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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Guest Opinion: Blackwashing and Appropriation


On Oct. 12, a 13-year-old Israeli boy was stabbed repeatedly by two Palestinians while riding his bicycle. On Oct. 3, an Israeli man holding his 2-year-old son was stabbed to death. On Oct. 14, a 15-year-old Israeli child was stabbed in the chest while walking in Jerusalem, and a 70-year-old Israeli woman was stabbed to death while trying to board a bus. These are the victims of Palestinian “resistance,” to use the preferred term of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for the murder and attempted murder of unarmed Jewish civilians.

Stabbing children is not resistance. It is not protest. It is not justice. The people of Ferguson knew this, which is why in over a year of protests and activism there, not a single protester saw it fit to murder a child. Not a single protester rammed his car into a packed bus station. Not a single protester gunned down parents in their car while their infant children watched in the backseat. Yet these are exactly the kind of crimes the UC students who “Stand with Ferguson” endorsed on Oct. 14 when they allowed SJP to appropriate the murder of Michael Brown to justify these very murders of Jews in Israel.

This is a textbook example of “Blackwashing,” the appropriation of the struggles of people with African heritage to justify human rights abuses, including the campaigns of suicide bombings, shootings and lynchings that have become known as “intifada.” Groups like SJP profit from the narrative of Palestinians as the “underdog” fighting against the big, bad Israelis. Such narratives view a complex situation as, literally and figuratively, black-and-white. They also serve to hide inconvenient truths that groups like SJP don’t want you to know. These include the fact that Israelis are not white but a multi-ethnic society that includes a large African refugee population; that the Palestinians offered refuge to Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir after the International Criminal Court indicted him for rape and genocide of Africans in Darfur; and that “resistance” groups like Hamas are profiting from human and organ trafficking of Eritreans trying to cross the Sinai. Blackwashing does not just cover for crimes against Jews, but also crimes against Africans.

The appropriation and abuse of Ferguson and other examples of struggles against injustice to justify the killings of Jews—including Jews of color—by Palestinian militants is a double-edged sword. Not only does it lend legitimacy to murder, but also it paints the Ferguson protesters in a negative light by comparing them to the criminals stabbing women and children in Jerusalem. Justice cannot be achieved by murder, not in Missouri and not in Judea. That UC students who allegedly stand for social justice are openly calling for “intifada” — the last of which killed around 1,000 Israelis and 2,000 to 4,000 Palestinians — will not only fail to bring peace to the Middle East, but put a massive stain on the local community whose real struggles for equality are used as nothing more than a tool to help eradicate Israel. To quote a certain civil rights leader and outspoken Zionist whose name graces the UC Davis School of Law, “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist.”

Dr. Matan Shelomi is a UC Davis alum, class of 2014.


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