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The decision by the Black Lives Matter coalition (BLM) in the USA to link the issue of American police brutality with what it calls the “genocide” of the Palestinians by “apartheid” Israel is disappointing but not surprising. It follows a long line of antisemitism in radical black American thought.

The BLM has issued a 40,000-word manifesto of its beliefs entitled “A Vision for Black Lives”. Only a small part of it has anything to do with Israel but what it does say on the subject fits into the wider group-think of the hard left which obsesses about Israel and, by association, Jews.

The main accusation, which is bigoted and slanderous, is easily dealt with. If Israel is carrying out genocide, it’s not doing it very well. The Palestinian population is growing rapidly. Any rational discussion BLM may have wanted about occupation, oppression or human rights is totally undermined by the wild claim of “genocide”.

It is doubtful BLM wants a rational discussion. It has picked out one particular dispute, spuriously linked it to what happens on the streets of the US, failed even to mention Palestinian violence, and come out in support for the BDS movement, which it regards as an inspiration.

This obsessive behaviour has saddened many US Jews.

It is a far cry from the early 1960s when the civil rights movement, led by Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, was a broad coalition to which many American Jews flocked. It is estimated that up to half of the white volunteers who supported the “Mississippi Summer” voter-registration project of 1964 were Jews. Two, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, were murdered along with local activist James Chaney.

However, after the victories of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965), many black activists turned to far more radical groups, some of whom preached black power, separatism and revolution. “Anti-Zionist” declarations soon followed along with bursts of open antisemitism.

Lowlights along the way were Malcolm X – “Jews are Nazis”; Senator Jesse Jackson – “Hymietown”; and Louis Farrakhan – “Judaism, a gutter religion”. Being anti-Israel and even hating Jews became mainstream in the extremes of the movement.

BLM’s leaders have not plumbed those depths but they do buy into the world-view according to which, at some point, “Israel” is linked to events most people regard as unconnected.

The language they use is routine hard-left rhetoric tinged with race and gender politics. For example: “Until we are able to overturn US imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy, our brothers and sisters around the world will continue to live in chains.” The three founding members are lesbians and the manifesto pays particular attention to the difficulties faced by “queer, gender nonconforming, and trans people”.

It describes America as “an empire that uses war to expand territory and power”, its military presence in Africa used to “expand Western colonial control”. In the context of an argument about cutting the military budget to fund black community projects, it says: “The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinians.”

What is missing from both the manifesto and the organisation is an acknowledgment of complexity.

There is nothing about the role that Hamas plays in profiting from the human trafficking of mostly black Africans through the Sinai.

Also missing is the fact that the only country in Africa and the Middle East with progressive laws on protecting the LGBT community is Israel.

Nor, in the passing, but ignorant, slurs about genocide and apartheid is there any context of Israel’s relationship with Africa. Unnoticed is Israel’s donation of $10 million to the UN fund to fight Ebola, the growing use of Israeli technology to bring clean water to African villages, nor the embracing of Israel by many African countries as a valued strategic business partner.

One of the shooting incidents which led to BLM’s formation was in Ferguson. In rallies soon afterwards, banners appeared saying: “From Palestine to Ferguson”. The Israel-haters were quick to jump on that bandwagon – and the bandwagon seemed to make room for them.

By diluting its core message about the militarisation of US policing, particularly in black communities, and writing a manifesto in the language of fringe politics, BLM risks losing support from the left, right, and centre, and from black and white – not to mention US Jews. They don’t seem to care.

(Adapted from an article first published in the UK’s JC)


4 Comments on "Black Lives Matter and… Israel?"

  1. mahatmacoatmabag | 12th August 2016 at 12:12 pm | Reply

    A brilliant article Tim, short, factual & easily understandable by any person of good will irrespective of education or social status. I hope that you get this article which was published in the JC across to a wider general audience. Obviously the Guardian, the Times & the Independent will not reprint it but I hope you can get the Telegraph, the Express , the Mail, the Spectator, Breibart & the Jerusalem Post to reprint it. You mentioned the human trafficking by Hamas of mostly black Africans through the Sinai, this of course has a historical precedent by way of the fact, ignored by the Black community & by White Liberals, that the African slave trade originated with the Arabs invaders of both North & East Africa long before White seafarers & traders came to Africa.

    The UK too now has a radical Black Lives Matter movement which is an offshoot of the extreme Left & radical Muslim linked Momentum group within the Labour party. I expect that these extremist Black activists will support the BDS & attacks on Jews no less than their US counterparts and I expect the “Liberal” media to continue to give them a free pass in return for taking part in Muslim lead anti-Israel demonstrations , academic boycotts of Jews & Israel and BDS fund raising activities .

  2. I would have to agree with mahatmacoatmabag a brilliant article that pinpoints all that is wrong with the Black Lives Matter movement. It seems being anti-Israel and spreading lies about Jews has become something of a favourite of the far left. They appear wrongly to associate Israel with white Colonialism, ignoring the fact that Jewish people have lived in the area for over 3,000 years. They are scornful of America and the West and as they see Israel as a puppet of the West then their hatred is directed at the one and only democracy in the Middle East, as it suits their anti-western narrative. The shocking thing is that those behind BLM ignore the fact that the only country in the Middle East where they would be safe is Israel itself. Their Apartheid lie is ridiculous and it is a slur on those Black South Africans who really did suffer Apartheid. They doubtless have never been to Israel to see Arabs and Jews working together in hospitals, schools, the judiciary, the police, or the military. They need to remove their blinkers and their bias and stop obsessing about Israel and spreading lies. Israel is not perfect, no country is but it does not deserve this demonization.

  3. Wow I think you just completely missed the point. Maybe, possibly, they are not talking about a genocide similar to the likes of what the Saudi’s did in Yemen. But you unequivocally ignored the fact that Israel is disproportionately killing the Palestinian people. This seems to be an article not for the general public, whom you assume are sheep ready to be herded in the direction of your choosing. But you have forgotten, we are the age of the internet. We can see what is happening from the comfort of our beds in Surrey. You article is for the eyes of your Zionist peers. I hope you succeeded in what you set out to achieve. I am currently reading your book ‘Prisoners of Georgraphy’ and look forward to your ‘impartial’ view on the Middle East. Fine work here….

  4. @scarlet You are ignoring the fact that Palestinian organizations are doing whatever they can to spread violence, are using fear and class segregation to make sure some families (tribes) in the west bank and gaza strip stay poor and under control, that the P.A is incurserating and torturing its own people when they try to reach out to israelis…
    Generally speaking, European colonialists have used anti semitism to get indigenous people and slaves to convert to Christianity, Arab dictatorships have spread anti semitic libels to get African countries to support them in the UN, to get African Americans organizations to hate Jews and not pay too much attention to racist Arab/Muslim ideologies…
    There are others articles on this website and elsewhere where you can get a more coherent view on these things.

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