Malcolm X’s Final Written Words were About Zionism. Here is what he Said. – Ali Hammoud 3/23/24


For Malcolm X, Zionism was inextricably linked to wider European colonialism. In a little known passage written just before his assassination, he made it clear he saw Zionism as not just a threat to Palestine, but to the entire Third World.

The ongoing genocide in Gaza, coupled with the recent martyrdom anniversary of Malcolm X, has sparked interest in what the renowned activist thought and wrote about Palestine. But a reader of The Autobiography of Malcolm X would learn little; indeed, there is no mention of Malcolm’s 1964 trip to Gaza, or of his scathing article titled, “Zionist Logic.” Even acclaimed biographies of Malcolm X, such as Les Payne’s The Dead Are Arising and Manning Marable’s A Life of Reinvention, either ignore or brush over the details of Malcolm’s visit and writings on Palestine. Marable goes as far as to claim that Malcolm’s perspective on Palestine was merely political opportunism; a stunt aimed at garnering the support of Egyptian president Jamal Abdul Nasser. It is the dismissal and neglect of this crucial part of Malcolm’s life that blunts both his burgeoning internationalist perspective and the threat he perceived of Zionism to not only Palestine but the entire Third World.

On September 5, 1964, Malcolm X traveled to Gaza — then under the control of Egypt — where he spent two days. He visited the Khan Younis refugee camp and a local hospital and mingled with locals and luminaries alike. Amongst these interactions in Gaza, perhaps the most influential was his unplanned encounter with the renowned Palestinian poet Harun Hashim Rashid. Malcolm was visibly moved by the latter’s horrific experience and recounting of the Suez Crisis nearly a decade earlier, in which hundreds of Palestinians were murdered by the IDF. Moreover, Malcolm’s diary notes indicate his admiration for Rashid’s poetry, as he hastily scribbled one of his poems titled “We Must Return:”

We must return
No boundaries should exist
No obstacles can stop us
Cry out refugees: “We shall return”
Tell the Mts: “We shall return”
Tell the alley: “We shall return”
We are going back to our youth 

Palestine calls us to arm ourselves
And we are armed and are going to fight 

We must return

After his meeting with Rashid, Malcolm met with religious leaders and prayed the congregational night prayer. He noted in his diary that the “spirit of Allah was strong” in Gaza.

The visit to Gaza inspired Malcolm’s most famous written piece on Zionism. Published in The Egyptian Gazette on September 17, 1964, “Zionist Logic” mounted a scathing critique of Zionism and demonstrated Malcolm’s view that it was not only a threat to Palestine but to the wider Third World. In his essay, he writes:

“The Israeli Zionists are convinced they have successfully camouflaged their new kind of colonialism. Their colonialism appears to be more “benevolent,” more “philanthropic,” a system with which they rule simply by getting their potential victims to accept their friendly offers of economic “aid,” and other tempting gifts, that they dangle in front of the newly-independent African nations, whose economies are experiencing great difficulties…Thus, the power and influence of Zionist Israel in many of the newly “independent” African nations has fast-become even more unshakeable than that of the 18th century European colonialists…and this new kind of Zionist colonialism differs only in form and method, but never in motive or objective.“

Here, Malcolm draws parallels with European colonialism and the destruction that it wrought across the Third World in the preceding centuries. For Malcolm, Zionism is inextricably linked to wider European colonialism; the latest iteration designed to subdue the Third World. To confront this wider colonial endeavor, Malcolm beseeches the leaders and people of the Third World to unite together and reject the false overtures of colonial powers….

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