Is it time to connect Palestinian oppression to that of black Americans?

The system of oppression against the Palestinian people most certainly exists.

Protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington (photo credit: REUTERS)
Protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An article on the +972 Magazine website sought to promote the merging of Palestinian experiences to the ongoing protests throughout the United States demanding racial justice. The author, Gabriel Khoury, explained that the organizer of a June 6th protest in Washington, DC, led the protesters in chants of “From DC to Palestine, racist terror is a crime.”
Throughout the opinion piece, Khoury declares: “On the issue of whether now is the time to connect Palestinian oppression with that of black Americans, my answer is this: we cannot afford to wait.”
This baseless attempt at intersectionality has the incredible ability to simultaneously rob Palestinian leaders of their own agency and aid the perpetuation of racial injustices that the black American community continues to experience.
The objection is not against the premise that Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Middle East are not suffering. Such statement would be absurd. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), there are nearly 475,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, of which 45% live in 12 of the country’s refugee camps. In Syria, there are 552,000 registered Palestinian refugees and nine refugee camps. In the Gaza Strip, there are more than 125,000 registered Palestinian refugees living in the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border, and in the West Bank, Palestinians continue to struggle with the hardships presented by Israeli security checkpoints
The system of oppression against the Palestinian people most certainly exists. It was one that had its beginnings with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, often praised as the father of Palestinian nationalism, who in 1937, urged Muslims to “cleanse their lands of the Jews,” and openly collaborated with Nazi Germany to fuel the already existent institutionalized antisemitism in the Middle East.
The system of oppression against the Palestinian people was furthered by Arab leaders who launched a war of extermination against Israel in 1948 – a war that created hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and whose descendants continue to be denied integration into the same countries responsible for initiating it.
As Israel sought peace with her neighbors, amidst the anti-normalization policies of Arab countries (which eventually came into fruition with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994), Yasser Arafat, the first president of the Palestinian Authority, ferociously assumed the role of chief Palestinian oppressor – one which would be shared by his successor, Mahmoud Abbas.
SIMILAR TO ARAFAT, Abbas has spent his last decade in power financing terrorism against Israel, accumulating personal wealth through sophisticated and corrupt schemes, and systematically repressing any form of dissent or criticism against his dictatorship in the West Bank.
In the Gaza Strip, the US-designated terrorist organization Hamas was democratically elected in 2006. Since the establishment of the Hamas Covenant in 1988, which contains virulent antisemitic propaganda, the terrorist organization has indiscriminately fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian population centers.
Virtually every aspect of Palestinian suffering can be attributed to decisions made by Palestinian and Arab leaders.
Palestinian refugees were created as a result of a war initiated by Arab countries and Palestinian leaders.
Israel’s military presence in the West Bank can be attributed to yet another failed attempt by Arab countries to launch another war of extermination intended destroy the newly created Jewish state in 1967.
Israel’s dispersed network of security checkpoints throughout the West Bank can be attributed to years of Palestinian suicide bombings and indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians.
The blockade around Gaza can be attributed to Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric against the Jewish state.
The lack of Palestinian sovereignty can be attributed to the persistence of Palestinian leaders to turn down incredibly generous offers by the United Nations in 1947 (Resolution 181) and by Israel in both 2000 (Clinton Parameters) and again in 2008 (Olmert Peace Plan).
So yes, there is a system oppressing Palestinians and it is at the hands of their own leaders.
Consequentially, the attempt to intersect the ongoing fight for racial justice in America to the system of oppression that the Palestinian people are currently experiencing results in the whitewashing of crimes committed by Palestinian leaders against their own people over the last century. It portrays Palestinian leaders as helpless victims who are trying to peddle through an oppressive system, and it ignores the fact that they were, in fact, the chief architects of the current Palestinian reality.
Accepting the absurd premise that the systems oppressing black Americans and Palestinians are linked, not only dooms the Palestinian people to a future that offers little to no change from the difficult reality they are currently experiencing but it also stains the movement for racial justice in the US.
The black community in America did not choose this struggle. It did not initiate it and it certainly did not have the opportunity to single-handedly end the fight for racial equality. Unlike the Palestinian leadership’s decision to perpetuate the conflict with Israel, the black community in America is trying to end it.
George Floyd was not a Palestinian martyr, and Palestinian activists who are deeply interested in seeing their people’s status quo change should have the courage to evaluate the role that their own leaders have played in the conflict’s nearly century-old history.

The writer is a Middle East analyst, Israel advocate and former IDF paratrooper. He can be reached on Twitter @YoniMichanie.