As the town of Ferguson, Missouri, woke this morning to the sight of burned out cars and stores, following a night of rioting in protest at a Grand Jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, pro-Palestinian activists were quick to co-opt the tragic events – even managing an endorsement from an NFL star.
Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush posted a photo on social media site Instagram of a man holding a sign that reads, "The Palestinian people know what mean to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity #ferguson #justice."
Bush added his own perspective: "No matter who you are, what color skin you have, where you live, we are all in this together! This isn't a Ferguson problem it's a Global Problem! We need change NOW! What happened to humanity? #JusticeForMikeBrown."
As violence enveloped Ferguson, Palestinians and their supporters took to Twitter to share photos of pro-Palestinian banners carried by protestors. One banner declared, "From Ferguson to Palestine, Occupation is a Crime." Other images showed signs that displayed the same sentiments as those in the photograph shared by Reggie Bush; essentially, that Brown's killing and the war in Gaza are connected by "colonialism" and "racism," and that anyone who objects to this characterization is necessarily a racist.
Another banner at a demonstration in Seattle even insinuated an Israeli connection to Brown's death, as it was emblazoned with the words: "Occupation is a Crime/Ferguson to Palestine/Resist U.S. racism/ Boycott Israel." In downtown Oakland, meanwhile, a busy intersection was blocked by protesters with a banner reading, "Missouri, Palestine, Justice Now!"
The "Ferguson-Palestine" link has been pushed by left-wing activists ever since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on August 9. A letter from Palestinian activists published on the anti-Semitic Electronic Intifada website – among them Diana Buttu, a legal adviser to the Palestinian Authority, which was funded to the tune of $440 million by the U.S. government in 2013 – ended with the following declaration: "With a Black Power fist in the air, we salute the people of Ferguson and join in your demands for justice."
While Jewish institutions in the area have not been attacked, the St. Louis Jewish Federation has sent a letter to the local Jewish community announcing extra security precautions.
"To date we have not had any threats directed to the Jewish community and do not anticipate any forthcoming," the letter says. "Still, we recognize that our institutions have become targets in times of social unrest and over the last few weeks have worked with leading area law enforcement to develop appropriate plans to respond to unexpected situations."
The letter advises Jews walking to and from synagogue over shabbat to travel in groups and urges, "If there are protestors present, do not engage with them."