A recent conference panel organized by the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University highlighted the influence of classic anti-Semitism in Black Lives Matter’s anti-Zionism.
After more than a year of escalating anti-Semitic attacks, evidence shows that the key groups and figures behind the Black Lives Matter movement — heavily influenced in its ideology by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam — have been instrumental in stoking Jew-hate disguised as social justice activism.
Introduction: Anti-Semitism Today
The past 18 months have seen a marked rise in the number and severity of anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric all over the world.
We’ve documented a number of these incidents over the last year and a half, including:
- The jihadi stabbing of Rabbi Shlomo Noginski by open Jew-hater Khaled Awad in June 2021
- Numerous incidents of vandalism against Jewish business, Kosher restaurants, and synagogues by violent “pro-Palestine” demonstrators in Arizona, Ohio, Florida, New York, California, and Illinois, plus Toronto, Montreal, Manchester, and London in May 2021
- Protestors at London anti-Israel rallies screaming “F**k the Jews” “Rape their daughters” “Free Palestine” in May 2021
- Physical attacks against Jews by “pro-Palestine” gangs in Los Angeles in May 2021
- More physical attacks against Jews by “pro-Palestine” gangs in New York City (including by hurling burning fireworks, choking, and gang-beating) in May 2021
- The hijacking of the Coronavirus crisis by Western activists and Arab/Muslim world media by blaming it on Israel and Jews
- The December 2019 spate of murderous (apparently Black Hebrew Israelite- and Nation of Islam- inspired) attacks against Jews in New York and New Jersey, including stabbings and shootings (and the lenient treatment of attackers by authorities)
This list represents a mere fraction of the hatred directed against Jews since the end of 2019, from every corner of the political spectrum. And while the anti-Defamation League argues that the primary source of anti-Semitism over the last few years has been “right-wing” extremism, much (if not most) has come instead from Islamists, Black Separatists, or the ‘intersectional’ far-left. Worse still, these types of Judeophobia have proven to be far more acceptable within mainstream society. As a scholar in a recent Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (ISCA) conference noted, if Zionism is racism, then every Zionist is a racist—and attacks on Zionists on that basis can be legitimated as ‘virtuous’.
Indeed, a panel at the recent ISCA conference, entitled “Blacks and Jews”, explored the Judeophobia emanating from the Black Lives Matter movement, its anti-Semitic ideological origins, and its current manifestations. Featuring presentations by Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) Senior Research Analyst Ricki Hollander; Head of Policy at the Community Security Trust in the U.K. Dr. Dave Rich; and co-editors of the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, Drs. Stephen Norwood and Eunice Pollack, the panel also examined BLM’s anti-Zionism, its frequent portrayal of Jews and Israel as “privileged” “White supremacists”, and its leaders’ convictions surrounding their own moral and intellectual superiority—despite their fawning embrace of deeply hateful figures.
BLM: Institutional Anti-Zionism
As Ricki Hollander noted in her ISCA lecture, most people who adopt the #BlackLivesMatter slogan (and even many of those who have protested racism and the deaths of Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery) don’t have any inkling of the organizational leadership’s connections to Jew-hate; on the contrary, most Americans who repeat the saying likely assume that the movement is simply a continuation of yesteryear’s righteous campaign to secure Black civil rights in segregated 20th century America. But though most casual users of the #BLM hashtags have good intentions, much of BLM leadership is a different story:
In August 2016, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a coalition of members from the Black Lives Matter network as well as other organizations representing black communities in the U.S., put out a lengthy political platform, entitled “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom & Justice.” One section, headlined ”Invest-Divest,” accused the US, through its alignment with Israel, of complicity in what the authors called the “genocide that is taking place against the Palestinian people” and Israeli “apartheid.”
When informed that several major Jewish organisations would continue to seek ways to support the black community but withhold direct support for the BLM movement [as a result of the anti-Israel platform], a BLM leader, Rachel Gilmer, told Haaretz in 2016, “I don’t think it’s a loss” to the BLM movement. “It’s just made it clear that they weren’t real allies.”
