Pro-Palestinian activists have drawn inspiration from the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, tapping into the anger over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown to help inspire their own protests.
The blog Legal Insurrection, which tracks anti-Israel activity on campus and elsewhere nationwide, compiled examples of the activity — some of which could be viewed as incitement — that has included attempts to liken protesters in the Midwest to Palestinians in Gaza.
“That anti-Israeli agenda, which involves encouraging confrontation with police in solidarity with Palestinians, is helping provide the accelerant to an already volatile situation,” observed William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection blog.
Demonstrators from a nearby pro-Palestinian rally join a protest in New York on Aug. 20, 2014 against the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Demonstrators conducted a running protest, moving through the streets of Manhattan's East Village neighborhood, before finally gathering in Union Square. (AP/Jason DeCrow)
Examples of such partnerships first appeared in August during the Israel-Hamas strife, when Palestinians began posting messages to the American protesters on social media advising them how to avoid the effects of tear gas, including running “against the wind” and warning: “Don’t rub your eyes!” and “Remember to not touch your face when teargassed or put water on it. Instead use milk or Coke!”
Pro-Palestinian activists continue to hold events in New York and other cities emphasizing the solidarity between Palestinians and African-Americans to “strengthen our resistance.”
“The murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has shone a spotlight on racism, police brutality and militarized policing in the United States,” the pro-Palestinian group End the Occupation wrote on its website, asking its followers earlier this month to “join the Palestine contingent in Ferguson!”
Like other pro-Palestinian activists, the group painted the conflicts as struggles of the dark-skinned.
“Resistance to Mike Brown’s killing has been met with violent repression in the form of rubber bullets, tanks, and tear gas” the group said, calling on others “to stand together to challenge the systemic racism faced by black and brown communities in Ferguson, St. Louis, and across the nation.”
Jacobson wrote of organizers evoking race, “It is a highly racialized tactic, using verbiage of colonized ‘brown people’ versus white colonizers.”
The blog noted that Palestinian supporters even tried to blame Israel for Brown’s killing, “because a former St. Louis County police chief three years ago attended a one-week anti-terrorism program in Israel.”
“[T]he one-week training in Israel by someone who wasn’t even on the job when Brown was shot was enough for the usual suspects to try to blame Israel for everything that happens in Ferguson,” Jacobson wrote.
The pro-Palestinian voices also pointed out that Israeli police and Ferguson police use the same type of tear gas in riot control.
“Think about that. Just because Israel buys tear gas canisters from the same American company the Ferguson police buy from somehow makes Israel responsible,” Jacobson wrote. "It defies any logic, but it is spread far and wide … That’s how anti-Israel propaganda works. Pick some irrelevant connection between Israel and someone who allegedly does something wrong, and then claim Israel is responsible for what the other person did.”
Last week, protesters in Ferguson interrupted a CNN live report and accused the network of being run by “Zionists.”
The heckling was captured by Bassem Masri, whose Twitter profile reads “f*** all haters long live Palestine Ferguson is Resistance #MikeBrown = Fight Back.”
“You f***ing lie about Ferguson; you lie about Occupy Wall Street; you lie about Palestine. You’re all run by Zionists,” one of the anti-CNN hecklers said, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “We’re holding y’all accountable.”
Some protestors threatened, “If you continue lying, we’ll come shut you down in Atlanta.”
Jacobson warned that the escalating rhetoric from the pro-Palestinian camp could lead to further violence.
“But this propaganda, and this agitation, actively is pushing for a confrontation between police and protesters in Ferguson, in which people are likely to get hurt,” he wrote.
“And that’s the point. Just as Palestinian and supportive Western leftist activists encourage children to throw rocks at Israeli police so they can get the video of the police arresting a child, so too this is all about the photo- and video-ops,” Jacobson added. “And it may push Ferguson over the edge.”
(H/T: Legal Insurrection)