Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

{Reposted from the Emes Ve-Emunah blog}

As someone that leans mostly towards a conservative political philosophy, I am dismayed by Myrna Lieberman’s article in American Thinker, a conservative online publication. Not because of the problems she has with BLM (Black Lives Matter – the movement). I agree with her about that.

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But with conflating it with support by some of our people that joined black Americans using that slogan to protest the racism that still exists in this country. Racism that has caused untold grief to – who knows how many – innocent black people, including their death. Often at the hands of racist police.  As Jonathan Rosenblum notes in a recent Mishpacha Magazine column:
It should be possible to affirm that black lives matter, without supporting Black Lives Matter

When George Floyd died at the hands of a racist cop, the world finally woke up to what is really happening in this country. Let me quickly add that I do not believe most of the country is racist. As I have said many times, if that were so we would never have been able to elect a black man as our leader. Twice.

But that doesn’t mean that racism doesn’t exist or that it it doesn’t cause any harm. It does exist. As was the case with George Floyd and many other victims like him (both before and after his death). That’s why all those protests happened. The fact that most Americans are not racist is why so many white people joined them.

This fact was overlooked by Ms. Lieberman. She had only words of criticism for those who joined those protests as though they were supporting BLM.

To say that the organizations like the ADL (Anti Defamation League) and the SWC (Simon Weisenthal Center) both of which are dedicated to fighting antisemtism – supports an antisemitic group BLM is beyond ridiculous.

What exactly is BLM? Here is what Jonathan Rosenblum says about them in an earlier Mishpacha column:

BLM LEADERS are not shy about who they are. In a readily available interview, BLM cofounder Patrisse Cullors describes herself and one of her cofounders as “trained Marxists, super well-versed in ideological theory.” At the heart of Marxist-Leninist theory is contempt for bourgeois values, such as mercy, and disdain for liberal rights. The latter may be useful for gaining power, but have no place once the revolutionaries seize power. Here is Melina Abdullah, the lead organizer of BLM-L.A. and a longtime Farrakhan acolyte, prior to a rally in the Jewish Fairfax neighborhood, which culminated in numerous Jewish businesses being trashed and five synagogues defaced: “The violence and hurt that’s experienced on a daily basis by black folks at the hands of a repressive system should also be visited upon, to a degree, those who think that they can just retreat to white affluence.” Her daughter, Thandiwe Abdullah, cofounder of the BLM Youth Vanguard, was even more forthright: “I know you want to tear some [things] up. If you want to set some corporations on fire, you know what? I don’t care about Target burning. I don’t care that capitalism burns. I don’t care that white people in their office buildings are upset.”

Clearly anyone that supports BLM is either an extremist and antisemite out to destroy this country, or doesn’t really know what BLM is about and thinks they are supporting a movement that simply wants justice for black people.

I do not believe for a moment that the ADL, SWC, and Orthodox Jewish Democrats like Dov Hikind that joined the protests are ignorant about what BLM really stands for. They just know the difference between black lives matter and Black Lives Matter! Apparently Ms. Lieberman does not.

I’m not sure whether Chabad is aware of those differences, But surely they cannot be accused of supporting a movement like BLM just because they too joined the protests.

It is also troubling that Ms. Lieberman doesn’t even address the injustices those protests are all about. You would think that she could not care less about our fellow black citizens. Or that all the protesters are BLM supporters.

Another troubling portion of her article is the litany of examples of actions taken by New York city and state officials  claiming they were motivated by antipathy toward Orthodox Jews. (Some of which I dealt with here not long ago.)

Sure, those actions can be interpreted that way. But they can also be interpreted to be simply a part of the overall effort to fight the COVID pandemic. I defy her or any other critic of these officials to find a single case of anti Orthodox actions prior to the pandemic. I believe if you try, you will find exactly the opposite – a very positive relationship with them.

Why pick on Orthodox Jews while giving a pass to the many people protesting racism all over the country? I am sure that they simply believe that what back people have gone through over their 400 year history in America warrants more support than a few Orthodox Jews that want a Shul, a playground, or a summer camp opened. One can debate those issues with them. But calling them anti Orthodox is far from obvious in my view.

And finally, to suggest that Orthodox Jews are alone in this country (or at least in Brooklyn as the title of her piece says) is just as false. Is Brooklyn more antisemitic than the rest of the country?! I don’t think so. Who can forget the outpouring of support from all across America regardless of race or political affiliation when Jews were massacred in Pittsburgh, Poway, and Monsey?

How can she ignore the fact that when an Orthodox Jew was chosen by Democrat, Al Gore to be his running mate, his poll numbers went up as a result. Or the fact that polls have shown that Judaism is the most admired religion in America? Or that Orthodox Jews are by far the darlings of the Christian right – as indicated by CUFI (Christians United For Israel), perhaps the largest pro Israel Evangelical Christian organizations in the world. One can debate their motives. But one cannot debate their unequivocal open and strong support for Israel and the Jewish people, specifically those of us that use the bible as our guide: Orthodox Jews.

It’s truly sad for me when good people and good organizations are smeared by people whose philosophy I generally agree with – by twisting the facts to suit their narrative. Whether it was intentional or not, I think that is what happened here.

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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.