Bayard Rustin understood Palestinians

I just came across this great, short piece of writing, quoting the African-American, gay, Quaker activist Bayard Rustin:

    In 1968, American civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin wrote, “We would be mistaken to think that the only desires of young Negroes today are to have a job, to have a decent house, to be well educated, to have medical care. All these things are very important, but deeper and more profound is the feeling of young Negroes today—through all classes, from the lumpenproletariat to the working poor, the working classes, the middle classes, and the intelligentsia—that the time has come when they should have power, a voice in the solution of problems which affect them.”

This observation is absolutely central if anyone wants to understand the situation and aspiration of Palestinians today. This point has been eloquently made by Laila El-Haddad– both in her recent book Gaza Mom, which my company had the honor of publishing, and in her appearance on Tuesday at this great Capitol Hill briefing (which, as it happens, I had the honor of chairing.)
As Laila says, “What the Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from is not restrictions on their food, it is restrictions on their freedom!”
Interestingly, I got that Bayard Rustin quote not directly from my own reading but from this late-January blog post by the great Egyptian blogger Baheyya. Bayard Rustin to me, via Tahrir Square. Neat, huh?

3 thoughts on “Bayard Rustin understood Palestinians”

  1. Hello Ms. Cobban.
    I did not know (or remember) that Mr. Rustin was a Quaker. I usually am a weekend lurker here, but have been following more closely since the instability erupted in N. Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. I put Rustin up there with Fanon as people who lived their beliefs.
    Thanks for your contribution.

  2. In looking to a two-state solution to the conflict that could give the Palestinians the most freedom, take a look at the recent issue of the Middle East Journal. The article on the “Interspersed Nation-State” describes the theoretical and functional basis for a state structure that exists primarily over people rather than land. This would allow two states to tax, regulate, and protect their separate peoples within the same region (i.e., share land). Citizens of both states would have the benefits of an autonomous government and also access to 100% of the disputed territory.
    For Palestinians, this would involve having an democratic, independent government and also having the freedom to travel and live anywhere in present-day Israel and the Palestinian territories.

  3. the video of the capitol hill briefing was excellent. i watched it when you first posted it and forgot to come back and comment. i linked to it numerous times elsewhere.
    you are so awesome helena.

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