When I See Them, I See Us: Black Palestinian Solidarity in an Age of Struggle

– As many of you already know, Black History Month grows out of Carter G. Woodson’s establishment of Negro History Week in 1926, which was, as historian Ralph Crowder has said, really a response to, quote, “American racism “and an attempt to defend black humanity.” And so with this event, we want to honor the spirit of Black History Month by emphasizing its roots in defending the humanity of those whose humanity is unjustly questioned So tonight, I want to thank Gallatin staff and faculty for helping to make this event possible There are a lot of people involved in this Sophia Azeb, Jennifer Birge, Rachel Plutzer, Rahul Hamid, Monique Sorel, Ray George, Millery Polyne, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Careina Yard, who’s our videographer this evening, and of course our Dean, Susanne Wofford And I also wanna thank our great collaborators at the Kevorkian Center, Greta Scharnweber and Helga Tawil-Souri, who I am about to introduce to introduce all of our speakers So thanks again for coming this evening, and we’re really excited to hear from our panelists (audience applauds) – Thanks Becky Thanks for being here It’s always weird to be in the limelight But I’m Helga Tawil-Souri, the Director of the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, otherwise known as Kevo, sort of less of a mouthful It’s always wonderful to kind of work across institutional barriers in terms of working across different schools, Gallatin and FAS in this case, but also sort of between the Kevorkian Center and the Urban Democracy Lab, we have done a number of things together, and I think there’s a lot of ways in which some of our interests overlap But in thinking about kind of working across barriers, I think part of what makes the Urban Democracy Lab kind of so, a wonderful kind of center on campus, and I feel like maybe I can speak to this ’cause I’m not there, right, but part of what makes the UDL kind of a unique space on campus is precisely sort of working across different kinds of barriers, so not just institutional, as the example from our own working together is, but in the question of sort of pushing different kinds of boundaries, whether racial, national, or otherwise, and certainly in the case of UDL in pushing the barriers of what this ivory tower that we supposedly live in is, right? And so I think of UDL and perhaps many others on campus as sort of challenging us to ground our sense of activism in bodies of scholarship while at the same time also having our feet on the ground while we are theorizing or historicizing or comparing And so you know, I think we often think of intellectuals and intellectual work as somehow detached in place and kind of taking place somewhere sort of far away Actually somebody earlier today was telling me how they spent a good deal of class time imagining what Heidegger’s or Wittgenstein, I don’t know, somebody’s, who was it? Somebody had a cottage that he ran away to somewhere to do his writing, right? And I think a lot of us sort of imagine that this is how intellectual work also takes place, and I think if anything, UDL kind of pulls us back on ground, and this event does too in kind of thinking about the fact that well no, on the one hand we’re talking about real human beings who do intellectual work, and on the other hand, to not kind of build these sorts of barriers between one’s sense of political activism but also one’s sense of scholarship And so with that, it’s really a pleasure to introduce the three speakers tonight We’ve unfortunately lost one along the way, but it’s a pleasure to introduce the three tonight So immediately to my right is Professor Ebony Coletu, who’s an Assistant Professor of English and African American studies at Penn State University, and she’s also an affiliate faculty of the Center of Democratic Deliberation Her research focus, her research focuses, sorry, on the rhetoric of application forms and the circuits of evaluation that authorize financial support for people seeking aid or admission to college or employment Her book project, titled Forms of Submission: Writing for Aid and Opportunity in America theorizes the institution procedures and reading practices that assign value to identity and struggle over the last century in order to shift the questions we ask about affirmative action, immigration reform, employment discrimination, and charity She previously taught at the American University in Cairo, where she offered courses on political literacies, graphic design and persuasion, as well as race in the Middle East, and during that period, she published articles on gender and the revolution, I think you were there at the time as well, the politics of street art, and the role of hate speech in the justification of state violence against protesters So there’s a beautiful example of how even if you wanted to separate what happens on the ground to what happens in the ivory tower, often times you can’t Noura Erakat, who’s in the middle

I don’t know if she needs an introduction, I feel like, you know, she’s the rockstar (laughing) Not that the two of you are not, I don’t mean it in that sense, but I feel like Noura is a familiar face to many of us But she’s a human rights attorney and activist She’s also an Assistant Professor at George Mason University, where she teaches in the legal studies, international studies, and human rights social justice studies concentrations She’s a co-founding editor of Jadaliyya, which is the electronic magazine on the Middle East that combines scholarly expertise, local knowledge, amongst other things She’s taught international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown since 2009 Her scholarly publications include the U.S. Versus ICRC: Customary International Humanitarian Law and Universal Jurisdiction, New Imminence in the Time of Obama: The Impact of Targeted Killings on the Law of Self-Defense, Overlapping Refuge Legal Regimes: Closing the Protection Gap during the Secondary Forced Displacement She writes regularly on human rights in the Middle East, and her work has been featured on Al-Ahram, Al Jazeera, the Huffington Post, the Hill, Foreign Policy, Mareb, and Jadaliyya And last but not least, Alex Lubin will be serving as our, he’ll be giving us some of the context but also serving as our moderator He is the Professor and Chair of the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, and between 2011 and 2013, he also served as the Director of the Center for American Studies and Research, CASR, at the American University of Beirut Lubin’s scholarship engages global histories of race, the Africa diaspora in America and the world, with a particular focus on U.S.-Middle East relations He’s the author of Geographies of Liberation: The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary which came out in 2014, as well as Romance and Rights? Okay, lots of other, (laughing) lots of other stuff, sorry He’s also the editor of Revising the Blueprint: Ann Petry and the Literary Left, Settler Colonialism, a South Atlantic quarterly special issue, American Studies Encounters the Middle East, The Cultural Front in the U.S. War on Terror, which I think is still forthcoming, with Lisa Hajjar Alex Lubin is also currently working on a history of mid-19th century navel ship called the USS Supply, a ship that was a key link in the global supply chain that enabled American expansion between the Mexican War and the Spanish-American war So thank you to the three of you for being here, and we look forward to hearing your own sort of perspectives on your lives on the streets, so to speak, as well as your lives in your minds – Thank you for those introductions, and I wanna thank everyone at Gallatin and the Kevorkian Center who helped organize this event It’s great to see that on a Wednesday night, so many people will come out to hear this event And I should also just mention that our third colleague, Greg Thomas, panelist, couldn’t make it today So we’re sort of shuffling things around just a little bit And I’m gonna give some opening framing remarks to think about Black-Palestinian solidarity, and then I will pass it over to my colleagues, and then (coughs), excuse me, I’m getting over a cold, I will also then formulate a few questions for our panelists to consider before opening it up to the public So the question I think that we’re here to consider more broadly is, what sorts of historical conjunctures enable transnational solidarity? This is a question that animates my work on Black-Palestinian solidarity, even more than the more basic question of how black lives and Palestinian lives are similar or different My interest in the question in what enables transnational solidarity emerged from the recognition on the part of Palestinian students at Birzeit University with whom I met a long time ago now, almost 10 years, that their recognition that during the era of the long civil rights movement, African American radicals, with a few notable exceptions, identified strongly with the state of Israel and with the Zionist movement more generally The Palestinian students I met with wanted to know why that was, why given– I was giving a talk on some of the similarities that I drew between civil rights politics in the U.S and the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank, and the students at Birzeit wanted to know, well if that, if there’s so many connections, then why is it that for most of the history of the Civil Rights Movement, with a few exceptions as I mentioned, so many African American civil rights leaders, people like Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, W. E. B. Du Bois, and on and on, why did they identify so strongly with the state of Israel and with Zionism more broadly?

