Cydney Wallace, a Black Jewish group activist, by no means felt compelled to journey to Israel, although “Subsequent 12 months in Jerusalem” was a relentless chorus at her Chicago synagogue.

The 39-year-old stated she had lots to concentrate on at residence, the place she often provides talks on addressing anti-Black sentiment within the American Jewish group and dismantling white supremacy within the U.S.

“I do know what I’m preventing for right here,” she stated.

That every one modified when she visited Israel and the West Financial institution on the invitation of a Palestinian American group organizer from Chicago’s south facet, together with two dozen different Black Individuals and Muslim, Jewish and Christian religion leaders.

The journey, which started Sept. 26, enhanced Wallace’s understanding of the struggles of Palestinians dwelling within the West Financial institution below Israeli army occupation. However, horrifyingly, it was minimize brief by the unprecedented Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas militants. In Israel’s ensuing bombardment of the Gaza Strip, shocking images of destruction and death seen all over the world have mobilized activists in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Wallace, and a rising variety of Black Individuals, see the Palestinian wrestle within the West Financial institution and Gaza mirrored in their very own battle for racial equality and civil rights. The latest rise of protest actions towards police brutality within the U.S., the place structural racism plagues practically each side of life, has related Black and Palestinian activists below a typical trigger.

However that kinship generally strains the greater than century-long alliance between Black and Jewish activists. From Black American teams that denounced the U.S. backing of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory to Black protesters demonstrating for the Palestinians’ proper to self-determination, some Jewish Individuals are involved that help might escalate the specter of antisemitism and weaken Jewish-Black ties fortified through the Civil Rights Motion.

“We’re involved, as a group, about what we really feel is a lack of expertise of what Israel is about and the way deeply Oct. 7 has affected us,” stated Bob Kaplan, govt director of The Middle for Shared Society on the Jewish Group Relations Council of New York.

“Antisemitism must be seen as a reprehensible type of hate … as any type of hate is,” he stated. “Antisemitism is as actual to the American Jewish group, and causes as a lot trauma and concern and upset to the American Jewish group, as racism causes to the Black group, or anti-Asian feeling causes to the Asian group, or anti-Muslim feeling causes within the Muslim group.”

However, he added, many Jews within the U.S. perceive that Black Individuals can have an affinity for the Palestinian trigger that doesn’t battle with their regard for Israel.

In keeping with a ballot earlier this month from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Black adults had been extra probably than white and Hispanic adults to say the U.S. is simply too supportive of Israel — 44% in comparison with 30% and 28%, respectively. Nevertheless, Black Individuals weren’t any extra probably than others to say the U.S. shouldn’t be supportive sufficient of the Palestinians.

Generational divides additionally emerged, with youthful Individuals extra more likely to say the U.S. is simply too supportive of Israel, in accordance with the ballot. Even throughout the Jewish American group, some youthful and different progressive Jews are typically extra important of a few of Israel’s insurance policies.

Black American help for the Palestinian trigger dates again to the Civil Rights Motion, by means of outstanding left-wing voices, together with Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis, amongst others. Newer rounds of violence, together with the 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict and now Israel’s unprecedented bombing marketing campaign towards Gaza proven reside on social media have deepened ties between the 2 actions.

“That is simply the most recent era to choose up the mantle, the most recent Black of us to arrange, construct and discuss freedom and justice,” stated Ahmad Abuznaid, the director of the U.S. Marketing campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Throughout a week-long truce between Israel and Hamas as a part of the latest deal to free dozens of hostages seized by Hamas militants, Israel launched lots of of Palestinian prisoners and detainees. Many had been teenagers who had recently been picked up in the West Bank for minor offenses like stone-throwing and had not been charged.

Some Black Individuals who watched the Palestinian prisoner launch and discovered about Israel’s administrative detention coverage, the place detainees are held with out trial, drew comparisons to the U.S. jail system. Whereas greater than two-thirds of jail detainees within the U.S. haven’t been convicted of against the law, Black people are jailed at greater than 4 instances the speed of white folks, typically for low-level offenses, in accordance with research of the American judicial system.

“Individuals like to speak about being harmless till confirmed responsible. However Black of us are predominantly and disproportionately detained in america no matter whether or not something has been confirmed. And that’s similar to Israel’s administrative detention,” stated Julian Rose, an organizer with a Black-run bail fund in Atlanta.

Rami Nashashibi, govt director of the Internal-Metropolis Muslim Motion Community, invited Wallace and the others to participate within the journey known as “Black Jerusalem” — an exploration of the sacred metropolis by means of an African and Black American lens.

They met members of Jerusalem’s small Afro-Palestinian group — Palestinians of Black African heritage, lots of whom can hint their lineage within the Previous Metropolis again centuries.

