The International Jewish anti-Zionist Network strongly embraces the entire Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) platform, and we affirm its support for the Palestinian struggle and efforts to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel.
In the United States and internationally, racism has been central to how power works and money flows. Both the Palestinian anti-racist struggle against Zionism and the Black anti-racist struggle against White supremacy are crucial to peoples’ efforts to build a just world. For that reason, the Black Power movement both past and present is one of our key reference points in all fights for justice. Since the 1960s, there has been a tradition of Jewish support for the Black liberation struggle. Jews were important participants in the Freedom Rides and their work to desegregate the South. In the late 1960s some of that political and financial aid disappeared as the Black Power movement became increasingly vocal in its anti-Zionism. Much of the financial contributions from Jewish donors for the revolutionaries of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee evaporated when SNCC started to speak out strongly in favor of liberation not just for Blacks but also for Palestinians.
Now, in response to the statement, we see certain elements of US Jewry, self-appointed “Jewish leaders,” again attacking and rejecting the Black anti-racist struggle for its support for Palestine.
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) has responded most strongly to the statement. It writes of the “co-opting and manipulation of a movement for addressing concerns about racial disparities in criminal justice.” First, JCRC misrepresents the movement. The M4BL’s platform speaks of “collective liberation,” and condemns “patriarchy, exploitative capitalism, militarism, and white supremacy.”
JCRC accuses the M4BL of manipulation, yet closes its eyes to the self-defined goals of the Black liberation movement. It erases the long history of Black internationalism and support for the Palestinian liberation struggle, including the Black Panthers. It also erases the history of Palestinian support for Third World liberation, and the long-standing solidarity between the struggles against South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid. So, who is doing the manipulating?
On this basis, the JCRC states, it “cannot and will not align ourselves with organizations that falsely and maliciously assert that Israel is committing ‘genocide.’” It goes on to say, “[while we] dissociate ourselves from the Black Lives Matter platform and those BLM organizations that embrace it, we recommit ourselves unequivocally to the pursuit of justice for all Americans.” With these words, it actually dissociates itself from much of the Black liberation movement. On its website, the JCRC claims that its “purpose is to define and advance the values, interests and priorities of the organized Jewish community of Greater Boston.” It seems that one of those purposes is to define and limit the scope of the Black movement in the United States. Furthermore, like so many who fear the end of racial inequalities in the United States and globally, it denies the specificity of the struggle of those who are in a daily fight for their lives and existence as a result of racism.
We reject the JCRC’s attempt to define our “values” or “interests,” or to suggest that Jews have no interest in a free Palestine. They may reject our history of revolutionary organizing, struggle with the oppressed, and being oppressed, but we do not. They do not speak for us and they do not define our interests, which lie with the liberation struggles of Blacks, Palestinians, and other oppressed people, not in setting limits to those struggles.
The statement from the JCRC, which has previously attacked Arab community organizations, is not a surprise. The Combined Jewish Philanthropies, funded by millionaires or billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Seth Klarman, is one of the JCRC’s major funders. The Klarman Foundation is invested in oil and weapons firms which profit from constant war in the Middle East, to which Israel contributes. For that reason the repression of Palestine is a major “interest” of the Klarman Foundation and those, like the JCRC, whom it supports.
The Klarman Foundation, in addition to its charitable support for the JCRC, supports “People-Centered Economic Development,” which seeks to destroy the state welfare system and replace it with private business. This is a racist agenda which disproportionately hurts poor Black communities, and is part of a broader economic war on Black people.
The connection between the struggle in Palestine against the Israeli military and state and the struggle against anti-Black and other racism in the United States is not just one of solidarity. Local, state, and national police forces and surveillance agencies contract with Israeli military personnel, and security and weapon firms, to provide “anti-terrorist” (aka: anti-movement repression) and population control training. Zionist organizations like the Anti-Defamation League – which claim to be Jewish organizations – bring local police forces to Israel to train with the Israeli military. And Israel and the United States buy and sell weapons and security technology to further each countries’ historic and current racist policing and attacks on Black, Brown, and Palestinian/Arab communities.
For that reason, IJAN has partnered with Palestinian and Arab, Black liberation, immigrant justice, indigenous, and anti-policing and anti-prison organizations to kick out the policing and paramilitary expo, Urban Shield, from the San Francisco Bay Area. We have also participated in campaigns against G4S, a multinational corporation specializing in private prison and security services. We work to expose and stop these collaborations between the United States and Israeli governments, corporations, and non-profits facilitating brutal repression and slow-motion genocide and ethnic cleansing.
As Dream Defenders writes, “living in the US, the heart of global empire, we bear a particular responsibility for global liberation. It is our taxpayer dollars that are funding Israeli apartheid and a military industrial complex that is devastating entire peoples and communities throughout the world.” We could not agree more, and stand fully by the struggle of Black people for their lives, and for justice and freedom.