And that led me to wanna historicize why it was that certain historical connections existed, and when did they break apart if they broke apart, and what were the possibilities for new kinds of connections What made black radical thinkers, from Du Bois and Robeson to Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr. identify with Zionism and not with Palestinian decolonization, and why has there been a seeming transformation in these identifications between black radical politics and the Palestinian struggle, at least since the 1970’s if not before? And more importantly perhaps or more relevant perhaps for our discussion today is what does the era of Trumpism, when we are seeing a rise in both Islamaphobia and anti-semitism portend for these kinds of social movements? Of course, there’s nothing new about Black-Palestinian solidarity, although certainly the current historical moment has helped foster new kinds of connections We should recall that the Third World movement that began in the 1950’s and 60’s and the politics that were crystalized by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Bandung Conference sought to link African Americans to a worldwide project of decolonization The politics of Bandung led many black radicals in America to see the question of Palestine anew and to see it as a matter of decolonization that was in line with, just like, analogous to the decolonization movement among black radicals in the West, one that united the Black Freedom Movement to Palestinian matters Another important conjuncture historically that enabled the formation of what I call an Afro-Arab political imaginary was the expanding diasporic politics of pan-Islamism that helped black American Muslims identify with Islamic political movements in North Africa and the Middle East, and of course the most significant example of that is Malcolm X’s 1964 tours throughout North Africa and the Middle East, when he traveled to Cairo to engage in several worldwide movements that were based there, including his conversion from heterodox Islam of the Nation of Islam to the more orthodox forms of Sunni Islam that he studied at Al-Azhar University in Cairo But he also was deeply engaged with the politics of Nasserism and Arab nationalism And of course a new organization which had formed in Cairo during his visit there, during his time there, was the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO And Malcolm X was at the signing ceremony of the charter for the PLO, and soon after his visit there, he went on a tour of Egyptian-controlled Gaza and wrote about Gaza at that point So pan-Islamism, or Islam as a sort of worldwide political movement, particularly one that was intersecting with Arab Nationalism during the 1960’s, played a really fundamental role in encouraging people like Malcolm X and several other black Muslims and others to identify with the Palestinian cause and Arab nationalism more broadly The politics of Third-Worldism also lived on through the era of the 1970’s and obviously shaped the politics of the Palestinian Liberation Organization And the PLO was self-consciously aware of its need to form what the historian Paul Chamberlain calls a global offensive against what they regarded as a colonial situation, and so the PLO successfully linked their struggle to Third-Worldism more broadly, encouraging Sandinistas from Nicaragua to join their movement, encouraging several Latin American decolonization movements to join the Palestinian cause, but also to self-consciously encourage black Americans to see their struggle in the United States as similar to the Palestinian struggle and the PLO in particular This action on the part of the PLO encouraged groups like SNCC, the Black Panther Party, to break with mainstream civil rights organizations and to begin to identify with the Palestinian cause In fact in the newspaper of the Black Panther Party, the Black Panther Speaks, PLO writers like George Habash and others wrote almost monthly columns about Palestinian liberation, and of course, there are famous tours of Black Panther Party members to visit with PLO members in places like Algeria and in Beirut But of course, alongside this history

of identification, there’s a perhaps even larger and stronger movement of identification among mainstream civil rights organizers or among black politicians who are part of the Congressional Black Caucus, for example, throughout the 80’s and 90’s to identify with Israel as a similar struggle to what black Americans are dealing with And so these kinds of politics are important to study, to ask when did the convergences between blacks and Palestinians occur, when did they come together, why do they fall apart? And we’re in a historical conjuncture and a historical moment where Black-Palestinian solidarity has been renewed It’s not continuous, perhaps, from the era of the 1960’s and 70’s, but it certainly resonates with certain historical conjunctures And the new bonds of solidarity, as I’m sure that my panelists will discuss, are around issues of securitization, military policing, issues of water, and the list could go on and on, I don’t wanna preempt what we’re gonna hear on the panels So I’m gonna stop there, and then turn it over to our panelists, and then at the end, I’ll come up with some framing questions that I hope will unite, unites the panel So without further ado, I wanna introduce, or bring up Ebony Coletu Oh sorry, no, I went to who was sitting first We had firmly agreed that Noura was gonna go first (laughing) (audience applauds) – That was really great It’s fantastic to contextualize it, because one of– Hello everyone (laughs) (audience laughs) Like oh, I’ll just continue this conversation So one of the things that does come up in thinking about this and thinking about Black-Palestinian solidarity and a tendency that’ll occur especially amongst activists is to think that it’s natural, that of course Palestinians and blacks would be in solidarity because of the conditions and the deprivation of humanity, or second that it is, it’s a memorial, that this is continuous and has not changed, but as Alex has demonstrated, one, there isn’t anything necessarily natural What’s been forged has been forged out of a political movement and what’s been forged has been forged out of a political commitment in order to establish that type of solidarity, because there’s competing strands The black condition of unfreedom, one that can persist so violently, that limits the ability to live safely with family, the horizon of eduction, of employment, of food security, of being able to live out of captivity, is so resonant and so deep that almost any marginalized community that is struggling against similar conditions is going to reach to the black example and to black struggle in order to either find hope that there is an example of a movement towards emancipation or to find some sort of compelling language to explain to somebody who doesn’t understand anything, for example, about Kurdish deprivation or marginalization, or Rohingya deprivation and marginalization, certainly Palestinian deprivation and marginalization, what it means to live like that And so often, blackness is used as an analogy in ways that many communities have competed for, in ways that communities continue to compete for And the irony of course, and the ethics of this that comes up is that there’s a competition over that analogy and over that history without a requisite commitment to black liberation and obviously that’ll come up in the work and that’s what we’ve been asked to talk about, well what does your work look like, and so what are the struggles that have come up? So let me just, what I wanna share is a little bit of a personal narrative of how for me even thinking about this, and thinking about the disjunctures, right, that have come up in this story is that, for me growing up born and raised in the United States as a Palestinian and a daughter of refugees and immigrants is to identify the Palestinian struggle with a progressive struggle and a struggle that is not just aimed at Palestinian self-determination in the form of a state, but one that also works against the, you know, carceral technologies, the way that we profit from warfare and from incarceration and detention, and that’s actually working within a progressive agenda, right? So that’s kind of where I come from, and it didn’t come necessarily just from Black-Palestinian solidarity,

it came with a progressive agenda In the wake, in the wake of the onslaught of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, where during that time in the span of 51 days, 2,100 Palestinians are enclosed, are trapped, are struck with 6,000 air strikes, 50,000 artillery shells, 2,100 Palestinians, 300 children are killed, 18,000 homes are fully destroyed, there is no right to become a refugee in this moment, and the language that is being projected to us watching it from the primary funder and ally of Israel is that Palestinians are responsible for their own carnage, that they are to blame, and that there’s this victim-blaming trope In the wake of that, I think it was within two or three weeks, we see a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri gun down a young man and leave his body to rot in horrible heat for over four hours in the middle of a community to watch his body rot, and then to see news media play images of him leaving a liquor store and trying to construct a story that somehow, his vagrancy of trying to steal cigarillos is associated with his death, as if he is responsible for his own death So we see this, this trope of victim blaming very strongly, and we’re also seeing a trope of state-sanctioned violence that’s allowing it to happen repeatedly with impunity That was one part of what’s coming to light in the summer of 2014, and I think that the moment where it becomes even more striking is when the National Guard is out in Ferguson, Missouri with teargas and Kevlar vests and actual rubber bullets and detaining people in mass Nobody is getting due process, where protesters are handled very violently, and this was not natural either, but this was also a function of organizing, that organizers in Ferguson, pro, you know, Palestine solidarity organizers in Ferguson at the time, by making the connection that these are similar tactics, this militarized use of force against non-violent protest is what Palestinians experienced day in and day out Shit, it’s what’s happening in Gaza right now And similarly, Palestinians in Gaza are trying to communication to protesters in Ferguson with signs that say, bring milk when you go to protests so that you can pour it in your eye in case of being struck with teargas, right? They’re giving them, they’re telling them how to respond in this moment, but also saying we are with you, and at some point signs go up in Ferguson where people are saying, we’re all Palestinians, we’re all in Gaza And so that, even that organic moment, is a moment of political organizing, but one that I think marks a resuscitation of a movement that has existed But from the beginning of this movement, it wasn’t a forgone conclusion that blacks and Palestinians would align with one another in a political, in some sort of political struggle, it was a choice And frankly, it’s not even a choice amongst all Palestinians and amongst all blacks, because even saying that assumes that there’s some formation that speaks for either one of them in their totality I’m sure that if you go to the Palestinian leadership, they are not thinking, if you go to Mahmoud Abbas or to his deputies or his advisors, they are not thinking that one of the greatest achievements to happen in the past year in terms of the Palestinian struggle and its resonance is that the Black Lives Matter movement adopted Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as part of their platform They’re not thinking that, that’s not who’s thinking about what Palestinians should do If you go to Omarosa, isn’t that her name? The reality TV star that works for Trump? I’m trying to give you the most obvious example, right? But if you go to Omarosa, I’m sure she’s not gonna tell you yes, I think of Palestine when I think of black liberation I’m giving you these individual examples to basically say that even amongst these two groups who are purporting to come together in solidarity that there isn’t a single constituency that speaks for all, that this isn’t some sort of hegemonic movement, that there’s a lot of deep rupture, and the point is this: one, it’s not natural,

