A group of African-American church leaders who represent some nine million worshippers criticized the anti-Israel elements of the Movement for Black Lives’ (MBL) recently published policy platform as “laced with misinformation and anti-Semitism” in a statement issued on Monday. MBL is a coalition of over 50 groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
While the leaders, who serve as advisers to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, praised the overall platform released by MBL, they condemned the portion that demonized Israel. “It was a vitriolic attack against Israel laced with misinformation and anti-Semitism and an agenda that is not embraced by the broader African-American community,” the Fellowship’s advisers said in their joint statement. “The anti-Semitism and misinformation found in this small segment is so misleading that it makes an experienced leader question the entire document and thus the intentions of the organization.”
The advisers denounced the platform’s attack on the U.S.-Israel partnership, arguing that Israel is “a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.” They also flatly rejected the libel that the U.S. is complicit in a “genocide” against Palestinians — whose population more than quadrupled since 1970, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — noting that “real genocide took place during the Holocaust, in Rwanda and now in Syria. Israel has sought peace via a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and there are complex reasons peace has not been realized.” They also refuted the charge that Israeli policies resemble apartheid, noting: “Israeli Arabs are full citizens who fill leadership roles including Knesset members and judges, while Israeli security measures are aimed at fighting terrorism.”
“We may not agree with everything that Israel has done, but let us not be dishonest regarding the motives. This is not about race, it is about security, a government’s most basic and fundamental responsibility to its people,” the advisers continued.
“We see the danger of passing along hysterical mistruths and sound bites even as we watch the current presidential election. It is not helpful,” the leaders said. “At its worst it can breed hatred and bigotry, which of all people, we should not condone against anyone – black, brown or white.”
“The Jewish community has been an ally of black America, most significantly during the civil rights movement and even today. Together these two communities have been the conscience of America leading the fight for human and civil rights for decades,” they concluded. “Jews have been our reliable friends, just like Israel.”
A poll published by Pew Research Center in July 2014 found that black Americans support Israel by over a 2:1 ratio, with 43 percent of the demographic sympathizing with Israel compared with 20 percent for the Palestinians. A survey released by Pew in February of that year found that 67 percent of black American Protestants either backed current levels of US. support for Israel or wanted to see them increase.
The fellowship’s advisers include Rev. Dr. Kenneth C. Ulmer, senior pastor-teacher of the Faithful Central Bible Church; Rev. Dr. Carroll Baltimore, senior pastor of the International Community Baptist Churches; Rev. Dr. Edward L. Branch, senior pastor of the Third New Hope Baptist Church; Rev. Dr. Deedee Coleman, pastor of the historic Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church; and Rev. Dr. Glenn Plummer, newly appointed Ambassador to Israel for the Church of God In Christ.
[Photo: International Fellowship of Christians and Jews ]