“Our Black brothers and sisters within the U.S. suffered from slavery and now they endure from racism,” stated Mousa Qous, govt director of the African Group Society Jerusalem, whose father emigrated to Jerusalem from Chad in 1941 and whose mom is Palestinian.

“We endure from the Israeli occupation and racist insurance policies. The Individuals and the Israelis are conducting the identical insurance policies towards us and the Black Individuals. So we should always help one another,” Qous stated.

Nashashibi agreed, saying: “My Palestinian identification was very a lot formed and influenced by Black American historical past.”

“I at all times hoped {that a} journey like this might open up new pathways that will join the dots not simply in a political and ideological approach,” he stated, “however between the liberation and struggles for humanity which can be very acquainted to us within the U.S.”

Throughout the journey, Wallace was dismayed by her personal ignorance of the truth of Palestinians dwelling below Israeli occupation.

At an Israeli checkpoint outdoors the Western Wall, the Jewish holy web site, Wallace stated her group was requested who was Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Wallace and the others confirmed IDs issued for the journey, however when an Israeli officer noticed her Star of David necklace, she was waved by means of, whereas Palestinians and Muslims within the group had been subjected to intense scrutiny and bag checks.

“Being there made me marvel if that is what it was prefer to reside within the Jim Crow-era” in America, Wallace stated.

Kameelah Oseguera, who grew up in an African American Muslim group in Brooklyn, New York, additionally stated the journey opened her eyes.

On the entrance to the Aida refugee camp close to Bethlehem within the West Financial institution, Oseguera observed an enormous key — a Palestinian image of the houses misplaced within the 1948 creation of Israel, known as the Nakba, or “disaster.” Many saved keys to the houses they fled or had been pressured out of — an emblem signifying the Palestinian proper to return, which Israel has denied.

Oseguera stated the important thing recalled her go to to the “door of no return” memorial in Senegal devoted to the enslaved Africans pressured onto slave ships and delivered to the Americas. As a descendant of enslaved Africans, it introduced ideas of “what the dream of my return would have meant for my ancestors.”

Returning to residence, she stated, is a “longing that’s transmitted by means of generations.”

Israel’s Legislation of Return grants all Jews the fitting to settle completely in Israel and purchase Israeli citizenship — an idea that drew help from many Black American civil rights leaders, together with A. Phillip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Dorothy Top, Shirley Chisholm and Martin Luther King, Sr., the daddy of the slain civil rights chief.

Over the past decade, nonetheless, Black Individuals and the Palestinians have additionally discovered rising solidarity.

In 2020, the homicide of George Floyd by a white police officer resonated within the West Financial institution, the place Palestinians drew comparisons to their very own experiences of brutality below occupation, and an enormous mural of Floyd appeared on Israel’s hulking separation barrier.

In 2014, protests in Ferguson, Missouri, erupted after the police killing of Michael Brown, a Black teenager, which gave rise to the nascent Black Lives Matter motion. Whereas cops in Ferguson fired tear gasoline at protesters, Palestinians within the occupied West Financial institution tweeted recommendation about the way to handle the consequences of the irritants.

In 2016, when BLM activists fashioned the coalition referred to as the Motion for Black Lives, they included support for Palestinians in a platform known as the “Imaginative and prescient for Black Lives.” A handful of Jewish groups, which had largely been supportive of the BLM motion, denounced the Black activists’ characterization of Israel as a purportedly “apartheid state” that engages in “discrimination towards the Palestinian folks.”

“There tends to be this doubt or astonishment that Black folks care about different oppressed folks all over the world,” stated Phil Agnew, co-director of the nationwide advocacy group, Black Males Construct, who has taken 4 journeys to the West Financial institution since 2014.

It could be a mistake, Agnew stated, to disregard vital numbers of Black and Jewish Individuals who’re united of their help for the Palestinians.

Not one of the members of the “Black Jerusalem” journey anticipated it will come to a tragic finish with the Oct. 7 Hamas assaults through which some 1,200 folks had been killed in Israel and about 240 taken hostage. Since then, more than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s blistering air and floor marketing campaign in Gaza, now in its third month. Violence within the West Financial institution has additionally surged.

Again residence in Chicago, Wallace has navigated talking about her help for Palestinians whereas sustaining her Jewish identification and standing towards antisemitism. She says she doesn’t see these issues as mutually unique.

“I’m making an attempt to not do something that alienates anybody,” she stated. “However I can’t simply not do the fitting factor as a result of I’m scared.”


AP author Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem contributed.


Nasir and Morrison are members of AP’s Race and Ethnicity staff. Observe Nasir on social media. Observe Morrison on social media.

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