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the pulpitBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

BDS pits Jewish and black communities in America

The connection many people have been making about the training of U.S. police officers, George Floyd’s death and Israel isn’t rooted in seeking justice for a murdered man, but in advocating hatred of Israel.

Supporters of the BDS movement against Israel. Photo by Alex Christy/Flickr.
Supporters of the BDS movement against Israel. Photo by Alex Christy/Flickr.
Ben Stone
Ben Stone

The tragedy of a life cut short brings pain to anyone, and the murder of George Floyd is no different. The unfairness, cruelty and blatant disregard for human life is rightfully leading to anger in black communities across America, and in everyone who has a decent heart. Yet once again, this tragic incident has been politicized by anti-Israel supporters, as they say “it is time for the U.S. to end its deadly exchange programs with Israel.”

Anti-Israel supporters were quick at turning what happened in Minnesota into a political weapon—to take advantage of the torture of a 46-year-old man to boost their political views. His death resheds light on an increasingly long list of police brutality cases, but that has nothing to do with Israel. The people making these claims should think about how they are using his memory instead of mourning it.

The United States cooperates strategically with Israel, especially in regards to terrorism. The Israel-U.S. joint training program teaches American security forces tactics and training when faced with terror attacks; it does not however, teach them how to deal with riots. Former Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Maria Haberfeld, who has studied, taught, trained and written about the use of force in police departments across the world, including those in the United States, and has said she has “never seen” such a restraining technique being taught.

The connection many people involved with the BDS movement have been making about the training of U.S. police officers, Floyd’s death and Israel isn’t rooted in seeking justice for a murdered man, but in advocating hatred of Israel. A sarcastic tweet by Einat Wilf, saying that “now American cops lack it [agency] too—their actions determined by Zionist puppeteers,” shows how ridiculous it is to blame Israel for the actions of a few officers in Minneapolis, and mirrors the lack of “agency” that Palestinian authorities and supporters try to evoke for their actions.

The official BDS campaign has once again used age-old tropes of experiencing “settler-colonialism” and “apartheid” in “Israel’s regime of oppression” to try to connect their plight with those of the African-American communities. Using Floyd and many other deaths of black Americans to push anti-Semitic ideals is wrong. Calling Israelis “settler-colonialists” is wrong as well since Israel was never a colony of the Jews. There were many waves of Jewish immigration to British Mandate Palestine, where Jews legally bought land from Arabs.

Moreover, Israel does not discriminate based on race, religion, ethnicity or sexuality, and is in fact the most liberal democracy in the Middle East. As such, it can hardly be deemed an “apartheid” regime, as the BDS movement loves to call it. Lastly, by basing their ethos on the fact that they are the “indigenous people of Palestine,” the BDS movement fails to acknowledge any Jewish historical claim to the land, which is blatant anti-Semitism. Failing to recognize this means to fail to recognize Israel as a legitimate country, which brings us further from achieving peace in the region.

In line with many false narratives used to demonize Israel, a tweet by the Palestine Museum US depicts Floyd wearing a keffiyeh (a symbol of Palestinian nationalism) with a Palestinian flag in the background shows the extent to which anti-Israel supporters will go to use this murder as political propaganda. This fabricated and artificial show of solidarity between the Palestinians and the black community of America blames Palestinian suffering on Israel, failing to recognize the history of Palestinian terror and corrupt leaders. It pits black Americans against Israel and Jews for no reason, when, in fact, American Jews supported the founding and funding of many civil-rights organizations, such as the NAACP, which culminated in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

These acts of “freedom of expression” against Israel on social media prompt anti-Semitism, as did the early extremism of rioters in certain American cities. Acts of vandalism took place against some Jewish businesses and synagogues, including smashed windows and graffiti, including the words “Free Palestine.”

It’s sad that such a tragedy is being used to perpetuate more hatred across the world.

Ben Stone is a CAMERA fellow at Duke University.

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