it was a choice to align and commitment to solidarity In the same way, think about it this, in the same way, if any of you think about human rights and Hannah Arendt’s discussion on human rights, we’re all born human but we don’t all have human rights Those human rights are animated when we fight for them, and they come to life when we insist that they belong to us, in the same way that if you think about self-determination Not every nation actually enjoys self-determination It’s the struggle for self-determination that actually creates a nation, that solidifies this imaginary nation as being part of one that needs to be organized amongst one another And similarly, solidarity is something that is animated by a political commitment and by political movement Why does that matter? Because as much controversy as this movement has caused amongst those who find it very threatening because of how powerful it is, it’s caused an equal amount of controversy internally, and that’s some of what I’d like to talk about in what I consider if not a necessarily a safe space but at least an intellectual space to think about most things So what are those things that come up? One of them happens to be how do we define Black-Palestinian solidarity? Are we still thinking about it in the way that Alex was describing to us in a heyday of decolonization movements when we’re organizing ourselves against an external threat? And so nations are organizing themselves against external threats and the achievement of freedom is the overthrowing of that external threat, right? So national self-determination in some form of statehood At the time in the, what, in 1962, there were only approximately 55 states who were members of the United Nations Today we have 194, so those, about those 140 states that come to be states today we’re all under some form of colonization who hadn’t enjoyed self-determination So at the moment of this convergence that Alex is describing so lucidly and brilliantly is a moment where everybody’s fighting the same kind of struggle Today in 2017, the only nation amongst those that were fighting for it in 19– between 1960 and let’s say 1978, well at least 1991 is Palestine It’s the outstanding colony that hasn’t achieved it, am I missing one? Feel free, but in terms of at the time, the main, the ones that were, that had committees created for them in the United Nations were South West Africa, Namibia, and Palestine, and of those, Palestine remains under continuing colonization and occupation And so now, to resurrect that same language of nationalism doesn’t have that same immediate resonance, and that became very obvious also as we were trying to forge a movement around Black-Palestinian solidarity, when now a lot of the movement isn’t one that is framed around nationalism but one that’s framed around, and I wonder if Ebony you’re going to talk about this, but one that’s framed around a framework of anti-blackness, right, this idea of the dehumanization and the exclusion of the black body from humanity so that there is no humanity without the ability to predicate it on the non-human, and the black body embodies that, that lack of humanity, right? And so that, to, this is, and, are you gonna talk about this at all? Great, okay, then I’ll stop, but to say that if that’s how we’re thinking about it, if you are thinking about it through this lens of Afro-Pessimism and anti-blackness, then the conclusion isn’t that blacks are in solidarity with Palestinians, then there’s a necessity to think about what are Palestinians also doing to combat anti-blackness within Palestinians communities, so that Palestinian liberation isn’t simply the restoration of indigenous sovereignty and the removal of a colonial external threat, but in fact going beyond that and working to dismantle white supremacy as well That not just affects Palestinians but affects all of us, and certainly affects Jews, both Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, who are also battling against white supremacy, and perhaps I can talk about in the Q&A and how Zionism, rather than combat white supremacy head on, internalizes some of those orientalizing tropes that exclude Jews from humanity as well Okay, so that’s, those are the debates that are happening Everybody’s talking about Black-Palestinian solidarity, and nobody’s talking about the same thing

So, which leads me then, I think it was, and Ebony participated in this, to then fully, and it’s not even there All good I’ll just click on the link Duh Or not click on the link Oh there, it’s already there, okay Roundtable on anti-blackness in Black-Palestinian solidarity So here we are, we’re faced with this question, are we, what are we talking about? What are we doing, are we all fighting for the same thing? And it turns out we’re not And here in this roundtable that Ebony participates in and that I curate with about 12 scholars, activists, and scholar-activists, we ask them a series of questions, and here are the participants, we ask them a series of questions These are historians, these are academics, these are activists, Linda was supposed to be here, Aja Monet who just released her first book of poetry, pick that up, My Mama Was a Freedom Fighter, okay, so, but moving on So we’re asking these questions, what are the three pressing questions about anti-blackness in Black-Palestinian solidarity? What you find if you read this is that there is no agreement And as the editor, I didn’t push anybody into agreement because the purpose of this was to highlight how even in the movement, we are defining what this means, and if we are in solidarity with one another, how that’s gonna implicate what our struggle looks like together as well In the midst of this, however, there’s enough political commitment to be doing this work that, there’s enough political commitment to be doing this work that I work with a team, and I wanna show you this video, you might have seen this before, with, the program is titled after this video, When I See Them, I See Us I wanna show you the video and then tell you– but before I show the video, I’ll tell you this It was a completely organic project I didn’t have an idea of we’re gonna have a video, there’s gonna be original poetry, it’s gonna be read by four narrators, it will feature all of these people, it’ll be produced and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah It was a very organic process that takes over a year to produce and keeps changing shape, and so much of it is also afflicted with the same critique of anti-blackness that the movement is afflicted with And so I wanna show you the video, and then I wanna tell you some of the critique we got about the video that is in fact up there This is about three minutes – [Narrator 1] When I see them, I see us (steady percussive music) – [Narrator 2] Every 28 hours, a black life is stolen by police or vigilantes in the U.S – [Narrator 3] Every two hours, a Palestinian child was killed in Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer – [Narrator 2] Eric Garner, 43 years old, father of six, grandfather, friend – [Narrator 4] Ghalia al-Ghanam, seven years old, killed when an Israeli missile struck her home – [Narrator 3] Hashem Abu Maria, 45 years old, father of four, human rights worker – [Narrator 1] Aiyana Jones, seven years old, killed in her sleep by Detroit police – [Narrators] When I see them, I see us – [Narrator 2] Harassed, beaten, tortured, dehumanized – [Narrator 4] Stopped and frisked, searched at checkpoints – [Narrator 3] Administrative detention, youth incarceration – [Narrators] When I see them, I see I us – [Narrator 3] From Rikers Island to Ofer Prison – [Narrator 4] From Rafah to Chicago – [Narrator 1] Lives are being stolen – [Narrator 3] Remember them – [Narrator 1] We are not statistics We are not collateral damage We have names and faces – [Narrator 3] Sakia – [Narrator 4] Nadim – [Narrator 2] Kimani – [Narrator 4] Jawaher – [Narrator 3] Renisha – [Narrator 1] Mohammad – [Narrator 2] They burned me alive in Jerusalem – [Narrator 3] They gunned me down in Chicago – [Narrator 4] They shot our water tanks in Hebron – [Narrator 1] They cut off our water in Detroit – [Narrator 3] They demolished our homes in the Naqab – [Narrator 1] They swallowed our homes in New Orleans – [Narrators] When I see them, I see us (steady percussive music) – [Narrator 1] They see our wombs as dangerous, label us demographic threats They sterilize us without our knowledge – [Narrator 4] Mark our children as criminal – [Narrator 2] We say no to all forms of oppression, in U.S. cities or on Palestine’s streets – [Narrator 3] We respect the uniqueness of our struggles and our varied histories – [Narrators] When I see them, I see us (steady percussive music) – [Narrator 1] Resilient, steadfast, determined

I see who we were meant to be – [Narrator 3] Alive, free, liberated – [Narrator 1] Mapping out our destiny – [Narrator 3] I see hope – [Narrator 4] Strength – [Narrator 2] Love – [Narrator 1] A place where our children can dream – [Narrator 2] I see a road – [Narrator 3] A partner – [Narrator 4] A family – [Narrators] A world where we can rise and be seen – So this video did really well It went viral It’s still being shown, and the video isn’t just the video, the video comes as part of a website, and I appreciate Ebony at the time, you know, recognizing that the web– there’s a lot of knowledge production at work as well to frame the video, how it should be received, the bibliography that it comes with, the script in full, the script translated into Arabic, so just a little bit about the struggles involved in making the video in terms of how is it we’re also dealing with these controversies that are unsettled One of them is the fact that we wanted to make sure that we were not implying sameness That somehow, because of all these– which is hard, because obviously you’re seeing a lot similarity, but that the similarities aren’t, isn’t what’s producing the solidarity, the solidarity itself is being produced because of the political commitment And so there’s a line explicitly about that, that says we respect the uniqueness of our struggles and our varied histories, right? So that was very deliberate to make sure that we were not trying to say any two things that look alike suddenly are, should rise to the level of solidarity Another issue that comes up with this is the fact that, and the critique if you’re thinking about an anti-black critique is the erasure of Afro-Palestinians who aren’t in the video And so if we’re indeed committed to Black-Palestinian solidarity in a way that’s a commitment to combat anti-blackness, then we just reified that by excluding, by not centering the Afro-Palestinians amongst us And somehow, dealing with the question of Afro-Israelis, if we’re thinking about, if anti-blackness is the guiding light, then it displaces nationalism as the primary, as the primary conceptualizing framework, and so it should change the video And other things that, for example, that you’d never know but maybe you can guess is that the back end of this, the editing and all of that filmmaking work, the sounds and the rest of it, even the production of the music is mostly Palestinian made So there was also critique that the aesthetic wasn’t black, right, and so what does that mean when we’re doing Black-Palestinian solidarity and how are we working together? So that even in producing this work in fact that is still resonate, there’s these problematics that come up It’s a learning process Surely we learned how to make the next video, if there is a next video But in addition, it’s also, that’s what’s giving life to these things that we still have to think about and figure out, so with that, I just wanna end with a few things One is that delegations are now continuing and have become a very much central part of the struggle of delegations from Palestine to the United States, like the father of Nowar Somata, Abu Nowar, I’m forgetting his last name, whose son, whose 16-year-old son was killed by an Israeli sniper, and he’s still in Israeli court trying to prosecute him, which is almost impossible because prosecuting an Israeli soldier is basically prosecuting the entire tree You can’t just get one apple Of course, there is an exception of a soldier who is now recently subject to 18 months, but the reason for that and what the Defense Minister of Israel will even tell you is because he didn’t act from a superior command, he shot without command on his own and that was the threat That’s another conversation, you can ask me in Q&A But Abu Nadeem was in the United States and was in Ferguson and was part of the work of building solidarity The Dream Defenders have taken delegations to Palestine, there’s another one, you saw images of that, and there’s another one this summer Most recently, most recently, our most recent victory in terms of Black-Palestinian solidarity and BDS victory, you might have seen this Israel planned an NFL Junket and invited 11 NFL players to Israel to basically be on a propaganda tour And these players didn’t know what they were invited to, they thought it was a free trip to the Holy Land And so part of the work that we were doing and because of the connections that were already making and because these NFL players were already involved in the BLM movement, that for us, it wasn’t necessarily about reaching out directly to them, it was about reaching out to our allies in the BLM movement to say,

