Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color


Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


CMES, Rm 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies presents

Michael R. FischbachBlack Power and Palestine
Professor of History, Randolph-Macon College

The 1967 Arab-Israeli War rocketed the question of Israel and Palestine onto the front pages of American newspapers. Black Power activists saw Palestinians as a kindred people of color, waging the same struggle for freedom and justice as they themselves. Soon concerns over the Arab-Israeli conflict spread into the heart of the civil rights movement itself, where, by contrast, more mainstream black activists wholeheartedly supported Israel. A type of intra-black “civil war” broke out that said as much about how African-Americans viewed themselves and their place in America as it did about their foreign policy stances.

Based on his new book Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color, historian Michael R. Fischbach uncovers why so many African-Americans -- notably Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, the Black Panthers, and Amiri Baraka, among others – spoke out so forcefully on behalf of either Israel or the Palestinians in the 1960s and 1970s. His talk traces the hidden history of the Arab-Israeli conflict's role in African-American activism and the ways that distant struggle shaped the domestic fight for racial equality. Black Power's transnational connections between African Americans and Palestinians deeply affected U.S. black politics. In chronicling this story, Fischbach reveals much about how American peoples of color create political strategies, a sense of self, and a place within U.S. and global communities that is in symbiotic relationship to kindred peoples of color overseas.

Michael R. Fischbach is professor of history at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, where he has taught since 1992 after receiving his doctorate in modern Middle Eastern history from Georgetown University. He researches issues relating to land and property ownership in the modern Middle East, particularly in connection with Israel/Palestine, Jordan, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Fischbach is author of Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries (Columbia University Press, 2008); The Peace Process and Palestinian Refugee Claims: Addressing Claims for Property Compensation and Restitution (United States Institute of Peace Press, 2006); Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2003); State, Society, and Land in Jordan (Brill, 2000); was editor-in-chief of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa (Gale Cengage, 2007); and co-editor of Encyclopedia of the Palestinians (New York: Facts On File/InfoBaseLearning, e-book, 2017). His two books on Palestinian refugee property have been translated into Arabic.

Fischbach also researches how the Arab-Israeli conflict was understood by Black Power advocates and left-wing white radicals in America during the 1960s and 1970s. He published Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color (Stanford University Press, 2018), and his Cracks in the Ramparts: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left is under contract at Stanford University Press.

Fischbach has received a number of research grants and awards, including grants from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (through the Institute for Palestine Studies), the United States Institute of Peace, the Joint Committee on the Near and Middle East of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright Student Program. In 2007, his book Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries was awarded Second Prize in the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize for Middle Eastern Studies. It also was a finalist for the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award at the (American) Jewish Book Council’s 2009 National Jewish Book Awards. In 2004, Fischbach’s book Records of Dispossession received Honorable Mention at the first annual Benjamin L. Hooks Outstanding Book Award Contest.

Co-sponsor: Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations at Boston University
Contact: Liz Flanagan