African Americans Affirming the Jim Crow Analogy in Palestine/Israel


On May 29th, novelist Alice Walker issued an open letter calling upon Alicia Keys to cancel her scheduled concert in Israel. The letter has created an immense stir, as those who wish to ignore the situation facing the Palestinians hasten to draw a false wall between the experiences of African Americans under Jim Crow and Palestinians today, attacking Alice Walker's person in the process, in major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the Daily News and the New York Post. In signing this letter, we affirm the accuracy of parallels drawn between the experience of African Americans in the U.S. under Jim Crow and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. 

The reality of the Palestinian situation is nothing short of horrendous. Israel has refused to comply with United Nations resolutions calling for a withdrawal to the Green Line of 1967; no recognition has been given by Israel of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, in clear violation of international law and precedent; Palestinian land has been consistently seized by the Israeli government since 1948, often under the false pretense of security reasons; Palestinian citizens of Israel face de facto and de jure discrimination, including several dozen laws discriminating against them, and inferior education resources; a so-called separation wall has–again in violation of international law–been established through and around Palestinian lands.  

The list of the discriminatory treatment Palestinians face, which fits the definition under international law of “the crime of apartheid,” seems endless. UN Special Rapporteur and South African John Dugard made comparisons between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and apartheid in a 2007 report, as has famed South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who traveled the world advocating for a boycott of South Africa under apartheid. More recently the former South African ambassador to Israel sent a letter condemning Israel for its “replication of apartheid.” A 2012 report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, while also drawing attention to conventions on apartheid, 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. 

We stand against bigotry and racism in all their forms, and wish to express that the treatment Palestinians face shares much in common with what African Americans experienced under Jim Crow segregation in the USA. Apartheid is not a system limited to South Africa between 1948-1994. Apartheid was established as a universal crime by the international community in 1973 and again in 2002. but it is a system whose origins can be found in Jim Crow segregation and in settler colonies established by Europe around the world.

We stand by Alice Walker’s analogy between Israel's treatment of Palestinians and the Jim Crow segregation in the United States that many of us experienced, and struggled against through the civil rights movement. It is therefore no surprise to us, that, in response to Israel’s systematic discrimination, our acclaimed sister Alice Walker has urged Ms. Keys to employ the time-honored, peaceful method of boycott and to cancel her upcoming concert in Israel. 

Signed,

  • mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Felicia Eaves, co-chair, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Bill Fletcher Jr., African Americans for Justice in the Middle East and North Africa mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Hon. Rev. Dr. Kwame Abayomi, Ret., City Council – Baltimore, MD mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Adisa Alkebulan, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, San Diego State University mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Ajamu Baraka, Human Rights Activist mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Carl Bloice, Journalist  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Duke Sociology Department mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Rev. Carolyn L. Boyd, Adjunct Pastor – Plymouth Congregational UCC, Washington DC (Author, The Five Steps To Forgiveness) (Host, Higher Ground) (Host, What's at Stake, Spiritually)  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Dr. Gloria Brown, Director of Racial-Ethnic Ministry, East Ohio Conference, The United Methodist Church mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Pastor Heber Brown, III,  Pleasant Hope Baptist Church (Baltimore, MD)  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Minister Pamela. Y. Cook, Sojourner Truth Community mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Angela Y. Davis  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Thadious Davis, Professor, English, University of Pennsylvania mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Rev. Diane Ford Dessables, M.Div., MS mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Aaron Dixon, author of "My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain"  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Dr. Rhone Fraser mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Angela Gilliam, Faculty Emerita, The Evergreen State College mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>LisaGay Hamilton, actress  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Rev. Dr. Lora Hargrove, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Rockville, MD mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Dr Lynette A. Jackson mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Maurice Jackson, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Georgetown University mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>James Jennings mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Robin D.G. Kelley, Professor of History, UCLA mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Gerald Lenoir, Executive Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Heidi R. Lewis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Feminist & Gender Studies, Colorado College  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Darnell L. Moore, Writer, activist, and a member of the first US Delegation of LGBTQ scholars and activists to Palestine mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Rev. Joi R. Orr mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Reverend Chris Pierson  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Charles "Cappy" Pinderhughes, former Lt. of Information, New Haven Black Panther Party mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Barbara Ransby, historian, author and activist mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Russell Rickford, Assistant Professor of History, Dartmouth College mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Lynn Roberts, African Americans for Justice in the Middle East and North Africa mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Jamala Rogers, Organization for Black Struggle  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Fellowship of Reconciliation mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Beverly Guy-Sheftall  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Filmmaker, Writer, Activist mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Robyn C. Spencer mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Tabitha St. Bernard mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Bill Strickland, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Aisha Truss-Miller mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Ralph B. Watkins, ItsTheChurch mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Brandon West mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Johnny E. Williams, Department of Sociology, Trinity College mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Emira Woods, Co-Director Foreign Policy in Focus- Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC  mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Rev Dr Jeremiah A Wright, Jr, Pastor Emeritus, Trinity UCC – Chicago