Black Lives Matter activists joined Palestinians protesting Israel’s illegal occupation and settlement construction in the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday.
Ma’an News Agency reports Israeli forces arrested two activists at the weekly demonstration in Bil’in, where residents have staged peaceful protests every Friday for the past 11 years and where occupation forces have often responded with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades. At last week’s protest, Emad Burnat, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary film “5 Broken Cameras” was among four people arrested.
On Facebook, Black Lives Matter said it was part of “the fight for dignity, justice and freedom” for Palestinians “who for decades have resisted the occupation of their land, the ethnic cleansing of their people and the erasure of their history and experiences.”
“It is urgent that we make clear the connection between violence inflicted on black people globally that is encouraged and permitted by the state and the profiling, harm, and genocide funded by the United States and perpetrated by Zionists vigilantes and the Israeli Defense Forces on Palestinian people,” the group said. “Our collective oppression mandates that we work together across geography, language and culture to decry and organize an end to capitalistic, imperialist regimes.”
”We commit to global struggle, solidarity, and support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement to fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian people and to end international support of the occupation,” it added.
This wasn’t the first time Black Lives Matter activists have protested in Palestine. Last year, prominent American journalist and movement member Marc Lamont Hill joined Palestinians in Nazareth, releasing a video condemning what they called Israeli “apartheid.” Other racial justice groups, including the Dream Defenders and Black Youth Project 100, also participated. Black Lives Matter has also called for an end to exchange programs between US and Israeli police, who share policies and tactics used to repress people fighting for justice and equality.
Protesters on Friday held photos of three members of the Dawabsheh family, who were murdered exactly a year ago when Jewish settlers firebombed their home in Duma near Nablus. Mother Reham Dawabsheh, 26, and her 18-month-old son Ali Dawabsheh were burned to death in the attack. Father Saad Dawabsheh died a week later of his wounds.
Black Lives Matter has drawn parallels between what it calls the numerous “extrajudicial killings” of black people, often unarmed, by US police and what critics call the extrajudicial executions of Palestinians, who are also often unarmed or throwing stones, by Israeli forces. Last December, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström accused Israel of “executing” Palestinians who resist nearly half a century of Israeli occupation and Jews-only settler colonization, both of which are illegal under international law.
Prominent international critics, including Nobel peace laureates Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and others, have called Israeli policies and actions in Palestine apartheid and even ethnic cleansing. The United Nations, human rights groups, national and local governments, labor unions, academics, artists and religious organizations around the world have also condemned Israeli policies and actions. However, despite rare criticism like this week’s State Department rebuke of settlement construction and home demolition, the United States fully supports Israel, which it views as a bulwark of democracy and security in one of the world’s most volatile regions, and bolsters its security with more than $3 billion in annual military aid. Politically powerful pro-Israel groups in the United States, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), wield tremendous influence over US politicians of both parties, fueling accusations that America favors Israel at the expense of Palestinian death and suffering.
As a candidate in 2007, Barack Obama said “no one is suffering more than the Palestinians.” But despite some very public spats with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US aid to Israel has continued unabated throughout Obama’s tenure, even when Israel repeatedly defies American calls for a halt to settlement activity or when Israeli forces kill large numbers of Palestinian civilians during its periodic invasions of Gaza. US leaders from both major parties, including President Obama, have also approved or pushed for laws meant to punish the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli occupation and colonization, with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton linking the peaceful global protest movement with “bullying” and “antisemitism.”