionism is in complete contradiction with the lives and well-being of Palestinians. This can be likened to the contradictions that exist between capitalistic, white supremacist settler-colonial states like the US and the lives and well-being of Black and Indigenous people and the ways in which these states will go back about maintaining its illegitimacy.
White supremacy is not monolithic, rather a phenomenon that consists of distinct yet interrelated logics that are constantly metamorphosing and transforming itself to maintain the structural power and will of whiteness and how it exists in the world. It is for this reason that we challenge the idea that solidarity between people of color is a “myth.” Though anti-Blackness is a global phenomenon, Black Palestinians exist, Black/African Jews were faced with being forcibly removed from Israel, and Black people have an extensive history of being in solidarity with Palestinian people and their freedom.
We imagine that, should Black and Palestinian people continue to struggle in solidarity with one another, both Black and Palestinian people will once again be able to exist in lands which were once our own. Black, Indigenous, and/or Palestinian solidarity must continue to function intercommunally if we intend to exist in a world which is borderless—whereby there is an integration of economies, societies, and foreign policies, which is the end to imperialism and colonialism. Said again, we imagine that a continued interconnected Black and Palestinian struggle will lead to the deconstruction/destruction of this socio-political-economic climate as we know it. We imagine that this is freedom; that we will one day see the fall of an Apartheid Israel and the American Empire.
Israel is a settler-colonial project created and sustained via illegitimate western imperialistic means. James Baldwin noted this in a passage from his last novel in 1978 Just Above My Head, where he stated, “But the state of Israel was not created for the salvation of the Jews; it was created for the salvation of Western interests.” Much like the United States, it is an inherent threat to humanity and colonized people of the world may not ever know peace while ethno-nationalist, imperialist states continue to exist. It is because of this that Black and Palestinian solidarity are vital to our holistic liberation. If either group is to know freedom, we are required to struggle together.
“What Palestine Taught Me About American Racism“— Vic Mensa, Time Magazine (January 12, 2018)
“The Anti-Blueprint” — Bobby London, personal blog (January 8, 2017)
“A Report from Occupied Territory” — James Baldwin, The Nation (July 11, 1966)
JOIN WEAR YOUR VOICE ON PATREON — Every single dollar matters to us—especially now when media is under constant threat. Your support is essential and your generosity is why Wear Your Voice keeps going! You are a part of the resistance that is needed—uplifting Black and brown feminists through your pledges is the direct community support that allows us to make more space for marginalized voices. For as little as $1 every month you can be a part of this journey with us. This platform is our way of making necessary and positive change, and together we can keep growing.