We remember Martin Luther King Jr

We remember Martin Luther King Jr.‘s forgotten 1959 trip to Palestine, a chapter that has been erased from mainstream history.

In March of that year MLK and his wife Coretta travelled to Lebanon and then to Palestine, during which time they visited al-Quds, Bethlehem, al-Khalil, Nablus and Jericho.

Over the course of the next 8 years, King was invited to visit ‘48 Palestine by the israeli government and multiple Zionist organizations a half dozen times. On every occasion he accepted the offer, and then cancelled. This took place in 1963, 1964, twice in 1965, in 1966 and again in 1967. While Zionists have long claimed MLK as one of their own, his travel logs tell a different story.

Writing in 2019, Michelle Alexander shines light on this, chronicling a call that King had with his advisers in 1967 in the wake of al-Naksa weighing whether or not to proceed with plans to visit ‘48 Palestine on the invitation of the ‘Israeli’ government. “I just think that if I go,” he said, “the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.”

The call came months after he delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech on April 4th 1967, when he publicly declared his opposition to the war and linked the struggle for racial justice in the US to the global struggle against imperialism. The next day 168 newspapers denounced him. When he was assassinated in April 1968, his approval rating was around 25%.

In response to this history, Zionists routinely point to statements King made in 1968 as proof of his “unwavering” Zionism. But these cherry picked quotes conveniently ignore the context of the moment: with his political capital drained and his anti-war stance causing a critical mass of donors to turn their back on him, the threat of support from liberal Zionists in the Civil Rights Movement being cut off if he took a stand on Palestine was a risk he was not yet willing to take. In short, King’s public comments did not match his private convictions and taken to its conclusion, “Beyond Vietnam” points towards Palestinian liberation.

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