BLACK AGENDA REPORT
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by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
To call attention to Israel's apartheid policies is to ask for immediate labeling as an "anti-Semite." Just ask former president Jimmy Carter. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performer Abdur-Rahim Jackson was separated from the troupe and made to dance for Israeli airport security - twice - to prove he wasn't a danger to the Jewish State, based on his name.
"Israel's dismal human rights record has created numerous calls for economic boycotts of that nation," and cultural boycotts, as well. "The Israelis at the airport acted like Jim Crow segregationists of old, never forsaking an opportunity to publicly humiliate black people." Israel acts like the U.S. "did in its own apartheid era."
Freedom Rider: Boycott Israel
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
"The Israelis at the airport acted like Jim Crow segregationists of old."
When Zionism is legitimately called racist, the howls of protest are predictable and immediate. Critics of Israel are vilified by charges of anti-Semitism and disparaged or ignored by the press. The American media include criticism of Israel among the many subjects that are taken off the table and disappeared from the list of permitted subjects of discourse.
Yet there are times when Israel's racism becomes obvious in a way that cannot be ignored. Recently the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed in Israel as part of an international tour. When one of the dancers, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, went through security at Jerusalem's Ben Gurion airport he was taken aside by Israeli security where he was asked to dance, not once but twice.
"To be greeted like this because of my name, it took me back a little bit," said Mr. Jackson. Jackson attempted to explain that he was a dancer when the security officer told him to perform. "I stood up. I asked what type of dance? He said, ‘Just do anything.' I just moved around." Jackson was interrogated a second time and was again asked to dance.
He was told that his Muslim name was cause for concern and he was advised by the security officers to change it. Mr. Jackson was understated in his reaction to this affront. He admitted being "embarrassed" but declined to file an official complaint. The company performed as scheduled and little more was said about the incident. "Aside from the incident at the airport, we've received a warm welcome from the people of Israel," said artistic director Judith Jamison.
"Jackson attempted to explain that he was a dancer when the security officer told him to perform."
The incident was outrageous and should have been treated as such by Mr. Jackson, the Alvin Ailey company, the United States government and the people of Israel, who we are always told are the only civilized people in that part of the world. That is just one of the propaganda talking points about Israel that has been etched in American consciousness. Israel is good, its neighbors are bad and they are unworthy of any consideration that their grievances might be legitimate.
This narrative persists despite easily verified reports of continued Israeli human rights abuses. There are documented reports of Gazans in need of medical care being denied permission to leave their prison nation unless they agree to spy for Israel. The Israeli Defense forces use civilians as human shields, destroy thousands of Palestinian homes, and detain more than 10,000 who sit behind bars, without charge or trial.
Israel's dismal human rights record has created numerous calls for economic boycotts of that nation. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in 2004. They requested that their colleagues around the world "comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid."
"The Israeli Defense forces use civilians as human shields, destroy thousands of Palestinian homes, and detain more than 10,000."
It is awful that an internationally recognized and respected institution like the Alvin Ailey company would defy this simple and reasonable request made by fellow artists. Yet in fairness, it must be pointed out that respecting the boycott would be difficult for the Alvin Ailey group to carry out, even if predisposed to do so. Cultural institutions are dependent on the largesse of wealthy benefactors, and the good will of powerful people. If the invitation had been rejected the Alvin Ailey company might have endangered its very existence.
The Israelis at the airport acted like Jim Crow segregationists of old, never forsaking an opportunity to publicly humiliate black people. Israel does function as America did in its own apartheid era. It does so with impunity, comfortable in the knowledge that no one who speaks the truth about that government will ever be powerful enough to take action against it.
Despite the embarrassment and trauma he endured, Abdur-Rahim Jackson is actually luckier than others who ran afoul of the IDF. He could have been shot dead, like BBC camera man James Miller, or crushed by a tractor like Rachel Corrie. Jackson was made to feel less than human, but he isn't dead. Perhaps he knew what he was doing when he decided not to complain.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.
written by Mike , September 17, 2008
Another great article by Ms Kimberley. I'm waiting for members of the Black Congressional Caucus to weigh in on this issue(sike.) We all know, like Obama their probably shit'in in their pants. However, I'm surprized that Ms Jamison continued the performance.
Israel is a racist, aparthied, terrorist, occupying force which is an abomination onto humanity. And Obama has no problem supporting the evil that is Israel. It was indeed embarrassing to watch Obama campaign deny former presindent Carter due honors to speak at the recent democratic convention.
If their was ever a county in the universe that deserved to be sanctioned... it's Israel. I'll be calling members of the CBC (cowards) to get their response to the humilation of this black dancer.
Another Biting Commentary
written by T O , September 17, 2008
Thanks again Margaret for remaining unabashed in speaking truth to power. Barack Obama's infantile and naive mentality is dangerous to those who have an appetite for peace in the middle east.