if you are working with this person and they’re already committed to this movement, it makes sense for them to know that Palestinians don’t want them to go on this trip Six out of the 11 NFL players canceled This is a letter from Michael Bennett who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, and I mean, I don’t need to read it, if you want you can read it The only thing that I’ll summarize and say is that he just didn’t wanna be used Nobody gave him the full information At the same time, he had no idea, and he actually gave me permission to read something that he sent me today when I was on the train, and he says, “Man, I’ve been doing more research now “and I completely understand the correlation “between the Palestinian movement and the black movement.” Even though when he first started, his first question was, “Are Palestinians black?” And I had to explain, no they actually look a lot like Israelis And there’s a lot of black Palestinians and there’s a lot of black Israelis, and that’s not how this looks like in the region So how do we explain that And then he pulled out of the trip, and when he pulled out, he posted this image of Stokely Carmichael and Martin– Dr. King, and says no Israel for me, and has become the center of a lot of attention and is happily picking up that mantel and is now working and wants to work with other athletes, not just on Palestine but on other issues, but Palestinian is a central part of it And as we do that work, we’re also figuring out how do we do this the most ethically, who are we accountable to, who are we speaking to, who are we organizing, and what is the horizon for emancipation and what is the responsibility of the solidarity work that we’re doing? Thank you (audience applauds) And now please welcome Professor Ebony – Thank you Let’s see, got some height adjustments Great So I’ve actually been taking notes in response to both of you, so to make this a genuine conversation, I’m going to elaborate on some trends, some things, some ideas, that began us this evening So I’ll frame it in two ways One, as Noura said, how do we define Black-Palestinian solidarity? I think there are of course so many ways, but I’m gonna take it from two different angles One, Alex suggested historical conjunctures that enable solidarity are shifting over time, and so we have to be attentive to when and how that is happening And so I’m gonna give you a couple of examples of historical conjunctures that enabled solidarity for me So that second way is to use personal narrative also I think it’s a powerful contextualizing gesture to share your own experience, rather than overgeneralizing to everyone’s experience So don’t mind me, I will be personal The first thing I wanna address is something that was already raised in terms of this anti-blackness in Palestinian solidarity roundtable that happened in 2015 I thought it was a wonderful idea, but also knowing that many people have different stakes and interests in the concept of anti-blackness So I thought it would be worthwhile to just narrowly define what I meant by it in participating in that panel And then also, got louder, (laughing) and then also distinguish it from maybe a broader notion and talk about the work of containing our definitions So in that panel, I was very, in that context, I was very interested in thinking about anti-blackness not as a way to condemn certain kinds of representational practice or to identify the thinness of a certain kind of solidarity, but to rather use it as a consciousness raising moment, to say that anti-blackness is an instance that can happen within a solidarity movement when you realize that you are actually using black people as metaphors What do I mean by that? Well, you already know (laughing) But you know, when you use black people as metaphors, you tacitly anchor them at the lowest possible social position You understand them to be disposable, to be the marker, the evidence of state violence realized You believe somehow that black people, inherent in their very bodies, represent that which cannot be escaped Therefore, you don’t want to be black The limits of the substitutable idea of what analogies are find its limits in the black body If the idea is that you don’t really want to be black,

then your solidarity is actually premised on not really understanding the fullness, the range, the placidity, the flexibility and the joy of black experience So it would be a very limited kind of view to partner with people who you understand to be the walking dead So I just wanted to say that, for me, understanding anti-blackness is conceptually useful only in so far as it points out that black people are not the sort of ur-metaphor for the future dead, they are not a way to mark the success of the state in disposing of certain bodies So if that’s the case, what does it change? And I would say that it really shifts the focus to the specificity of context and to, I’m gonna say it and you’re gonna be like huh, infrastructure, so what do I mean? I’m very interested in the ways that these movements intersect and immediately surface our brilliance, which is our sudden vocabulary for talking about the various structures, processes, kind of unintended consequences of policies, et cetera, that harm us We become very adept at speaking about the multi-dimensional situation that erodes our life chances, and this is a basic insight from black feminist theory, from the idea that your standpoint, right, at the intersection of multiple modes of oppression actually gives you some way to speak about the way that oppression manifests And this become a working vocabulary for many movements So I also take this position and believe that there’s a real opportunity for us to speak about the things that we bear witness to, and then second if we only want to be a witness So I’ll give you three examples of this The first one is that my own kind of, I suppose we can call it like coming of age, right, everybody has their when I came to solidarity work moment, but for me, Black-Palestinian solidarity was always already at the beginning, and that is to say that I arrived at college in a moment of extremely high density sort of activist activity, interest, and so on, and this is an ideal situation, to be in a college at this moment in time, at this historical juncture that generates a kind of self-motivated desire to read, to learn, to understand experiences beyond your own Every teacher wants this, right? You’re like, it’s like a golden seminar where everybody comes ready and they’ve read more than you’ve asked them to In any case, I was in college in a moment like this, and I was really, Williams College had started, just nascently, started the Multicultural Center, which was a physical building that was dedicated to these ongoing conversations between various groups that would eventually become the Minority Coalitional And the director of that group was a Somali woman and her brother was also a student there, and the Dualehs were amazing, right, because they had what seemed to be unlimited patience for the most repetitive conversations ever And really, honestly, I think immigrants have this disposition more than anyone else, which is this intense tolerance to have repetitive conversations So Mahmoud had this conversation with me which he must get many times, because he was inviting that other part of headscarf, hailing as I like to call it, which is he was wearing a keffiyeh and he was wearing it every single day of the week And I said, who wears the same scarf every day, right? What is this, did your mother give it to you, right? And this actually is the beginning of my politics Did your mother give it to you? Now what does he have to tell me in return? So because of his eminent patience, he sat down and gave me a very 101-ish type of thing, but I kept coming back to the Multicultural Center because I thought, this is actually a space of pure learning unmatched in my other interactions How many of you have ever felt that, where you learn something from a peer? Exactly right, that feels just like, this is what college is So I had that moment, and I feel really gifted to have had that At the same time, this was not just about attachment to a particular issue, right, he wasn’t just explaining the concept of Palestinian liberation, he was saying, why do so many people have it in the unthinkable column? So he presented to me the project of imagining freedom as something that is not limited to the sayable or to the permissible, and that also was a gift

And we should say that to each other as much as possible, right, because too often, now that I’m back in the States, I’m just like oh my god, you guys are so rule bound, you so need a permit for anything (laughing) And so, you know, Mahmoud taught me, the first time he said no, this is not necessary, you can think, you can read, and we can talk So I’ll say that the campus as a space of solidarity is absolutely precious, and we need to fight for that, so any time we have groups that are barred from campus because of the type of solidarity work they’re doing, and I’m speaking specifically of SJP here and their recent struggle at Fordham, we need to fight for them, their right to exist and facilitate the kinds of of conversations that really are the best college has to offer So that said, that’s from a student perspective, eventually obviously became a faculty member, and so that’s another side of the coin, right, because there are different kinds of responsibilities that came to light in that context And so I’ll say that my first tenure-track job was at the American University in Cairo, and this is a very different kind of context, but for two important reasons First, I arrived there as an immigrant myself, so my process of learning, you know, where I was gonna live, how to ask for basic things, I didn’t come by graduate training prepared to teach in Egypt So I arrived with this kind of mindset, and this kind of mindset encourages you to be a really humble public learner (laughs), right, you’re always learning basic things all the time in front of other people, so there can’t be a lot of ego And this turned out to serve me well, because I arrived in 2009, and shortly, it became important for me to think about issues that I had never considered in my life, right? And I was aided in this by someone who we already saw in the video which was Sherene Seikaly, fortunately arrived at the same time that I did in Cairo, and she was teaching Palestinian history, and she was also teaching a course on Zionism And in this special context as we did what people do, which is share experiences in courses, I learned that of course it is the case, this is one of those obvious public learner moments, I’m just gonna share it with you, no ego, which is the obviousness that everyone is receiving their understanding of Palestinian history vis-a-vis a national narrative Everyone is vetting vis-a-vis a national narrative, and so even in Egypt of course And it produced certain kinds of complications, certain kinds of tensions, certain kinds of things that needed to be worked out and worked through with a lot of reading, lot of conversation, a lot of patience And I appreciated the manner in which Sherene did that, and really, it expanded my own pedagogy, but it also made me look for the ways in which I had made certain assumptions that needed to be revised, and the big assumption is this, and this maybe has happened to some of you, I don’t know, you’re more sophisticated about this, but I had projected a kind of solidarity onto an entire group of people, so all Arabs wanted Palestinian liberation In my mind, this seemed so oh, of course Why, because, because this seemed like something that was, again, this naturalness that people project onto Black-Palestinian solidarity, and it’s not true But of course, I had to learn that in process, in context, in conversations, and in bearing witness to tensions and nuance that I needed to incorporate into my understanding So I say that only because wherever you find yourself in whatever context, you have to be a public learner on some of these issues and look for your growth points as well The second area was that the revolution, of course, transformed the questions I was asking in general And it affected my scholarship, to be in the streets is not to be just an observer but actually, well, in my case (laughs), you know, my students tell me I was more committed than them But you know, it transformed some of my basic questions, but it also importantly reanimated concepts that had become somewhat stale in the classroom, and I think this is also what Black-Palestinian solidarity invites us to do, which is, during, after 2011, a lot of my courses changed, but suddenly students were showing up to class asking things like, what is a state? What makes a revolution successful? How is freedom defined and by whom? And the first two years, I was praying for them to ask these questions But you know, the context and the sort of political changes, the historical conjuncture, changes the intellectual questions students might have, and as a faculty member, you’re responsible to meet them at that place So I’m speaking as someone who had to be flexible and transform my syllabi as a result of this moment

