The Black Lives Matter movement blindsided its Jewish supporters with the recent unveiling of its social and political policy agenda, a far-left manifesto that strays well beyond police brutality and accuses Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid.”
“The U.S. justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people,” said the platform’s “Invest-Divest” policy brief.
Through foreign aid to Israel, which the platform describes as an “apartheid state,” Americans are made “complicit in the abuses committed by the Israeli government,” the brief says. The strong anti-Israel language stunned liberal Jews, many of whom have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement’s protests against shootings by police of unarmed black men.
“It is a real tragedy that Black Lives Matter — which has done so much good in raising awareness of police abuses — has now moved away from its central mission and has declared war against the nation state of the Jewish people,” said Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz in a Friday column in The Boston Globe.
He called on the Movement for Black Lives coalition to rescind the anti-Israel component of the platform, issued Aug. 1 and backed by 67 groups, including Color of Change, which is funded by top Democratic Party donors George Soros and the Center for American Progress.
The liberal Ford Foundation announced last month that it would partner with Borealis Philanthropy, Movement Strategy Center and Benedict Consulting on a six-year commitment to fund “the organizations and networks that compose the Movement for Black Lives.” Although Mr. Dershowitz said that many Black Lives Matter supporters “may have no idea what the platform says,” he described the platform as “the closest thing to a formal declaration of principles by Black Lives Matter.”
“The genocide paragraph may well have been injected by radicals who are not representative of the mainstream. But now that it has officially been published, all decent supporters of Black Lives Matter — and there are many — must demand its removal,” Mr. Dershowitz said.
An editorial Monday on MassLive in Massachusetts blasted the anti-Israel plank under the headline, “Attacking Israel dilutes Black Lives Matters’ cause.”
Progressives, meanwhile, have cheered the inclusion of the anti-Israel language, praising the document for linking the Palestinian and Black Lives movements.
“The affirmed solidarity of the Black Lives movement with the Palestinian experience imbues the Palestinian struggle for human and national rights with renewed energy,” Zeina Azzam, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center in Washington, D.C., said in a column. “As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”
One of the platform’s authors, Ben Ndugga-Kabuye of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, said that black activists feel connected to the Palestinian conflict. “The way we look at it is, we take strong stances,” Mr. Ndugga-Kabuye told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The demand we’re making is we’re against the U.S. continuing funding and military aid to the government of Israel. These are all things that are going to be in debate.”
Pro-Palestinian messages are commonplace at Black Lives Matter protests, which routinely attract a hodgepodge of activists ranging from the Communist Party USA to fracking foes to opponents of food made with genetically modified organisms.
What the ambitious policy agenda shows is that Black Lives Matter itself is a creation of the progressive movement, not an organic response to outrage sparked by recent police shootings of unarmed black men, said Republican strategist Michael McKenna.
In addition to condemning Israel, the platform includes demands for race-based reparations, breaking up large banks, voting rights for illegal immigrants, fossil fuel divestment, an end to private education and charter schools, a “universal basic income” and free college for blacks.
Said Mr. McKenna sarcastically: “I’m shocked that Black Lives Matters turns out to be a political movement holding down the left flank of the Democratic Party. I mean, what are the chances that an organization bankrolled by the usual suspects would turn out to be shills for the policy prescriptions of … the usual suspects?”
The billionaire Mr. Soros donated in one year more than $33 million through his Open Society Foundations to groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter.
“[Black Lives Matter] is what it is — a political movement designed (immediately) to improve turnout for [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, argue mostly unarguable points, create fear and uncertainty in society, and just generally advocate for ridiculous and noxious policy positions,” Mr. Kenna said in an email.
The Movement for Black Lives platform also creates more tension within the Democratic Party coalition with Jewish voters, many of whom have been frustrated by President Obama’s hard line on Israel and outreach to hostile nations such as Iran.
Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs, warned that the “hyperbolic, inaccurate and dishonest language” threatened to drive a wedge between the black and Jewish communities, which have traditionally worked together to advance civil rights. “The Black Lives Matter movement has done much to highlight these issues in recent years and to reinvigorate a much needed discussion on race relations,” StandWithUs said in a statement. “That is why we are so deeply disappointed that the recently released Movement for Black Lives platform demonizes and dehumanizes Israelis with false accusations of ‘genocide’ and ‘apartheid.’”
The Movement for Black Lives policy is “slanderous, deeply offensive to the vast majority of the Jewish community, and damaging to longstanding relationships between Jewish and Black communities,” said the statement.
In its introduction, the platform says that “we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people; collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.”
“We are intentional about amplifying the particular experience of state and gendered violence that Black queer, trans, gender nonconforming, women and intersex people face,” the platform says. “There can be no liberation for all Black people if we do not center and fight for those who have been marginalized.”