Congressman Bennie Thompson is complicit

Published 2:48 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

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Long before Congressman Bennie Thompson became a US Congressman, he was a human rights activist and a member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee fighting to dismantle Mississippi’s racist system, known as Jim Crow.

Getty Israel

Thompson’s unconditional support of the Israeli genocide (slaughter) of Palestinian people is a striking contradiction of his human rights track record. In October 2023, he stated his “total solidarity with Israel,” condemned Hamas, but he has made no public statement regarding the plight of the Palestinians, whose human rights have been denied by Israel since its creation in May 1948.

Black Mississippians descended from a people who were enslaved and oppressed for 400 years, which is why we strongly identify with the Palestinian struggle for freedom. We share a history of mass incarceration, land seizures, destruction of our communities, massacres. We too were denied basic human rights such as voting, driving on the road, or walking on streets reserved for whites.

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We were forced to live in poor and segregated communities. Our men were routinely harassed by white police officers and the Klan, who snatched them off the road or from their homes and threw them in jail or prison without due process or lynched them from the nearest tree.

We were murdered or driven off by whites, who stole our lands, and our nonviolent protests were met with venom and violence. Although we have legally attained our civil rights, “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” said Nelson Mandela.

Yet, I have found no evidence of Congressman Thompson ever calling for legislation that would end the apartheid system in Israel. He knows full well that Israel’s inhumane treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), including Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem is the root cause of the ongoing conflict, which has been documented by various human rights organizations.

Thompson has never acknowledged or condemned Israel’s occupation, its ever-expanding illegal settlements, its serious violations of international human rights law, its forcible displacement of Palestinians and its endless theft of Palestinian land. He has refused to support legislation that would lead to a ceasefire even though Israel has killed more Palestinians in the past 4 months than the South African government murdered during its 40-year reign of terror.

A 2021 Human Rights Watch report concluded [Israeli] “… authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity…” Also, a 2022 report by Amnesty International found that “Israel imposes a system of oppression and domination against Palestinians across all areas under its control: in Israel and the OPT, and against Palestinian refugees, in order to benefit Jewish Israelis. This amounts to apartheid as prohibited in international law.”

Israel has created and maintained a system of laws, policies, and practices designed to oppress and dominate Palestinians in 4 Ways:

1. Palestinians are separated from each other into distinct territorial, legal, and administrative domains.

2. The Israeli government practices property seizures, home demolitions, and forced evictions.

3. Palestinians are segregated into enclaves away from Jews and live under military law while Jews live under civil law.

4. Palestinians are deliberately impoverished and starved.

Israel’s current war on Palestinians has proven to be the most egregious and longest in the history of the conflict. As of Jan. 4, its military has killed over 23,000 civilians of which women and children account for 70%. About 7,000 are missing and two million are displaced. Palestinians are being bombed in their homes, in UN shelters, hospitals, schools, mosques, and churches. Israel dropped 6,000 bombs each week during the first three weeks following the Oct. 7 attack, according to the South African government.

Over 1,000 Black pastors are pressuring President Joe Biden to end the war. “But the Israel-Gaza war, unlike Iran and Afghanistan, has evoked the kind of deep-seated angst among Black people that I have not seen since the civil rights movement,” Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-convener of the National African American Clergy Network told the New York Times.

However, Congressional members such as Thompson, have remained steadfast in their support of Israel’s brutal war against these oppressed people, making them complicit in the genocide. His blind loyalty to Israel also places Americans at risk and increases the probability of the war expanding, which would place American soldiers at risk. In addition, it increases the likelihood of America experiencing another 911 attack. It’s time that he, who was elected to represent the interest of Mississippians, most of whom reside in poverty, place our needs over the Israelis, who have universal health care and a longer life expectancy than Americans.

Getty Israel is founder and executive director of Sisters in Birth Women’s Clinic. She resides in Thompson’s Congressional District in Jackson. Israel resided in Natchez from 1998 to 2006.