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August 25, 2016 5:02 am

How Can Black Lives Matter Support Antisemitism Yet Claim to Promote Justice?

avatar by Jonathan Greenberg

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Black Lives Matter protesters on  July  17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Jose Lopez, from Black Lives Matter website.

Black Lives Matter protesters on July 17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Jose Lopez, from Black Lives Matter website.

In its new platform, Black Lives Matter (BLM) has, despite the total lack of relevance to its own agenda or interests, thrown whatever heft it has behind the antisemitic movement to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Israel. In doing so, it is inarguably contributing to the campaign to “other” the world’s only Jewish state and, with it, the Jews themselves.

Using the justification that US military aid to Israel “diverts much needed funding from domestic education and social programs,” the platform launches into a ridiculous, one-sided assault on Israel. It accuses Israel of committing “genocide” against the Palestinians (a word rendered utterly meaningless when used to describe a situation in the which the alleged target population increases each year). It labels Israel “an apartheid state,” accuses Israel of arresting four-year-olds “without due process,” and of bulldozing Palestinian homes “to make way for illegal Israeli settlements.” It supports the aims and activities of the BDS movement. It has all the sobriety and nuance one might expect from a play written and performed by the pre-K kids at Hamas summer camp.

These are not, as the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt inexplicably phrased it, things about which “we strongly disagree.” We can “strongly disagree” about appropriate marginal tax rates. But we don’t merely “disagree” with rabidly anti-Jewish lies told in furtherance of a movement that exists to single out Jews for discrimination and hatred. We condemn them and reject those who propagate them. “Disagreement” suggests there is a point at which we could reach agreement. How does one meet halfway on “Israel is committing genocide?”

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No, these are disqualifying falsehoods that should send any sympathizer of good conscience fleeing for the exits. Even if you agree with some or all other aims of BLM, isn’t lying about and supporting the isolation and demonization of another group of people precisely the opposite of what a movement for equality and justice should be about?

To its credit, the organized Jewish community has thus far risen to the challenge of calling the BDS movement what it is; unadulterated, classical Jew-hatred. Even if BDS didn’t rely on a vile mixture of lies, distortions, and stereotyping (which it does), its singular focus on this conflict – ignoring other, far more violent and globally significant ones – reveals its actual motives. Its use of classical antisemitic tactics such as economic, cultural, and academic collective abuse signals its true target. And its use of classically antisemitic tropes, symbols, and images to depict Israel or Israelis is evidence of a core hatred that, you would think, a movement claiming the mantle of equality and justice would want to avoid.

But BLM presents a unique challenge to a significant subset of the Jewish community that is overwhelmingly leftist, fixated on platitudinous conceptualizations of “social justice,” and in love with the idea of its own virtue (as “virtue” is defined by contemporary leftist politics). It is these people who are least likely to walk away and, as one rabbi already did in the English-language version of Israel’s most anti-Israel newspaper, most likely to give us a clause full of “but” after paying lip-service to the anti-Jewish sections of the platform.

Forget the demands made by BLM and whether or not you agree with many or most of them. They have openly embraced a movement, BDS, the explicit goal of which to is to make a pariah – an “other” – of a minority population comprising no more than .2% of the world. They have trafficked in blatant falsehoods about the national project of those people and done so in ways that, in the long run, complicate international efforts to name and remedy actual genocides. Why would anyone of good will want to be in coalition with such people? What can they possibly claim to stand for that would make it okay to Jew bash?

If BLM wants to be taken seriously – and I hope it does – it should stop doing to Jews what it accuses the United States of doing to our African American neighbors; slandering, ostracizing, debilitating, and bringing violence upon them. Until then, regardless of what else they do, it is they and any who ally with them who should be held at arm’s length.

Jonathan Greenberg is an ordained reform rabbi and the senior vice president of the Haym Salomon Center. An expert in Middle East policy and former staffer at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, you can follow him @JGreenbergSezThis article was originally published by The Washington Times.

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  • stevenl

    Nevertheless, the believe that racism is gone from the shores of America is a dream far from its realization. And as long as we do not address this issue, it won’t go away!

  • stevenl

    Didn’t Hitler claim to promote justice when getting rid of the Jews?
    That is not an intelligent question. It is all about the power of ignorance combined with brainwashing.

  • David Peters

    It is the “Movement for Black Lives” that is at discussion. It is a formal organization attempting to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement.
    Their platform is not universally accepted; witness the various Black Christian organizations that have condemned this platform plank.
    Palestinian representatives have sought to link the two movements but the net result will be to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.