That is not a negative thing, that it is a positive thing, and that is a responsive education So I did that, and as a result, I wound up working with my former colleague, Ira Dorkin, on a collected, set of collected essays and comparative American studies that were on transnational American studies, and Greg Thomas who’s not here contributed to that, so I was hoping for a nice segue there to his talk, but in any case, he wrote a piece on George Jackson and Palestinian solidarity and the sort of ways in which the Black Power Movements inspired Palestinian liberation concepts, but at the same time, it got morphed in the process So what are things that get sort of changed in translation, what are the things that get misattributed, and he really tried to recuperate the mistakes into a kind of value, source of meditation on solidarity So I actually like this idea, and I think we can recuperate many of our mistakes into a source of meditation on solidarity, and I would encourage all of us to do so So with that said, I wanna pivot a little bit, oh, and say something about delegations, which is that I was fortune in 2014 when I was one my way back to the U.S to participate in PARC seminar, the Palestinian American Research Center, an amazing source of support for faculty who are interested in developing collaborative research, scholarship, and also just deepening their awareness of what’s going on the in the occupied territories So that also was another pivot point, and that was a relief in some ways, which sounds odd, because there’s a gatekeeping sensibility that sometimes happens in public dialogue, where you almost feel the silence in the room that is generated by the presumption that you must be an expert or know everything This is a terrible situation, this is like anti-learning So when I went on this trip, right, all you have to do is go through one checkpoint and that problem is solved, because it’s obvious what’s happening Occupation is obvious, if you are working through its infrastructure However, if you are the subject, right, you’re the subject of segregation, you’re the subject, you’re the target, of someone’s machine gun, you’re the target of a checkpoint, you have a certain kind of experience in which you can bear witness to how the infrastructure works, as I said, the black feminist theory, this was the basic insight And so I took this and I said yes, I know what I am seeing Now it’s not possible to argue with me today that occupation is despicable Try Because I know it So we have to be careful when people argue with us about some things that really, we can, it’s okay to say that’s obvious But you do also have questions, so you can hold those two things together Alright, anyway, that’s all I wanted to say about that seminar, because what I’m really interested in is what happened after 2014, which I think is another historical conjuncture, which is that Black Lives Matter in general kind of came to the national foreground, and I was, you know, really deeply prepared without knowing it to come back to the U.S., because I was deeply interested I was traveling back and forth between East Jerusalem and Ramallah for this program and I was deeply interested in the police state and its operations, how it functioned And of course, I came back to the U.S and went ah, police state, how it functions, and so on And so I think (laughing) that these concepts are just really useful, right? You’re not using bodies to mediate a kind of analogous relation of subject position, you’re using the concept of the police state to understand what it is you’re working against It’s obvious So I think we should use these concepts and not just use each other’s bodies in this way The other observation I wanna make is that there’s a way in which Black Lives Matter and Black-Palestinian solidarity converged around method And so I’ll just say that, and Angela Davis says this as well in sort of the freedom struggles collection of interviews from Ferguson to Palestine, which is that if you’re paying attention to one, what are the structures that enable disposability, assault, exploitation, what are the ways in which funding is secured for such activities, what is your role in bearing witness to or interrupting the ease with which that occurs? So that seemed to me just a very nice way to kind of enter in to some of these questions of solidarity and complicity even, what can you do? Are you a witness and what else? So two things happened as a result of that,

I said hey, what are you doing actually? And so I wanted to do more vis-a-vis the proximate areas of influence that I was involved in, I happen to be a member of an absurd number of academic associations And it turns out that academic associations are ready, in some significant part, to mobilize around BDS So this became an interesting kind of area for me to think about, the American Studies Association, Middle East Studies Association, Triple A, Modern Language Association, and the African Studies Association, so I’m only gonna speak about two because all of these have their different contexts, right? And some of these contexts are teaching us about the language that’s available to advance solidarity, and then some of these contexts are teaching us about the unsayble So I wanna use one example of both The first is the American Studies Association, which I think is probably exemplary in the style of conversation in the lead up to the vote on the BDS resolution, because it was one that every association defines what they mean by support, so they may mean on the conservative end, support for you to boycott, right, without letting other people pressure you, without you losing your job, whatever, support for your right to boycott And then the other end as an association, not entering into agreements that violate the boycott and not entering into agreements that essentially affirm the occupation, right, without any accountability And so ASA took this other route, and I was really proud because I saw the convergence of intellectual work, with activist work in its most ideal form, and that is everybody who came up, from graduate students to retired faculty, a full range of people and positions, but using such analytic prowess, right, to be able to say, this is not a matter of just automatic solidarity, this is a thought-out process in which the police state featured strongly, settler colonialism featured strongly, the notion of the Palestinian exclusion, so claiming rights that tacitly exclude Palestinians All of these things came up in the town hall, and I was so proud but also I saw the way in which graduate students made that experience part of their own education, it was a formative moment, a historical conjuncture, and you’ll see a whole generation of scholars who are deeply affected by that moment of possibility I’m so excited by this, I was like, next association, you know, but it doesn’t function that way in every association So the MLA is perhaps (laughing) on the other end I’ll just speak about this briefly, ’cause I really just wanna talk about African studies after this But the MLA is on the other end, in a lot of ways, really marks out the terrain of the unsayable In a lot of ways, Palestinians are not speakable in that space, it’s really stunning I’ve never seen such an intense need for Racial superiority to be articulated by people who know better So it was a, normally you would expect some more nuanced presentation or justification that would kind of dance around, then you have to do some analysis to figure out who did you exclude But no, it was quite bald And I found that as depressing as that was to hear, it was also energizing to see how many people refused that logic and spoke out against it anyway So I just wanna say that sometimes, speaking out at risk, right, of what you feel may be professional kind of alienation or difficulty in that moment, many people were taking that risk, and you should be empowered and affirmed that that’s possible, right, it’s not like one person, it’s not even five people, it was a lot of people So even though that whole scene was dispiriting in some sense, in another sense, it really does speak to the ways in which you have to keep having these conversations, right, in any space that’s proximate to you So I’ll just say that this is what happened with African Studies Association, we began having this conversation last year, no, two years ago, was it two years now? Two, okay And that was because the Triple A vote narrowly didn’t pass What’s that? – One year – One year, oh my god, we’re so over And so we are watching– no, it did, that’s the year it did pass, so the preliminary vote, there are so many votes on votes to get the right to vote about voting! But in that year, no, that was the year they got the option to put it on the ballot So as were in the African Studies meeting, people who were also members of ASA were checking their newsfeed to see how the vote was going

