The brutal and inhumane treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israel and their allies has and always will be a story of the oppressed and the oppressors.
There is no true “conflict” where two sides are battling and hurting each other equally.
Palestinian resistance is only a result of Israeli aggression and settler colonialism.
This isn’t about Hamas either as much as American media would want you to believe that it is.
The actions of Hamas, which have been condemnable and resulted in the death of innocent Israeli lives, doesn’t take away anything from the case of Palestinian liberation.
All you hear is about how Hamas is responsible for the human rights abuses for Palestinians from Israel, especially on American conservative media.
Those on the right-wing will say something like if Hamas backed down, aggression from Israel would ease.
What they fail to realize is that Hamas is only one part of the story— their actions don’t give Israel the right to apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and the eventual creation of an ethnostate.
Liberals in the U.S. are guilty of this as well; liberal media outlets and politicians like Andrew Yang are consistently, dangerously, taking a centrist approach to what should be a clear cut issue.
As the saying by Desmond Tutu goes, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
What is going on in Gaza, The West Bank, and Jerusalem is as black and white as it can get.
Israel has one, if not, the strongest military force in the Middle East that is also backed by the mightiest military force right now, the United States. Hamas and other Palestinian militants are barely even a threat to the power that Israel has over them.
Hamas and other militant groups only serve and will continue to as a scapegoat for Zionists to excuse their genocide of Palestinians.
America Has Always Stood With Israel
American support for the actions of Israel from both liberals and conservatives is nothing new in the first place. It shouldn’t be a surprise that President Biden said that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” especially after the Obama administration in 2016 finalized a deal to give Israel 26.8 billion dollars in military aid till 2028.
Vice President Kamala Harris was quoted saying in 2020 during a Jewish-American election fundraiser, “I pledge to you the Biden-Harris administration will sustain our unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security, including the unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation pioneered during the Obama-Biden administration and the guarantee that Israel will always maintain its qualitative military edge.”
In 2020 alone, the United States gave 3.8 billion dollars to Israel, most of which was used for military assistance, according to BBC.
Keep in mind, in the conversation about Medicare For All, The Green New Deal, and the overall expansion of social services in America, it’s always met with the question of “how are we going to pay for these things?”
Maybe if we stopped funding the genocide of Palestinians from Israel, we could start to imagine a scenairo in which Americans don’t have to skip doctor visits because of the tremendous price of health insurance.
According to The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jersey City alone gives $3,963,208 to Israel for weapons every year.
Other than funding human rights abuses, that money in Jersey City could be reallocated towards 49 elementary school teachers, 2,634 people receiving food assistance, 682 students receiving pell grants, 1,672 children receiving healthcare and 54 clean energy jobs.
In a city where gentrification has taken a toll on locals and a significant portion of the town lives in poor conditions, you’d think we’d use nearly 4 million dollars to improve the lives of thousands.
Sadly that isn’t the case, instead we use it to contribute to the brutalization of Palestinians. The use of money in America is not surprising at all, the conditions that Israel subjects Palestinians clearly resembles our own genocide of Indigenous People in America.
American Police And Their Close Relationship With The IDF
Let’s not forget that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and American police continue to regularly train with each other.
In a well-documented chain of events from Amnesty USA, Baltimore Law Enforcement officials and hundreds from other states have received training in Israel to control protests and tactics of force.
American officers are trained in Israel on how to brutalize protestors and eventually come back to America with a new sense on how to exercise human rights abuses in the states.
When we think about victims of police brutality it’s imperative to realize that the same tactics that are used to target Black people in America, they’re being used by Israeli authorities to target Palestinians.
In 2014, after protests erupted after the murder of Michael Brown at the hands of the Ferguson Police Department, Palestinian and African-American solidarity was showcased once again.
As protests spread all over the country, as always, state sanctioned violence was imposed on the protestors by police. Protestors were tear gassed and the scenes across the states resembled the police going to war with the people they were supposed to “protect and serve.”
At the same time, Palestinians were again protesting against the violent Israeli occupation they’ve grown so accustomed to.
Social media helped bridge the Black and Palestinian Liberation movements once again as Palestinian protestors lended BLM protestors advice on how to combat the effects of tear gas.
“Always make sure to run against the wind/to keep calm when you’re teargassed, the pain will pass, don’t rub your eyes! #FergusonSolidarity,” tweeted Palestinian-American journalist Mariam Barghouti.
