Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

5 Jul, 2013

African-Americans Compare Treatment of Palestinians to U.S. Segregation Laws


WASHINGTON, July 2, 2013 (WAFA) – African Americans, including Angela Davis and actress Lisa Gay Hamilton, released a statement reaffirming parallels between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and discrimination against African Americans living under Jim Crow in the United States, a press release by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation said on Monday.

The African American statement, signed by academics, artists, clergy, activists and a retired city councilman, was prompted by attacks on the analogy between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the Jim Crow segregation laws that followed Alice Walker’s use of it in an interview, and later, her allusion to it in an open letter calling on US singer Alicia Keys to cancel her July 4 concert in Israel.

The attacks came in the form of an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, an editorial in the New York Daily News, and an Israeli government op-ed in the New York Post.

Titled “African Americans Affirming the Jim Crow analogy in Palestine/Israel,” the statement “affirm[ed] the accuracy of parallels drawn between the experience of African Americans in the U.S. under Jim Crow and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”

Signatories cited a 2012 report from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that “framed Israel’s treatment of both its Palestinian citizens, and those living under military rule in the occupied territories, in terms of segregation and racial discrimination.”

Their criticism of how Palestinians are treated extends to the situation of citizens of Israel, linking to a report by Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, which lists several dozen laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens.

Alicia Keys is set to play a concert in Israel on the 4th of July, ignoring a growing campaign of direct pleas not to perform in Israel from artists including Alice Walker and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.

Felicia Eaves, co-chair of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and a signatory to the letter commented: “It’s completely accurate to draw parallels between the segregation and discrimination of Jim Crow and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Angela [Davis], myself and others have made this analogy previously, because our travel to the Occupied Palestinian Territories reminded us of the oppression we’ve faced in the past right here in the United States.”