Recently, a number of representatives from the Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter and various Ferguson anti-police brutality protesters made history through a solidarity trip to Palestine.
The purpose of last week’s trip was to connect with activists living under Israeli occupation.
The 10-day trip to the occupied Palestinian Territories, specifically in the West Bank, was organized to show a link between oppression emanating from the Israeli State as well as that which victims of police brutality are experiencing in America.
Ahmad Abuznaid, the legal and policy director of the Dream Defenders, as well as the co-organizer of the delegation, explained that the trip was all about making connections, and seeing beyond single-issue causes.
“The goals were primarily to allow for the group members to experience and see first hand the occupation, ethnic cleansing and brutality Israel has levied against Palestinians, but also to build real relationships with those on the ground leading the fight for liberation,” Abuznaid said.
“In the spirit of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many others, we thought the connections between the African American leadership of the movement in the US and those on the ground in Palestine needed to be reestablished and fortified.”
Furthermore, he said that the American activists hoped to collaborate and teach organizing and protest strategies that have worked well in the United States, to their Palestinian brothers and sisters.
“As a Palestinian who has learned a great deal about struggle, movement, militancy and liberation from African Americans in the US, I dreamt of the day where I could bring that power back to my people in Palestine. This trip is a part of that process.”
The co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Cullors commented that the first thing that came to mind when she saw the divisions between Israelis and Palestinians was apartheid.
“This is an apartheid state. We can’t deny that and if we do deny it we are apart of the Zionist violence. There are two different systems here in occupied Palestine. Two completely different systems. Folks are unable to go to parts of their own country. Folks are barred from their own country.”
Activist Cherrell Brown said there are numerous parallels between the violence perpetrated by the State of Israel against Palestinians and the police violence from the U.S. government which has taken so many African American lives.
“So many parallels exist between how the US polices, incarcerates, and perpetuates violence on the black community and how the Zionist state that exists in Israel perpetuates the same on Palestinians.
“This is not to say there aren’t vast differences and nuances that need to always be named, but our oppressors are literally collaborating together, learning from one another – and as oppressed people we have to do the same,” she concluded.
A complete list of the delegates who made this trip include five Dream Defenders (Phillip Agnew, Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, Ahmad Abuznaid); Tef Poe and Tara Thompson from Ferguson/Hands Up United; journalist Marc Lamont Hill, Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez of Justice League NYC; Charlene Carruthers from the Black Youth Project; as well as poet and artist Aja Monet; Patrisse Cullors of Black Lives Matter; and USC doctoral student Maytha Alhassen.