Rekindling the Black-Jewish Alliance
The anti-Israel crowd has been busy. As the issue of racism has come to dominate our public debate, they’ve been scrambling to hijack these potent political energies to serve their own hateful ends. They’ve called Israel racist. And they’re now insisting that all who support Israel are racist too. That’s you and me, friends.
Some Black activists have fallen for these lies. BLM originally included an anti-Israel statement in its platform. “Squad” member Rep. Ayanna Pressley has become increasingly anti-Israel over time. We could go on.
But we mustn’t assume that these far-left leaders speak for the large, diverse Black community. There has been a Black-Jewish alliance that predates the birth of Pressley and her colleagues and accomplished far more — in the face of far greater danger — than this new squad of “social justice warriors” will ever understand.
For the sake of both of our communities, we must rekindle and reenergize the Black-Jewish alliance. Towards this end we convened our first Black Student Leaders Summit in Atlanta in October. We welcomed 100 Black campus leaders for a weekend devoted to studying and rebuilding our historic collaboration.
While the story of the Jewish role in the Civil Rights movement is old news to many activists, it was quite new and inspiring to our students. And they were all proud to learn that this was a two-way street. Most of these students came from HBCUs — Historically Black Colleges and Universities. And back when so many white institutions were ignoring Jewish professors desperate to flee Nazi Germany, many HBCUs opened their doors and offered them life-saving jobs.
This past must inform our present. Racism and Antisemitism still threaten our communities. We must once again join forces to combat these kindred hatreds. And in coming together to defend one another, we often find that our lives are transformed in far more personal ways. Speaker after speaker noted how bridges between our communities provided them with role models, mentors, clients and precious friends.
I had never met most of these students before. Yet they felt oddly familiar. Young people aware of hate but refusing to be afraid. Students burdened — and matured — by a sense of responsibility for their people. Students laser-focused on learning yet happy to dance when the music starts. Yes, I knew these students. And I was very glad to meet them.