In the aftermath of the protests and rallies against racism across the country, activists have broadened their message, resulting in a new wave of anti-Semitic actions and statements.
American Jews have always been at the forefront of the fight against racism. They helped start the NAACP, and Jews such as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched alongside the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. Jews accounted for half of the young people who participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. And two young Jews, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, lost their lives for their beliefs in 1964, when they were murdered in Mississippi alongside James Chaney by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Young and older Jews joined other Americans in marches against racism last month across the country. While the spontaneous marches came under the slogan “Black Lives Matter” some Jews found they could not support the marches because of the history of the organization. Many Jews still remember that in 2016, an alliance of groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter accused Israel of perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians. The alliance also labeled Israel an “apartheid state.”
Black Lives Matter has since pulled that language from its website, but in recent weeks, members of the movement have made openly anti-Semitic remarks. While the marches have been mostly peaceful, the Jewish neighborhood of Fairfax in Los Angeles was targeted by looters, and a Fairfax synagogue was vandalized with graffiti that read “free Palestine” and “f— Israel.”
Earlier this week, MTV’s Nick Cannon was fired after he shared anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and comments on a June 30 episode of his podcast. Also, in recent weeks, the NFL’s DeSean Jackson posted several anti-Semitic messages on social media, and former NBA player Stephen Jackson chimed in and accused the Rothschild family of owning all the banks. And, on July 1, protesters at a demonstration in Washington linked Black Lives Matter and the Palestinian cause. They chanted: “Israel, we know you, you murder children, too.”
Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement need to denounce these attacks. As the country continues its conversation on race, civil discourse should rule the day. We must work together to make our country more tolerant and in that process, we cannot allow anti-Semitism to become an accepted item on the agenda.