Barghouti and many others saw both the uniqueness and striking similarities of the struggles for Black and Palestinian Liberation.
“Facing violence from an occupying force, whether in Palestine or Ferguson, forges a mindset that demands resistance and standing up for one’s community. When the police used military tanks and checkpoints to imprison the residents of Ferguson, I was reminded of life in the West Bank where I saw the Israeli military use the same tactics of repression.” wrote Palestinian-American activist Bassem Masri in his piece “In Ferguson, I Am Reminded Of Palestine.”
The Black Panthers And Their History Of Palestinian Solidarity
The history of Black and Palestinian solidarity dates even farther back than the connections made during protests for Michael Brown in 2014-15.
The Black Panther Party, a Black Power political organization founded in 1965, was well known for their unconditional support for Palestinian liberation. This was at a time where support for Palestinians was not nearly as popular as it is today.
Many members of the Black Panthers have and continue to regularly criticize the Israeli government such as Angela Davis.
Davis has always recognized that all oppressions and exploitations in this world work together as one, they are not separate entities. The struggles against white supremacy, Zionism, capitalism, imperialism, and homophobia are all intertwined.
On a personal note, after reading her book, “Freedom Is A Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement,” I was moved by her intersectional approach to her activism. She detailed Palestinian and Black solidarity throughout the book, also tying solidairity against what was once South Africa’s own system of aprtheid.
All in all, it was a message for human liberation: nobody is free until everybody is free.
Prior to my reading, I didn’t know much about the connections between Ferguson and Palestine, it directly influenced the writing of this article as she detailed how Black and Palestinian activists organized together.
After the recent bombings of Gaza by Israeli forces , Davis went on the show, “Democracy Now!” and expressed how the freedom of Palestinians relies on worldwide support.
“When people all over the world demand that the rights of the Palestinian people in occupied Palestine be respected; here in the US we must make our demands for justice in Palestine resonate as powerfully as our demands for an end to racist police violence. Stop the evictions, stop the demolitions, stop the bombing, and end the occupation. Justice for Palestine.” Davis said in her appearance.
Furthermore, she criticized the Biden Administration and their celebration/acknowledgement of Eid al-Fitr, one of the most sacred days of Muslims around the world.
She attacked the hypocrisy of the administration, as it is incredibly hypocritical for them to act like they support Muslims while the United States continues to fund the murders of Palestinian people, many of which idenitfy as Muslim.
Overall, The Black Panther Party regularly published the Black Panther Newspaper and it often contained pieces of writing about the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
In a segment titled, “Israel Military Aggression”, published on November 16th, 1968, it was written that “The Israel government is an imperialist expansionist power in Palestine. The government is at fault, not all Jews. There are many non-Jews who support what Israel is doing. Pig (Lyndon B.) Johnson is one of them. The term, Israel, is like saying racist United States, and it has the same policy as the US government in the Middle East.”
In another segment written in The Black Panther by Raymond “Masai” Hewitt on August 9th, 1969, Hewitt wrote “We recognize that our oppression takes different forms — Zionism in Palestine and facism here in America — but the cause is the same: it’s US imperialism.”
As a result of their activism for Palestinian liberation, they were targeted by the media and charged with being anti-semetic, just like many of pro-Palestine activists are today.
What people in the 70s and people today still don’t understand is that being Anti-semetic is not the same as being Anti-Zionist. Zionism is a nationalist ideology that is empowered by the genocide of Palestinians, which should never garner any support.
However, someone who claims to support Palestine while in turn genuinely being anti-semitic, has no place in the movement to Free Palestine.
We should all be free, like the Black Panthers have reiterated time and time again, Freeing Palestine is no excuse for spreading bigoted anti-semetic views.
Colombian Protests And Their Connections With Israel And America
In Colombia, as activists in America continue their fight against police violence and Palestinians continue to fight to get their rightful land back, Colombian activists are taking on their own police violence and right wing governments.
Colombia’s working class citizens over the past month have united in the streets against a tax overhaul proposal by the president of Colombia, Ivan Duque Marquez.
Included in the reform is the increased funding for Ingreso Solidario, a lackluster universal basic income service provided by the government. Compared to other Latin countries and their response to COVID-19, Ingresso Solidario has fallen short. It has only reached about 3 million citizens out of the 50 million.
To increase the funding for this social service, the tax overhaul proposed raising taxes on everyday items and utilities.