Further, as Ms. Hollander showed in a presentation slide, one of Gilmer’s February 2017 Facebook posts featured a screed by well-known anti-Zionist agitator Susan Abulhawa claiming that Zionism (which, Abulhawa alleged, was only created by “a group of wealthy European Jewish men” in order to “protect or increase their fortunes”) “went out into the world to kidnap, pummel, rape, …paving the way for the 20th century’s greatest, most barbaric and enduring heist.”
Ultimately, as BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, popular pro-BLM activist Marc Lamont Hill, and other BLM leaders have admitted, the BLM movement seeks to eliminate the Jewish state (or, as Hill puts it, to “dismantle the Zionist project”). And despite their constant refrain that their “criticism of Israel” and “support for Palestinians” is not the same as anti-Semitism, their embrace of openly Judeophobic demagoguery is evidence of their true feelings.
As bizarre as BLM’s antipathy toward Jews and Israel may seem, (given, as Dr. Stephen Norwood noted in his presentation, the long history of Jewish support for the Civil Rights Movement) its anti-Zionism did not emerge in a vacuum. Instead, as Dr. Norwood and Dr. Eunice Pollack also showed in their ISCA panel, BLM anti-Zionists have recycled old anti-Jewish beliefs advanced for decades by notorious anti-Semites such as Louis Farrakhan and his group, the Nation of Islam.
BLM Ignores NoI Alliances with Far-Right Jew-Hate
Founded in 1930 in Detroit, Michigan by the (shortly thereafter, disappeared) historical enigma, Wallace D. Fard, the Nation of Islam (NoI) was taken over in 1933 by its controversial spiritual leader, Elijah Muhammad. Under his charge, and with the fiery Malcolm X as Muhammad’s most visible disciple, the NoI quickly became a major source of anti-Semitism within the Black community.
As Drs. Pollack and Norwood recently explained in their exploration of “how the American white far right—including the Christian Front, Christian Mobilizers, and Gerald L. K. Smith”, these figures “helped shape the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) antisemitism during the 1930s and 1940s”. From Drs. Pollack and Norwood, I learned that NoI even forged temporary alliances with the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.
For example, you can see a clip of Malcolm X addressing a Black Muslim rally in Washington, D.C.—at which George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, was also an invited speaker—here or below.
Still, BLM figures have long proclaimed Malcolm X to be an inspiration for the BLM movement, ignoring his odd involvement with extreme-right anti-Semites, and praising him for empowering the Black community. In 2016, and 2020, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors curated an exhibit and performance piece honoring the assasinated activist. According to her website,
Malcolm Revisited builds upon a 2016 video work in which Cullors responds to Malcom X’s “The Ballot or The Bullet,” his legendary 1964 speech urging Black Americans to vote when President Lyndon Johnson was running for reelection. As Cullors observes, “Our visionary Brother Malcolm saw the vote as a tactic in the larger strategy for freedom.”
Interestingly, BLM activists have overlooked equally egregious examples of hate by Louis Farrakhan and the NoI, also preferring instead to focus on their fights for Black “freedom” and empowerment. For example, well-known BLM activist and Women’s March organizer Tamika Mallory has, for years, refused to separate from or condemn Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism—excusing his conduct because of the benefit he provides (or so Mallory believes) to “Black communities”.
In an interview on The View, Mallory said,
…“I didn’t call him the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric, I called him the greatest of all time for what he’s done in black communities,” she replied, as The View‘s audience applauded.
Myth of Modern Jews as ‘Imposters’
Yet, as Dr. Pollack noted in another paper on the Nation of Islam, “Racializing Anti-Semitism“, NoI’s so-called ’empowerment’ of the Black community has been inextricable from its antipathy toward Jews. From its beginning, NoI sought to foster Black empowerment in specific opposition to Jews—who have, according to NoI doctrine, long tried to usurp the ‘Black birthright’:
Always drawing heavily on the Hebrew Bible, viewed through a racial lens, … From its earliest years to the present, the NOI taught that the blacks — sometimes only American blacks — were God’s “Chosen People,” and that the Bible, “if understood,” is all about them. The blacks are “The Real Children of Israel” and “unto us He will deliver His Promise.”
