'Occupation is a Crime - Ferguson to Palestine'

Sunday, November 30, 2014 |  Tsvi Sadan

Signs reading "Occupation is a Crime - Ferguson to Palestine" held aloft during the recent demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri were seen by some as an attempt by the anti-Israel BDS movement to hijack the ongoing crisis in America for their own agenda.

However, Palestinian tweets of solidarity like "the Palestinian people know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity" show that the Ferguson-Gaza comparisons are accepted on a much broader scale than just among BDS supporters.

And these comparisons suggest that the same people justifying terror against Israel are now justifying violent riots in America.

As far as Israel is concerned, framing both places in the context of discrimination when knowing full well that Israel is fighting against sworn enemies, and not against an ethnic group (even accepting assertions that there is Palestinian ethnic group), is yet another lie by the anti-Israel propaganda machine.

And yet, Palestinian solidarity with the looting mobs of Ferguson shouldn't be surprising. They, too, justify violence on the ground of oppression, thus forgetting that oppression is the result of their own violence. Saying otherwise is like accusing American authorities of using force before, rather than after, legitimate demonstrations have turned into looting mobs.

No matter how hard one tries, looting and destruction of property cannot be justified, even if Darren Wilson is a racist who unjustly shot and killed Michael Brown (and I’m not sure he is). Nevertheless, this is exactly what those who compare Ferguson to "Palestine" are doing.

Many may still think that this is about a fringe group that is taking a legitimate protest to dangerous places. It seems, however, that this comparison hit a chord with mainstream Americans, like poet and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye, an American Palestinian who grew up in Ferguson.

Shihab Nye published an article in the Washington Post on August 28 that drew a direct comparison between Ferguson and "Palestine." In this woman’s mind, what happens in both places is the result of an oppressors determination to dominate.

As far as Israel is concerned, this convenient argument ignores certain facts, such as that Israeli dominance over formerly Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian territories came only after these countries attempted to conquer Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973.

Suggesting that Israel lusts for dominance and takes pleasure in suppressing the Palestinians is as bad as accusing the Jews of controlling the world economy. Like it or not, suppression can sometimes come as a result of violent civil uprising, a situation no sovereign country can tolerate.

In her own words, Shihab Nye says that "after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot, quiet old Ferguson took over the news. Citizens marching, chest placards, 'I'M A MAN TOO' 'DON'T SHOOT.' It's easy to see how delusions of equality in Ferguson – where a white officer might raise a gun against an unarmed black kid – are simply wrong. Why is that harder for people to see about Gaza? People in Gaza actually sent messages of solidarity to Ferguson – Internet petitions signed by Gazan citizens. I thought I was hallucinating. What if they could all march together? 1.8 million Gazans would really clog old Florissant Avenue."

Never mind that Gazans were paying the price for supporting a regime that for 14 years has rained rockets on Israeli civilians. Never mind that the "kid," as Shihab Nye refers to Brown, was not exactly innocent. Even if one chooses to ignore such facts, the prospect of 1.8 million Gazans marching in the streets of St. Louis that so excites Shihab Nye would be a nightmare for the majority of Americans. Though Israelis probably like the idea of transporting Gaza to Missouri, my guess is that if having to make the choice, Americans would take 1.8 million Mexican immigrants over Gazan jihadists every time.

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