ATLANTA: The Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization in the US said it stands with the Palestinians during their ongoing conflict with Israel.
Over the past two weeks, Israel’s military has pounded Gaza with airstrikes while the Palestinian enclave’s ruling Hamas militants have unleashed cross-border rocket attacks.
BLM tweeted its support Tuesday for the Palestinian people stating that it is committed to advocating for “Palestinian Liberation.” The BLM twitter account has more than 1 million followers.
The social media post read: “Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians. We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation.”
The tweet from the organization — accredited for mobilizing millions of African Americans and their supporters in the US to stand up against police brutality and violations of their civil rights — carries a lot of weight within the US political system and other progressive circles.
Since fighting began on May 10, Palestinian medical officials said that 223 people have been killed and more than 1,600 injured in aerial bombardments. Roads, buildings and other infrastructure in Gaza have been destroyed as the already dire humanitarian situation has been worsened in the impoverished coastal strip.
Israel has reported 12 deaths, including two children, as a result of Hamas rocket attacks.
Bruce Wilson, a leader of the BLM movement in South Carolina, told Arab News that his organization will always support the Palestinian people in their struggle to be free and to resist the Israeli occupation of their land.
Wilson, who heads the Greenville, SC chapter of BLM, drew similarities between the struggle of African Americans in the US and the Palestinians in the occupied territories.
“When I see a black man being killed by the police in America and a Palestinian being killed by Israeli bombs, I have to have empathy,” he said. “I would fight for a Palestinian child just as hard I would fight for a black man in America.”
Wilson said black people and Palestinians are waging the same struggle to be free and to achieve justice for their causes. He and other members of Greenville BLM participated with local members of the Palestinian and Arab American community in a protest against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Chicago-based Salim Muwakkil participated in the US civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He told Arab News that while there are differences in the historical nuances and specifics of the circumstances between black people in the US and Palestinians in Palestine and other disputed land, ultimately they are very similar.
“A settler colonialism movement led by European Ashkenazi invaded that part of the world and displaced indigenous people,” said Muwakkil, who is an editor at In These Times Magazine and a radio talk show host.
“This is very similar to the pattern of Anglo-settler colonialism that settled the so-called new world and imported enslaved Africans and reduced them to a bottom cast.”
He said African Americans have linked the Palestinian struggle with theirs since the early days of the black liberation movement, which was propelled by the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X.
Muwakkil said there was a very strong identification and support for the struggle of the Palestinian people among the African American community even back then.
“The leaders of the struggle of the black people in America were very much attuned to and supportive of the struggle of the Palestinian people,” he said. “So I am not surprised and I understand why the BLM movement today identifies itself with the struggle of the Palestinians.”