Pledging to “firmly and consistently stand in solidarity with our Black sisters and brothers in the United States and around the world,” Palestinians welcomed the policy platform recently released by the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 Black-led organizations.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) reiterated its support for the growing Black Lives Matter movement.
The BNC thanked the Movement for Black Lives “for the powerful words of solidarity in the Invest-Divest section of the platform specifically endorsing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) measures against Israel’s occupation and apartheid in line with the 2005 Palestinian civil society call until all Palestinian human rights are respected.”
The platform has been enthusiastically endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace in partnership with the Jews of Color Caucus; by IfNotNow, a protest group formed by young Jews angered by the hawkish support for Israel from mainstream communal institutions as well as by Jews for Palestinian Right of Return.
Israel lobby chorus
Israel lobby groups, meanwhile, have been releasing scathing statements castigating the Movement for Black Lives for its support of the Palestinian-led BDS movement and its reference to US complicity in Israeli “genocide” and “apartheid” against the Palestinian people.
The liberal Zionist lobby group J Street joined the chorus condemning the platform on Monday.
Writing in The Jewish Daily Forward, J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said that although his group does not engage in “advocacy or work related to issues of domestic policy,” it condemned the Movement for Black Lives platform for the “truly unfortunate and highly counterproductive” uses of “extreme and hyperbolic language” in relation to Israel.
The platform’s use of the word “genocide,” Ben-Ami asserted, “is outrageously incorrect, and deeply offensive.”
In addition, the American Jewish Committee, a right-wing Israel lobby group, condemned the Movement for Black Lives statement as “anti-Semitic” and claimed that it “libels Israel.”
“Goodbye, we do not need nor want you”
However, activists are making it clear that such condescending statements – by organizations which have been silent on issues related to Black Lives Matter – are not having an effect.
“It’s just made it clear that they weren’t real allies,” Rachel Gilmer said in an interview with the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.
Gilmer, chief of strategy for Dream Defenders, a member group of the Movement for Black Lives coalition, wrote the Palestine section of the platform.
In the article, Black Jewish activist Yavilah McCoy also dismissed the condemnation by Zionist groups, pointing to an “absence of deep relationship” and an “avoidance of contact” between mainstream Jewish communal organizations and Black Lives Matter activists.
In the same vein, Dream Defenders this week denounced the “quid pro quo form of politics” Israel lobby groups seem to expect from Black activist organizations.
“Their response has made it all the more clear why we stand in solidarity with Palestine and with Black and Brown people around the world fighting for justice,” Dream Defenders said.
“Those who have previously claimed to be allies of the Black Lives Matter movement have shown us that they are comfortable with our resistance so long as it fits within particular confines and restrictions,” the group added.
Dream Defenders concluded: “For the children who are met with tear gas and rubber bullets as they walk home from school, for the families of those we have lost to police violence, for the communities devastated by economic violence and apartheid walls, we fight. To all those who believe in a world in which all people are free, join us. For those who no longer stand with Black people because of this belief, goodbye. We do not need nor want you in our movement.”