Current NoI leader Louis Farrakhan has long embraced this idea. In a 1996 speech, he reportedly declared,
You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews…You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell.
Accordingly, as Dr. Pollack showed, the NoI
cast[s] the Jews as the central players in the oppression of all people of color. True to the NOI script, the villainous Jews always appeared at center
stage whenever indigenous people were dispossessed.
This perspective on Jews naturally extended to the Jewish State and its Arab neighbors. In his biography, Malcolm X asserted that “the Arabs” are “the rightful owners” of “Palestine”, and propagated classic myths about Jewish racism, power, and money.
…that the State of Israel has “no home” in the Middle East and that the Holy Land does not belong the “white Jew.” Speaking on a Tuesday broadcast of the Cliff Kelley Show on an AM radio station in Chicago, Farrakhan said that “original black man of the earth” was the “original owner” of the Holy Land — and called modern inhabitants of that land settlers.
“Holy Land don’t belong to a white Arab or a white Jew. You are settlers on our land,” Farrakhan said at the conclusion of a nearly two-hour interview. “We are the original owners of that part of the earth and you all kicked us out and assumed our position.”
In a 2018 tweet, Swan harkened to the debunked charge that modern Jews are imposters and have no connection with the Land of Israel; instead, Jews are descended from a Turkic tribe living in the Caucasus approximately a millenium ago that supposedly converted to Judaism—the Khazars.
Interestingly, the Khazar theory is popular amongst Black Hebrew Israelite sects, for which the belief that Blacks, not modern Jews, are the true descendents of the biblical Hebrews is foundational. David Anderson, one of the two December 2019 New Jersey Kosher supermarket murderers, made social media posts espousing this view, and attended a Black Hebrew Israelite church that preaches the message frequently. Moreover, as I’ve reported here before, the Khazar canard also happens to be a favorite of the anti-Israel organization American Muslims for Palestine (AMP); as least two high-level AMP officials have repeated and/or endorsed the myth.
In another disturbing example of the “fake Jew” myth playing out in person, we covered an October 2020 Philadelphia BLM protest at which a group of Black demonstrators hurled anti-Semitic abuse (and even a violent shove or two) toward a few Jews who said they had shown up to show their support and solidarity. Video of the confrontation showed the attackers telling the Jews to “get the fuck out” and parroting the Farrakhanist claim that “we the real Jews”.
Orthodox Jews violently attacked by mob @ BLM protest last night in Philly. They told protesters they were there to show solidarity. Mob shouted anti Semitic & racist hate as they assaulted victims. Spoke to victim, says he feared for his life. This needs to be condemned by all! pic.twitter.com/oAY2kSaqM4
— Yaacov Behrman (@ChabadLubavitch) October 28, 2020
[Note: the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that one of the Jewish men featured in footage of the incident is wearing a shirt emblazoned with the image of “Count Dankula”—a far-right internet personality—making the OK “White Supremacist” hand gesture. I have searched for this shirt, but have been unable to find it, so can’t confirm or deny its White Supremacist undertones—though the OK hand gesture has, indeed, become an anti-Semitic symbol in some contexts.]
40 years of Farrakhan’s @LouisFarrakhan themes of poisonous Jew hatred now embedded among young protesters Synagogue of Satan, denial that we are real Jews. Political leaders, media silent. https://t.co/jDvOmSudB4
— SimonWiesenthalCntr (@simonwiesenthal) October 28, 2020
“White” Jews Cause Black Suffering
A corollary of NoI’s theories about racist, “White” Jewish interlocutors are NoI charges that Jews have orchestrated Black suffering in the Americas since the era of slavery, and have continued exploiting Blacks in America in order to enrich themselves.