And this is such an interesting thing, now I was in the Ghana studies meeting, ’cause I do other work on Ghana, and so we’re sitting in the Ghana studies meeting literally just checking and like refresh, refresh, refresh, and when that came out, it became clear that we should have a conversation within African Studies about what role we would play And that was our first BDS working group meeting, and it was really fantastic space, and I think since then, it’s also evolved to mark out a terrain in which we can have specific kinds of conversations relevant to African Studies So I’ll just name two things that have come up in that space but I think are particular and not at all duplicated in let’s say the MLA or even American Studies So the first thing, and maybe it’s already been mentioned here in the sort of critique given back to the video was that, who are black Palestinians? And the itineraries of migration that always implicate Africa, in the presence of black Palestinians, which is to say that there are many different roots by which people have arrived over hundreds of years to Palestine, some of them voluntary, some of them through pilgrimage, some of them through trade, some of them through slavery, some currently through human trafficking, and some through such harsh terms of migration that it results in something akin to imprisonment and will become deportation These are different itineraries of migration And so that conversation, to hold that within African Studies, changes the questions we ask You can no longer use the black body to mark an exclusion, something you by default have to include because of course there are black Palestinians, but no, it’s to engage these questions richly And so I look forward to what African Studies has to contribute to the conversation on an intellectual level and also the conversation about what our complicity is in producing substandard conditions for African bodies and African Palestinian bodies, to be in Israel-Palestine A second question that was very interesting and just has come up in the last year is the role of South African apartheid as like the preeminent analogy So Sean Jacobs and was it Jon Soske, or? His co-editor, they edited a book called Apartheid Israel, and it explores this question of the analogy Is this is the same, is it different, how and what terms, how far can you keep talking like this and so on And the book launch happened at African Studies and also contributed to this question of BDS, right? What is our investment, what are the ways in which African studies scholars have a stake and understanding of the relationship between these two movements, and what triggered, which I didn’t expect, is that in the 80’s, not every supported it, a boycott, in African studies And so it’s re-enlivened very old debates and positions that raise that stance to the level of principle, so when you have more than one case, right, you start arguing from principle And so it’s going to be a very interesting debate for us, to ask is it a principle that you don’t support boycott under all conditions, when now in retrospect, we say you should have So this is a novel moment for us, and I really look forward to opening that up So I’ll just conclude by saying that you know, my approach is just to work in your proximate locations where you have some measure of influence to generate a conversation, and I think that to me is the substance of solidarity Thank you (audience applauds) – Thank you to Noura and Ebony for these amazing presentations I just, I wanna pose a couple questions, one more academic than the other, and then, if we have time, to open it up for other questions that you guys might have It was, while writing for the progressive magazine in Southern Lebanon that June Jordan, the African American poet, saw the connections between Israel’s bombing of Southern Lebanon in Operation Grapes of Wrath and the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles It was while watching coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the ways that CNN called black exodus from that city in terms of, they called the residents of New Orleans refugees, that Suheir Hammad began to think about connections between refugees in Palestine and in New Orleans, and obviously as Noura pointed out, it was the conjuncture of the attack on Gaza

and Ferguson and other police violence that enabled other kinds of insights But as Suheir Hammad pointed out in her writing, black Americans are not refugees and Palestinians are, and of course Operation Grapes of Wrath was a sort of collective mission on Southern Lebanon, and Rodney King was different What is, we know what’s productive about similarities, about analogies, but is there something also productive about teasing out differences and particularities, and how can we understand that as productive of solidarity movements and Black-Palestinian solidarity in particular? – Okay sure So two things come to mind I mean, first I just, hopefully by tomorrow this article will be out in Transition, but I had written a piece, what feels like now years ago, about reception of Alex Haley’s Roots in Egypt And you know, it was a thought experiment, really, and an excuse to go about talking about race in Egypt, which I found to be a very complex subject and one that people didn’t readily enter into And yet somehow they love talking about Roots, so I was like yes, jackpot, so we’re going to figure out what made this such an appealing story to so many Egyptians In the process, I also realized that you know, I should talk to Nubians, because of course, they might have received this differently And of course they did In many ways, they responded to my projection of identification with another African with curiosity They said no, this, of course he’s Muslim Kunta Kinte, he’s Muslim It’s terrible what happened to him You know, they were very sympathetic But the second he became a slave, they saw no identification Why? You know, so the conversations we had about slavery and blackness, and this is back to what I was saying earlier, there’s a necessary rupture between slavery and blackness It is not mapped on to each other, and it has not always been so And so it allowed me to have that conversation in that community and then to take that conversation across the street to people who still believed blackness is slavery Hailing black people as slave So I thought it was a productive experiment to sort of say like, there’s some real differences here, and then there are also some ways in which similarity is projected in a problematic way that we need to be able to talk about, so I thought it was such a great way to talk about this thing that I felt so uncomfortable intervening in But in terms of Black-Palestinian solidarity, I think my point of entry has been about charting these itineraries of migration and really pointing to the specificity of that as a way to open up or give some language to difference, and to not reduce or flatten, because I think, I’m sensitive, so I’ve been taking this as a kind of global blackness, not just as African American solidarity with Palestinians, that’s clear already So I take it as a comment on Africans, often, and you know, I mean, I’ve got skin in the game, this is my family, you know, is from West Africa, so I’m like oh, let’s be more particular But I think it’s also just in general that African Americans would also want some particularity to the struggle and to noting the ways in which the substitution does a certain violence at times So maybe the difference interrupts the violence of substitution in a crucial way that should be a part of any solidarity conversation – I think that’s a fantastic question, and I definitely want, I think we should all be thinking on it more I’m trying to think of instructive moments where that (sighs), either in the classroom or outside of the classroom, to help us think about a few things So one thing, I don’t know how many of you here are active activists, identify as activists, hands up, just, hey (laughing) Yay (laughs) You shape the future and the past, so, I’m very proud, I am an activist And so one of the things though that I think that activists communities often time, and here I’m using generalities, but that activist communities fall into this trap of trying to compare suffering And so there’s this what people call oppression Olympics,

or who suffers more, who gets to speak, you’re, you know, you’re a white cishetero man, you can speak on nothing, and so then you start to ask, well then which Palestinians get to speak I’m thinking of my community right, placing myself, how you know, you must be the refugee, you must have been excluded, you had to have been paperless and undocumented, and anyway, so what does that get us to, in this context, in Black-Palestinian solidarity, it gets us to a lot of places, especially when we start to think about the relative privilege that Palestinians exercise in the United States, even though, even though, Palestinians as well as Muslims and Arabs more generally are subject now more than ever before, although they have been before certainly, as indicated by the trial against the L.A. 8 or the hounding of certain leaders like Abdeen Jabara and others, that now more than ever, there’s an Islamophobic machine that criminalizes Palestinians, creates them as threats and forces them to prove innocence and assumes their guilt ipso facto, which sound quite familiar, but relative to black communities in the United States, they can exercise a certain amount of privilege that isn’t available and that black communities may not be eligible for And so that creates a certain type of tension, and some of that tension is actually part of thinking about beyond the particular experience, but to take it to the meta level, as you were describing Ebony, to think about what is the police state, to think about the ease with which some communities are being disposed of, to think about the different profit margins that are being gained using all bodies, and those bodies can be interchangeable And one of the ways that that comes up, so there’s relative ease with which Palestinians can be killed, and one of the things that I think it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said when thinking about the South African analogy, black South Africans had it horribly, but they were never caged in and attacked with aerial gunships And so if we are going to go down this idea of thinking about the sameness or the differences, I don’t know how, you know, I don’t know how productive it is if we’re focusing on that alone instead of using it as places of instruction What is the state capable of doing, how does it reproduce and reify and protect certain privileges for certain communities, and who becomes eligible for disposability and who becomes eligible for salvation in that process? And I think thinking about the ways that these mechanisms of control travel, right, so that now the mechanisms of control that are being used to patrol our borders, to securitize our border with Mexico, those are the same mechanisms of control that are moved into urban communities in order to police urban communities Mechanisms of control that are used for example in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank, targeted killings are extra-judicial assassinations They become targeted killings, but the experimentation of it begins with Israel’s– the Israeli military’s use of it against Palestinians and then exports it to the rest of the world, now in neutered way that we call targeted killings, and so on and so forth, so that both mechanisms of control are transported and exchanged, but so are methods of resistance, and so that those methods of resistance are actually quite instructive, not only in the way that we resist with one another but also in the joy that we produce And I really appreciate you pointing that out, and it was one of the things we wanted to show in the video, that the story of, I’ll speak for Palestinians, that the story of Palestinians is also one of tremendous joy and resilience and happiness We’re fighting to live If there wasn’t anything to live for, why would we be fighting so hard, right? And so also, that that also comes to constitute how we think of ourselves, and I think that that becomes very generative in practice – Thank you both Just I wanna ask one more question, and this one is somewhat impossible to answer because it’s about the future But it’s about the, actually, we’ve been talking about general historical conjunctures, things that make us see the world in different ways, things that make us see the world connections in new ways But today, we’re in a very different conjuncture, a different historical conjuncture, and we don’t know yet what’s going to happen But I just wanna pose a question and just see what you both think about this

