The 25-day conflict may be halfway across the world from United States, but it is not far from the minds of black Americans. HuffPost Live hosted a discussion on Thursday, about where black American allegiance should fall on the sides of this conflict, especially in light of recent comparisons drawn to the American Civil Rights Movement.
Kristian Davis Bailey, a research assistant at the Martin Luther King Institute at Stanford University, asserted that black Americans should oppose Israeli attacks of Palestine on the premise of the nation’s “colonial” ambition.
“I think that first and foremost what’s important to note is that Israel is a colonial project and as black people, we have a tradition, a right, and an obligation to oppose colonial projects.”
He further tied the struggle of black Americans to that of Palestinians in highlighting “material connections” between the oppression of both peoples. These he described in terms of police brutality and civilian interaction with law enforcement.
“The Israeli military will train with police units across the United States, the same private prison companies that detain Palestinians in Israel — which is illegal — also have youth detention facilities in the United States, South Africa, and around the world.”
Lawfare Project fellow Chloé Valdary, alternatively framed a case for siding with Israel’s right to act in Gaza based on the terminology of Bailey’s position. She first affirmed that Zionism is, by definition — according to W.E.B. DuBois — an anti-colonialist movement.
Valdary also blamed the use of terms such as “colonize” and “occupy” for “perpetuating colonialism” in the discussion of Israel, based on the origins of the term “Palestine” itself — originally coined by a roman imperialist.
However Dr. Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of the Humanities at Rice University, finds fault in discussing the current crisis in Gaza through ideology rooted in “biblically based claims.”
“You can’t resolve political economic and social dilemmas through an appeal to metaphysical claims that are theologically grounded.”
He acknowledged the logic for which black Americans could theoretically side with either nation, but ultimately condemned the violence of Israel’s attack in defense of Palestine.
“African Americans know well the desire to preserve personhood and to do that within the context of community, we understand that on the part of Israel and Palestine, but this appeal to religion allows for brutalization, dehumanization, extreme violence that should not be tolerated.”