Why does an association formally devoted to improving the health of Americans not only concern itself with the Palestinian-Israeli situation – but also side with one (the Palestinian Arabs) against the other. This is exactly what the American Public Health Association did in its recent (2012) 140th annual meeting’s closing keynote speech delivered to hundreds of enthusiasts by Angela Davis.
Davis, who is professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz in what the school calls “the History of Consciousness Department,” was a member of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s, and U.S. Communist Party member until 1991 when dissolution of the Soviet Union took place. The party generally sided with the Russian-led Soviet Union against the United States. In 1972, Davis – after being incarcerated for 17 months on charges of murder, kidnaping and conspiracy in connection with a county courtroom shootout in California – was brought to trial and acquitted of all charges. The only evidence presented against her was the fact that the guns used in the shooting – that left a judge and three convicts dead – were registered to her.
APHA’s characterization of itself is stated in its Website:
The American Public Health Association is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world and has been working to improve public health since 1872. The Association aims to protect all Americans, their families and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health professionals and others who care about their own health and the health of their communities.
APHA states that its vision is “A Healthy Global Society” and its mission is to “Improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status.” To achieve these goals, “APHA provides public health leadership and collaborates with partners to convene constituencies; champion prevention; and promote evidence-based policy and practice; and advocate for healthy people and communities.”
But Davis’ speech had nothing to do with such a mission. She maligned the Jewish nation including using loaded, inapplicable phrases such as “Jim Crow,” “black freedom struggle” and “apartheid in South Africa” in falsely equating the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with that of African Americans against segregationists in the United States and black South Africans against their country’s apartheid system of enforced separation. Davis’ condemnation of Israel received thunderous, sustained applause and cheers at its conclusion.
What follows is an excerpt of Davis’ remarks transcribed from an online posted video clip originating apparently from a smartphone video capture. Davis, speaking rapidly, in a voice sharply varying in volume and pitch, denounced Israel in harsh tones:
” … illegal settlements and their ugly, ugly, ugly wall between Palestine and Israel. But the landscape is beautiful but it is totally destroyed by this wall that goes for hundreds of miles and (indistinct) corporate purveyor of private prisons in the U.S. of A. has (indistinct) why there are calls for boycotts and divestments and sanctions [applause]. This is what helped bring down apartheid in South Africa and if we understand the extent to which we are ourselves connected with that process of occupation. I used to take (indistinct) and their car service … they own (indistinct) which is a French corporation which is responsible for transportation between illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.
And I’m telling you when I was there I was shocked. I was really shocked. I didn’t expect to be shocked, I thought I already knew, I really thought I knew because I have been doing this work for I don’t know how many decades so I thought I knew what I would encounter in Occupied Palestine but I didn’t know and when I saw the signs, the signs didn’t say white and colored like they did when I was growing up, but they say ‘authorized persons’, or ‘authorized vehicles’ and I said to myself, ‘I didn’t know that highways could be segregated.’ Because even living in the most segregated city in the South during the height of Jim Crow we could, maybe we couldn’t stop and get out of the car [laughter].
But we could still drive. But there are signs on highways that say ‘authorized vehicles only’ and that means if you have a Palestinian license plate – and you see there’s a different kind of literacy you acquire there. You learn how to read the numbers and you know what license plates are Palestinian and which ones aren’t. If you have a Palestinian license plate you can’t drive on certain streets and you can’t walk down them. So I urge you to find out more about what is happening in that part of the world and also to remember that not very long ago some young Palestinians – less than a year ago — boarded some of those segregated buses that transport people from one illegal settlement to another and they knew they would be arrested because Palestinians are not allowed to board those buses and so guess what they called themselves?”
Audience: “Freedom Riders.”
edom Riders yes! Freedom Riders [applause]. And therefore they were acknowledging the part, the influence of the Black freedom struggle on their freedom struggle today and I think as people would have it in this country — Black or Latino or Native American or Asian American or Arab American or White or whatever — we have a responsibility to support that struggle.
I know there are people in this country who are asking you to support divestment like with TIAA-CREF [financial services popular with educators] because I want – I’m already retired but it does not feel like retirement – but I desperately want an occupation-free retirement. Now, let’s remember [voice lowers to almost a whisper], do you remember when Nelson Mandela (indistinct)? Do you remember when the U.S. government considered it not safe to deal with the man who is now (indistinct) and that’s because he was involved with (indistinct) armed struggle against the apartheid regime that ruled South Africa? Let me just say this, I hope you are recharged for this coming year because we have an enormous amount of work to do and let us remember that justice is never partial – justice is always indivisible and an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. We need peace, equality, solidarity, justice and power and maybe eventually socialism for us all.
