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In Ferguson, echoes of Gaza?

by Talia Lavin, JTA

August 18, 2014 | 2:34 pm

<em>Police advance through a cloud of tear gas toward demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)</em><br />
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Police advance through a cloud of tear gas toward demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A summer of global turmoil has culminated in nightmarish scenes from Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis suburb torn apart by protests after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

For some, scenes of protesters attacked with tear gas and smoke bombs evoked another conflict: Israel’s war in Gaza. Widespread concerns about the militarization of police, including the free exchange of weaponry between the military and U.S. police forces, were echoed by pro-Palestinian Twitter users, who made direct comparisons between treatment of Ferguson protesters by police and treatment of Palestinians by the Israel Defense Forces, the Times of Israel reported.


Another Palestinian user, @MariamBarghouti, tweeted tips to Ferguson residents for how to cope with tear gas.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who rocketed to national fame after his cooperation with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, posited a more direct link between Missouri police and the IDF.

He retweeted an ADL press release posted by Iranian activist Trita Parsi, which revealed that St. Louis County police chief Timothy Fitch had studied counter-terrorism tactics in Israel.

“St. Louis County Police Chief, in 2011, on visiting Israel to learn about police tactics from the Israelis,” Greenwald added.

Greenwald’s statement drew ire from a blogger on the Andrew Breitbart blog, who stated that “tying Israel to what is going on in Ferguson is so tangential that it borders on anti-Semitic paranoia.”

As Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire talks forge ahead in Cairo, the nightly violence in Ferguson continues unabated. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has called in the National Guard to try to quell the unrest.

In an interconnected world, in which outbreaks of violence continents away from each other unfold on our screens simultaneously, drawing parallels and patterns seems inevitable. Now that Nixon has called in an actual branch of the U.S. military, comparisons between Ferguson and Gaza — linked, on Twitter, via the hashtag “#oppressed” – are unlikely to let up. At least until the violence does.

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