Black Power and Palestine
Transnational Countries of Color
Michael R. Fischbach


Contents and Abstracts
1 Black Internationalism: Malcolm X and the Rise of Global Solidarity
chapter abstract

This chapter examines Malcolm X's Black Power vision of global black solidarity in a struggle pitting the "black" world against "white" imperialism, detailing in the process his brief 1959 trip to East Jerusalem and his longer visit to Gaza in 1964. It then discusses the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)'s strong attacks on Israel in the summer of 1967—the first public Black Power stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict—as well as the anti-Israeli sentiments expressed at the National Conference for New Politics later that summer.

2 The Fire This Time: SNCC, Jews, and the Demise of the Beloved Community
chapter abstract

This chapter notes the harsh white reaction against SNCC's pro-Palestinian stance in the wake of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, notably among Jews. It details the attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians held by two of SNCC's most significant national figures, Stokely Carmichael and James Forman, and discusses SNCC's defense of its position and the toll that this stance took on the group's viability

3 Reformers, Not Revolutionaries: The NAACP, Bayard Rustin, and Israel
chapter abstract

This chapter discusses how mainstream civil rights groups and leaders reacted to Black Power attacks on Israel. It focuses on the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Urban League, as well as the tireless efforts of the pro-Israeli stalwart Bayard Rustin.

4 Balanced and Guarded: Martin Luther King Jr. on the Arab-Israeli Tightrope
chapter abstract

This chapter offers a detailed examination of where Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the great pains he exerted when expressing himself publicly on the topic. It sheds light for the first time on what King did during his 1959 visit to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, including how he was treated there by a local doctor and how he later lunched with the mayor and other Palestinian dignitaries. The chapter also discusses King's plans for an international pilgrimage to Israel and the West Bank that were dashed by the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

5 The Power of Words: The Black Arts Movement and a New Narrative
chapter abstract

This chapter examines how Black Power support for the Palestinians surfaced within the Black Arts Movement, among black writers and journalists, as well as at black political conferences like the National Black Political Convention. It also relates the story of a group called the Committee of Black Americans for Truth About the Middle East, who in late 1970 placed a pro-Palestinian newspaper advertisement in the New York Times in response to a pro-Israeli advertisement placed earlier in the year in the same newspaper by Bayard Rustin.

6 Struggle and Revolution: The Black Panthers and the Guerrilla Image
chapter abstract

This chapter details the Black Panther Party's changing stances toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, starting with a revolutionary pro-Palestinian position stated by Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver in the late 1960s and moving toward the more moderate position articulated by Newton in the early 1970s. It also notes how the Black Panthers used the art of Emory Douglas to create revolutionary visual images depicting the Panthers as warriors in much the same way that Palestinian artists did for their people.

7 Middle East Symbiosis: Israelis, Arabs, and African Americans
chapter abstract

This chapter focuses on the transnational relationship between American Black Power and the Middle East. It details how Black Power ideology spread to Israel in the "Global 1960s" with the formation of a Black Panther organization among Mizrahi/Sephardic Israelis in 1971. It also relates the story of various Black Power advocates who visited Palestinians in the Middle East, including famous figures such as the boxer Muhammad Ali and lesser-known activists who were invited to visit Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan in 1970. The chapter also dissects the rumors that Palestinian guerrillas were training Black Panthers in Middle Eastern camps.

8 Red, White, and Black: Communists, Guerrillas, and the Black Mainstream
chapter abstract

This chapter lays out how Black Power pro-Palestinianism had begun to spread to other sectors of Black America by the early 1970s. On the left this included the Communist Party USA, as well as underground armed black groups such as the New Afrikan Freedom Fighters and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Black Power ideas on the Arab-Israeli conflict also began affecting hitherto mainstream groups like the American Committee on Africa and the Congressional Black Caucus.

9 A Seat at the Table: Bayard Rustin, Andrew Young, and Black Foreign Policy
chapter abstract

This chapter examines how differing black attitudes toward the Arab-Israeli conflict impacted their visions of American foreign policy in the Middle East in the mid-1970s. It charts the continued pro-Israeli activism of Bayard Rustin and the group he formed, the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee. It pays particular attention to the embittered black response that emerged after the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, was forced to resign after secretly having met with an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1979.

10 Looking over Jordan: Joseph Lowery, Jesse Jackson, and Yasir Arafat
chapter abstract

This chapter details the trips to the Middle East made by mainstream black civil rights leaders in response to the controversy surrounding the Andrew Young Affair. Joseph Lowery led a delegation from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to meet the Palestine Liberation Organization leader, Yasir Arafat, in the fall of 1979, just as Jesse Jackson of Operation PUSH did shortly thereafter. These were expressions of black insistence that African Americans had a positive diplomatic role to play in furthering the Arab-Israeli peace process. Although supported by various religious and secular black organizations, the trips to meet Arafat were condemned by other black leaders, including Bayard Rustin, who organized a delegation to meet with Israeli officials and reassure them of black support for the Jewish state.