Most groups that represent the interests of American Jews have made their opinions clear. They believe it is imperative that there should be no doubt about the community’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
That was illustrated by a declaration of broad backing from more than 600 Jewish organizations and synagogues in June. The signatories believed that refraining from joining in solidarity with the BLM protesters would be a colossal mistake that would put Jews on the wrong side of history. Along with a great many other Americans, they think the BLM mantra is the embodiment of the civil-rights movement of the 21st century. As such, they feel that it would be wrong for the Jewish community to be persuaded otherwise due to worries about the antagonism that many of the movement’s supporters seem to have for Israel.
Some, such as the Zionist Organization of America, have dissented on that point only to see its leader smeared as racist. By contrast, the major groups that claim to represent the views of the majority of American Jews who are politically liberal, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, have been at pains to try to educate their supporters not to generalize about the protesters and Israel, and to attempt to debunk criticisms of the movement.
The links between BLM organizers and opponents of Israel, as well as the intersectional ideology that motivates them, remain troubling. But there is another reason for Jews who are interested in social justice to be wary of aligning themselves with the BLM mantra and the protests that the signatories supporting it have themselves labeled “uprisings” (which is actually a more honest description than the assertion that they are all “mostly peaceful protests”).
The best reason to step back from the BLM movement has nothing to do with Israel or even the disingenuous arguments put forward by their Jewish supporters claiming their critics are racists and even anti-Semitic.
The argument against BLM has to do with black lives, not Jewish ones. It is made every week by the agony of black families, measured in the toll of shootings on the streets of American cities, which add to the list of children who have been victims of a surge in gun violence that can be directly linked to the BLM movement’s assault on the police. By demonizing law enforcement, calling for its defunding and essentially intimidating law enforcement to stop aggressive action against gangs and other wrongdoers, the unintended consequence of this movement’s rise is a collapse of public order that is victimizing black kids.
To point this out is heresy in the current atmosphere in which any questions about BLM, or the radical critical race theory and revisionist history that justify the protests, is enough to get academics, writers and researchers fired or “canceled” on bogus charges of racism. To take issue with claims about “systemic police violence” is considered synonymous with racism in some quarters.
We are told that any discussion of violence other than that which can be categorized as cops harming people of color is irrelevant or a distraction. But when the obsessive focus on one problem leads to another getting out of control, it cannot be ignored or dismissed. That is exactly what has happened, despite the gruesome accounting of killings of black children that increase with each passing week.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, firearms have been responsible for the death of 126 children and the wounding of 318 others since George Floyd was killed on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer. Many, if not most, of them can be linked to the so-called “Ferguson effect” that has been going on throughout the country. That refers to the police refraining from actions that might, fairly or unfairly, be considered police brutality. And it has led to an increase in crime, leaving minority communities especially vulnerable.
The result is a horrendous spike in gun violence and murders in most cities. This is a direct result of the undermining of law enforcement.
Some may respond to the surge in violence by calling for more gun-control laws. But the cities where the violence is occurring already have the most draconian gun laws in the nation, which often make it nearly impossible to legally obtain a permit for a firearm. The guns being used to kill black kids are almost always locally obtained by people who could not get one legally. And the only people who can enforce those laws are the cops that the same liberal gun-control advocates want to abolish, defund or replace with social workers.
In city after city, police officers have been all but ordered to stand down from proactive efforts focused on gun crimes, specifically because such activity can lead to shootings of African-Americans by police. Indeed, in New York City, cops who were chiefly responsible for getting guns off the streets—the undercover plainclothes unit—have been abolished because they were also involved in such shootings, even though their “victims” were armed perpetrators.
If you believe that all police are an invading army bent on victimizing black people, this makes sense. Yet even if we leave aside the fact that the statistical evidence about such shootings debunks the claims about systemic police violence, the BLM war on the cops has led directly to a spike in criminal activity that has resulted in the deaths of scores of black children.
Do those black lives matter to the rabbis, synagogues and Jewish groups cheering on the BLM movement and rationalizing the wrongheaded arguments about defunding or “reimagining” law enforcement? Despite their pious professions of concern about African-American safety, the answer is evidently not.
There are ample justifications for taking issue with the BLM movement’s attempt to dishonestly rewrite history to brand America as an incorrigibly racist country that must be deconstructed. Up until they decided that staying in sync with fashionable liberal opinion about BLM became their new priority, Jewish groups were obsessed with encouraging police to provide security to institutions that they feared were easy targets for anti-Semitic violence.
Let’s forget for a moment about this movement’s unconscionable attack on American institutions and history, the suppression of free speech involved in canceling BLM critics, and the specific Jewish concerns about Israel and domestic security. The imperative for those who purport to care about social justice should be to oppose those whose efforts are responsible for the collapse of law enforcement, not to support them.
It’s time to remind the self-righteous Jewish cheerleaders for the BLM movement that while they may think they are in the right side of history, the cost of the campaign to empower those behind these “uprisings” is not being paid by those burdened with “white privilege,” but by the very people that they claim to care about. The children who are being killed because the police have been hamstrung by BLM activists are made in the image of God, the same as their own kids. That’s a point that those who are most eager to silence BLM critics should ponder before they smear those questioning their hypocritical posturing.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.