The Growing Tie Between Black Activism And Pro-Palestinian Advocacy

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Written by Ann Brown
Black Activism
Ilhan Omar, center, the first Somali-American elected to a state legislature, speaks during a rally Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, calling for $15 minimum wages. Those in attendance included airport workers. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The drama surrounding freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who is Muslim, and her statements in support of Palestinians, have caused members of her own party to chastise her for perceived anti-Semitic remarks.

Omar is highlighting the historic connection between Black activism and pro-Palestinian advocacy.

“The backstory behind this uprising is closely intertwined with the history of Black internationalism. Malcolm X visited the Gaza Strip (then under Egyptian control) in 1964 as part of his tour of Africa and Asia…Moved by his visit, Malcolm reportedly told his hosts, ‘We shall return!’ Malcolm’s life was cut short before he could fulfill his promise but interest in the Palestinian cause grew among Black internationalists over the following years,” The Washington Post reported.

Then, following the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab states, many Black American groups, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), weighed in. In fact, the SNCC published an article condemning Israel’s occupation of Arab lands and expressing support for the Palestinians.

The support has been on both sides. Jordan-based Arab Women’s League (made up mostly of Palestinian women) spoke out when Black social justice organizer Angela Davis was imprisoned in 1971, even writing an open letter to her on International Women’s Day expressing their support.


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And in November 1982 Palestinian-American activists were among those protesting a Ku Klux Klan rally that had been planned in front of the White House.

“Black-Palestinian solidarity grew further as Israel’s increasingly close relationship to the apartheid regime of South Africa in the 1980s led more mainstream Black leaders to question America’s alliance with the Jewish state,” the Washington Post reported.

There was even support from during protests in Ferguson, Mo. They marched and some even tweeted that the treatment of police against the Black activists reminded the of Israeli military actions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

And now as more members of Congress come from parts of the world that have been directly affected by American policies, they are openly questioning basic tenets of both U.S. foreign policy and American domestic policy.