FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Shortest Distance Between Palestine and Ferguson

The superficially coincidental images coming from both Gaza and Ferguson this month have created some surprising and sudden currents of solidarity. Many have looked on with amazement, for example, as Gazans offer tips via twitter to those who have been involved in the uprising and faced the absurd and excessively militarized response to it by Ferguson police. And participants in “peaceful” vigils and more militant confrontations in Ferguson have invoked Gaza by now a dozens times.

Few have looked at images coming out of Ferguson and not been tempted to draw the same allusions between the 2/3 Black suburb policed by a nearly all-white police force, and Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. It would be difficult not to draw that comparison at the moment given the spectacle of the massive armory gifted to the FPD by the federal government in the name of stopping “terror”–which has so often been given a Palestinian face in the US–and the revelation that the former police chief of Ferguson studied “counter-terror” measures in Israel in 2011. Ironically, it seems Black Americans are now the target of anti-terror funding and training, which was ostensibly meant to target those from the Muslim and Arab world.

While there is nothing happening within the US anything like the now-cyclical Israeli slaughter of thousands of Gazans, the reality is that life for Black Americans in places like Ferguson does not vary in much from blockaded Gaza, and West Bank Bantustans in off-attack times . The similarities are not just coincidental in terms of the timing of the events–they are in fact, concurrent and historical.

Ferguson is a majority Black, segregated community, run almost entirely by white people. Almost all of its political representatives, and all but 3 of it’s 53 person police force, are white. Such areas, populated by the disenfranchised, are growing throughout the US, as the white and associated enfranchised classes move back to the cities and to ex-urbs or new white suburbs, leaving geographically isolated and service-poor communities behind. The result has been, as is on display in Ferguson, an easy to lock-down community full of people the mainstream has forgotten–policed by an authority trained from birth to distrust and marginalize Black people with the full backing of the Federal government. Unbelievably, the FAA declared a no-fly zone over Ferguson and FPD mounted roadblocks at its city limits as it began its peace-keeping operation of its own citizens–chillingly reminiscent of the media-blockade conducted during Cast Lead and during other Israeli operations.

While the struggle in Palestine is often painted in ideological, ethnic and religious terms, it too is becoming not so different than those in the US, wedded as much to economic concerns as white supremacist structures. As Haaretz recently reported, the larger settlements of the West Bank—which have grown astronomically since the signing of the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Authority—are now in the midst of a housing bubble that is outstripping prices in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Young urban professionals, with no interest in ideology or perhaps even in Zionism, flock to these well-financed and subsidized cities, where the attendant express highways spirit them quickly back and forth from Tel Aviv. Israel’s military industrial complex gives them security from the tenants of the land they’ve stolen.

As these suburbs, grow, perhaps, and as the twisted “peace process” between the compliant Palestinian Authority and Israel evolves, we may in decades to come see a Palestine—or what is left of it—not unlike the US’s black underclass cities and towns. Perhaps it may yet become a broken and discontiguous economic-ethnic series of hamlets—segregated underemployed communities of service workers kept under lock and key by a less visible series of cages and walls, no less violent than military occupation. Given the current state of negotiations, with Israel shaping a Palestinian Authority take-over of the rubble of Gaza, perhaps one tiny wall separating these two territories will be lifted, and Gaza allowed to enjoy the slightly less onerous open-air prison system of the West Bank.

Perhaps then people will also wonder what the Palestinian’s problem is. Why they can’t keep out of trouble with the authorities. Why their men line the halls of the entity’s prisons. Why they cannot simply learn to stop being racists and love their oppressor. Why they are rioting. This is, in fact, the reality that Israel is striving for in the West Bank, institutional apartheid that becomes so well-camouflaged and accepted over time that it begins to look like the US’s honed version of it—an “unfortunate” remnant of the past that is always explainable, always the victim’s fault, and is always in the midst of being fixed, with, not surprisingly, little success. Between the decimation of Gaza and the continued madcap pace of colonization in the West Bank and Jerusalem, they are closer than ever to this goal.

Which brings us to a final, and perhaps most alarming, similarity between Ferguson and Palestine. Both places nominally have a president who superficially represents them, from a similar ethnic and economic background, the product of a historic and unprecedented process. It was an event that overturned years of conventional wisdom that claimed the disenfranchised would never know representative state leaders.

