A person holds a Black Lives Matter flag during the "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" protest against racism and police brutality, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo/JTA-Olivier Douliery-Pool-AFP via Getty Images)
A person holds a Black Lives Matter flag during the "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" protest against racism and police brutality, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo/JTA-Olivier Douliery-Pool-AFP via Getty Images)

10-page summary of new Movement for Black Lives platform contains no mention of Israel, 4 years after divisive condemnation

Four years ago, the Movement for Black Lives put out a platform that, among a long list of detailed policy recommendations, accused Israel of genocide.

Several major Jewish organizations expressed their outrage and put out statements condemning the platform.

On Friday, the Movement for Black Lives is convening a Black National Convention, where it’s going to unveil another policy platform. A 10-page summary of the 2020 platform obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency contains no mention of Israel, Zionism, Palestinian rights or the movement to boycott Israel.

A representative of the Movement for Black Lives who spoke with JTA could not say for certain whether the full platform would include any mention of Israel.

But to hundreds of Jewish organizations across the country, that question doesn’t seem to matter as much as it used to. On Friday morning, a Jewish statement in support of Black Lives Matter appeared in a full-page New York Times ad, signed by more than 600 national and local Jewish groups and synagogues, including a major umbrella body and three of the four major Jewish religious movements.

“We speak with one voice when we say, unequivocally: Black Lives Matter,” said the statement, which was first published in June. “The Black Lives Matter movement is the current day Civil Rights movement in this country, and it is our best chance at equity and justice.”

The Movement for Black Lives is a coalition of organizations that aims to formulate policy and develop strategies to advance the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not representative of all of Black Lives Matter, which is a loose grassroots coalition, and does not speak for Black Lives Matter as a whole.

The list of signatories to the statement in The New York Times included several of the organizations that publicly criticized the 2016 platform, including the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, the Anti-Defamation League and others.

“Right now the focus is really on the desire to eliminate systemic racism and find justice for all the members of our society, and it’s less on our own specific Jewish concerns,” said Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly.

In 2016, the Rabbinical Assembly stated that it “appreciate[d] the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement” but said “we were stunned and outraged by the erroneous and egregious claims of genocide and apartheid that it levels against Israel.”

But on Friday, Blumenthal said that if this year’s platform includes the criticisms of Israel, “we’ll be able to express our disapproval of that particular piece of their platform but that does not affect our desire to see change when it comes to systemic racism and justice for every person in our society.”

The 2016 Movement for Black Lives platform was primarily focused on domestic concerns but included several lines about Israel. “The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people,” the platform said. It also referred to Israel as an apartheid state and called for the end of U.S. aid to Israel.

Ben Sales
Ben Sales

JTA reporter

JTA

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