Sara assad Shbeb
May 25, 2020. Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. Georges Floyd, a 46 years old African American man dies, asphyxiated by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin.
Georges Floyd is filmed as he dies gradually, immobilized on the ground by this policeman who puts pressure on his throat, preventing him from breathing for nearly nine minutes. "I can’t breath", his last words, will become the symbol of his death and the fight he will rekindle, that of "Black Lives Matter". This movement fights against systemic racism in the United States, often materialized by police violence perpetrated against African-Americans. The tragic imagery of this death arouses the indignation of Americans and the international community; leading to an unprecedented wave of pro Black Lives Matter protests.
These demonstrations condemn police violence in the United States but also, more generally, racism, social injustice and colonial heritage. Themes that echo many societies, which in turn denounce racial discrimination in their country; whether in France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Spain, Japan, the Czech Republic ... this movement has a different resonance, available to everyone's situations.
But then, what does this have to do with Palestine? In fact, many committees and associations of solidarity with the Palestinians have taken part in these demonstrations in Europe, the United States, Asia but also in Palestine, notably in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Ramallah. A mobilization that seems not to be to everyone's taste, since the latter was the target of the Zionist media. The online newspaper "IsraelHayom" denounces a "cooptation" of the Palestinians with Black Lives Matter to "target" Israel (edition of the 10th of June 2020 .The “Haaretz” newspaper, on the other hand, calls for leaving Palestine outside the Black Lives Matter fight, interpreted as an attempt by the Palestinians to take up the cause (published on the 4th of June 2020, An argument supported by the classic tools to discredit the Palestinian cause by Israel: the call to anti-Semitism and hatred.
It should be noted that this international solidarity movement calling for justice for oppressed communities arises during a controversy, when Israel proposes a plan to annex the Jordan Valley and the West Bank, institutionalizing settlement colonialism.
This interpretation of the facts is not only wrong but also seems to ignore the historicity of cooperation between the Palestinian cause and that of the Black Lives Matter. In 2015, Black Lives Matter and racial justice activists went on a historic trip to Palestine to connect with activists living under Israeli occupation.On October 14th of 2015, 60 Palestinian and African-American artists and activists collaborated in the publication of a video showing their solidarity with what made their common realities; that of African Americans and Palestinians. With the slogan: "When I see them, I see us". On this occasion, some of these activists were invited by “The Stream” on the 11Th of August 2016, a program published by AlJazeera, to discuss the relationship between Black Lives Matter and the Palestinian struggle. Among which, Kristian Davis Bailey, a representant of “Blacks for Palestine” and the social justice group “Black Youth Project 100” said that “There’s a fundamental relationship between black people in the US and the Palestinian struggle. We connected through legacies of imperialism and colonialism by the United States. We as black people are one of the largest most oppressed groups in the US and Palestinians are one of the largest groups oppressed by US imperialism by way of the Israeli state”. A declaration to which, Tareq Radi, member of the Palestinian Youth Movement responded that “this connection between Black lives Matter and the palestinian cause was not at all hard to make because the similarities are very apparent. Despite our struggles not being identical, the systems that are processed are the same. “
Add to this, the fact that it is not unheard of, for causes indirectly linked to that for which an international solidarity movement is expressed, to take part publicly in the affirmation of their support and solidarity for the cause in question. Indeed, during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Prague, in the Czech Republic, anti-colonial, socialist but also Marxist discourses were expressed accusing capitalism of being at the origin of societal divisions for instance... In Canada, demonstrators calling for recognition of the rights of autochthone peoples were present at the Black Lives Matter protests; echoing the Aboriginal issue in Canada. This convergence of causes is true for Black Lives Matter, but it is also true for many other causes.
In conclusion, it is not a matter of Palestinian solidarity groups taking over a cause, as suggested by the Zionist media cited above; but in fact, through their struggle and their understanding of racism and institutionalized social injustice, to be indignant and demonstrate their solidarity with what also makes their reality. Police or military violence, mass incarceration, institutionalized racism (according to a 2017 United Nations report, Israel imposes an apartheid regime on the Palestinians) ... are many elements that make the daily life of Palestinians and African Americans.
Different circumstances, but the same fight; that for social justice, the fight against breaches of human dignity, but above all, a fight for the recognition of existence. The Palestinians and the African-Americans revolt, resist because they exist. "Say their name". These pandemic times provide an opportunity to rethink collective action and demonstrate the need to redefine the institutions that shape societies. Whether through the Palestinian cause or the indigenous cause, for example, the Black Lives Matter, has enabled an international solidarity movement that has given everyone the opportunity to rethink the bias of their own considerations and to stand against what makes the experience of the oppressed.
It is a matter of acting, no longer as groups concerned with their own challenges, but as a Humanity. As Martin Luther King said "An injustice, wherever it occurs, is a threat to justice everywhere else, because we are all caught in a web of mutual relations"