Friday, July 1st | 2 Tammuz 5782

January 28, 2019 8:08 am

Maligning Martin Luther King as an Enemy of Israel

avatar by Shmuley Boteach


A mural commemorating Dr Martin Luther King Jr., in Chattanooga, TN. Photo: Reuters/Billy Weeks.

After reading Michelle Alexander’s screed in The New York Times, I’m not sure whether I should be more outraged by the paper’s publication of yet another anti-Israel article; Ms. Alexander’s outrageous misstatements of fact and scurrilous attacks on Israel; or her disreputable effort to suggest that Martin Luther King, Jr. would ever share her contempt for the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

One can get a clue to the distortions to follow from the headline, “Time to Break the Silence on Palestine” — as if anyone has ever been silenced in criticizing Israel, from “civil rights icon” Angela Davis to former President Jimmy Carter. In what has become a rallying cry for Alexander and her ilk, anyone who dares to counter their arguments is a “McCarthyite.” Free speech is their divine right, but those with whom they disagree have no such right.

In the article, I was offended to see her try to put words in Dr. King’s mouth to justify her views on Israel. She says, “there is no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war.”

This, however, is what King actually said in 1968, just 10 days before his assassination:

Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect her right to exist, its territorial integrity, and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.

In that same speech, at the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, King also gave a strong response to Alexander, Linda Sarsour, and other promoters of “intersectionality” when he said:

The response of some of the so-called young militants does not represent the position of the vast majority of Negroes. There are some who are color-consumed, and they see a kind of mystique in blackness or in being colored, and anything non-colored is condemned. We do not follow that course.

It is hard to know where to start to refute Alexander’s statements regarding Israel. She claims that Israel violates international law? But which law? Resolutions by the UN that are political statements, or legal ones?

She says that Israel occupies the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. But the West Bank was never Palestinian territory, nor was East Jerusalem. These territories are disputed, not occupied. Jerusalem has never been a capital, or even a significant city, under Arab rule.

It is especially galling for Ms. Alexander to refer to Gaza as occupied. Perhaps she was asleep during 2005, when Israel withdrew every citizen and soldier from Gaza. The area is now controlled by Hamas, which has used the territory as a base for terror attacks against Israel.

Curiously, Alexander has nothing to say about the more than 10,000 rockets that have been launched into Israel by Palestinian terrorists. She fails to appreciate the impact this has had on Israeli society, namely an unwillingness to give up additional land in Judea and Samaria (Israel already withdrew from 40 percent) out of fear that it too will become a base for launching attacks against Israel.

Israelis also know that allowing Palestinians to fire rockets from the West Bank would put Israel’s capital, airport, and major population centers in the cross-hairs.

Then again, I don’t think she cares. Clearly, her idea of being a human rights crusader does not including caring for the lives of Jews, or even Israeli Arabs. What’s more, like so many self-appointed spokespeople for the Palestinian people, she does not care about their human rights unless Jews can be blamed for their plight.

She advocates boycotting Israel, for example, despite the opposition of many Palestinian people to doing so. More than 100,000 Palestinians go to work in Israel every day, and thousands work in the settlements she derides. Ask the hundreds of Palestinians who lost their jobs when boycott proponents declared victory by forcing SodaStream to close one of its plants just how they feel about Alexander’s arguments.

If she wants to invoke Dr. King’s name, maybe she should consider what he would say about the dictatorship created by Mahmoud Abbas, who is now serving the 11th year of his four-year term. What would he say about the Palestinian Authority’s silencing of its critics by jailing, torturing, and sometimes killing them? What would he say about the “honor killings” of women who have violated someone’s ideas of moral behavior? And what about their persecution of homosexuals, or the denial of women’s rights, freedom of speech, and the persecution of Christians by Hamas and Palestinian groups in the West Bank?

I am fed up with the hypocrisy of people who claim to be concerned about the human rights of Palestinians but are silent when it comes to their mistreatment by their fellow Palestinians or, in the case of places such as Lebanon and Syria, by their fellow Arabs. Why doesn’t Alexander have anything to say about the slaughter of Palestinians by Bashar al-Assad? Does she believe King would look the other way as she does? I think not.

Paragraph after paragraph of her article is filled with vitriol. She says that Israel will not discuss Palestinian refugees; that’s a lie. Since 1948, Israelis have offered to allow tens of thousands to return — but no Israeli from any political party would accept the idea that Palestinians have a “right” to return, thus destroying Israel as a Jewish state.

Alexander also trots out the tired canard of comparing Israel to South Africa. This specious argument has been rebutted ad nauseum, but it is as odious and malignant as Holocaust denial.

Finally, Alexander says that “the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end.” King saw things differently. When a student attacked Zionism during an event in 1968, King responded: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 30 books, including his most recent, The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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