    • A very important point. Everyone attacking this terrible policy acts as if some official body of Black Lives Matter has taken the pro-BDS position, when in fact it is a group of organizations that have named themselves “Movement for Black Lives” precisely in order to draw pro-Israel groups into attacking Black Lives Matter, with the hoped-for result that BLM will indeed adopt a pro-BDS position. In other words, this is a provocation; but it is distressing how enthusiastically pro-Israel writers have swallowed it.

    • David Peters is right on target. BDS supporting websites and facebook pages are falsely claiming that BLM has endorsed BDS. In fact, the endorsement was made by an ad hoc coalition which called itself “Movement for Black Lives” precisely in order to get pro-Israel writers and readers to attack Black Lives Matter, thus pushing BLM members into the arms of BDS. It is shocking how enthusiastically pro-Israel writers have swallowed this poisoned bait.

  • nat cheiman

    Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and all those connected to BLM are racists. Americans are sick and tired of criminals masquerading as neo liberals and claiming that they are victims.

  • Ilbert Phillips

    Jews and Blacks fought together the great civil rights battles beginning in the 20’s. They worked with blacks in the South and died fighting for the black vote (Goodman and Schwerner [Jews]) died along with Chaney (a black man). Black Lives Matter is built on a lie that Michael Brown was shot by a white cop because Michael was Black. Even the Justice Department found the killing was righteous. In short, Black Lives Matter does not care about the trust, so lying about the Israeli/Arab conflict is just another lie by an organization who hates the United States.

  • BLM is all about racism and hatred. It has little to do with so called police brutality. BLM fix your own house before you try to fix the houses of others.

  • No surprise here. They are funded by CAIR, which, in turn, is part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Saba

    Black Lives Matters does not support the horrible devastation inflicted by the recent flooding’s in black communities of Louisiana and others southern states. Why is that? It has not reached out to those communities because Black Lives Does Not Matter. Where is the help from BLM? It doesn’t exist, because it doesn’t care.

  • Just because people are oppressed does not make them “nice” nor does it automatically make them a friend or an Allie. Don’t forget that.

  • enufizenuf

    Because they’re generally stupid and uneducated and looking for anyone else to blame their problems on.
    Of course being funded 70 million dollars by George Soros might have something to do with it, too.

  • Lia

    Pity that BLM do not do some reading before they make up their charge sheets.

  • I am always wondering why JEWS do not answer to those, who accuse Israel for getting too much American help, that this help is much less than what JEWS giving to USA. Jews helped USA to beat Japan, saving hundreds thousands American lives and billions $. Millions JEWS work for USA Military, NASA, all kinds of Research, creating WEALTH for USA. Israel works with USA creating breaks in science,medicine, industries, defenses… Israel giving to USA not less than getting.

  • manley kiefer

    Poland probably won/t admit to the holocaust because of a guilty conscience for their part in the holocaust and their anti Semitism.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    BLM can’t have it both ways if they claim to be non discriminatory.

  • black willie

    maybe it isn’t anti semtism. maybe black have legitimate greivances with some jews. every consider that?

    • June Getraer

      The only grievances they listed in their platform are bald faced lies as discussed in the article above and they by definition are not legitimate. That is anti-semitism!

    • ZG

      So why don’t they focus on those grievances, and lets debate them, but to libel Israel with outrages canards? Inexcusable!!!

    • manley kiefer

      Jews and Jewish organizations have done more for blacks than other races and religions. Many of the older blacks may remember the many times we came to their aid and fought and died with them for their cause. These fact are well documented if they really want to know who their friends are.

      That is not to say that there are not some Jews and others that have been against them, their fellow Jews and others. We are people like anyone else.

    • BARBARA SHABO

      To black willie, When you attack a whole people b/o “grievances against some ‘Jews,'” that’s the very definition of anti-Semitism AKA Jew hatred.

      Martin Luther King said, “When you say anti-Zionism, you are talking anti-Semitism. It’s that simple.”

      Two Jewish boys were murdered alongside their black friend in Mississippi. Jews make up about 1 or 2% of the US population but made up 50% of the freedom riders during the civil rights movement. (Our late rabbi was one of those freedom riders and marched with MLK in Selma). You shame MLK’s memory with your Jew hatred. Shame on you.

    • Ephraim

      And maybe people have trouble with specific Black people, does that justify racism? Did you ever think of that? Did you ever think? CAN you ever think?

    • Ephraim

      Also, the savages with which your group chooses to ally themselves, many of them are still involved in the slave trade of Africans. Did you ever think of that? Did you ever think that a belief in justice might trump your bigotry and hatred?

    • citizenstat

      ok, willie. name some.

    • Ted Crawford

      One reason they are angry is because, persecution-wise, Jews have been stealing their thunder. Wasn’t the word “ghetto” borrowed from the Jews? Didn’t key members of the American Jewish community march in solidarity with black protesters under Dr. King? Jewish involvement dilutes the narrative that “nobody has it as bad as we do”.

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