The last dispiriting likeness is the betrayal of that hope–that leader who works for the very structure oppressing the people he seems to most represent, who is revealed to be only the latest trick for a white supremacist system of violence and dispossession that can superficially change, but will not budge. The leader that arms the enemy, kills for them, lies for them, and prevents racial and economic justice for his own ostensible people. For the people of Palestine, it is Abbas. For the people of Ferguson, Sanford, Oakland and other cities, this is Obama–whose bloodless and offensive commentary on the murder of Mike Brown shocked a nation of angry people perhaps as much as the FPD response did. They couldn’t seem any more different superficially, of course, but more and more, we see they have the same white supremacist, capitalist boss.

Jaime Omar Yassin is a writer in Oakland, California.

More articles by:
July 02, 2020
Quincy Saul
Who Made the Plague?
July 01, 2020
Melvin Goodman
De-Militarizing the United States
Kenneth Surin
UK’s Labour Leader Sacks the Most Left-Wing Member of His Shadow Cabinet
Ruth Fowler
Then as Farce: the Commodification of Black Lives Matter
Kent Paterson
Crisis After Crisis on the Border
Rick Baum
The Pandemic and Wealth Inequality
Michael Welton
“Into the World of Bad Spirits”: Slavery and Plantation Culture
James W. Carden
The Return of the Anti-Antiwar Left
Dan Wakefield
Charles Webb Enters Heaven
Julian Vigo
A Call for Radical Humanism: the Left Needs to Return to Class Analyses of Power
Binoy Kampmark
A Trendy Rage: Boycotting Facebook and the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign
Michael D. Knox – Linda Pentz Gunter
As Monuments to War Generals Come Down, Let’s Replace Them with Monuments to Peace
Cesar Chelala
Attorney General William Barr’s Insomnia
Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
Is Bolsonaro Plotting a Self-Coup?
Mandy Smithberger
COVID-19 Means Good Times for the Pentagon
Joe Emersberger
On Pablo Celi, Ecuador’s super shady “Auditor General”
June 30, 2020
James Bovard
Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities Exposed in New Indictment
Bianca Sierra Wolff – Lisa Knox
ICE is Leaving Immigrants to Die in Detention, and Retaliating When They Speak Out
Don Fitz
Should NYC’s Wall Street Be Renamed “Eric Garner St.?”
Chris Hedges
My Student Comes Home
Richard C. Gross
Obamacare Vulnerable
John Feffer
The Hatchet Man’s Tale: Why Bolton Matters
Thomas Knapp
Afghanistan Bounties: Pot, Meet Kettle (and Turn Off the Stove!)
Charles Reitz
Anti-Racist Engagement in the Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854-64: Horace Greeley, German 48-ers, and the Civil War Journalism of Karl Marx, 1861-62
Howard Lisnoff
A Student Murdered in Cold Blood and a Kids’ Bike Ride Through Queens, New York
David Swanson
Hey Congress, Move the Money
Aparna Karthikeyan
Memories of Pox, Plague, and Pandemics in Tamil Nadu
John Kendall Hawkins
Democracy Chasers in a Badly Injured Nation
Binoy Kampmark
Wasteful, Secret and Vicious: the Absurd Prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery
Norman Solomon
Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee Could Defy “the Madness of Militarism” as Co-Chairs of the Democratic Convention’s Biggest Delegation
Jon Hochschartner
Imagining a Vegan Superman
Arianna Amehae
ESPN to Follow “Somebody’s Daughter” in Bringing International Attention to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Tragedy
CounterPunch News Service
An Osprey Forest in Humboldt County is Being Defended by Treesiters
June 29, 2020
Patrick Cockburn
The Blundering British Political Class has Shown the Same Incompetence in Both Fighting Wars and Coronavirus
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Heat Overwhelms Green Infighting Issues
Kathy Kelly
Battleground States
Eileen Appelbaum
The Pandemic Shows the Importance of Funding Early Childcare and Education Infrastructure
Gregory Elich
Will South Korea’s Moon Defy Trump and Improve Relations with North Korea?
Dean Baker
On the Recession, Stimulus and Economic Recovery
Sam Pizzigati
Defund the CEOs
Mitchel Cohen
Bolton and the Pandemic
Paul A. Passavant
Protest and the Post-Legitimation State
Ralph Nader
Congress Must Hold President Trump Accountable!
George Wuerthner
Missouri River Breaks: How BLM Neglect Threatens a Wild and Scenic River and National Monument
John Feffer
The De-Trumpification of America
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail