As events in Gaza and high profile police brutality cases have continued to dominate recent headlines, a number of groups and individuals have tried to find a connection between these unrelated events in an attempt to bring attention to their activism.
Several anti-Israel groups have couched their hostility towards Israel in social justice terms by linking the conflict in Gaza to the events in Ferguson in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support. For example:
- Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine advertised a September 2 event on Facebook: “From Ferguson to Palestine, racism, injustice and human rights violations are being committed against people of color.”
- The Ohio Palestine Solidarity Group sponsored an August 25 demonstration at Ohio State University’s African American and African Studies Community Extension Center, “to show our love and support for members of our Columbus community who have lost innocent loved ones in Gaza in recent Israeli attacks, to stand in solidarity with Michael Brown, John Crawford, and victims of racism and police brutality all over the US…”
- At protests in Oakland on August 23, anti-Israel protesters reportedly shouted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” co-opting the chant used at Ferguson protests
- An advertisement for an August 22 Indiana Palestine Solidarity event on Facebook read: “The disregard and disrespect for black bodies and black life is endemic to the white supremacist system that rules the land. Your struggles through the ages have been an inspiration to us as we fight daily for the most basic human dignities in our own homeland against the racist Zionist regime that considers us less human.”
- On August 20, the Palestinian BDS National Committee issued a statement saying, “We recognize those tactics being used in Ferguson and the mentality behind them…the methods of unbri dled violence and control being used by security forces are all too familiar to Palestinians living under Israel’s decade-old occupation.”
- On August 20, protesters on the Manhattan Bridge chanted, “From Ferguson to Palestine, occupation has got to go.” At least one protester held a sign that read “We are FERGUSON We are GAZA, because We are Human.”
- In an August 20 press release, Jewish Voice for Peace stated, “We recognize that the devaluing of African-American lives built into the fabric of US government and society is mirrored in Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians…It’s also not surprising to see the similarity in the tactics and technologies of repression against those who are rising up nonviolently in both places.”
While some are simply trying to rouse support for an anti-Israel agenda by attracting like-minded activists, others have gone so far as to imply that Israel is to blame for the violence in Ferguson.
This allegation surfaced in a tweet by Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). On August 14, Parsi tweeted, “Wondering why the excessive police violence? Here’s a guess: #Ferguson police chief got training in Israel…#Gaza.” An August 15 article from San Francisco Bay View titled “Israel-trained police ‘occupy’ Missouri after killing of Black youth” echoed this sentiment.
Similar comparisons have appeared at protests regarding other high profile police brutality cases, such as at an August 23 rally calling for justice in the death of Eric Garner, who was unarmed when killed by an NYPD officer earlier this summer. Among the posters seen at the protest were “Google It!!! Israel trains the NYPD.”