Black Americans Have Long History of Solidarity With Palestinians

By Shani Saxon Jun 02, 2021

Black Americans felt a “powerful sense of solidarity” this spring when violence erupted in Israel and Palestine, according to a piece in Politico. Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists sprang into action, organizing pro-Palestinian protests across the United States. “We know occupation, we know colonization, we know police brutality,” one BLM organizer from New Jersey explained

Bonded by state oppression and violence, a sense of fellowship between Palestinians and Black Americans has existed for decades, as reported by Politico. During the June 1967 War, for example, when Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza, Black activists who were already protesting the Vietnam War began to see Israel’s conquest of Palestinian lands as “an imperial parallel to the racialized violence African-Americans experienced at home,” Politico reports. In fact, Politico states, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee published an explainer on the plight of the Palestinians, where they referred to Zionism as an imperial project upheld by the “white western colonial governments” of the United States and Europe. The Black Panther Party also supported Palestinian resistance, referring to their fight as a “joint struggle” against “racism, Zionism, and imperialism.”

In the past, Black activists have encouraged other social movements to consider the Palestinian cause, and Black politicians have defended the rights of Palestinians in U.S. foreign policy debates. Currently, Black activists and politicians are working in tandem on behalf of Palestinians. “Today, there appears to be a connected effort by grassroots organizers and lawmakers with activist roots to push national opinion and U.S. policy toward a stance more friendly to Palestinians,” Politico reports. The Black Lives Matter movement, with its ability to shape conversations about race and injustice in this country, also has the ability to inform how Americans view the plight of the Palestinians.

As stated by Politico:

This spring’s rise in violence came amid a notable shift in American public opinion. Based on findings from a February Gallup poll, a majority of Democrats now believe the United States should put more pressure on Israel than on the Palestinians to resolve the conflict — the highest level of support for pressuring Israel since Gallup began tracking this question in 2007. Part of that change, explained by commentators who both celebrate and lament it, may owe to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has encouraged Americans to view the Israel-Palestine situation through the prism of racial justice. 

BLM organizers are now working to reinforce legislative actions taken by Black politicians in support of the plight of the Palestinians. Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley and Jamaal Bowman have all gained strength in their pro-Palestinian stands thanks in part to support from BLM. “Lawmakers including Bush and Rashida Tlaib, the sole Palestinian-American in Congress, have taken advantage of the shifting climate to bring their perspective on Palestine to the forefront of intraparty debates,” stated Politico. 

The United States and communities across the globe are likely to pay attention as Black-Palestinian solidarity grows stronger. They will also be forced to listen as conversations about shared experiences between the two groups continue to grow louder. 
rnClick here to read Politico’s full story on the history of Black and Palestinian solidarity.