(Watch the painful video here)
Philadelphians have been protesting the tragic, unacceptable police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man reportedly suffering from bipolar disorder who was murdered in front of his neighbors and his crying mother. There should be no question by any American of conscience that the reality we have seen, week after week after week, of police brutality against Black Americans must end, and that this work demands a commitment from every single one of us.We must also remember that the fight for racial justice and against white supremacy simply will not succeed when it is infused with malignant hatred of Jews. These divisions between the Black and Jewish communities are a gift to the very white supremacists responsible for the institutionalized racism our Black siblings––including Black Jews––are facing every day. We are horrified and yet, unsurprised, to see a video circulating on social media with hundreds of thousands of views, showing a few protestors making horrible, inexcusably antisemitic remarks to three kippot-wearing Jewish men, shoving them and demanding they leave the protest. There is absolutely no place for this hatred, nor for this transfer of well-founded anger and urgent energy to the wrong enemy. The antisemitic vitriol in the video, which includes calling visibly Jewish protestors “Amalek” (the Biblical enemy of the Jewish people), and the “Synagogue of Satan,” comes directly from the hateful preachings of Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Farrakhan is notorious for his frequent sexist, homophobic, transphobic and antisemitic statements. Telling Jewish people that they are “not the real Jews” is absurd beyond explanation, leading to extreme gaslighting of Jews.However, because America has long normalized systemic racism, Farrakhan’s message of Black empowerment resonates with some who are willing to overlook NOI’s racist and bigoted teachings. Since Farrakhan’s anti-Jewish racism is so entwined with his Black empowerment message, many who don’t know any Jewish people are vulnerable to internalizing it in similar ways that we all hold implicit biases against communities with whom we do not know or identify. In other words: our country’s institutionalized racism paved the road for Farrakhan to spread his hate to a wide audience of its victims, ironically empowering the very individuals whose murderous ideology targets both our communities. Mainstream community leaders have repeatedly condemned and denounced the Nation of Islam’s bigotry and hatred. The iconic civil rights leader, Congressman John Lewis, was one of many prolific activists for racial justice who refused to work alongside Farrakhan and NOI, a widely recognized hate group. When we chant “Black Lives Matter,” we mean that we commit to ending the power of white supremacy, which holds antisemitism at its very core. That fight will be futile without committing to the eradication of both forms of bigotry.Antisemitism should not be overlooked anywhere that it manifests. Jewish and Zionist protesters should not have to check any part of their identity at the door to stand up and stand proudly in the fight for racial justice and equity in America. And, at the same time, the actions of a few should not be used to discredit or detract from much-needed Black Lives Matter protests across the country.Jewish and Black Americans are, and absolutely must continue to be, united in the fight against white supremacy. The toleration of any forms of hate in our progressive movement is extremely dangerous for us all.
To learn more about Farrakhan, head to this resource on the Zioness website.