Brandy Shufutinsky
Brandy Shufutinsky
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Why did BLM hop on the BDS wagon? Follow the money

Someone at Black Lives Matter decided time was running out on their ability to profit off of Black pain and adopted the UNRWA moneymaking playbook
Protesting AIPAC, Chicago, Illinois.(CC/Charles Edward Miller -Photo cropped for fit)
Protesting AIPAC, Chicago, Illinois.(CC/Charles Edward Miller -Photo cropped for fit)

It was a grift designed and executed to profit from Black pain. And what better way to hide theft than to push a decentralized movement that makes it difficult to follow the money.

As evidence of theft and lies continues to surface, what better time for an organization to join one of the best grifts of modern times, the “Free Palestine” movement where, like UNRWA, BLM can launch a global con job.

First, local BLM groups splintered because co-founders decided that they wanted to become involved in politics on a national level instead of focusing on local community-based issues. They created a PAC, using money that was raised to fund local initiatives to wield national political power and influence, in addition to other misappropriations, fraud, waste and abuse.

More recently, assertions have been made that one of the original co-founders has used BLM organizational funds to pay for her personal real estate portfolio. After pitiful attempts to downplay and distract, she resigned from her official position with BLM. Around the same time as this was playing out in the media, the BLM organization released a statement that would launch the organization onto the global stage, standing in solidarity with Palestinians.

Is this a problem? The first question that came to my mind was, what do Palestinians have to do with Black lives and concerns about police violence? Then I remembered the phrase “follow the money.” When you follow the money, the trail will usually lead to clear answers to these kinds of questions. It is apparent that leaders of movements have learned from the best of them. If the cause a group originally takes on begins to falter, find a new cause to keep the coffers full.

BLM (the organization, not the movement- which should not be synonymous) took a page out of the UNRWA book. The United Nations General Assembly created UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East in 1949 “to provide relief health, and education services for Palestinians who lost both their homes and means of livelihood during the Arab-Israeli wars following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.”

At that time there were approximately 500,000 Palestinians who were eligible for UNRWA assistance. That number has increased ten-fold. How is it possible that the number of people getting assistance from a relief agency is increasing instead of decreasing? If the agency were doing its job, wouldn’t that number be going down?

The indirect answer to this question is, follow the money. UNRWA is a good example of systemic corruption or institutional exploitation. It should be noted that UNRWA was also responsible for providing assistance to Jewish refugees. However, because the State of Israel minimized the crisis of Jewish refugees by making stateless Jews citizens of Israel, this was not necessary. Unfortunately, Arab states neighboring Israel did not follow suit, and their Palestinian population, which UNRWA defines as refugees, has been increasing every year. Originally, UNRWA was intended to be a temporary agency, providing assistance to those in need until they were able to achieve self-sufficiency. However, UNRWA’s mandate has been renewed every three years for decades. Why? Again, follow the money.

UNRWA is a moneymaker for the United Nations. The more individuals they can claim on their roster as needing assistance, the more funding they receive. They are literally getting paid to increase dependence. Sound familiar? To some of us who are sincerely concerned about criminal justice reform and community building, this is eerily similar to the prison industry in the United States, where prisons take a financial loss if they do their jobs and reduce recidivism or decrease the prison population. This is why private prison corporations exist, to profit from the incarcerated.

So why does UNRWA continue to exist? Follow the money.  If UNRWA provides enough assistance to those they define as Palestinian refugees, or that population decreases, then their funding decreases. However, if they enable refugee status to be inherited, passed down from generation to generation, their numbers go up, and so does UNRWA funding. UNRWA is literally profiting off of pain and conflict. And, here enters BLM and their new global agenda, which has nothing to do with Black lives.

Someone at BLM decided that time was running out on their ability to profit off of Black pain. The more that parents and loved ones of those killed at the hands of police speak out against the BLM organization, the weaker their position as leaders in the movement becomes. So, on to the next. This is where decisions are made that it’s time to enter the fray of global politics and follow in the footsteps of organizations like UNRWA and begin to profit off of pain on the international level.

They have learned from autocratic governments and corrupt NGOs, past and present. To distract people from societal woes and failure to achieve liberation, these movements and governments shifted the focus of the masses to the Palestinian cause. This has ramped up antisemitism and also further entrenched the conflict, ultimately also harming Palestinian aspirations for independence. It prevents said organizations and governments from being held accountable for their flaws while allowing them to get away with both antisemitic hate speech and lip service (rather than action) on the issue of Palestinians.

Besides the obvious, dishonoring the memory of those lost and disrespecting their family members, one of the most unfortunate things that will come from this con job is that it provides ammunition to those who seek to erase and ignore the very real problem of violence against Black Americans. Instead of taking a substantive, sincere look at the causes and impacts of racism, bigotry, and violence, they will claim that the race card was played, that there are no instances of systemic racism, and that the “few bad apples” are the cause of police violence against Black Americans.

Now is the time for those of us who truly value liberal democratic ideals to stand up and speak out for the future of our nation. Enough with the nonsense of liars and thieves infiltrating progressive movements for their own gain.

The above was written by Brandy, Dmitri, and Noah Shufutinsky.

About the Author
Brandy Shufutinsky is a social worker, with a MSW from the University of Southern California and a MA in International Relations from the University of San Diego. She hopes to utilize her advocacy in social justice on a global level, working towards developing intercultural opportunities to advance diversity in the workplace and academic settings.She has previously been published in The Forward. Brandy recently completed her doctorate in education at the University of San Francisco in International Multicultural Education.
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