One of the most famous images from the civil rights movement features Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching through Selma, Ala., with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a powerful visual representation of the active support for black rights offered by much of the Jewish community, from The Temple’s Rabbi Jacob Rothschild to slain voting rights activists Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.
The past several months have demonstrated from Baton Rouge, La., to Falcon Heights, Minn., that the struggle for racial equality continues, and again Jewish allies have marched alongside and declared support for black protesters.
So it’s bitterly disappointing to see leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement turn their backs on the Jewish community and embrace intersectionality — the idea that all people who see themselves as oppressed must make common cause against the powerful.
The Movement for Black Lives, which includes the Black Lives Matter Network among its 50-plus member groups and endorsing organizations, issued a wide-ranging platform Monday, Aug. 1. This “visionary agenda” aiming for transformation of the United States, “a country that does not support, protect or preserve Black lives,” has room to paint exactly one country as a global partner in oppression: Israel, “a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades.”
Under a plank calling for slashing U.S. military spending to fund a range of domestic programs, the platform labels Israel an apartheid state that bulldozes Palestinian homes, arrests children and conducts genocide against the Palestinian people. The platform urges cutting off aid to Israel and fighting anti-BDS state legislation.
Don’t bother looking for any criticism of Palestinian terrorism against children and their unarmed parents, nor for any support for a two-state solution. The implication of the platform is that the “occupation” started in 1948 and that the only solution is the elimination of Israel.
Sadly, none of that is new in the illogical effort to connect American blacks and Palestinians. The charges against Israeli range from the outrageous (apartheid) to the offensively ridiculous (genocide). Take it from a people whose worldwide population still hasn’t recovered from the Nazi genocide against us in the 1940s: An ethnic group undergoing genocide doesn’t quintuple in size in 65 years.
It would be easy to ignore this platform; after all, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s refusal to end police training with Israeli experts reflects the attitude of mainstream political leaders toward such radical demands.
But there’s a lesson in the small print.
Ten organizations are listed as working on policies related to this portion of the platform. They include the American Friends Service Committee and the US Campaign to End the Occupation — not coincidentally, the two sponsors of the anti-Israel event at which Congressman Hank Johnson used his infamous “termites” metaphor.
In an interview with the AJT, Johnson said he had no idea that he, an advocate of a two-state solution and opponent of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, was addressing organizations committed to BDS and favoring a one-state solution: Palestine in place of Israel.
The Movement for Black Lives platform should solve that problem: Anyone invited by a group to speak about Israel or the Middle East can go to policy.m4bl.org/invest-divest and see whether the organization is listed there. If it is, stay away or risk becoming grist for the Palestinian propaganda mill.