Where Black and Palestinian lives meet

Where Black and Palestinian lives meet

Part 1: A common thread runs between the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest movement against police brutality on African-Americans and the ongoing struggle of Palestinians against Israeli apartheid, says Deanna Othman.
In a two-part Comment piece, Deanna Othman looks at the common struggle of African-Americans against institutionalised racism and Palestinians’ fight against Israeli occupation.
As a non-black person of colour watching the events of the past week unfold, I was left speechless and outraged, but not surprised, by the sheer injustice we witnessed in the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Sadly, the murders of these two men – like the murder of countless other young black men and women at the hands of law enforcement – remain all too frequent in our society, and we state this time and time again.

Like-minded individuals protest and publish their grievances; racists and trolls attempt to subvert and contort the discourse when members of the movement confront the issues. We collectively experience the mind-numbing loss; we watch the graphic video footage; we tweet and speak our outrage; we mourn; and the cycle repeats itself.

The injustice of this cycle is compounded and perpetuated by the way media covers each murder. With the murders of Sterling and Castile, this has been exacerbated by the subsequent murder of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.

The injustice of this cycle is compounded and perpetuated by the way media covers each murder

In addition to the usual discrepancies in the way media portrays black victims versus white offenders, this event has presented the added dimension of painting those who stand firm to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, as somehow linked directly to an army veteran who deliberately shot and killed police officers.

Although those who decry police brutality and systemic racism have been increasingly depicted as violent, anti-white and divisive, the occurrence of an act of violence by a lone individual following the unconscionable murder of two young black men has served the agenda of those of seek to delegitimise and demonise a movement that has attempted to address structural and systemic racism through peaceful, strategic means.

Bearing this in mind as a Palestinian-American, it is necessary to recognise that Muslims, Arabs and non-black people of colour in the West often lay claim or co-opt the black struggle only as it serves to legitimise their own.

We must acknowledge that this occurs and call out anti-blackness within our respective communities, while also being careful to ensure that we do not elevate our own voices at the expense of the black voices who live the struggle. However, although I respect the uniqueness of every people’s struggle, and the varying histories that accompany such struggles, I cannot help but see the parallels, both in the situations the African-American community confronts in the US and that the Palestinians confront abroad, and the common rhetoric that is widely used to both demonise those struggling, while also serving to justify the violence of the aggressor against them.

I cannot help but see the parallels in the situations the African-American community confronts in the US and that the Palestinians confront abroad

Rage. Hopelessness. Self-doubt. Worry. Often it seems that regardless of what you do, how you behave, how much you achieve, those who devalue your humanity will always deem you a potential threat.

The disparity between how you view yourself, versus how those in positions of authority view you can have crushing, and often lethal, effects on the both young and old.

In contextualising activism for Palestine, and the Black Lives Matter movement, we discern that such movements, whether fighting Israeli apartheid or systemic, post-Jim Crow racism, have always been repressed, attacked and maligned, although their common goal was and is to end racist colonial violence against these groups.

While both the black community and Palestinians abroad deal with similar issues in different contexts – the imprisonment of youth, targeting of young men, state-sponsored violence, lack of access to clean water, racial profiling – the tactics that have been used to portray these victims, to justify the bigotry and institutionalised injustices perpetrated against them, are strikingly similar.

Vilification of victims and selective sympathy

Whether it is a young black man shot dead by police, or a Palestinian teenager murdered by Israeli soldiers, the victims – rather than the murders – are out on trial by media following their deaths.

Whether it is an arrest record or mug shot, or the accusation of terrorism, every attempt is made at validating the murder, regardless of the victim’s age or innocence in the situation.

Whether it is a young black man shot dead by police or a Palestinian teenager murdered by Israeli soldiers, the victims are out on trial by media following their deaths

The victim must have been reaching for a weapon; he must have tried to stab a settler; he must have been inherently predisposed to violence, and therefore it became incumbent on the officer/solider/settler to take pre-emptive measures.

Victims are demonised and otherised, having to always prove their humanity, even in death. If you are not the “perfect victim”, then in the dominant discourse, you are no victim at all. Victims are transformed into collateral damage necessary to preserve the noxious status quo.

The outpouring of sympathy depending on the identity of the victims also highlights this disparity. With the killing of the police officers in Dallas, media coverage and discussion centred around praise of those who work in the line of duty – their valour, heroism and sacrifice.

However, discussion of what may have led to such a violent outcome, the creation of a pressurised environment where some feel they have no outlet but to lash out in rage and despair, was not delved into deeply in the dominant narrative.

The treatment of the legacy of the police officers who became victims of violence versus the treatment of victims like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and countless others remains vastly different.

Similarly, Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression receive far fewer outcries of sympathy and support, and even fewer headlines, than Israeli victims of violence. Although the number of Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli bombs and missiles, or those who have been shot dead at Israeli checkpoints, vastly outnumbers the amount of Israelis killed by missiles or stabbings, the disproportion in media coverage and sympathy from American audiences continues to exist.

(Source / 10.07.2016)
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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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