A new video featuring prominent African-Americans and Palestinians calls for solidarity in the face of state violence and supremacy.
On the heels of attacks by both the Israeli army and settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank over the past year, a coalition of African-American organizations have come together to produce a new video promoting black-Palestinian solidarity.
The video, titled “When I See Them I See Us,” juxtaposes the police killings of African-Americans with Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers, and features over 60 major figures in both the black community in America, including Lauryn Hill — who canceled her performance in Israel several months ago following pressure by the BDS movement — actor Danny Glover, author Alice Walker, academic and former Black Panther Angela Davis and public intellectual Cornel West. They are joined by prominent Palestinian figures such as academic Noura Erekat, poet Remi Kanazi, and BDS movement leader Omar Barghouti.
Famed Palestinian hip hop group DAM also makes an appearance in the video. Suheil Nafar, one of the four members of the group, spoke to me about the importance of building solidarity between two oppressed communities. “DAM is in the video for a reason,” he beams. “When we were young, when the music played on MTV was so shallow, we could really identify with Tupac’s music and the videos. We would listen to the songs, then watch the videos, and feel like we were looking at our neighborhoods in Lyd.”
Nafar and his comrades felt that black culture captured that community’s oppression. “As an occupied people,” he continues, “we felt like they were speaking for us too.”
Palestinian-American Remi Kanazi, who recently released his third book of poetry, “Before the Next Bomb Drops,” says the video is not an attempt to “flatten struggles,” but rather “an attempt to come together to challenge the logics of supremacy and state violence that afflict our communities, whether in brutalized Baltimore or bombed out Gaza.”
“If you aren’t speaking up against anti-black racism, structural violence, and the incessant execution of black people in the US, you are actively ignoring systems of oppression affecting millions of people. As we affirm in the video, black-Palestinian solidarity is not a requirement, but a choice,” Kanazi says.
On days where Palestinians are under attack and the end of the occupation seems farther away than ever, a show of Black-Palestinian solidarity feels just like what we need. “Once our Black brothers and sisters in America spoke for us,” Nafar concludes, “today we are asking to speak in one voice against both forms of oppression.”
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.