Recently, a mosque in Texas was destroyed by arsonists And as well, just a couple days ago a Jewish cemetery in Missouri was vandalized And we’ve seen Jewish community centers targeted with bomb threats, we’ve seen Islamophobia, which is nothing new nor is antisemitism, but we’ve seen heightened examples of both But in the Texas mosque case, we saw that the local synagogue in that community offered its space to Muslims so that they could continue to have a place to worship, and in the case of the Jewish cemetery in Missouri, we saw that a Palestinian woman, Linda Sarsour, helped organize funds to rebuild this week, or as soon as possible, that cemetery So are there ways in which the kind of misery produced by the current conjuncture towards so many people might realign solidarity movements in new ways that may link at least a portion of a Jewish American left to Black-Palestinian solidarity? Yes or no, it’s a yes or no question (laughing) – I’m, I’ll just, so without going into tremendous amount of detail, I also wanna say that there has been space in this movement for Jewish solidarity from the beginning, because the principles upon which Black-Palestinian solidarity have been established are principles of anti-subordination, that have been principles about centering the most marginalized communities, about resisting state force and about resisting a status quo that necessarily excludes the most in order to privilege a few And so I think part of that work is the fact that you know, also thinking about historically, there are, you know, what are these binaries that we’re creating, right? So Black-Palestinian solidarity, and I know Ebony that you were saying you’re thinking about this globally, but for many people who are involved in this movement in the way that it’s articulated are thinking very U.S.-centric because if you do think about it, there are black Palestinians, right, and there are Palestinians who are black, and so one, that you can’t necessarily dissect these binaries, in the same way that there are Jews who are Palestinians and that the construction of Jewish identity that is constructed and transformed revived from religious adherence into a national category is one that not all Jews participate in And so part of the struggle is also thinking about who is Israel speaking on behalf on when it speaks on, when it says it’s speaking on behalf of protecting a global Jewry, and that’s why there’s also resistance to these notions which makes this moment so full of potential to elucidate where these conversations are happening I think one of the most disappointing things that we’ve seen is that the Israeli establishment itself that’s committed to collapsing a movement against anti-Jewish bigotry and collapsing anti-Zionism as a movement that is working to dismantle a settler colonial movement as established in Palestine, that the Israeli establishment that’s committed to that is hurting itself more than anything else, so that when Netanyahu is tweeting to Trump, “I congratulate you on building on that wall “We built a wall and it made us much safer.” Is he really speaking on behalf of Jewish Americans? I would, I’m not saying I would hope now, I actually don’t think so at all I think that there’s a minority of people who would subscribe to those ideals, and in fact, that even folks who might support the wall in Palestine would oppose it here, which also becomes really illuminating Like what are the ways that we’re securitizing Palestinians that becomes palatable in a different context, and yet here, we oppose it? And so similarly in the discussion of, I think it was when Trump was ready to– I can’t remember the specifics so I’m actually not gonna ruin this, but the idea that when what was at stake was upholding Israel as a sanctity as opposed to upholding the principle of anti-subordination and violence and ending violence against Jews, that there were many who supported Trump who supported upholding Israel as somehow

something sacrilegious at the expense of the rest of the principle of protecting humans And I think that these are ruptures that we’ve been familiar with if you’re part of movement building, but if you’re not part of it, it’s coming to light, and I think that we’re gonna see more of it and not less, and there’s already movements that are doing that work that are just going to grow as opposed to starting something completely new – Yeah, I mean, I’m just gonna affirm that I think there’s certainly an expanded conversation in this moment about the danger of an ethno-racial state A lot of people have been talking about that for a long time, but I think, I was just at a teach-in on Monday, and I found it was really instructive to read together the executive orders that really beckon solidarity movements to reinvent just for efficiency of mental space I mean, because these things come every other day How are you gonna digest it all unless you see the connections between them So obviously, it’s the case that you have a sort of national narrative of enemy-ship, of exclusion that is supposed to fortify and rebuild an ethno-racial state called America that foregrounds mediocre white men And so I think that– (laughing) no, but I mean honestly, it’s unrepresentative So you know, but you have, you have this kind of proposal, and I think people, they find it easy to critique in the kind of everyday conversations, but when you look at the text, you’re faced with the question of implementation Read the implementation memos as well So you’re faced with a question of how is this idea that I find abhorrent operationalized and where does it meet me? Like at what point does it come to my doorstep, not because it applies to you but maybe you’re in a job that has enrolled you in this project against your will So what I see now is like a real opportunity for people to revitalize their understanding of where they enter in this struggle from wherever they’re at because it’s so capacious So in terms of Trumpism and these executive orders, I think people are automatically thinking more globally because the executive orders are so much about migration, about movement, about rights of mobility and so on So I’m really depressed in some sense, but in another sense, I really am happy that certain conversations are reaching a broader audience – I don’t have pages, but I wanted to thank our panelists for their excellent contributions, and also open it up, I think we have about 15 minutes or so for questions If there are a lot of questions, please keep yours concise, and we’ll take a few at once So I’d like to open it up And I don’t know if you just wanna– – We’re starting right now – Okay great So raise your hand if you’d like to ask a question (laughing) – [Questioner] I don’t know if it’s sort of formulated as a question yet, but something that struck me when the two of you were speaking, and thank you to the three of you, but something that struck me is that Noura Maybe I can actually frame it as a question, hold on You know, part of your critique if you will seems to often be targeted at the state, right, at the police, at the government, at the state, and so on, and then I listened to Ebony, and Ebony sort of taking me on the migratory trajections and sort of pan-global blackness and so on, right? And so there’s a sort of interesting, not tension, but maybe, I’m not sure, of one of you is sort of kind of thinking about it in this very state-bound way, and the other of you is trying to somehow think of it in a different way I’m not saying that– maybe I’ve misunderstood it, and I’m not saying that one is right and one is wrong, but that there’s somehow these different lenses through which to sort of understand something And I just wonder if that can also be, if that is already a point of contention in these circles, if that’s something that’s productive, or to what extent is it perhaps just a reflection of your own kind of disciplines and like intellectual trajectories I don’t know if this makes any sense, but – Yeah, I’m trained as a lawyer (laughs) So yeah, so I mean, maybe we can have this as a conversation, but I’ll just put that– yeah, I mean Ebony was gonna say, aren’t you a lawyer, so I’m trained as a lawyer Part of my work in addition to activism and just thinking about this in terms of scholarship is I study and teach critical race theory Critical race theory is concerned with the ways in which the civil rights movement

is an insufficient response to institutionalized racism in the the way that racism is systemic and entwined in all of our institutions, of capital, of higher learning, of primary learning, of even leisure and entertainment and so on and so forth, and so the way that I tend to understand these things, I don’t think that there’s any boogeyman, and I think that we’re all responsible and that we’re all empowered and these things can change, but I also see that there’s embodiment of the way that power operates and that power is very flexible, right? So that if power is fluid and it too is constructing the way that, what race looks like, race is also fluid, and it’s not a pre-ordained figure The way that I read that, the way that I read how that’s encapsulated is either in policy or law, whether it be part of a business, whether it be part of a university, whether it be part of a state and the deployment of violence and how the state organizes its violence, that it revolves around certain principles that have been enshrined in law and can be implemented So that’s kind of why I think my focus has been so much on the state, but also why my most vexing question to myself has been, what is emancipation beyond the state? Because the state is not the answer, right, so I started by saying that in the 1960’s, the struggle was in fact to overthrow an external threat in order to govern oneself, self-determination and self-governance in that form, and what we find in the past, what, six decades, is that even when we govern ourselves, we’re awful (laughing) So that even, we’re, the Arab uprisings, I mean, we’re the greatest threat to ourselves, so clearly, the state in and of itself is not the answer, so what is the horizon? Where do we go? And in even thinking about demands that we make beyond just change, you know, beyond these ideas of reform and whatnot and dismantling institutionalized forms of violence, then what? And so that’s the question I’m asking myself and probably what I was articulating – About that, which is, you know, I teach in an interdisciplinary rhetoric program, so in a lot of ways, tracking the institutional conditions in which certain arguments arise and become available, certain constraints, certain social movements that try to transform what institutions speak to and address This is something that’s interesting to me, and as a result, you wind up tracking two things, one, policy and law, but also what policy and law never anticipated So forms of resistance, reinvention, creative re-deployments of let’s say paperwork, documents, whatever, to yield a kind of freedom that is officially prohibited And so this is maybe the weaving in and out that is my disposition, because I see that as a method that many people have used to try to imagine something beyond what the state intended – Hi, so I was, like a lot of what you’ve said has actually hit a lot of very interesting chords So here at NYU for example in the past year and a half, there was a very large, very, very large coalition of student organizations called the Black and Brown Coalition Likewise within the hashtag discourse, it can be articulated that black and Palestinian solidarity is a type of black and brown solidarity, right? So what I mean here is, well, multiple things One is that what you were just touching upon that the state is not the source of liberation, cannot be the source of liberation, so then what does liberation look like without the state? Two, another point that was constantly articulated is this notion that experiences and phenomenon need to be learning moments or teaching moments, but what’s currently being articulated amongst anarchist, so to speak, circles is the notion that we can revolutionary action before revolutionary consciousness, and then that’s tied to my third point, that is another discourse being articulated being that there will never be one discourse to rule them all Like, this notion that we unify globally, internationally speaking through anti-blackness, to me just looking at the scheme of history, the reality that people just don’t, like this notion that there will be one true intellectual orthodoxy to unify the entire world upon liberation, I don’t, I just don’t see that happening So then how do we imagine liberation in this context

