* BLM’s Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Orientation

In January 2015, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors joined representatives from the Dream Defenders as well as a number of likeminded anti-police-brutality protesters in taking a 10-day trip to the Palestinian Territories in the West Bank. Their objective was to publicly draw a parallel between what they defined as Israeli oppression of the Palestinians in the Middle East, and police violence against blacks in the United States. A complete list of the delegates who made this trip included five Dream Defenders (Phillip Agnew, Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, Ahmad Abuznaid); Tef Poe and Tara Thompson from Ferguson/Hands Up United; journalist Marc Lamont Hill; Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez of the Justice League NYC; Charlene Carruthers from the Black Youth Project; poet and artist Aja Monet; and USC doctoral student Maytha Alhassen.

  • Cullors said that what she immediately noticed when she arrived in the West Bank was “apartheid”: “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.”
  • Cullors also stated: “I believe the Black Lives Matter movement can benefit greatly by learning about struggles outside of the U.S., but particularly the Palestinian struggle. I want this trip to be an example for how Black folks and Arab communities can be in better solidarity with one another.”

In April 2015, Cullors participated in a Harvard Law School panel titled “Globalizing Ferguson: Racialized Policing and International Resistance.” There, she said: “Palestine is our generation’s South Africa, and if we don’t step up boldly and courageously to end the imperialist project that’s called Israel, we’re doomed.”

In August 2015, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors was one of more than 1,000 black activists, artists, scholars, politicians, students, “political prisoners,” and organizational representatives to sign a statement proclaiming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people”; demanding an end to Israel’s “occupation” of “Palestine”; condemning “Israel’s brutal war on Gaza and chokehold on the West Bank”; urging the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel; and exhorting black institutions to support the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement against the Jewish state. Key passages from the statement included the following:

  • “Palestinians on Twitter were among the first to provide international support for protesters in Ferguson, where St. Louis-based Palestinians gave support on the ground. Last November, a delegation of Palestinian students visited Black organizers in St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit and more, just months before the Dream Defenders took representatives of Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, and other racial justice groups to Palestine. Throughout the year, Palestinians sent multiple letters of solidarity to us throughout protests in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore. We offer this statement to continue the conversation between our movements.”
  • “We remain outraged at the brutality Israel unleashed on Gaza through its siege by land, sea and air, and three military offensives in six years. We remain sickened by Israel’s targeting of homes, schools, UN shelters, mosques, ambulances, and hospitals. We remain heartbroken and repulsed by the number of children Israel killed in an operation it called ‘defensive.’ We reject Israel’s framing of itself as a victim. Anyone who takes an honest look at the destruction to life and property in Gaza can see Israel committed a one-sided slaughter.”
  • “Israel’s injustice and cruelty toward Palestinians is not limited to Gaza and its problem is not with any particular Palestinian party. The oppression of Palestinians extends throughout the occupied territories, within Israel’s 1948 borders, and into neighboring countries. The Israeli Occupation Forces continue to kill protesters—including children—conduct night raids on civilians, hold hundreds of people under indefinite detention, and demolish homes while expanding illegal Jewish-only settlements.”
  • “Our support extends to those living under occupation and siege, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the 7 million Palestinian refugees exiled in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The refugees’ right to return to their homeland in present-day Israel is the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.”
  • “Palestinian liberation represents an inherent threat to Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, an apparatus built and sustained on ethnic cleansing, land theft, and the denial of Palestinian humanity and sovereignty. While we acknowledge that the apartheid configuration in Israel/Palestine is unique from the United States (and South Africa), we continue to see connections between the situation of Palestinians and Black people.”
  • “Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including thepolitical imprisonment of our own revolutionaries.”
  • “U.S. and Israeli officials and media criminalize our existence, portray violence against us as ‘isolated incidents,’ and call our resistance ‘illegitimate’ or ‘terrorism.’ These narratives ignore decades and centuries of anti-Palestinian and anti-Black violence that have always been at the core of Israel and the US. We recognize the racism that characterizes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is also directed against others in the region, including intolerance, police brutality, and violence against Israel’s African population.”
  • “We know Israel’s violence toward Palestinians would be impossible without the U.S. defending Israel on the world stage and funding its violence with over $3 billion annually. We call on the U.S. government to end economic and diplomatic aid to Israel. We wholeheartedly endorse Palestinian civil society’s 2005 call for Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) against Israel and call on Black and U.S. institutions and organizations to do the same. We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time.”
  • “[W]e aim to sharpen our practice of joint struggle against capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and the various racisms embedded in and around our societies.”

In late July 2016, a BLM delegation arrived in Israel to promote “the fight for dignity, justice and freedom” against the Israeli “occupation” and the “genocide” of Palestinian Arabs. In a July 28th Facebook post, the delegation’s members wrote:

“In the fight for dignity, justice and freedom… the Movement for Black Lives is committed to the global shared struggle of oppressed people, namely the people of occupied Palestine and other indigenous communities who for decades have resisted the occupation of their land, the ethnic cleansing of their people, and the erasure of their history and experiences.

