Although much of my attention, thought, and action these days have been focused on the Black community, and specifically the communities in San Francisco and Oakland where I live, I am constantly feeling the resonances between what I’m seeing in the United States and what I’ve seen in Palestine. I think about this a lot in general, as racism in the US is a constant force, but when it visibly flares up like it has during the George Floyd protests, I viscerally feel twinges as it relates to other struggles worldwide – anywhere the US has touched down and exerted the forces of capitalism and colonialism, the same forces that brought Black people from Africa to America and forced them into slavery.
As this website began as a way for me to document what I saw while staying in Nablus, Palestine, I thought it would be an appropriate place to share my thoughts on what is currently happening in the US and how it fits into a global narrative. The following is something I originally posted on social media, in response to my friend’s words below:
“Question to Americans: How does it feel to live like a Palestinian for a few months with a foot on your neck, no freedom of movement, curfews, injustices, a protest every other Friday? Does it feel uncomfortable?
Good, now multiply this feeling by 70 years, read about how your vote contributed to this, and hope & pray that you never become a refugee.”
Had to share because it’s so true, and especially relevant since many US police are sent to Israel for militaristic training. It’s important to understand that the police brutality, surveillance, and incarceration techniques we are currently protesting in the US are developed and tested in its colonial projects abroad, especially Israel.
When I was in Palestine in 2014 during one iteration of Israel bombing Gaza, you would see protests, tanks, checkpoints, curfews, and state-protected brutality by day, and then go home and turn on your TV and see similar images from Ferguson at night. They were different struggles, but with similar patterns and roots.
I was told that when I visited Palestine, I’d never be able to look at the US the same way again. It was absolutely true. I’ve never since been able to see a police shooting, a peaceful protest turned violent, a segregated neighborhood deprived of clean water good food and dependable education, without remembering how much it resembled the slow genocide taking place half a world away. It’s not “the issue of Palestine taking place in the US,” it’s “the violence of white settler-colonialism taking place all over the world,” with deep roots in the oppression of Black and Indigenous people here.
If you’re interested in a deeper analysis of how the struggles we are all feeling in protest today came to be and pattern around the world, Angela Davis’s book Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement is an excellent start and much more articulate than I can be.