Minister, activist and scholar Nyle Fort recently sat down for a conversation with Kirsten West Savali, Vice President of Content at iOne Digital, about the conflict in the Middle East and offered a nuanced explanation about the long reciprocated solidarity between Palestinian people and Black people.
“One way I like to think about it is that Palestine is an essential chapter of the story of the Black freedom struggle,” said Fort, who is also a professor at Columbia University.
In an example, Fort pointed to how “African-descendant people have a long tradition of standing on the side of the oppressed.”
Fort is among Black leaders and Black-led organizations who have been speaking out since Israel and the Hamas militant group based in the Gaza Strip renewed their decades-long conflict that has most recently culminated in heavy bombings and the ongoing deaths and kidnappings of civilians including women and children.
From Brazil to Italy to the United Kingdom and beyond, Black freedom fighters have a documented history of rallying against the type of colonialism that ruled over their ancestors for centuries; the type of colonialism currently and continuously displayed by Israel in Palestine. Those freedom fighters include people like Malcolm X, who before his assassination traveled to Gaza and visited Palestinian refugee camps. Fort reminded that the experience inspired Malcolm X to write his famous “Zionist Logic” essay which addressed how “Israeli Zionists believe their present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of predictions made by their Jewish prophets.”
It is that type of shared trauma that leads to such an outpouring of solidarity from Black people with the Palestinian people, and vice versa, Fort said.
“Black people, who’ve been on the underside of American democracy, who have precisely known what democracy is because we know what democracy is not … we know that every life is precious,” Fort concluded. “So as we learn more and more about the political situation, let’s never lose sight of what this is really about: It’s about defending, protecting, affirming the beauty and the humanity of Palestinian people and of all people.”
Fort had much more to say. Watch his full commentary on the Israel-Gaza conflict and why Black people should stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the above video.
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