Joint solidarity with the Palestinian cause presents the black community with an opportunity to rekindle black internationalism and to globalize our own domestic struggles.

Why Black People Must Stand With Palestine

To me, our hope for this century may come from joint solidarity with marginalized people all over the world. Palestinians appeal not to the government that occupies and oppresses them, but to international bodies and universal principles of human rights for freedom. Similar to the Palestinians’ call for people of conscience to boycott and divest from companies that support their oppression, we might call on people abroad to pressure an end to “the New Jim Crow”—mass incarceration. Black movements have a rich history of alliances with those fighting racism and imperialism across the world, from Algeria to South Africa, El Salvador to Cuba.

After decades of strong resistance to discrimination and oppression at home and abroad, it seems more than coincidental that the progress of our past has been weakened by imprisonment drugs and isolation from the rest of the world. Most of us know very little about the Palestinian struggle and mainstream Palestinian society seemed to think everything is okay in terms of race in the United States today. In our separation, both of our relative struggles as Blacks and Palestinians remain ignored by the larger society. The time is ripe to rebuild those connections. Strong Black solidarity with the Palestinian struggle seems necessary and urgent. We must work together to address the effects of money, policing and militarism here and in Israel/Palestine.

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Challenging Bullets, Not Boycotts: Education Under Occupation in Palestine

“God Kristian, I can’t even remember how many times my school closed this semester,” Amanda Mansara, a Palestinian university student wrote to me in January 2014.

When Amanda and I met in the West Bank last September, she was supposed to be starting her second year at Al Quds University, but her classes were canceled. Her school was closed because the Israeli military had been firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at students on campus every day during the first week of the semester. So Amanda and I passed the hours when she should have been learning in a downtown Ramallah cafe working on a crossword, playing cards, drinking tea and smoking hookah with her friends. Days later when I saw her again, the campus was still closed. It took two full weeks before the Israeli army stopped attacking the university, but even this peace was short-lived: Just over a month later, Al Quds had to close again following a military raid on Abu Dis, the adjacent town. And less than a month after that, students commuting from Abu Dis were among 40 injured by rubber bullets from the Israeli military.

When these attacks occur, Amanda said, the Student Body Council suspends all classes and, if bullets are included, evacuates campus through the back door. Amanda and her peers do not get to make up this lost time.

“Our university has been on constant attack this semester,” she said to me. “WE NEED whatever support we can get.”

The troubles that Al Quds and other Palestinian universities face have never been mentioned by those who have been loudly attacking the American Studies Association and other institutions that recently voted to support the academic boycott of Israel. As reactionary legislatures in New YorkIllinois and Maryland and the US House of Representatives have considered bills to deny public funding to institutions like the ASA for supporting the boycott, the need for critical support of Palestinians’ academic freedom becomes paramount. These bills and university administrators’ claims that the boycott limits the “academic freedom” of Israelis are distracting and disingenuous to the experiences of people on the ground in Palestine, experiences which paint a very clear picture of academic freedom under attack – from kindergarten all the way through college.

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