Tel Aviv study claims antisemitism in Black Lives Matter movement being ignored

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

A study released today by the INSS think tank at Tel Aviv University argues that the Black Lives Matter movement is the latest manifestation of longstanding antisemitism in the American Black community that stems from the era of Malcolm X.

“Black Antisemitism in America: Past and Present,” by University of North Texas history and Jewish studies professor Eunice G. Pollack, also claims that American Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Council for Public Affairs have minimized the extent of the antisemitism in the BLM movement.

After the Movement for Black Lives posted its policy platform in 2016, which accused US of complicity “in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people” and calling for support of the BDS movement, ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said it was only “some individuals and organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement [that] have engaged in antisemitic rhetoric.”

More than 600 Jewish groups signed a 2020 letter that appeared in a full-page New York Times ad denying any antisemitism in the BLM movement, the INSS study points out. Such accusations are used by “politicians and political movements in this country who build power by deliberately manufacturing fear to divide us against each other,” the letter read.

Illustrative: A man wearing a kippah holds a sign reading ‘Jews for Black Lives’ at the weekly Black Lives Matter ‘Jackie Lacey Must Go!’ protest in front of the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles, California, September 9, 2020 (VALERIE MACON / AFP)

The ”Black Antisemitism” study argues that despite extensive Jewish involvement in the civil rights movements, in the 1960s Black activists began to see the Arab-Israeli conflict through a racial lens, and saw both themselves and Palestinians being oppressed by “white” Jews.

Pollack – author of the 2013 book “Racializing Antisemitism: Black militants, Jews, and Israel, 1950-present” – contends that instances of blatant antisemitism among prominent Black officials like Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Ilhan Omar are ignored, or excused by the claim that oppressed communities cannot be racist.

She does not examine contemporary support for Israel in many Black churches in America. For example, the 9 million-strong Church of God in Christ appointed in 2019 prominent African-American Zionist Bishop Glenn Plummer as its first Bishop of Israel, to help build bridges between Israel and Black Americans.

Pollack’s INSS study is the latest publication of the INSS research project on antisemitism in the US, launched in March 2020.

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