I can no longer be silent.
The seven-minute video of a police officer choking a non-resistant black man to death has enflamed emotions.
People all over the world are incensed. My butcher here in Israel asked me if I had seen the video and then proceeded to tell me that the police officer needed to receive the death sentence.
All across Facebook I am reading posts of angry people. Telling me that I need to stand up and fight against the institutional racism that exists in the USA. That if I stay silent, I am part of the problem.
I am not angry. Racism is a problem in the USA, but it is not institutionalized. There are a lot more serious injustices going on across the world right now then a few racist policemen.
I may only be an amateur historian but I know what institutionalized racism is. Apartheid still was the national policy in South Africa when I was in high school. I came of age during the civil rights movement when black people had little chance of receiving justice in state institutions. The world and the USA have come a long way in my lifetime. Things aren’t perfect. But they are good. The policeman who murdered George Floyd and those that stood by and abetted the crime will face justice.
But the protests are ongoing. People are demanding change. And the change that they are demanding scares me. It scares me as a Jew. Because as an amateur historian, I know that Jews soon become the target of people’s anger. Especially when those people are seeking someone else to blame for their problems.
This is what the protesters are saying:
We know poverty is the parent of crime…”
Employment is intentionally kept low in Capitalism to ensure low wages and a large labor pool…”
In short, Capitalists are conspiring to intentionally keep people poor and turn them into criminals.
I am not going to argue these points. They are beneath me. But what scares the hell out of me is so many intelligent people believe these statements to be true. And I know that these are the same people that hate Israel.
Ask the people protesting what they think about Israel and the Palestinians and I promise you that at least 90% of them will tell you that Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land and practicing an apartheid policy against its minority Arab population.
I promise you that when many people think capitalist conspiracy, they think “The Jews.”
I can’t stay silent. I have to stand up and say that the protesters are wrong. The change that is needed is for black communities to take more responsibility for solving their problems and stop blaming the system. Let’s continue to stand up to racism and prejudice whenever it appears. But the problem is not instutionalized racism. The problem is not Capitalism. Don’t let anger drive your decisions. Find the good that exists and build on that.
Anger leads to violence. Seeking the good leads to love.