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August 17, 2016 7:15 am

African-American Missouri Church Leader ‘Rejects Without Hesitation’ Anti-Israel Components of Black Lives Matter Platform

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten. Photo: Williams Temple website

Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten. Photo: Williams Temple website

A prominent African-American clergyman in Missouri has issued a stinging public rebuke to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement over the anti-Israel components of its recently announced platform.

In a letter to the editor published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday, Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, the president of the St. Louis chapter of the Ecumenical Leadership Council, wrote:

Recently, Black Lives Matter issued a platform of demands. One of the demands called for the elimination of U.S. aid to Israel. Their argument is that Israel is an apartheid state perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians. Most of the platform’s readers are likely unaware that its Israel/Palestine section was written by an activist who was born and raised as a Jew, although Rachel Gilmer says she no longer identifies as Jewish.

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The Ecumenical Leadership Council of Missouri, representing hundreds of predominantly African-American churches throughout the state, rejects without hesitation any notion or assertion that Israel operates as an apartheid country. We embrace our Jewish brethren in America and respect Israel as a Jewish state. Jewish-Americans have worked with African-Americans during the civil rights era when others refused us service at the counter  and worse.

Wooten concluded his letter by invoking the memories of three civil rights activists who were murdered by Ku Klux Klan members in Mississippi in 1964:  “Anyone who studies American history will no doubt find the names Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, two Jews and an African-American, who lost their lives trying to provide civil rights for blacks in the south. We cannot forget their noble sacrifices. Neither should Black Lives Matter.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Times reported on Monday that BLM had “blindsided” the American Jewish community.

In a statement, Roz Rothstein, CEO of the Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, called the language of the BLM platform “hyperbolic, inaccurate and dishonest.”

“The Black Lives Matter movement has done much to highlight [civil rights] issues in recent years and to reinvigorate a much needed discussion on race relations,” she said. “That is why we are so deeply disappointed that the recently released Movement for Black Lives platform demonizes and dehumanizes Israelis with false accusations of ‘genocide’ and ‘apartheid.’”

Rothstein went on to say that BLM’s policy on Israel was “slanderous, deeply offensive to the vast majority of the Jewish community, and damaging to longstanding relationships between Jewish and Black communities.”

Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz wrote in The Algemeiner on Tuesday, “It is a real tragedy that Black Lives Matter — which has done so much good in raising awareness of police abuses — has now moved away from its central mission and has declared war against the nation state of the Jewish people.”

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  • It is immensely gratifying that a prominent member of the African American community would take a strong stand against BLM’s condemnation of Israel. Let this be a message to all civil rights groups to remember that Jews, including Israelis, are part of the solution to injustice rather than part of the problem.

  • Ted Crawford

    Hats off to Bishop Wooten for making an inspired, sensible statement against a very real and pervasive injustice. Kol Ha’Kavod!

Algemeiner.com