The Jewish-Black alliance was once strong in the U.S., but Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai doesn’t seem to believe in helping the cause.
Shai said recently that young American Jews supporting Black Lives Matter are a threat to Israel. He made the comments on Aug. 5 to the American Jewish Committee, a New York-based organization advocating for the Jewish people and Israel, according to a report in Mondoweiss, a progressive Jewish community newspaper.
Shai is a member of the Labor Party and a liberal Zionist.
According to Shai, young American Jews are forgetting their roots and culture. They don’t have that “Israeli smell,” he said.
He continued, “When I briefed the cabinet the other day I said if we see more of the radical left or the progressive liberal Jews continuing to support BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) and Black Lives Matter, as similar to the Palestinians, if they relate to Israel as a genocide state or an apartheid state and so on, we may lose America – because the bridge to the Democratic party and the Republican party goes through the American Jewish community. And that’s the only bridge I believe in.”
But not all Jews feel as Shai does.
“Supporting BLM does not mean signing on to every aspect of the movement; it means standing with the Torah’s teaching that all humans matter,“ Black American Jew and community activist Ed Gaskin wrote in Jewish Boston.
According to Gaskin, the “Torah teaches Black lives matter. Torah teaches all lives matter. This truth has resonated around the world with non-Jews and Jews who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color and Jews who aren’t. Movements and political positions come and go, but the truth of Torah is eternal.”
For more than 100 years, Blacks and Jews have worked side-by-side on civil rights, Gaskin said. However, the younger generations of Black people and Jews are unaware of this shared history. This ignorance, Gaskin said, leads to both sides “repeating anti-Semitic or racist beliefs and not seeing the relationship between racism and antisemitism.”
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Members of Black Lives Matter expressed support on social media for Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in May.
“Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians,” one now-deleted tweet read, according to USA Today. “We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation.”
The Black Lives Matter tweet was for the support for Palestinians, not Hamas, though some pro-Israel media blasted BLM for being anti-semitic.
During the civil rights era, it was not uncommon to find Jews protesting alongside Black Americans.
Many forget that Jewish Americans helped found the NAACP, wrote Bob Silverman, co-founder of Inter Jewish Muslim Alliance, for Forward, a nonprofit whose 1920s circulation outstripped the New York Times. The NAACP was “formed in the wake of the 1908 Springfield, Illinois, race riots, a horrific event that left nine African Americans dead and countless injured or homeless from arson,” Silverman wrote.
American Jews not only helped form the civil rights organization but made monetary contributions.
Also, the Democratic Governor of New York in the 1930s and the son of German Jewish immigrants served on the NAACP Executive Committee. Brothers Joel and Arthur Spingarn were also committed to the cause. Joel, a Columbia University literature professor, was the first chairman of the NAACP board in the 1910s and its second president in the 1930s.
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