Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
In a recent public letter permeated with distortions published in The New York Times, 600 Jewish signatory organizations identified themselves with Black Lives Matter (BLM). This decentralized movement was founded by Marxists and had in its original platform expressions of extreme anti-Israel incitement. BLM is a racist, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic movement that should be exposed as such and fought. It intends nothing good for Jews or Israel, regardless how many Jews proclaim their allegiance to it.
On August 28, 2020, six hundred American Jewish organizations signed on to a full-page open letter in The New York Times identifying with the antisemitic Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. (One of the named groups, NCSY, has since stated that its name was included in error.)
The New York Times letter had in fact already been published, with all its lies and distortions, on June 25. The choice of the Times for its publication was appropriate, as that paper is a leader in slanted reporting on the Middle East.
One might perhaps excuse the earlier publication of the letter somewhat by considering that events at the time were developing so rapidly that the signatories lacked the time to think through the consequences of their support for BLM. It was still somewhat difficult to grasp back in June that the praiseworthy voicing of protest against discrimination against blacks and other minorities in the US was very different from supporting BLM.
BLM, a decentralized movement, is supported by both blacks and whites. Yet it is, in essence, a racist, anti-capitalist, and anti-democratic movement that should be exposed and fought. One of its goals, to defund the police rather than reform elements of it, is particularly dangerous as it aims to undermine American democracy.
What was naive on June 25 had become inexcusable by the time the letter appeared for a second time at the end of August. The letter stated: “We speak with one voice when we say, unequivocally: Black Lives Matter. We support the black-led movement in this country that is calling for accountability and transparency from the government and law enforcement. We know that freedom of safety for any of us depends on the freedom and safety of all of us.” Yet BLM’s policy of defunding the police would greatly reduce the safety of all Americans, particularly in the disadvantaged black communities they claim to represent.
The letter claimed: “Black Lives Matter is the current day civil rights movement in this country and it is our best chance at equity and justice. By supporting this movement we can build a country that fulfills the promise of freedom, unity and safety for all of us—no exceptions.” The text also made a gratuitous remark: “When black movements are undermined, it leads to more violence against black people, including black Jews.”
The comparison of BLM to the civil rights movement is an insult to the memory of the latter and its revered leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. He indeed fought against discrimination and for freedom and unity, neither of which is true of BLM. The most prominent African-American figure in the US today is Louis Farrakhan, leader of the African-American Nation of Islam and a notorious antisemite.
BLM’s original platform contained extreme anti-Israeli incitement. It stated:
The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and complicity with the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people. The US requires Israel to use 75 percent of all the military aid it receives to buy US-made arms. Consequently, every year billions of dollars are funneled from US taxpayers to hundreds of arms corporations, who then wage lobbying campaigns pushing for even more foreign military aid. The results of this policy are twofold: it not only diverts much needed funding from domestic education and social programs, but it makes US citizens complicit in the abuses committed by the Israeli government. Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people. Palestinian homes and land are routinely bulldozed to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli soldiers also regularly arrest and detain Palestinians as young as 4 years old without due process. Every day, Palestinians are forced to walk through military checkpoints along the US-funded apartheid wall.
One of the three founders of the BLM network, Patrisse Cullors, visited Israel in 2015 and said afterward: “This is an apartheid state. We can’t deny that and if we do deny it, we are a part of the Zionist violence. There are two different systems here in occupied Palestine. Two completely different systems. Folks are unable to go to parts of their own country. Folks are barred from their own country.”
In a recently surfaced video from 2015, Cullors said she is a trained Marxist organizer, and added that was also true of BLM co-founder Alicia Garza. Cullors mentioned that her mentor was Eric Mann, who is a former agitator from the Weather Underground domestic terror organization.
The Australian Jewish Association produced a Youtube video that consists of 10 minutes of BLM members spewing anti-Israel and antisemitic hate. It is by no means true that all BLM adherents are antisemites, but the movement is permeated by antisemitism.
The original platform was recently taken off the organization’s website and replaced by a shorter statement that does not mention Israel, but the harm had already been done. This became even clearer when BLM in the UK posted an anti-Israel statement: “As Israel moves forward with the annexation of the West Bank, and mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and Israel’s settler colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our Palestinian comrades.” The group hailed their supposed brothers-in-arms with terminology commonly used by the far left and unreconstructed communists, then added an emphatic “FREE PALESTINE.”
Among the signatories of the NYT open letter are the Movement for Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the ADL, the Hadassah Foundation, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Americans for Peace Now, and of course J Street and the even more extreme Jewish Voice for Peace.
Among more liberal Jewish currents, the idea has been promoted for years that Judaism’s goal is to repair the world. This idea has roots in Judaism but no central place in 3,000 years of Jewish history and religion.
The “repairing the world” statement is typical of Jewish movements where liberalism is dominant. Repairing the world is a vague concept, but the Times letter indirectly explains what many Jewish organizations seem to mean by it: that repairing the world entails embracing antisemites, being Jewish masochists, presenting Jewish-black relations in a partially untrue way, and foregoing Jewish dignity. Most absurdly, repairing the world apparently means defunding the police.
The letter also manipulates justice by saying “Jewish tradition teaches us that justice is not something that will be bestowed upon us. It is something that we need to pursue, and that the pursuit itself is sacred work.” From this we can infer the lie that Jewish tradition leads to a sacred support for BLM incitement.
The silent majority in a liberal democracy is often lazy, but it is not stupid. The more it sees of BLM, the more it understands that it is a destructive, racist, Marxist, anti-capitalist movement and as such is radically opposed to democracy. The silent majority will gradually comprehend that BLM should be exposed for what it is and fought.
The signatories of the NYT letter have maneuvered part of American Jewry into a highly undesirable position: identifying with a revolutionary movement permeated with antisemitism. Nothing good for Jews can possibly be expected from BLM, as it is an antisemitic organization. This applies whether the Jews have declared their allegiance to BLM or not.
The signatories of the letter have also managed to create huge confusion about Jewish-black relations. Studies by the ADL, admittedly many years old, show that the overall level of antisemitism among African Americans far exceeds that among white Americans.
A new detailed study of the relationship between Jews and blacks is overdue. This should cover all characteristics of the relationship in detail and not limit itself to the claim that Jews and blacks have always marched together.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a regular contributor to Blitz is a Senior Research Associate at the BESA Center, a former chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and author of The War of a Million Cuts. Among the honors he has received was the 2019 International Lion of Judah Award of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research paying tribute to him as the leading international authority on contemporary antisemitism.