[News] Under Occupation - The Shortest Distance Between Palestine and Ferguson

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 15 10:58:25 EDT 2014

Weekend Edition August 15-17, 2014

*Under Occupation*

  The Shortest Distance Between Palestine and Ferguson

The superficially coincidental images coming from both Gaza and Ferguson 
this month have created some surprising and sudden currents of 
solidarity. Many have looked on with amazement, for example, as Gazans 
offer tips via twitter 
<https://twitter.com/stopbeingfamous/status/499792750179778560> to those 
who have been involved in the uprising and faced the absurd and 
excessively militarized response to it by Ferguson police. And 
participants in "peaceful" vigils and more militant confrontations in 
Ferguson have invoked Gaza 
<http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/12/michael-brown-s-hometown-is-under-occupation.html> by 
now a dozens times.

Few have looked at images coming out of Ferguson and not been tempted to 
draw the same allusions between the 2/3 Black suburb policed by a nearly 
all-white police force, and Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. It 
would be difficult not to draw that comparison at the moment given the 
spectacle of the massive armory gifted to the FPD by the federal 
government in the name of stopping "terror"--which has so often 
been given a Palestinian face in the US--and the revelation that the 
former police chief of Ferguson studied "counter-terror" measures in 
Israel in 2011 
<http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3ABF1s_dc8pVsJ%3Ahttps%3A%2F%2Fww5.stlouisco.com%2Fscripts%2FPD%2Fpress%2Fview.cfm%3FViewMe%3D16635&client=safari&hl=en&gl=us&strip=0>. Ironically, 
it seems Black Americans are now the target of anti-terror funding and 
training, which was ostensibly meant to target those from the Muslim and 
Arab world.

While there is nothing happening within the US anything like the 
now-cyclical Israeli slaughter of thousands of Gazans, the reality is 
that life for Black Americans in places like Ferguson does not vary in 
much from blockaded Gaza, and West Bank Bantustans in off-attack times . 
The similarities are not just coincidental in terms of the timing of the 
events--they are in fact, concurrent and historical.

Ferguson is a majority Black, segregated community, run almost entirely 
by white people. 
all of its political representatives, and all but 3 of it's 53 person 
police force, are white. Such areas, populated by the disenfranchised, 
are growing throughout the US, as the white and associated enfranchised 
classes move back to the cities and to ex-urbs or new white suburbs, 
leaving geographically isolated and service-poor communities behind. The 
result has been, as is on display in Ferguson, an easy to lock-down 
community full of people the mainstream has forgotten--policed by an 
authority trained from birth to distrust and marginalize Black people 
with the full backing of the Federal government. Unbelievably, the FAA 
declared a no-fly zone over Ferguson 
<http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/faa-no-fly-zone-ferguson-michael-brown-109964.html> and 
FPD mounted roadblocks at its city limits as it began its peace-keeping 
operation of its own citizens--chillingly reminiscent of the 
media-blockade conducted during Cast Lead and during other Israeli 

While the struggle in Palestine is often painted in ideological, ethnic 
and religious terms, it too is becoming not so different than those in 
the US, wedded as much to economic concerns as white supremacist 
structures. As Haaretz recently reported, the larger settlements of the 
West Bank---which have grown astronomically since the signing of the 
Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Authority---are now in the midst of 
a housing bubble 
<http://www.haaretz.com/business/real-estate/.premium-1.607090?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter> that 
is outstripping prices in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Young urban 
professionals, with no interest in ideology or perhaps even in Zionism, 
flock to these well-financed and subsidized cities, 
where the attendant express highways spirit them quickly back and forth 
from Tel Aviv. Israel's military industrial complex gives them security 
from the tenants of the land they've stolen.

As these suburbs, grow, perhaps, and as the twisted "peace process" 
between the compliant Palestinian Authority and Israel evolves, we may 
in decades to come see a Palestine---or what is left of it---not unlike 
the US's black underclass cities and towns. Perhaps it may yet become a 
broken and discontiguous economic-ethnic series of hamlets---segregated 
underemployed communities of service workers kept under lock and key by 
a less visible series of cages and walls, no less violent than military 
occupation. Given the current state of negotiations, with Israel shaping 
a Palestinian Authority take-over of the rubble of Gaza 
perhaps one tiny wall separating these two territories will be lifted, 
and Gaza allowed to enjoy the slightly less onerous open-air prison 
system of the West Bank.

Perhaps then people will also wonder what the Palestinian's problem is. 
Why they can't keep out of trouble with the authorities. Why their men 
line the halls of the entity's prisons. Why they cannot simply learn to 
stop being racists and love their oppressor. Why they are rioting. This 
is, in fact, the reality that Israel is striving for in the West Bank 
institutional apartheid that becomes so well-camouflaged and accepted 
over time that it begins to look like the US's honed version of it---an 
"unfortunate" remnant of the past that is always explainable, always the 
victim's fault, and is always in the midst of being fixed, with, not 
surprisingly, little success. Between the decimation of Gaza and the 
continued madcap pace of colonization in the West Bank and Jerusalem, 
they are closer than ever to this goal.

Which brings us to a final, and perhaps most alarming, similarity 
between Ferguson and Palestine. Both places nominally have a president 
who superficially represents them, from a similar ethnic and economic 
background, the product of a historic and unprecedented process. It was 
an event that overturned years of conventional wisdom that claimed the 
disenfranchised would never know representative state leaders.

The last dispiriting likeness is the betrayal of that hope--that leader 
who works for the very structure oppressing the people he seems to most 
represent, who is revealed to be only the latest trick for a white 
supremacist system of violence and dispossession that can superficially 
change, but will not budge. The leader that arms the enemy, kills for 
them, lies for them, and prevents racial and economic justice for his 
own ostensible people. For the people of Palestine, it is Abbas. For the 
people of Ferguson, Sanford, Oakland and other cities, this is 
Obama--whose bloodless and offensive commentary on the murder of 
Mike Brown 
<http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/2014/08/12/president-barack-obama-michael-brown-case/13966527/> shocked 
a nation of angry people perhaps as much as the FPD response did. They 
couldn't seem any more different superficially, of course, but more and 
more, we see they have the same white supremacist, capitalist boss.

/*Jaime Omar Yassin* is a writer in Oakland, California/

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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