Progressive Jews Defend Black Lives Matter Movement

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) issued a statement on June 12th declaring that "Black Lives Matter is a Jewish Value.” It also issued what it called a “primer” on the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) and its principles. It tried to explain away the hateful language leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and its partner The Movement for Black Lives have used to attack the Jewish State of Israel, including the Movement for Black Lives’ platform back in 2016 referring to Israel’s actions against the Palestinians as “genocide.”

“In general, no one organization or platform speaks for the Black Lives Matter movement,” said the URJ primer. “Among the prominent entities working to end systemic racism and white supremacy in the United States are organizations named the ‘Movement for Black Lives’ and ‘Black Lives Matter.’ As with the many Jewish communal organizations that exist, each has its own base of support with some overlap, and none speaks for the Black Lives Matter movement overall.” (Emphasis in the original)

In other words, according to URJ and other progressive Jewish organizations and leaders, nobody is responsible for whatever is said and done in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s just an “idea,” says URJ.

Should Jews just forget about the desecration of synagogues and damage to Jewish-owned businesses during Black Lives Matter “protests” because, in URJ’s words, “none speaks for the Black Lives Matter movement overall?” Absolutely not. As the Yiddish proverb says, “A half truth is a whole lie.” The Black Lives Matter movement may be decentralized but it does have leaders who speak in its name and must be held accountable for encouraging acts of violence, including against Jewish targets.

The president of Black Lives Matter of  Greater New York,  Hawk Newsome, said during an interview on June 24th that “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it.” Does this represent the kind of “Jewish Value” that the Union for Reform Judaism had in mind when it declared that “Black Lives Matter is a Jewish Value?”

Newsome said last year that he approves of Antifa’s use of violence because, he claimed, they are "protecting us from racist, right wingers who don't have a problem using violence.” When he was asked how Antifa’s assault of people like the journalist Andy Ngo could be justified, he responded, “What has America ever achieved through peaceful means?”  Is the endorsement by a key Black Lives Matter leader of fascist-style violence by Antifa a “Jewish Value” that the Union for Reform Judaism would also endorse?

The desecration of Los Angeles synagogues and defiling with anti-Semitic slogans of a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis, occurred during a “protest” on May 30 organized by the Black Lives Matter movement. Melina Abdullah, who was among the original group of organizers who convened to form Black Lives Matter, also co-founded the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter which she continues to lead. Abdullah boasted on May 31st. "We've been very deliberate in saying that the violence and pain and hurt that's experienced on a daily basis by black folks at the hands of a repressive system should also be visited upon, to a degree, to those who think that they can just retreat to white affluence."

Such "pain" was inflicted upon the congregants of the Baba Sale Congregation on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles and other synagogues that were spray painted with the letters “BLM.” Congregation Beth Israel was vandalized with graffiti stating “free Palestine” and “f— Israel.”

Progressive Jews, wracked by guilt over their white privileged status, still have their eyes shut. They are willing to excuse whatever “violence” and “pain” Black Lives Matter decides to commit as revenge against “white affluence.”

Yonathan Reches, a writer for Jewish Journal and member of the progressive Jewish IKAR Community, rationalized the attacks on Los Angeles synagogues during the Black Lives Matter organized “protests” this way: “As frightful as that reality may be to those of us who benefit from the American concept of property rights, we cannot deny that this is a natural response to a system that has made it impossible for communities of color to liberate themselves by peaceful means. After five centuries of unfathomable subjugation — most especially of the native and black communities — one would think that our society would recognize their undisputed moral authority to call attention to their own oppression…The safety of our houses of worship is entirely connected with the alignment of our community on the right side of this issue and of history.”

In other words, the Jewish community must align itself with the BLM’s notion of the “right side of history” or face the destruction of Jewish places of worship and businesses reminiscent of  Kristallnacht. But not to worry. “Black Lives Matter is a Jewish Value” according to the Union for Reform Judaism.

A New York-based leftwing group called " Jews For Racial & Economic Justice” is an eager supporter of Black Lives Matter’s agenda, including the defunding of the police. The group co-organized a rally and march on June 25th to “#RiseUp to demand New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio #defundNYPD and invest in our communities.”

Jews For Racial & Economic Justice have taken their support for Black Lives Matter to such an extreme level that it collaborated with other activists to create a Haggadah supplement for Passover dedicated to Black Lives Matter. In addition to the usual Black Lives Matter agitprop, this supplement included a reworked version of the traditional Passover song Dayenu that includes the following line: “If we had learned and chanted the words from Assata Shakur and not protested violence by militarized police — Lo Dayenu “

Assata Shakur is a former member of the Black Liberation Army, who was convicted of being an accomplice in the first-degree murder of State Trooper Werner Foerster during a shootout on the New Jersey. She managed to escape to Cuba. Among her quotes not included in the Black Lives Matter friendly version of Dayenu: “When Black people seriously organize and take up arms to fight for our liberation, there will be a lot of white people who will drop dead from no other reason than their own guilt and fear.”

In 2018, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice conducted a Juneteenth Seder, which included having “four cups, Assata’s Cups, in honor of Black power freedom fighter Assata Shakur.” Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is just as admiring of Shakur. “We salute sister Assata Shakur, still struggling and free in Cuba, while facing renewed threats and ‘terrorist’ labeling to justify hunting down this global symbol of freedom,” he wrote in an essay entitled “Prisons, the Black Liberation Movement, and the Struggle for Palestine.”

The Palestinian activists who want to destroy the Jewish State of Israel are linking their cause to the Black Lives Matter movement. The BDS National Committee, which describes itself as the largest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the global BDS movement, declared shortly after the killing of George Floyd: “Just as the occupying Israeli military forces serve to further entrench the apartheid system against Palestinians, the US police forces only serve to further entrench the system of American white supremacy and privilege…We can’t breathe until we’re free from oppression and racism. #BlackLivesMatter.”

Is this what the Union for Reform Judaism had in mind when it declared, “Black Lives Matter is a Jewish Value?” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, does not appreciate being confronted with the truth about the Black Lives Matter movement’s radical leadership and agenda. In fact, he and other progressive Jewish leaders do not brook dissent from their uncritical defense of the Black Lives Matter movement.  They have targeted the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), led by Mort Klein, who committed the cardinal “sin” of tweeting that Black Lives Matter “is a Jew hating, White hating, Israel hating” extremist organization.

As punishment for such heresy, Rabbi Jacobs and other pro-Black Lives Matter Jewish leaders want to expel ZOA from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which describes itself as “the preeminent forum where diverse segments of the Jewish community come together in mutual respect to deliberate vital national and international issues.” Rabbi Jacobs’ rationale for wanting ZOA expelled is that ZOA’s continued membership would mean “we are now implicated by his views, his Islamophobia, his racism, full stop. Black Lives Matter is at the center of one of the most critical fights for justice in our country.”

No self-respecting Jew should be allowed to question the Black Lives Matter movement’s good intentions if Rabbi Jacobs and his ilk had their way. In other words, hiding the truth about the Black Lives Matter movement is now more important to these progressive Jews than standing up for the Jewish peoples’ sacred places of worship and their homeland. These progressives forget that the real Jewish value is that all lives are precious.

Photo: Jewish Journal