[vigorous, sustained applause]
The great African-American civil rights leader would have likely butted heads with Davis regarding Israel. King said,
Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel, and never mind saying it, as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.” (A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King Jr., HarperCollins 1991, pg. 670)
Moreover, “Those who knew King well have recalled his strong support for Israel, his understanding of the links between Israeli security and peace, and his opposition to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism” (MLK on Peace, Israeli Security and Anti-Zionism online report).
• The “wall”: Israel’s security barrier, whose main aim is to prevent Palestinian terrorists from murdering Israelis, is misleadingly referred to here by Davis as a “wall” since less than 5 percent of the barrier can be considered a “wall.” Originally planned to encompass approximately 12 percent of the disputed West Bank, it has been re-routed by the Israeli military in response to Israeli Supreme Court decisions in cases brought by Palestinian Arabs. It now includes less than eight percent of the West Bank on the Israeli side of the barrier. The barrier was constructed in response to the “al-Aqsa intifada,” the 2000 – 2004 Palestinian terror war in which more than 1,000 Israelis – Jewish and Arabs, more than three-fourths of them non-combatants – and foreign visitors were murdered, most by Palestinian terrorists crossing unimpeded from the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). The barrier’s completion has contributed significantly to the roughly 95 percent decrease in lethal attacks from the area.
alition – are now actively promoting boycotts of the company.
While there are roads prohibited to Palestinians in the West Bank, there are no ‘Jewish-only roads.’ Israel’s Arab citizens and, indeed, Israeli citizens of any religion or ethnicity, have just as much right to travel on those restricted roads as do Israeli Jews. Israeli Arabs frequently use the bypass roads for business and to visit relatives. Moreover, at least one Israeli Arab was fatally shot by Palestinian terrorists on one of these roads. As The Los Angeles Times reported on Aug. 8, 2001: ‘Wael Ghanem, an Israeli Arab, was shot and killed as he drove toward the Jewish settlement of Tzofim in the West Bank, not far from where an Israeli woman was killed on Sunday. . . . However, he was driving a car with yellow license plates on a West Bank road where a similar shooting attack had taken place, raising the possibility that Palestinian gunmen thought they were targeting an Israeli settler.” Georgios Tsibouktzakis, a Greek Orthodox monk, shot on June 12, 2001, was another non-Jew killed by Palestinian terrorists while on these roads.
Multiple major mainstream news outlets have corrected the canard about Jews-only roads. For instance, The Washington Post on Jan. 28, 2010.
Those who falsely charge Israel with racial oppression are generally silent about Arab-versus-black or black-against-black violence in Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Congo and elsewhere in recent years that has resulted in literally millions of deaths.
• Apparently unknown to Davis are the remarkable accomplishments of Israel in the field of health which include widespread treatment of non-Israelis including many Africans, and Palestinian Arabs:
“Israel has been a pioneer in the contemporary concept and practice of Public Health and as a result has one of the world’s healthiest populations. The country’s success in pursuing effective Public Health policies is reflected in the fact that a nation of immigrants, who have arrived during the past 64 years principally from North Africa, the former Soviet Union and Central Europe, has one of the highest average life expectancies in the world (jewishvirtuallibrary.org).”
The intensive news media coverage of the West Bank and Gaza Strip creates the impression that Palestinian Arabs experience harsh levels of deprivation. But data collected by the chronically anti-Israel United Nations has consistently shown for many years that West Bank and Gaza Arabs, who benefit from enormous amounts of foreign aid as well as from close access to Israeli health services, are healthier and live longer than most of the people in the Middle East. A chart published by London’s Daily Mail citing the CIA World Factbook (which uses U.N. data) shows the longevity rankings of different states and entities.
The West Bank at 90th nevertheless ranks near the top of the Middle East, ahead of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and most of the North African states. Even Gaza at 110th, routinely portrayed in the media as suffering deprivation due to Israeli measures, experiences greater longevity at 74.16 years than neighboring Egypt at 72.93 years. Interestingly, most of these states rank well ahead of Russia and other former East bloc countries. Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank have greater longevity (and other favorable health measurements) than the majority of the world’s population. Their receipt of foreign aid may contribute to their health standard of living, not in spite of it.