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Why Do Black Activists Care About Palestine?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. links arms with other civil rights leaders as they begin the march to the state capitol in Montgomery from Selma, Ala. on March 21, 1965. The demonstrators are marching for voter registration rights for blacks. Accompanying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (fourth from right), are on his left Ralph Bunche, undersecretary of the United Nations, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. They are wearing leis given by a Hawaiian group.  (AP Photo)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. links arms with other civil rights leaders as they begin the march to the state capitol in Montgomery from Selma, Ala. on March 21, 1965. The demonstrators are marching for voter registration rights for blacks. Accompanying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (fourth from right), are on his left Ralph Bunche, undersecretary of the United Nations, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. They are wearing leis given by a Hawaiian group. (AP Photo)

By Emma Green
The Atlantic – Last Thursday, the Movement for Black Lives got together for an emergency conference call. One week after the drafting committee released its political platform—a long document that covers everything from U.S. policing to education reform to mass incarceration—the activists felt they needed another “deep internal discussion,” as they called it, on one small section toward the end: their statement on Israel and Palestine.

Of all the positions included in the platform, this is the one that has generated the most backlash. The conflict is largely one of language: Jewish groups have been most upset about its use of the words “genocide” and “apartheid” to describe Israel’s actions against the Palestinians, describing the terms as “offensive and odious.” Some progressive, social-justice-oriented organizations have condemned the statements in part; others have condemned the movement in full. Church groups have repudiated it. Jews of color have struggled with it. In the wake of what should have been a powerful moment, black activists have found themselves at odds with the one group that may have been most ready to support them as allies.

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