“In this violent, political climate, it is urgent that we make clear the connection between violence inflicted on Black people globally that is encouraged and permitted by the state and the profiling, harm, and genocide funded by the United States and perpetrated by Zionist vigilantes and the Israeli Defense Forces on Palestinian people. Our collective oppression mandates that we work together across geography, language and culture to decry and organize an end to capitalistic, imperialist regimes.

“We commit to global struggle, solidarity, and support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement to fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian people and to end international support of the occupation.”

Over the Shavuot festival on May 30, 2020, BLM members carried out a pogrom in Fairfax, a Los Angeles community largely populated by ultra-Orthodox Jews. On that day, the BLMers not only vandalized five synagogues and three Jewish schools in Fairfax, but also looted most of the Jewish businesses on Fairfax Avenue. Moreover, they chanted “Fuck the police and kill the Jews.” Soon thereafter, National Council of Young Israel president Farley Weiss said: “[I]t is sickening to see that the Black Lives Matter movement has been co-opted by people who wear their antisemitic beliefs on their sleeves. Whether it is yelling antisemitic comments during a march in our nation’s capital or vandalizing and defacing synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in Los Angeles with antisemitic messages during a protest, these blatant expressions of bigotry are intolerable and must end.”

At a July 1, 2020 demonstration in Washington, D.C., BLM protesters tied their own cause to that of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The rally was billed as a gesture of support for the “Day of Rage” that had been called by the Palestinian Authority and other groups to protest Israel’s plan to annex portions of the West Bank. The BLM protesters chanted: “Israel, we know you, you murder children, too.” Chants also alternated between “Black lives matter!” and “Palestinian lives matter!” The D.C. demonstration was led by Harvard student Christian Tabash, who read a poem condemning Israel’s alleged crimes against Palestinian Muslims, and referring to Israel as the “puppet master of continents.” Moreover, Tabash repeatedly emphasized that the Palestinian movement is “intrinsically tied to Black Lives Matter.”

At a BLM rally of several hundred people in Brooklyn that same day:

  • A pro-North Korea activist called for the end of the United States and its “puppet governments,” the liberation of “Palestine,” and for Korea to “be one again” — i.e., a Communist monolith.
  • Dequi Kioni Sadiki, the wife of former Black Panther Sekou Odinga, said: “The European Jews who occupy, slaughter and continue to force millions of Palestinians onto their killing fields called refugee and concentration camps, are the relatives of the Europeans … who kidnapped, slaughtered and forced millions of Africans and indigenous” peoples into slavery.
  • There were numerous calls to “abolish the police” and eliminate “the Zionistic state of Israel.”
  • Activist Nerdeen Kiswani, who co-organized the rally, said: “The land that Israel exists on is still stolen. The 1948 lands are still stolen — Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv … was stolen. We don’t want to go just back to our homes in Gaza and the West Bank. We want all of it. We don’t want a fake Palestinian state that they give us while Israel still exists.”
  • Protesters chanted, “Fuck your two states!”

On July 15, 2020, Lawrence Nathaniel, the founder of BLM’s South Carolina chapter and a former organizer for Senator Bernie Sanders‘s 2016 presidential campaign, defended comments that had been made by the black television personality Nick Cannon during a recent podcast. In that podcast, Cannon had asserted that: (a) black people were the true, original Hebrews until Jews eventually usurped their identity; (b) light-skinned people are “a little less” than darker people whose skin possesses more melanin; and (c) historically, this “deficiency” has caused “Jewish people, white people, [and] Europeans” to fear for their own survival and to “be savages” who commit all manner of atrocities in order to eliminate their perceived enemies. “What Nick Cannon believes in,” Nathaniel subsequently stated, “is the beliefs of Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X who taught the same teachings of what white folks was and how they are and how they treat Black people. Personally I didn’t see nothing wrong with his comments at all, I just think that he spoke the truth.”

In July 2020 as well, UK Black Lives Matter announced that “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 behind our Palestinian comrades. FREE PALESTINE.”

On August 27, 2020, a BLM rioter was caught on video spray-painting the words Free Palestine on the driveway of the Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where violence had broken out four days earlier in response to the nonfatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer. Beth Hillel, like other leftist temples, had been openly supportive of the BLM riots. Lamenting that “people have no other outlet but to cry out on the street for justice,” the temple’s rabbi, Dena Feingold, had stated: “I’m a lot more concerned about the loss of life that the Black community experiences on a regular basis because of systemic racism, because of the violence directed at them, than I am about whatever damage or costs are incurred for us because of it.”

On May 17, 2021, the main BLM group, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, stated on its official Twitter page: “Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Palestinians. We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation. (always have. And always will be). #freepalestine

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