Black Lives Matter Has an Israel Problem

Having coalesced in 2014 to protest shootings of unarmed black men by police officers, the Black Lives Matter movement now has a formal platform that includes opinions on a variety of political issues, including the Jewish state. This week, one of the movement’s leaders made clear on social media that he is unwilling to read, let alone engage, any criticism of his stance on Israel. Jason D. Hill writes that the Black Lives Matters’ attitude toward Israel is one of its “unpardonable sins.”

The leaders of Black Lives Matter have written a profoundly anti-Israel (and anti-American) manifesto in which they accuse Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid.” The manifesto endorses the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement and takes the view that the United States justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliances with Israel. This, according to Black Lives Matter, makes the U.S. complicit in a supposed genocidal massacre of the Palestinian people. . . .

With its accusations against Israeli Jews, Black Lives Matter suggests that in their support of Israel, such Jews are complicit in the unproven [Israeli] crimes of genocide and apartheid. We must remember that even amid the daily onslaughts of war and terror that Palestinians inflict on Jews, the Israelis, in a spirit of almost irrational altruism, take great pains to limit civilian casualties and to ensure that those caught in a war they did not personally initiate are spared as much harm as possible.

Black Lives Matter is not only being unjust toward Israel; its anti-Israel stance betrays Jews in America, to whom blacks in this country are enormously indebted. If there are any unsung heroes of the civil-rights movement, it is those Jews who played an enormous but largely unacknowledged role in the liberation of blacks from racial oppression. American Jews undertook monumental efforts to found and fund some of the most important civil-rights organizations in the U.S. . . .

The anti-Israeli platform of Black Lives Matters has understandably alienated some progressive Jews in America who had initially aligned themselves with the movement. And it has alienated this black American as well. . . . Israel is good. So, too, is America. And the achievements of both countries demonstrate, above all, the virtues of self-realization and persistence.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Black Lives Matter, Civil rights movement, Israel & Zionism

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat