Stop Co-Opting Our Struggle

I have written about how so-called Pro-Palestinian “activists” have co-opted the struggle of Black Americans in an attempt at intersectionality before. Now, Rashida Tlaib thinks that she has the right to co-opt the struggle of Black Israelis—as if Black people are tokens that she can bring out any time she wants to try to cover up her anti-Semitic speech with false ally-ship.

Black Israelis, along with Sephardim and Mizrahim, have traditionally supported what those in the west would consider right-wing or conservative political leaders. Tlaib, ignorantly assumes that because she (and others like her) have been able to use their Arab heritage to claim discrimination from Jews, that Black Israelis view Israel with the same hatred that she and her brethren do. She is wrong. Black Jews, along with most Jews in the US are ardent Zionists, supporting our people’s right to self-determination. We do not need someone who supports the extermination of our people trying to speak for us—it’s paternalistic, ignorant, and insulting that Tlaib thinks she has the right to speak for anyone but herself.

If Tlaib cares so much for the well being of Black Israelis, why hasn’t she called for the release of Avera Mengistu, held captive in the Gaza Strip since September 2014?

Perhaps it is because Tlaib is fine with ignoring the fact that her Palestinian brethren uphold the treatment of Black people in Arab lands—let’s ask her how she feels about “Abeed”.

If she is really concerned about that “human rights are upheld in Israel and that Palestinians and Black Israelis are treated with equality every human being deserves,” then maybe she will speak out against the brutality the LGBTQ+ community faces in Gaza and the West Bank at the hands of Palestinians

Maybe Tlaib will discuss how LGBTQ+ Palestinians seek refuge in Israel, because they can live in Israel, where, unlike the Palestinian territories, being gay is not a crime, without facing brutality and discrimination.

But I won’t hold my breath. It is much easier for Tlaib to try to paint a Jewish/Israeli boogeyman than to confront the reality that Black people, members of the LGBTQ+ community, women, and others have human rights in Israel. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those who live under Palestinian rule.

Black people do not need a Palestinian-American speaking about our struggle, or trying to claim solidarity with Black Israelis. Rashida Tlaib needs to sit down. Stop co-opting our struggle and start representing the people of Michigan who elected you to office to represent them.

About the Author
Brandy Shufutinsky is a social worker, with a MSW from the University of Southern California and a MA in International Relations from the University of San Diego. She hopes to utilize her advocacy in social justice on a global level, working towards making education more accessible to immigrant populations. She has previously been published in The Forward. Brandy is working on a doctoral degree at the University of San Francisco in International Multicultural Education.
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