Malcolm X, who had formally joined the NOI upon his release from prison in 1952, dwelled on the inextricable links between African-Americans and Palestinian Arabs, instructing his audiences that the Jews “sap the very lifeblood of the so-called Negroes (in America) to maintain the state of Israel.” Picturing Jewish merchants fleeing after dark every night “with another bag of money drained out of the ghetto,” Malcolm X identified Israel as just an international poorhouse which is maintained by money sucked from the poor suckers in America. Here was the hoary anti-Semitic canard of the Jew as bloodsucker, updated to link the black “ghetto” and the “Zionist entity.”
And as Dr. Stephen Norwood noted in his ISCA lecture, the NoI has since published a trilogy of books (apparently authored by Farrakhan himself) entitled, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews“. Published in 1991, Volume One argues that Jews were instrumental in organizing and perpetuating the trans-Atlantic African slave trade.
The subsequent volumes, entitled “How Jews Gained Control of the Black American Economy” and “Leo Frank, the Lynching of a Guilty Man” reiterate the first book’s thesis, and add the theories that Jewish businessmen secretly orchestrated the emergence of the KKK, and that Jews secretly arranged for the 1913 lynching of Leo Frank—a Jew (almost certainly falsely) accused by a Black man (the possible perpetrator himself) of murdering a young girl in Atlanta, and then lynched by an anti-Semitic mob—in order to inspire popular sympathy for the Jews in the United States. The NoI’s description of the Leo Frank volume summarizes (seeming to allude to Malcolm X’s belief that Jewish support for Black civil rights was only for “strategic” reasons),
Before the Leo Frank Affair, Jews treated Blacks as their slaves; after the Frank affair, Jews claimed they were the Black man’s “best friend.”
In Racializing Antisemitism, Dr. Pollack explained,
…Indeed, the Nation of Islam taught that the Jews — and Judaism — had been responsible for the subjugation of blacks since the first Africans arrived in Jamestown “four hundred years ago.” It was the Jews who were “guilty of the worst abuses of slavery and the Jim Crow system of white empowerment.” Characterizing Judaism as “a dirty religion,” the NOI preached that the Torah had invented black racism, which was responsible for slavery in the New World, and the Talmud had introduced sharecropping, which kept the blacks in bondage ever since Emancipation. With great fanfare, the nationalists announced that they had uncovered the entire “Jewish blueprint for success in America.” The Jews’ “strategy,” they had found, “was completely dependent on the enslavement of the Black Africans … and continued unabated under the notorious Southern Jim Crow system.” In fact, Jews had made “all of their money on Black economic muscle.”
Accordingly, this view has also popped up in BLM circles. In her ISCA lecture, Ms. Hollander cited BLM-Los Angeles organizer Melina Abdullah, who is an avid NoI fan and was instrumental in organizing many of the Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020 that devolved into riots and attacks on local Jewish institutions. Abdullah has never shown regret for the victimization of Jews during those or other BLM demonstrations; instead, she reportedly described the BLM-Los Angeles decision to protest in Pan Pacific Park the weekend after Floyd’s killing (an area of Los Angeles’ heavily Jewish Fairfax neighborhood that serves as the site of the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum) as a deliberate one (emphasis added):
…[it was] absolutely about letting white folks who are from more affluent backgrounds understand or get a little glimpse of what we experience as black people every day.
And, as Dr. Pollack observed in 2019,
At the initial organizing meeting of the Women’s March (to protest President Trump’s inauguration), Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, women of color, informed the Jewish activists, “You people [or your people] hold all the wealth,” and that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people.” … In a recent statement to the New York Times, Mallory explained that it was only “white Jews” to whom she was referring – because “as white people,” they “uphold white supremacy.”
One contemporary anti-Israel intitiative—chief among the issues Ms. Hollander discussed in her ISCA lecture—that mirrors the NoI charge that Jews deliberately orchestrate racist oppression for their own profit is the Deadly Exchange campaign.
