The long, complicated history of Black solidarity with Palestinians and Jews

How Black support for Zionism morphed into support for Palestine.

Graffiti on a wall in the West Bank features a portrait of George Floyd, “Palestine shall be free,” and “Make hummus not walls.”
Street art graffiti on the Israeli separation West Bank wall in Bethlehem features a portrait of George Floyd, symbolizing the links between Black American and Palestinian activists.
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Fabiola Cineas covers race and policy as a reporter for Vox. Before that, she was an editor and writer at Philadelphia magazine, where she covered business, tech, and the local economy.

As violence and reprisals in Israel and Gaza have intensified since Hamas’s attack on October 7, reactions (or non-reactions) from Black Lives Matter and related groups in the US have come in for particular scrutiny.

Black Lives Matter Chicago was heavily criticized fora since-deleted graphic that seemingly celebrated Hamas’s killing of Israelis, featuringa paraglider with the Palestinian flag, and the words “I stand with Palestine.” (The group later said it “was not proud of” the image, adding “We stand with Palestine & the people who will do what they must to live free.”)

Comedian Amy Schumer reshared a video from former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire, now an Israeli citizen, in which he criticized Black Lives Matter for its silence on Israel. “I woke up this morning with some disturbing news out of Israel — Hamas kidnapping children, putting them in cages, killing women, killing the elderly. That’s some coward shit. That’s cowardly,” he said. “And for all y’all Black Lives Matter [supporters] who ain’t saying nothing — ‘Well let me figure out exactly what’s happening before I say anything’ — f*** you.”

In a now-deleted post on X, which was reposted more than 1,000 times, writer Daniella Greenbaum Davis wrote, “Jews marched in Selma. Jews marched for George Floyd. Jews showed up for Black Lives Matter. BLM is a disgrace. We will all still be there for you guys next time. Because that’s who we are. But now we know who you are.”

Behind the uproar is a rich history of links between Black American and Palestinian activists — connections that go back to Israel’s founding but have deepened over the last decade, as activists for both issues have come to see their causes as related or even explicitly linked.

                                   HOLY LAND


In 2014, only a few weeks separated the Gaza war that year from protests over Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri; Palestinians tweeted advice to the protesters on dealing with tear gas. One of the most vocal activists in Ferguson, Bassem Masri, who died in 2018, was Palestinian American. In the wake of the protests, activists traveled to occupied territories, and in 2015, Black activists and leaders publicly declared their solidarity with Palestine.

By 2020, when the murder of George Floyd led to massive nationwide protests in the US, “People were painting George Floyd murals in Palestine. Palestinians were being attacked by Israeli security services, and saying, ‘I can’t breathe,’” said Sam Klug, an assistant teaching professor of African American History at Loyola University Maryland. “Over time, African Americans have looked at the Palestinian circumstance and Palestinians have also looked at what is going on in the United States.”   read more..