As the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to defend their lands and waters from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, there has been an outpouring of solidarity from Palestinians and Palestine solidarity movements to the Tribe.
This support is a continuation of the long-standing recognition of the common barriers faced by Palestinians and marginalized groups in the US. Recently the spotlight has been on Black-Palestinian solidarity, a history that dates back to the 1960’s, but saw a recent resurgence during and after the 2014 protests in Ferguson, which were sparked by the murder of Michael Brown. At the time, Palestinian activists gave Ferguson protesters advice on how to protect themselves from teargas through social media, and it was not lost on anyone that the teargas being used in Ferguson was the very same brand as what has long been used against Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces.
Since then, the Movement for Black Lives, Dream Defenders, and Palestine solidarity movements have strengthened their solidarity, through supporting each other’s demands and targeting the companies that profit from their oppression. Most recently, the Movement for Black Lives’ policy platform endorsed the Palestinian civil society call to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.
The private security firm G4S has been one such link for Palestinian activists and the Movement for Black Lives, and it is now appearing as an oppressive force at Standing Rock as well. Infamous for its work in Israeli prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial or charge and may be tortured, G4S also benefits from the US’s private prisons industry, and has also been contracted to secure the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee wrote in a letter of solidarity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that it was:
“Dismayed but not surprised to learn that the multinational security corporation G4S has been contracted to provide security services for the pipeline construction on your land by Energy Transfer Partners. G4S is involved in human rights abuses around the world including in Palestine, where the company provides services to illegal Israeli colonies, to military checkpoints, and to prisons.”
Such calling-out of G4S as a direct profiteer from injustices in Palestine (which may end in the next one to two years) and now Standing Rock, have been echoed by others.
Various groups have also joined in statements of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe via social media:
“As Palestinians in the United States, we are exiled from our homeland while living as settlers upon Turtle Island. It is imperative that we demand recognition of the rights of Native nations and their people while building movements together with one another so that we can strengthen our collective call for justice.”
A statement of solidarity signed by Palestinian intellectuals and activists, including poet Remi Kanazi, human rights advocate Nadia Hijab, PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashwari and many more, eloquently noted:
“We…heed the wise leadership of a people who first conceived of mountains and rivers as sacred, who look upon a prairie with reverence, who consider trees as family and who risk their lives to protect the water and the integrity of their ancestral lands.”
“The imprisonment of strugglers for liberation has always been central to colonial and settler-colonial projects. For the indigenous movement, resisting repression and political imprisonment…has always been central to organizing, just as today the Standing Rock blockade is forced to resist police repression and imprisonment of land defenders…For Palestinians, over 7,000 political prisoners are held in Israeli jails, their political parties and movements criminalized and their leaders forced behind colonial bars…As the blockade faces police and federal state repression, we affirm the fundamental right of indigenous peoples to resist and defend their land, people and societies under attack.”
A number of Students for Justice in Palestine chapters have made solidarity posts via social media:
A few joined the virtual solidarity action to “check-in” at Standing Rock that took off on Halloween to protect activists on the ground against being monitored and arrested by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, which was allegedly “using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Standing Rock.”
Beyond social media, Palestinians have joined the camps at Standing Rock. The Palestinian Youth Movement sent a delegation to Standing Rock in September:
One of the youth activists wrote an informative and moving piece about her time at Standing Rock, saying,
“At the end of one of the rows is the Palestinian flag. Seeing it filled me equally with joy and sadness because it confirmed two things…the first thought is that the power of collective resistance against greed and settler-colonialism is a mighty force. That thought was embodied by my joy to see a representation of will by the presently unseen Palestinian siblings who had come to take a stand against destructive powers. The second thought was embodied by sadness for, if the struggle for protection of water, culture, land, heritage, and livelihood is truly mirrored in Standing Rock and Palestine, then the struggle ahead is both vast and uncompromising.”
Justine is an Editorial Intern with IPS. She received her BA from Hampshire College.