Maxwell Adelstein

On BLM and BDS: How did we get here?

Last night, I found myself incredibly dismayed. A good friend of mine shared an article stating that a branch of the Black Lives Matter Movement in Atlanta, has adopted The horribly anti-Semitic “Boycott Divestment Sanctions” movement (BDS) as one of their official “demands” in seeking “justice” for their community. This stems almost directly from a recent NYU Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP) posting that exalts itself as outing that police forces within the United States have been cooperating, and training with the Israeli Police force, and thus are being trained to be racist and xenophobic.The propagators of this outrageous fallacy claim that Israel is behind the recent spate of officer involved shootings of unarmed black males in the US. This absolutely ludicrous assertion has somehow been believed and further legitimized by forces within the BLM Movement, and it seems that the subversive BDS movement has slithered it’s way into their creed.

Again for the sake of nuance, it is very important to note that the Black Lives Matter Movement is not a monolithic entity. There are several splinter groups that have become increasingly more radical than the movement originally intended, and I am confident in saying this has given rise to a more violent form of black separatism. Thankfully, there are still incredibly influential voices within the black community that have come out in support of the Jewish people and Israel as of late, just as we did for them during the Civil Rights Movement.

Now, we as Zionists like the great, late, hero of peaceful struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., need to ask ourselves: How did much of the black community come to distance itself from the struggle for Jewish self determination, (Zionism) and take on affinity towards the Palestinian struggle and desire for a Palestinian state, “From the River to The Sea?” (Effectively meaning no more Jews in Israel) I don’t have all of these answers. However, I think one of the things that the BDS movement has succeeded in doing is convincing those who are not in the know that the movement is grassroots and community based.

Elements of BDS have been seen in marches as early as the uproar over Ferguson in 2014. I personally have seen banners that read “From Ferguson to Palestine,” that purport to connect the systemic racism that the black community faces in America, to the “human rights abuses” that the Palestinians face in the “occupied territories.” I will be the first to admit that there are elements of systemic racism towards the black community in the US, but I will simultaneously decry any connection of these abuses to the folly of the Palestinian narrative.

First of all, people need to understand that there is nothing grassroots about BDS. The organization receives so much money to sponsor programs aimed at delegitimizing the state of Israel. BDS groups have openly endorsed the murder of innocent Israelis as justifiable, hardly a platform of civil rights and self determination. BDS aims to isolate the state of Israel from the international community through subversion and lies. BDS does not serve to bolster the rights of the Palestinian people, but aims to make Israel a pariah in the international community. How does any of that connect to the struggle for full and equitable rights for America’s black community? The answer is: THERE IS NO CONNECTION.

I am keeping this particular blog shorter because I have more questions right now than answers.

Like the title suggests, my main question is: How did we get here? How has the subversive pro Palestinian movement so successfully hijacked the black narrative?

I will continue to search for answers to these questions, but for now suffice to say that I will continue to have these conversations about the nature of BDS with my black peers, and continue to bolster their struggle to legitimize their cause of legitimization of their humanity. I stop short, however, of saying I support the BLM movement in full because of the anti-Semitic factions creeping in the background. I fervently believe that when black cooperation is fully restored with the Jewish people and our global community, that progress will be achieved for both our people seeking solace from hatred. I want to be able to march in the streets with my black brothers and sisters to aid them in pursuing a greater form of equity, but will not do so when factions that advocate for an end to my Israel are also present!

About the Author
Maxwell Adelstein is the Grants Administrator for Jewish Community Services of South Florida. A political and policy wonk both when it comes to the US political landscape and Israel's. Max muses on politics, political structures, scant legal analysis, and the occasional advocates rant here and there. Max is the prototypical ardent Zionist who wants to see Israel flourish past 80 years of Jewish sovereignty for the first time in recorded history!
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