These tax reforms came at the worst time possible, as COVID-19 damaged the Colombian economy greatly and the levels of poverty and wealth inequality continue to damage the working class.
This proposed tax reform would only make the lives of Colombia’s working class citizens more difficult in the midst of a global pandemic.
Even if the plan were to go through, Ingresso Solidario would only reach 1.7 million more people, which again, is nowhere near enough to help the people.
To understand the frustrations of the Colombian protests, it is imperative to understand that wealth inequality in Colombia has been a problem for decades now.
In a 2019 study done by Gallup, 45% of Colombians reported that they struggled to afford food for the year, a number that has only increased since the past decade.
In a 2019 report provided by Statista, 56.2% of the nation’s income was held by the richest 20% of the population. The number has fluctuated slightly between 2010 and 2019, reaching 59.3% in 2010.
According to the Borgen Project, women in Colombia earn 13-23% less than men for the same jobs. Additionally, women are often not afforded the rights to maternity leave and any other childcare necessities.
Since the introduction of these tax reforms, a national labor strike and other protests have been ongoing. The Colombian police force has responded with brutality, reminiscent of the brutality American police and IDF (Israeli Defense Forces).
While the original tax reform has been withdrawn, the treatment of protestors and corruption have brought new anger among Colombians.
In a piece by USA Today about the protests, protestor Daniel Parce said, “The response of the government has been completely disproportionate. The response of the police and military to the people yelling in pain shouldn’t be gunshots and bleeding.”
Just a few days ago, President Duque has only added to the state sanctioned violence in Colombia, deploying the military to the city of Cali.
It was reported by the Colombian government agency of Defensoria del Pueblo that 46 people have died in the protests as of May 27th, but Human Rights Watch (HRW) has since brought up that number may actually be higher, reaching 63 deaths.
What’s interesting is that Colombia’s Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD), a branch of Colombia’s national police responsible for the many human rights violations, was actually created with the help of the United States and is also consistently funded by the United States.
ESMAD was birthed out of Plan Colombia, a foreign aid deal with the United States and Colombia to tackle drug trafficking and left wing protestors. Since then, ESMAD has consistently been brought into the spotlight over human rights violations.
According to ForeignPolicy, The U.S. actually grants about 300 million to Colombia for law enforcement and military needs. The U.S. can actually invoke the Leahy Law, which stops funding to foreign security forces if they are found guilty of human rights violations, but the U.S. has yet to do so.
Just like the genocide of Palestinians, the U.S. is complacement and gulity of contributing to police brutality in Colombia.
Israel is guilty as well, as President Duque has reiterated time and time again that Colombia stands with both Israel and the United States as major allies. President Duque has expressed plans to strengthen trade relationships and arms deals with Israel.
Furthermore, the stories in America, Palestine and Colombia have some striking similarities. Those who have been oppressed by racist and capitalist states try to fight for their rights, but are brutally suppressed in the name of keeping law and order.
For some reason, even the slightest bit of violence is questioned when it is done by oppressed people. However, somehow, it’s not “complicated” when Israeli forces are murdering Palestinian children, American police are murdering Black Americans on the street, and Colombian police are murdering protestors fighting for basic necessities that should be provided.
Free Us All
The connections between Palestine, Colombia, and America should not be ignored.
Freedom is not a “give or take” situation, our work is not done until everybody’s free.
The Palestinians deserve their land back; don’t forget that our Indigenous people in America deserve their land back as well.
In order to achieve these goals, we must see that oppression all around the world resembles a spider web and solidarity has to extend to all those who are suffering.
To become better allies to each other, especially as citizens of the United States, we should reject the politicians who are directly contributing to the disgusting nature of the governments we see in Israel and Colombia.
This includes both the Democrats and Republicans, who both have never failed to serve the imperialist interests of the United States that always comes at the expense of others.
“Voting blue” every election is simply not enough because in America there are no clear heroes between the Republicans and Democrats. For example, “pushing Biden left” is a hope that has been proven unrealistic time and time again. Even in the light of massacres of Palestinian people, Biden still stands with Israel.
Electoral politics has been proven to be not too useful, it is revolutionary movements and grassroots organizing that will liberate.
Even with the global systems of exploitation on our neck, freedom is still on the horizon. Support for Palestine is reaching levels it has never had before and the plight of Colombian protesters has garnered national attention. With consistency and resistance, our movements can only grow stronger.