… Occupation Is A Crime!” – chant being heard from protesters in Ferguson and at solidarity rallies around the nation.
Author’s Note: The Anti-Capitalist Meetup group felt that this is such an important subject that we decided to have me re-post an updated/more fleshed-out version of a diary I had already posted. I was wary due to the tenacious accusations of Anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to suggest that we relate to Palestinians as people. Still, that’s a First World problem. I have agreed to take that risk, again.
In a recent diary, a commenter expressed frustration when a conversation about the racism and tyrannical force being displayed in Ferguson prompted someone to bring up the Palestinians. The complaint was along the lines of “can we please just focus?”
I responded that many of my friends who are not White are quick to make the connection between what they experience here and what is happening in Gaza. Many of us see the linkage. Focusing actually means getting everybody to see that linkage and build solidarity.
The people in Ferguson have already made the linkage:
Did everyone else catch when protesters chanted “From St Louis to #Gaza end the occupation” because that was some powerful shit. #Ferguson
When it comes to the growing divide between those who win in a capitalist world and those who lose, we’re all Gazans. We’re all Mike Brown. We’re all Tibetans. We’re all Native Americans.
That is, some of us are definitely subject to more directly cruel and blatant oppression, but we’re all expendable when it comes to capitalism. Capital has no concern other than increasing it’s own value.
When it comes to any form of oppression, the only solution is resistance in solidarity. No one is liberated unless everyone is liberated. Abuse of power and willingness to see others as less than worthy of respect and justice is a relentless disease which much always be addressed or it will spread like a pandemic. No justice, no peace.
Apparently, the Palestinians get it, too.
“RT @TallyAnnaE: People in #Gaza are tweeting information on how to handle tear gas to the citizens of #Ferguson.”
If this is true, it reminds me of when Occupy Wall Street began and beleaguered Syrians sent a photo of a handwritten sign which said, “We are the 99.”
In the privileged world, we want to compartmentalize. It is less overwhelming and more manageable to think of each instance of injustice as it’s own issue to be addressed. So often, when I try to link topics such as Palestine and Ferguson, I see rolled eyes. There is the message of “here she goes again” in the expression. A desire to remain in the sheltered worldview of “that doesn’t happen here” or “it could never happen to me” or “it’s just an isolated incident.”
But, it’s all connected. Everything is connected. Unwillingness to see those connections makes us complicit in the oppression being perpetrated.
It’s really clear to those whose communities have paid the price for the capitalist “successes” of others. We need to see it, too. We all need to stand in solidarity.
A recent article on Counterpunch makes the connection:The Shortest Distance Between Palestine and Ferguson
While there is nothing happening within the US anything like the now-cyclical Israeli slaughter of thousands of Gazans, the reality is that life for Black Americans in places like Ferguson does not vary in much from blockaded Gaza, and West Bank Bantustans in off-attack times . The similarities are not just coincidental in terms of the timing of the events–they are in fact, concurrent and historical.
What is becoming more and more apparent is how much capitalist economics drives both situations. Many years ago, I listened to a young Jewish woman explain to me why Israel needed to “kick Palestine’s butt.” She was filled with violent rage and it was so overwhelming that I had a difficult time taking it in. But, one thing struck me and stayed with me. She felt it was important to point out that before Israel asserted itself, the Palestinians hadn’t maximized the productivity of the land. “They should appreciate how we’ve transformed the place!”
There seemed to be no recognition that other people might not see that “transformation” as a good thing. That the transformation of the land could actually be counterproductive to an already existing culture. The claim to superiority was all about how money could be made there, now. Those people who had their land stolen and lost loved ones should appreciate that.
It was a small thing at the time. Still, it has stuck in my mind. Now, I read this:
As Haaretz recently reported, the larger settlements of the West Bank—which have grown astronomically since the signing of the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Authority—are now in the midst of a housing bubble that is outstripping prices in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Young urban professionals, with no interest in ideology or perhaps even in Zionism, flock to these well-financed and subsidized cities, where the attendant express highways spirit them quickly back and forth from Tel Aviv. Israel’s military industrial complex gives them security from the tenants of the land they’ve stolen.
This history is so parallel to what has happened to Native Americans here. For African-Americans, there is a twist. The people were stolen from their lands, brought the US to work the land and build everything here, for free and have remained economically excluded from the benefits of all that work. They remain, mostly, in segregated communities, denied the educational and job opportunities of those in White communities. US laws are designed such that their lives are criminalized and we can claim to justify the over-policing, the prison industrial complex and the denial of social services. They are corralled and treated mercilessly if they dare to resist oppression in any way. Talking back to a police officer can result in death.
With social media allowing people to hear the stories of and connect to people around the world, it doesn’t take long for the losing class in each region to see the similarities between the ways they are treated. They suffer daily humiliations and relentless obstacles to sustainability. The slightest act of resistance is then met with state-sponsored violence. The ruling class owns the media outlets and controls the mainstream cultural messaging which includes demonizing losers so that when resistance is attempted, the rest of the population supports the state-sponsored violence.
It’s not just a theoretical idea that these struggles are linked. It turns out that leaders on the Ferguson police force, along with police from around the US, received training in Israel:
Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis.
Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement,
Palestinians recognized the plight of Ferguson and started tweeting solidarity messages.
After images of Ferguson police using tear gas were disseminated on Twitter, Palestinians Rajai abuKhalil and Mariam Barghouti drew on their own experiences to express support with protesters in Missouri.
Rajai abuKhalilرجائي @Rajaiabukhalil
Dear #Ferguson. The Tear Gas used against you was probably tested on us first by Israel. No worries, Stay Strong. Love, #Palestine
11:24 PM – 13 Aug 2014
When people see the startlingly parallel images of Gaza and Ferguson, it is not in their imagination that these scenes are linked. Capitalism is a global force. It doesn’t care whether a state is nominally democratic or despotic, as long as those with capital can call the shots, literally.
We are all fodder for the state- or corporate-sponsored militarized forces who will protect the domination of the wealthy. If you’ve escaped violence from the state, it’s only because you’re either in the wealthy elite, or you’re in the class whom they let stand as a false symbol of the promise of capitalism. As soon as you stand in solidarity with those who are constantly under the harsher thumb of oppression, you will be just so much fodder, too. Just ask anyone who has dared to protest in this country. We saw it in the Civil Rights movement; we saw it with World Bank protests in the early 2000s, and we saw it with Occupy.
It is heartening to see people making these connections. Resistance is not futile, if we build solidarity and recognize that we have common cause: autonomy, justice and sustainability for all. No one will really have it until we all do. So, yes we can focus. We can focus on the connection and build the needed solidarity to resist oppression.
We are all Palestinians. We are all Mike Brown. We are all workers in Bangladesh. We are all the Garbage People.
I do not equate Israel with Jewish people or the Jewish religion. Israel is a state, whose mission is controlled by a particular subset of people. In fact, it seems anti-semitic to color all Jews with the sins of Israel.
It is also Islamophobic to equate all Palestinians or Gazans with Hamas.
Don’t even bother trying these false equivalencies. You only make yourself look manipulative.