WASHINGTON — Following the Republican and Democratic national conventions, groups associated with the Black Lives Matter movement released a platform Monday that labels Israel an “apartheid state” and excoriates the United States for its alliance with a country it alleges systemically perpetrates a “genocide” against the Palestinians.
The platform, which demands “an end to the war against Black people,” marks the campaign’s first official entry into America’s debate over specific federal policies. In the past, Black Lives Matter has been noted for its protests against disparities within the nation’s criminal justice system that disadvantage African-Americans and other minorities.
The document makes 40 policy proposals, including abolishing the death penalty, providing free tuition to public universities, and enacting reparations to Black Americans, and addressed matters of US foreign policy in a section titled “Invest-Divest.”
Highly critical of the Jewish state — which it said “practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades” — the platform devoted a section to the US-Israel relationship. “The US 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,” the text said.
The platform goes on to suggest America’s close relationship with Israel and commitment to its security makes “US citizens complicit in the abuses committed by the Israeli government.”
“Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people,” it continued. “Palestinian homes and land are routinely bulldozed to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli soldiers also regularly arrest and detain Palestinians as young as 4 years old without due process. Every day, Palestinians are forced to walk through military checkpoints along the US-funded apartheid wall.”
Israel’s security fence was constructed during the Second Intifada, from 2000-2005, to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from infiltrating the country. More than 1,000 Israeli civilians were killed during that period, according to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
At the end of this section, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is advertised as a resource, along with a website for Black-Palestinian solidarity.
The platform was released by The Movement for Black Lives, an umbrella group of more than 50 organizations, including the Black Lives Matter Network, the Black Liberation Collective, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which often promotes the Palestinian cause.
Over the past two years, there has been much speculation over attempts by the pro-Palestinian movement to converge with Black Lives Matter and other social justice-related campaigns.
During protests over police treatment of African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, activists complained to reporters that the conditions of having heavily-armed police officers in those cities was comparable to being in Gaza.
That claim came almost a year after the 2014 Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza strip, when the Pew Research Center found that 43 percent of African-American respondents favored Israel in the conflict, while 20 percent supported the Palestinians.
At the Republican National Convention two weeks ago, an attempt to present such a coalition was on display. Abbas Hamideh, 41, of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, told The Times of Israel he was in Cleveland to protest GOP nominee Donald Trump with Black Lives Matter activists.
“As Palestinians, we stand in solidarity with them. We have been colonized for over 68 years, so it is a natural bond, it is a natural alliance for us,” he said.
Hamideh went on to say he opposed a two-state solution and the very notion of a Jewish state, and that he promotes “a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” repeating a chant associated with the Hamas terrorist organization.