We’ve written a number of posts about Deadly Exchange over the years. You can see some of them below:
- Investigation: Anti-Israel Activists Falsely Blame Israel for George Floyd’s Death, Stoke Anti-Jewish Violence
- Roger Waters Falsely Claims Israel Taught U.S. Police the Maneuver Used on George Floyd
- ‘American Muslims for Palestine’ 2020 Annual Conf Exploited Racial Tensions to Use Against Israel
- “Deadly Exchange”- It’s time to speak out against anti-Zionists who seek to turn Blacks against Jews
- With “Deadly Exchange” Campaign, Jewish Voice for Peace moves from enabling to promoting antisemitism
- Anti-Semitic campaign to blame Jews and Israel for U.S. police practices towards minorities shifts into overdrive
- Exposed: Years-long effort to blame Israel for U.S. police shootings of blacks
Founded in 2017 by radical anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace, Deadly Exchange is arguably just a branded, sloganeering manifestation of the decades-old NoI canard that Jews deliberately exploit indigenous people of color all over the world for Israel’s and the Jews’ collective benefit.
NoI has long taught that “… just as their fellow Jews had robbed Native Americans and African Americans of their patrimony, these ‘unkosher imposters’ had seized the birthright — had ethnically cleansed — the Palestinians. Jews, [NoI] alleged, had created segregation in the United States and were now shaping ‘Israeli Jim Crow 6,000 miles away.”
In the 1960s, Malcolm X averred:
the Israeli Zionists, like their American kin, had only donned the mask of the progressive, in an effort to conceal the well-known, age-old predator Jew. The Israelis hoped that Zionist-Dollarism would “enable them to deceive the African masses into submitting willingly to their ‘divine’ authority and guidance, without … being aware that they are still colonized. … Simply by getting their potential victims to accept their friendly offers of economic ‘aid,’ and other tempting ‘gifts’ that they dangle in front of the newly independent African nations, whose economies are experiencing great difficulties,” they would realize their goal of “ruling” — of colonizing — them.
In an echo of Malcolm X, American anti-Israel activists have long contended that Israel “exports” its “occupation police tactics” in order to oppress “communities of color”, and “suppress” resistance to “colonial projects”. Meanwhile, since the earlier years of BLM, NoI has hijacked the movement and directed anger surrounding American racial tensions toward Israel. For example, just days after Freddie Gray died in Baltimore police custody in 2015, an official Nation of Islam Twitter account alleged that BPD are “trained by Israel Mossad & Shin Bet. More planned.”
Such counterfacutal, anti-Israel paranoia only became trendier and more socially acceptable after JVP’s 2017 launch of Deadly Exchange campaign, which has made inroads within college activist communities. Accordingly, in April 2019, a Black University of California, Berkeley “student leader” told her peers at a student meeting that “the [Israel Defense Forces] trains the police departments in America to kill black people” and that the liberation of blacks and Palestinians are “intertwined” because Zionists support the “prison industrial complex,” “prison militarization,” and “modern-day slavery.” As we’ve documented extensively, the death of George Floyd and reinvigoration of BLM have inflamed those sentiments still further.
As Ms. Hollander wrote in an October 2020 analysis of anti-Semitism within the BLM movement,
When legitimate grievances are co-opted and hijacked by opportunists seeking support for their own causes — under the guise of intersectionality — problems will inevitably arise. The callous murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis policeman, Dennis Chauvin, sparked grassroots outrage and widespread protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S. — under the general banner #BlackLivesMatter. But the justifiable anger and protests were quickly exploited by Israel-hating opportunists as a vehicle with which to demonize the Jewish state thousands of miles away.
Ultimately, and though it and its supporters claim otherwise, the Nation of Islam is not a movement concerned with Black empowerment. Rather, its primary function has been cloaking its founders’ and followers’ anti-Semitism in a language of righteousness, brotherhood, and religious committment; and until every Black Lives Matter leader strongly eschews all of NoI’s bigoted ideology in both word and deed, BLM will continue to discredit its own “anti-racism” as just another ploy in a decades-long quest to re-legitimize the world’s longest hatred.
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