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Anti-Israel movement hijacks MLK Day again

Anti-Israel movement hijacks MLK Day again

Co-opting the American civil rights movement in the interest of anti-Israel activism.

In January 2015, we reported on how anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement supporters hijacked a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event on the San Mateo Bridge.

Some Stanford students turned a Black Lives Matter march into an anti-Israel event by unfurling a huge Palestinian Flag on the bridge span at its highest point.  Hundreds of motorists were trapped, and they caused accidents. One of the key activists involved was Kristian Davis Bailey, a leader of attempt to demonize Israel by tying Zionism to problems of non-whites in the U.S. through the theory of “intersectionality.”

[January 2015, San Mateo Bridge, image via Farah Salazar Twitter]

It is a highly racist approach, seeking to exploit racial tensions by portraying Israel — and Israel alone — as the cause of problems it has nothing to do with. As we saw recently in Chicago at an LGBT conference and Oberlin College, because “intersectionality” theory portrays Israel as uniquely evil in the world, the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism quickly blurs.

This year, we are aware of two attempts to co-opt the memory of Dr. King by putting on anti-Israel events as part of MLK Day activities. There likely were many more that we don’t know about.

At George Mason University, the MLK Day Program featured and event by Students Against Israeli Apartheid showing an anti-Israel film.

George Mason’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education (ODIME) tweeted out the event:

That same George Mason office promoted the event on Facebook, with a more detailed poster of the event, which from the logo in the lower right appears to have been produced by George Mason:

At Ithaca College, the MLK Day events were sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs (OSEMA). One of the events promoted the Black-Palestinian solidarity movement. (We have written about that before.)

Ithaca College MLK Day Black and Palestinian Lives Matter
Even though this was an event sponsored by the college, there were no opposing viewpoints scheduled. The speakers were local anti-Israel activists affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace and the Ithaca Committee for Justice in Palestine, including a retired Ithaca College professor who led the failed GreenStar Food Coop boycott, and an Ithaca College lecturer who uses a photo of Anne Frank in a Kaffeyeh as her Facebook profile. There was one recent graduate on the panel, the person who organized an anti-racism rally at which questioners were prioritized by race (as we previously reported).

At least as planned, there was no attempt at balance on the panel. I don’t know if anyone was added when the event took place.

The announcement of the event in the Ithaca College online event calendar was even more explicit that this event was intended to provide an introduction to activism.

I have not been able, as of this writing, to obtain reports from people who attended either the George Mason or Ithaca College events. But the fact that such event were scheduled with the imprimatur and implicit approval of the university and college shows how deeply the anti-Israel movement is burrowing its way into college programming.

(Update – I’ve heard reports that the Ithaca College event was attended by about 25 students, was led by the IC lecturer, and turned into a session trying to launch a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, but there were few takers. If so, the event was even more inappropriate for a college-sponsored MLK Day program.)

None of this is coincidence. The attempt by anti-Israel activists to co-opt the U.S. civil rights movement goes back decades, though it has intensified since the creation of the BDS Movement at the anti-Semitic 2001 Durban conference.

Gil Troy in The Daily Beast wrote in connection with MLK Day in 2013, Remaking Martin Luther King As Anti-Zionist

King was pro-Israel and pro-Zionist, recognizing much anti-Zionist rhetoric as anti-Semitic. Christian Europe traditionally viewed Jews as the ultimate villains; now, he understood, anti-Zionism cast Israel, the collective Jew, as the modern world’s ultimate villain. Moreover, King and his allies feared this sloppy analogizing—comparing Israel to South Africa or the segregationist South—as threatening the purity of their struggle against what one activist called “real racism.”

The U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 branding Zionism as racism in November 1975, seven years after King’s assassination. As I discovered when researching my new book, Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight Against Zionism as Racism, even radicals like Cesar Chavez and the Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver scoffed at this “travesty upon the truth.” The legendary labor leader, A. Philip Randolph, founded the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee, BASIC, with Bayard Rustin, who had coached King in Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent ethos. More than two hundred leading African Americans signed a BASIC advertisement joining Coretta Scott King and the Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. in rejecting the Zionism-racism charge, including athletes like Hank Aaron, Roy Campanella, and Arthur Ashe.

Many civil rights activists resented the Soviets and Arabs hijacking their language. Bayard Rustin described the “incalculable damage” done to the fight against racism, when the word becomes a political weapon rather than a moral standard. Rooting anti-Zionism in the noxious nexus between traditional anti-Semitism and the Arab desire to eradicate Israel, Rustin invoked King’s famous comment that “when people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”

They critical tactic, Troy pointed out, was a Soviet-inspired racializing of anti-Zionism:

“Indeed, in 1975, Soviet propagandists and their U.N. enablers helped Yasir Arafat supplement the Palestine Liberation Organization’s terror campaign with an ideological and diplomatic war to shape world opinion. Exploiting the rise of a global mass media, and what the Palestinian professor Edward Said called the twentieth century’s “generalizing tendency,” the Palestinians framed their local narrative as part of “the universal political struggle against colonialism and imperialism.” This “blackening” of Palestinians and “whitening” of Israelis worked, although this is a national and not racial conflict with some light-skinned Palestinians and dark-skinned Israelis.”

And so the exploitation of racial conflict as a means of demonizing Israel plays itself out as a prime tactic of the BDS movement.


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I would make impeding traffic to protest without a permit a felony.

Also, if a motorist were to run over these protesters, the fact that the were protesting illegally would be a valid excuse for the driver.

    Valerie in reply to Arminius. | January 30, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Impeding traffic should be a misdemeanor. That makes it criminal, with quick, easy adjudication. Then, where they cause accidents, you let the insurance companies take it from there. They will get an decree for actual damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. Let the little darlings and their “organization” work for an inconvenienced motorists for the rest of their lives.

    It worked with the Klan.

      Milhouse in reply to Valerie. | January 30, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      That sounds good, but Arminimus is right that if you have the right of way and someone is deliberately blocking it, and the police refuse to move them, then it should be perfectly lawful for you to drive through or over them. By standing in your way they should be deemed to have consented to whatever happens to them.

      The same should apply to trains, bulldozers, etc., as well as to people on a shooting range, or the armed forces on a bombing range; if people are trying to disrupt operations by posing as human shields it should be lawful to ignore their presence and proceed as if they were not there.

These people caused accidents. Somebody might have been hurt or killed. Or, somebody might have died on the way to the hospital because these a-holes decided to block traffic.

Where are all the people who got their panties in a wad over Chris Christie and “bridgegate?”

Either out there on the bridge with the leftists, blocking traffic, or rooting them on.

It’s good to know that MLK and other black leaders saw through the efforts of the Palestinians to fight racism against blacks by promoting genocide against Jews. It speaks well for them, that they were not willing to be used in an unjust cause.

Everywhere in the world where this BDS crap takes place all one has to do is see a photo of the group involved and one thing jumps out at you immediately. There are a lot of Arabs/muslims in the picture. Pick any country where there are anti Jew protests and look at the mugs of the people involved. It looks like a free koran handout day.

Character takes second place to other group characteristics, even on MLK day.

Two of the black leaders have been proven to be white, the only thing real and honest about Jackson and Sharpton is their race. The black movement has turned into a many headed hustle.