without one true discourse, without necessarily having consciousness before action, so on and so forth, like what does this mean in the context of like, Palestinian, which is to an extent an ethno-national term, and then blackness, which is a racial-national term? – I’m, 20 seconds, okay I’ll say blackness is not just a– well, I guess, okay, we can debate that after So I do wanna raise this question of consciousness, before, after action So I teach a course called Writing Revolution, and in one section of that course, we talk about the Soweto uprisings in South Africa, and there was a big debate at that time because Steve Biko was really a force, an intellectual force to try to educate people about the terms in which change could happen and that black consciousness was a necessary precondition in his view for collective, radical resistance against an apartheid state And one of those reasons is that it enabled a form of thinking that was not always already regulated culturally by the dominant state and by certain incentives the state provided to divide into subgroups and so on, so that black consciousness made itself available as a voluntary affiliation, and it was revaluing blackness in a particular way that was politically potent Now, that sounds great, right? But the Soweto uprising, which involved a lot of young people, was really catalatic in its encounter with the police state, which is to say– and dogs in particular, right, which is to say the visceral experience of attack in the midst of doing something that seems fairly straightforward like a march enabled a certain kind of commitment, a certain kind of association, and a certain sort of newly thinkable realm of action that was not thinkable prior to this moment in the same way So there was some transformation, not just of one’s feelings, but of literally the spectacle of violence generated new options for action that had not been planned on So I think that, but of course, this was a debate, which one works better than the other, and I think that debate only happens when you’re actually in a strategy session trying to decide what to do I don’t think it’s a meta debate, because of course you have room for all of these things – Yeah, I would just add in thinking about those questions that you’re asking, that so much of the answers are produced organically in the work itself as opposed to in the blueprint that then is given I don’t think any of the things that we’re talking about, the examples that were mentioned here today, the several, the various junctures, the Soweto uprising, I’ll bring the Palestinian, Intifada of 1987, because of course there’s several, 1936, 19, 2000 and so on and so forth, but in 1987 in that moment, the uprising is one that, this moment of collective action is quite latent, and yet the spark for it is the ramming, an Israeli driver who rams into a bus of works, laborers who are traveling from Israel back to Gaza, and this becomes the spark for a sustained uprising In that moment, the strategy, there wasn’t necessarily an already ordained strategy, but the strategy becomes to become ungovernable, to actually go off the grid, so that in all the ways that Palestinians had become entwined and part and parcel of the Israeli occupation regime, a central part of the resistance was to no longer be a part of the regime at all, but that the resistance became, for example, running daycare centers, creating schools outside of the school system, that became around food security and food co-ops, that all of these strategies were not strategies of responding to the state but of creating an alternative to it, and something that for most Palestinians now look back on and think of quite, quite romantically in thinking where we’re at right now, where not only are we not ungovernable, not only are we entwined in the occupation regime, but that the Palestinian establishment has become a para-statel unit of the regime so that we can police ourselves And so, but thinking about what then gives rise to that moment, it’s the same questions that we’re asking ourselves right now, right, in thinking how do we respond to the moment when the state, again, Helga, I’m talking about the state, (laughing) when a state is trying, you know, to exclude many to then remove many to turn us in on one another, in thinking about what is our response in this moment, I think that we’re also organically going to be figuring out what is look like and what does consciousness look like in this moment

Is it a moment where our consciousness becomes, well, you know, the liberal alternative was actually much better than this and so we should just work to edify that and not rock that boat anymore, right, or is it a moment of, why is this simply symptomatic, why is this moment symptomatic of the conditions that we’d already been enduring and how is it that we’ve created sustainable alternative while protecting ourselves and one another? – I’m gonna add something, if I could, and that is just quickly to put out another category that we haven’t talked about so much, and that is, in some ways we’ve talked about transnational solidarity through an affective economy that makes us recognize how a certain condition somewhere feels like the condition we’re in here, where we begin to feel that there’s a similarity, kind of like when you hear music someplace else and you say, that sounds familiar, you know, that sampling’s something that I get And then we’ve talked about how the state produces certain connections as well But I wanna sort of throw out there is that for much of the history of Black-Palestinian solidarity, the category that animated that solidarity was a critique of racial capitalism, and not merely a discussion about anti-blackness or even about Palestinian particularity, but about racial capitalism of which imperialism was a key factor And then the last thing I wanna say just very quickly is that the, it seems to me that the current conjuncture and the politics of Black Lives Matter is about so much more than anti-blackness, because here we have an intersectional movement led by queer feminists, and that’s producing different axes altogether of transnational solidarity, and I think that’s something I’m interested in seeing how it materializes into a different kind of movement than the one that I talked about in the 60’s and 70’s – Hi, my name’s Adela Just a quick question that’s directed to the both of you So Ebony, you were talking about the amazing experience of talking to your fellow students and how that was such a formative moment for you and how it really opened your eyes to this whole world of activism and to other cultures So what’s your stance on anti-normalization and non-engagement with pro-Israel groups? It seems like that closes a door to dialogue and it prevents a lot of people from having these moments – [Alex] Was that for all three? Repeat it and then we’ll get to you – It’s for the both of you, just anti-normalization in general You mentioned SJP Fordham, and I know that in the email that was sent out to the entire school was that they refuse to engage in dialogue events because they have a national anti-normalization policy where they don’t engage with pro-Israel groups So if you said that having these personal contacts with other students and having these personal conversations made such a difference to you and it really put things on a personal level where you can understand different things more than any seminar, then how are we closing that door and what is your take on SJP’s national anti-normalization policy? – Hello, okay Yeah, two things First, absolutely personal conversation, and I use the word conversation specifically I think the word dialogue should be trademarked with a capital D when it’s used in this context, because what often is meant is a formally funded public conversation that renders equality where there is none And so what I support instead– – [Audience Member] Hello – That was clear, right? – Yeah! – So what I support instead is an anti-normalization campaign that has a more realistic underpinning I also support email, phones, and in-person conversations I think these are powerful ways to interact with people across different political perspectives, I think we do it every day, I think you don’t have to get a grant to do it, right? I mean, this is what’s truly empowering, is when you are not mediated in what you want to do, go ahead and do it, if you wanna have a conversation But if you wanna have that dialogue with the big D and the trademark, that’s a different story, and I’m not for that But I don’t understand the context of SJP, right? They’re also trying to advocate for conversation So I don’t wanna mix those two up, because I do think a lot of their solidarity work is very much premised on reaching out to other groups and also making sure that there’re different kinds of resources made available than typically are the case supported by universities (laughing) – I’m so sorry, I was a student and dealt with this I just think it’s so ironic, Fordham is gonna ban the organization and prevent it from even speaking because on a platform to just use that justification

that it would refuse to speak to another group Are you serious? (laughing) Are you– on which basis, if you do believe in dialogue, shouldn’t you create a larger platform for SJP? Isn’t that what should’ve been done instead to say they can’t speak at all because they can’t speak to this group? So just on that basis, the things, the ways that Students for Justice in Palestine, the ways that Palestinian scholars are treated, the ways that Palestinian students are treated, the ways that discussions around this issue are treated are so exceptionalized, are so securitized, are so made as issues of controversy that we’re either on the brink of not having the event at all or having the event devoid of any politics so that nobody’s feelings in the room are hurt And that makes, and what’s not, what’s not seen in the invisibility of what’s not seen is how much the faculty and the students that are involved in this are actually dealing with this emotional labor silently where their objections of being physically assaulted, for example, or being harassed, or having FOIAs, Freedom of Information Act being filed against them to get every single email, personal and public, from their account, how that harassment is number one, invisible, and then sanctioned And then asking the same groups then to engage in some sort of politics of civility where there has been none extended to these groups If the key is to speak to everyone then why is it that marginalized groups cannot explain for themselves why they don’t want to engage in optics of parity when there are none Why can’t marginalized groups explain for themselves what their freedom looks like? SJPs have been one of the most educative engines on U.S. campuses Alex wrote a beautiful article that one of the main three reasons that you articulate of why ASA academic boycott comes to pass is specifically because of the space that SJP opened up on campus And so now instead, it’s always a choice that they either speak according to these rules or they do not speak at all Well how is that gonna get us any closer to freedom? How does that get us any closer to actually having a conversation that is formative, that where we’re not just concerned about one kind of feelings but we’re actually concerned about material security and stability? So excuse me for that having that moment, (laughing) and that was not at all about you at all, I actually really, I very much appreciate your question, it was just, it’s, right now in this moment, the Virginia legislature is– I teach in Virginia at a public school The Virginia legislature is considering passing a law that makes any discussion, critique of Israel antisemitic I will have, I will have no job I will have no job, my scholarship will be considered a form of bigotry This is the moment that we’re in This is the moment that we’re in, and because it’s been official to state officials, it was adopted not just, we’re worried about Trump, Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Committee, okay, adopted in its platform a united Jerusalem and also adopted that a key part of its campaign will be to combat Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions across the country We were seeing this coming The criminalization of this kind of protest, by the way, is not just about Palestinians, it’s gonna be about everybody You know what, first they came for the– yeah you know (laughing) It’s all of us or none of us, it’s all of us or none of us So actually decriminalizing this kind of discussion is key for all of us in terms of academic freedom and our political activism – That seems like the perfect ending (audience applauds)