Palestine Blog #7: The Black Panther Party of Israel

Friday, July 22

After all I have learned from my teacher and friend Aaron Dixon, the founder of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party, I was especially intrigued and exited to learn about the Black Panther Party of Israel (I’ll refer to it as BPP-I). We were met by a young European Israeli who introduced us to the history of the BPP-I and showed us a short film about the founding of the party.  Later we got a walking tour from Reuben Abergel, an original founder of the Israeli Black Panthers.  The BPP-I was formed in the early 1970s by Mizrahi Jews—Jews of North African and Middle Eastern decent who faced sever racism in Israeli society—publicly spoken of by Israeli politicians as animals, denied access to proper education and housing, bared from jobs.  They thought about naming their organization the Roaring Lions, but they decided it would put more fear in the Israeli government to associate themselves with the militancy of the Black Panthers—and it worked.  Israel freaked out, and Mizrahi Jews began joining.  Critically, The BPP-I didn’t limit their political activity to defending Mizrahi Jews, but also joined in solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their rights in an important showing of solidarity across religions in the struggle for social justice. 


P.S. I got sick and had to leave the BPP-I tour early.  My illness kept me from writing for a couple of days and made me miss a day of the trip.  I have fully recovered now, and have had some amazing experiences staying in Palestinian homes in the West Bank over the last three days.  I hope to share them with you all soon.