Why This Black Woman Stands with Palestine

For the past several weeks, the headlines have been about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and social media has been in a fervor. Friends become enemies and make vile accusations at one another over political disagreements. People are passionate about the conflict, and Americans should be. America has given 3 billion dollars in aid each year.  Some people will talk about the conflict to no-end in private, but won't post on social-networks for fear of alienating friends or peers.

I stand with the Palestinian people, and in many ways, I do not have a choice. To ignore the parallels between their recent history and my past/present is impossible. The Palestinians lack agency in their daily lives-- unable to come and go as they please, held in by restricted borders and Israeli snipers. Is that not a familiar history to African-Americans? To the Blacks of South Africa?

The death toll is monitored closely in the media. We are told that the asymmetry of the assault does not matter, that the Palestinian civilian casualties are worth securing the future of another group. Haven’t we as a people, as black women, been shown that our lives are simply worth less? The palestinian people experience the brutality of having their houses bulldozed in order for others to occupy that land. I need only look outside my own window to see how quickly the Brooklyn landscape I once felt at home in is changing-- with no say from me, or people like me.

I often feel a glint of my anger at the institutionalized racism in my beloved country. When I am made to feel like a second-class citizen. When the media publishes false-criticisms about my people and they are taken as fact. When I am told that my claim to the only home I’ve known is not legitimate. Thousands of miles away, the Palestinian people suffer this too. I can only imagine that they feel anger as well.

On social media I have been wrongly accused of having no love for the Jewish people or Israel. After all, they are a persecuted people too. Here too, I feel a kindred connection. The world has not been kind to Jews and they have a safe haven, something we all deserve. Something we all want. Something we would all try to protect. America has experience breakthroughs: The American Revolution, The Emancipation of Slaves, Civil Rights and Marriage Equality. To my Israeli I say this lovingly: It isn’t true freedom until everyone has acquired it. Until then it will always be marred by oppression.

I have never felt the ground shake as shells rain down on me and those I love. I have never had to carry a dead body because ambulances were bombed. In that way the vein that connects my heart to Palestine is thin. I know I have never experienced hellfire like that. I hope that I never have to.

The histories are different but share some likenesses. When I follow the path of our similarities, I hit something hard. If the Palestinians and Israelis find peace somewhere in the carnage, they will have to do what the rest of us are still working on: Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Trust.

I hope beyond reason that both sides can go into it wholeheartedly. That they realize that the blood spilt will continue to be in vain until human life is treated equally.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Electra is a writer from NYC. In her free-time she watches House Hunters.

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