The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the great animating foreign policy issues of the twenty-first century, one that provokes fierce divisions across the world....

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the great animating foreign policy issues of the twenty-first century, one that provokes fierce divisions across the world. In the United States, the issue has become increasingly politicized in recent decades. While the conflict is not a strict binary issue, varying degrees and kinds of support for the Palestinians has become increasingly normalized among certain groups in the United States. One group that tends to profess sympathy with and support for Palestinians far more commonly than the average is African Americans. Links between the two groups are strong. For example, in 2016 Black Lives Matter released a statement critical of Israel; perhaps unsurprisingly, its use of the terms “genocide” and “apartheid” triggered a backlash among other progressive and Jewish-American groups.

Michael Fischbach’s Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color (Stanford University Press, 2018) examines the history of African American ties to Palestine. Fischbach begins with Malcolm X’s interactions with Palestinians and his criticism of Zionism in the early 1960s. The writing of Frantz Fanon and others drew Black Power activists to Palestine, beginning with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s public statements on Israel. Fischbach uses the furor over that to illuminate the position of moderate groups such as the NAACP, supporters of Israel such as Bayard Rustin, and more radical groups such as the Black Panthers. Fischbach shows that despite pushback from Jewish-American groups, a consensus emerged that drew links between African Americans and Palestinians as people of color facing similar problems.


Zeb Larson is a PhD Candidate in History at The Ohio State University. His research is about the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

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