Paraphrasing Ecclesiastes, there is a time to join and a time to leave. I left the totalitarian anti-Semitic Soviet Union 30 years ago as a stateless refugee. It was long past time for me to do so, but the motherland would not allow me to escape its chokehold embrace until then. Little did I know that the scientific society I would soon join in the United States—Behavior Genetics Association (BGA), which is supposed to serve researchers in my field studying mechanisms of behavior—would bring back memories of my old unlamented country.
The first reminder seemed unrelated to science. The U.S. population has recently been informed by university professors, the media and the government that Soviet propaganda was true while America was irredeemably racist. Also, the only people who are racist are the so-called “whites.” They are evil oppressors, and the rest are oppressed—a very familiar Marxist set-up as well. Unlike another totalitarian regime, the Third Reich and Nazi Germans, there are no “genetic” laws here that would define the proportion of blood that makes one “white” and “racist,” though skin color suffices for the time being. Simply, “whites” are defined in the same manner as Ku Klux Klan defines them. With one exception: Jews.
According to updated racial rules, the Jews still end up being bad—no longer as non-white, but on the contrary, as “white” and thus “racist.” It doesn’t matter that Jews are of all known skin colors and origin. That origin could be put more precisely as “Middle Eastern”; however, that non-white term has been assigned by the media exclusively to those of Arab descent. As a result, half-dozen synagogues and three Jewish schools were vandalized in Los Angeles during last year’s Black Lives Matter riots, complete with anti-Semitic graffiti, while the pogromists chanted, “Kill the Jews.” Torah scrolls had to be hidden in anticipation of further destruction. A local rabbi said, “It’s Kristallnacht all over again.” BLM is part of the Movement for Black Lives whose platform has included anti-Semitic slander of Israel. Its racism and anti-Semitism bring me back to Behavior Genetics Association.
I recently learned that the company’s executive committee expressed support for BLM. I was shocked. Not only does BGA have no business getting engaged in partisan politics, but the BLM attacks on the Jewish institutions were not random. The three founders and leadership of BLM are anti-Semitic and support the ethnocidal BDS movement against Israel.
Unsurprisingly, the BLM leaders also describe themselves as “trained Marxists,” followers of the ideology whose founders, including Karl Marx himself, were not only anti-Semites but anti-black racists whose disciples have been history’s greatest mass murderers. Always employing the virtuous grandiloquence of “justice” and “rights,” Marxist ideas may be comforting to and mislead those who have not been exposed to them in their crystalline form.
In response to my request to revoke any endorsement of BLM, the BGA secretary recognized that the “experiences,” as she put it, in LA were anti-Semitic, but “not representative of the global activities and experiences of the movement in other parts of the U.S. or internationally.” She also appealed to the authority of the ad in The New York Times, which had been published by 600 Jewish organizations giving BLM their kosher seal.
I replied that those “experiences” were a pogrom. Pogroms do not need to be carried out every day and everywhere to be representative of a movement that organizes them. The Times ad signatories did not bother to denounce Melina Abdullah, the BLM-LA co-founder, and her daughter Thandiwe Abdullah, the co-founder of the BLM Youth Vanguard, who have praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a Hitler admirer and Jew-hater. No one in BLM has condemned the pogromists, nor was Melina Abdullah, who initiated the pogrom, disowned by anybody in the BLM movement. This silence is very loud. Recently, BLM has supported “Palestinians” (Hamas terrorists) attacking Israel with thousands of rockets. Speaking of BLM international reach, its branch in the United Kingdom is also well-known for its BDS support. The co-founder of BLM-Toronto has described “the white race” as subhuman.
I wrote that I could not, in clear conscience, belong to an organization that backs this ideology. Endorsing BLM—a racist Jew-hating group—returns genetics to its ugly history page of ignorance, which is the opposite of what BGA claims to defend. My request to revoke BGA support for BLM was flatly denied. I have thus lived to see BGA to take its course from having a racist president in the mid-1990s to now having the entire leadership supporting racists—in violation of its own by-laws and common decency just because such is the latest way to signal virtue. That is institutional racism.
As far as I know, the current BGA executives are not Jewish. It’s not unusual to be unaware of a group’s problems when one is outside of that group. If you asked a regular ethnic Russian about anti-Semitism in the USSR, you would hear, “I didn’t see anything like that.” Like in the USSR, one reason BGA leaders are not aware of BLM’s sentiments is that they are not publicized in the mainstream media, and I doubt they read the Jewish press. Moreover, many Jewish organizations and individuals in America, most of whom are on the political “left,” traditionally deny anti-Semitism except when it comes from the “right,” like did those in The New York Times ad—much like the Jews of the officialdom used to in the Soviet Union. BLM happens to be covered by the “left” umbrella. Any vile activity on its part is thus prone to be dismissed as an untypical “experience.”
A more general issue: Would anybody doubt that a certain organization was anti-black racist if a black person said it was and supplied evidence? Would one support an organization if it had just a few KKK members among its leaders? Jews need to be treated the same when they think that a movement is anti-Semitic unless the assumption is that we are incapable of such judgment except when represented by 600 progressive organizations that include Israel-haters.
It is disheartening that at a time when Jews are under increasing physical assault, including that from BLM (ironically, even when Jews express solidarity), not a single person from the BGA executive committee has found it necessary to reply to my concerns beyond the disdainful, Soviet-type bureaucratic dismissal. Jews are not used to much solidarity, except after they are mass-murdered, but at least some expression of humanity could go a long way.
Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but something tells me that the BGA leaders will regret their endorsement of BLM like they now regret the misuse of genetics in support of racist eugenics. Not because of my leaving, to be sure, but because at some point, they will no longer be able to ignore BLM’s racist anti-Semitic evil. As Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) said, “Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.”
Michael Vanyukov holds a Ph.D. in genetics, and is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences, psychiatry and human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent any institution or organization.
Be a part of our community
JNS is your ideological home. Situated at the center of the pro-Israel ecosystem, we provide readers with the critical context they need on issues facing Israel and their Jewish world.
You can help support our efforts — and enjoy an ad-free experience, as well as premium content and other community benefits.
Join our community and help us continue to keep you engaged and informed.