Remembering the Great African American Leaders Who Were Also Zionists

As much of the formal leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement seems eager to embrace the anti-Israel cause as its own, and, just last week, as two scandals erupted on social media involving black celebrities disseminating anti-Semitic canards and slogans, black-Jewish relations don’t seem to be at their best. Yet Saul Singer reminds us that these troubling incidents need not be taken as representative. He draws our attention to the sympathy for Jews and the Jewish state of two great leaders of the civil-rights movement: Rosa Parks and Bayard Rustin—the latter of whom was also a regular contributor to Commentary magazine:

Though Rosa Parks’s heroism on that Montgomery bus has become the stuff of legend, not as well known is her strong support of Israel as a Jewish state and determined opposition to anti-Israel boycotts. In 1975, she joined a list of over 200 black leaders organized as the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee (BASIC) in signing an open declaration of admiration and respect for Israel.

BASIC was born just after the Arab League recognized the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and after the United Nations passed its shameful Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism. The civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin responded in a column that “Zionism is not racism, but the legitimate expression of the Jewish people’s self-determination. . . . From our 400-year experience with slavery, segregation, and discrimination we know that Zionism is not racism.”

Throughout his life, Rustin remained a champion of Israel who manifested ultimate faith in Israel’s democracy. He expressed great antipathy for Arab governments and for the PLO, which, he said, used Israel as a facile excuse to divert the attention of the Arab masses away from their own treachery and political failures: “Marx once said that religion is the opiate of the masses. In the Middle East, Israel is the opiate of the Arabs.”

Rustin characterized anti-Semitism as “history’s oldest and most shameful witch hunt,” and he was particularly disturbed by black anti-Semitism, which he publicly acknowledged: “We cannot sweep it under the rug; . . . it is here, it is dangerous, it must be rooted out.” Such statements earned him the enmity of many in the “Black Power” movement, which he bitterly criticized for its anti-Semitism and Israel hatred. He faced vicious accusations from the radical left, who called him an “Uncle Tom” who had been “bought out by Jewish money.”

Rustin [later] became a close friend of the Israel prime minister Golda Meir, who once made him her famous chicken soup to help him recover from a bad cold.

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: African Americans, Anti-Semitism, Black Lives Matter, Civil rights movement, Golda Meir

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law