Israel’s appalling denial of entry to Palestine for African American activists Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Naji Mujahid comes as no surprise. The state of Israel, inherently racist and exclusionary, has always found common cause with other racist regimes around the world. It was a major military supporter of the South African apartheid regime when that regime faced boycotts around the world – boycotts that inspire today’s movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Dhoruba Bin Wahad is a former political prisoner and leader of the Black Panther Party whose conviction was overturned after spending 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Naji Mujahid is a Washington DC-based student activist. Both men were invited to attend the International Conference on Palestinian Political Prisoners in Jericho taking place this week alongside other international lawyers and human rights activists.They rode a tourist bus to the bridge separating Jordan from Palestine, where, as the only two Black people on the bus, they were separated from the rest of the tourists, who were permitted to go on their way. Dhoruba and Naji were then interrogated, strip searched, and had their belongings confiscated before they were ordered to return to Jordan.
The treatment accorded Dhoruba and Naji mirrors Israel’s policy of driving Palestinians out of their homeland through settlement-building, land confiscation, checkpoints, the Judaization of Jerusalem, and the enactment of discriminatory laws against Palestinians in the parts of Palestine that were occupied in 1948. It also mirrors Israel’s continued denial of the right to return home to for over seven million Palestinian refugees and exiles. As Naji Mujahid himself stated, “the humiliation and frustration that we endured was a small taste of what we can be sure the Palestinians go through on a daily basis.”
Israel’s actions prevented important meetings between former American and Palestinian political prisoners. In addition, they disrupted the media coverage that both Dhoruba and Naji had arranged to provide for Black community news outlets about the conference, Palestinian political prisoners, and the Palestinian struggle for liberation.
The US Palestinian Community Network stands in solidarity with Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Naji Mujahid. We call upon the US State Department to protest this clear example of Israeli racism, and to take action about the ongoing denial of entry of US citizens and residents to Palestine on the basis of their race and/or national origin.