(NNPA)—I found myself thinking about the notorious Dred Scott decision (1857) by the U.S. Supreme Court while traveling the streets of Occupied Palestine this past January. I was there leading a small delegation of African-Americans who were trying to better understand the nature of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
There are many ways that the conditions of Palestinians have been described over time. Most recently the system of Israeli domination of the Palestinians (both internal to the state of Israel and externally through the occupation of Palestinian territories) has been characterized as an “apartheid system,” based on the criteria and analysis of apartheid that the United Nations established in the early 1970s. While I absolutely agree that apartheid describes the system in place, it was the Dred Scott decision that reverberated in my brain as I explored the reality of the conditions facing Palestinians.
As you will remember, the Dred Scott decision concerned the legitimacy of an African-American slave’s assertion of freedom once he was in a non-slave state. In this famous decision the Court argued, among other things, that Blacks had no rights that a White person was bound to respect. While walking through Occupied Palestine I found myself confronting the reality that Palestinians have no rights that the Israeli authorities feel bound to respect.