August 11, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter stands up for Palestine

Black Lives Matter embraces the Palestinian cause, alienating supporters of Israel.

Black Lives Matter is facing a backlash over its just-released position on the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the first comprehensive political platform to come out of the racial justice activism that has swept the country since 2014, the Movement for Black Lives - a coalition of more than 50 groups - includes a proposal to end federal aid to Israel, which it calls an "apartheid state" waging a "genocide" against Palestinians.

The position has angered many who consider themselves allies of Black Lives Matter but feel the group is misguided about a conflict thousands of kilometres away. American Jewish groups have been the most vocal, saying that singling out Israel is unwarranted and betrays a legacy of Jewish support for civil rights.

Black-Palestinian solidarity has burgeoned since the Black Lives Matter movement sprung up two summers ago. The protests over the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri erupted amidst Israel's 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip. As a militarized US police force tear-gassed protesters in the Ferguson streets and Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza with US-made weapons, activists drew connections between their two struggles.

This nascent Black-Palestinian solidarity has amplified a generational shift in both African-American and Jewish-American communities. While a number of prominent black politicians either openly support Israel or have stayed out of its politics, younger black activists are finding common cause with Palestinians and challenging their government's longtime support for the occupation. At the same time, many young American Jews are confronting their community's entrenched support of Israeli government policies.

Why is Black-Palestinian solidarity emerging and how can it impact both struggles? And where does that leave American Jews who may feel pulled in different directions?  

On this episode, we speak to: 

Tareq Radi @TareqRadi
Member, Palestinian Youth Movement 

Chloé Valdary @cvaldary
Partnerships and Outreach director, Jerusalem U media organization

Kristian Davis Bailey @Kristianbailey 
Organizer, Blacks4Palestine and Black Youth Project 100 Detroit

Rabbi Ari Hart @AriHart
Associate Rabbi, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and founder of Uri L'Tzedek: Awaken to Justice

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