Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr
Justice for Jamar rally in front of Minneapolis, Minnesota City Hall, December 3, 2015

“This is not the time to call out BLM regarding the movement’s record on Israel,” says a Reut Group policy intervention document dealing with the challenges and opportunities for Jewish communities and pro-Israel organizations in light of the current social unrest in the US. Under the sub-headline “The BLM Dilemma: A Time for Unconditional Solidarity,” the paper argues:

BLM is an extremely decentralized movement without any campaign goals around Israel this year. In fact, Israel policy does not appear on its website. The mainstream broad support for the protests ensures that mainstream messages rise to the top. ‘Black Lives Matter’ is the slogan and idea of the protest, which aims to abolish systemic racism, a cause the Jewish community should not refrain from supporting (though not always to the extent that certain groups suggest, such as defunding the police force). During the current protests, BLM is positioned in the center. For the first time since it establishment, BLM is enjoying broad support from the public and mainstream media. Engaging with and on Israel and fighting for racial justice are not mutually exclusive, and there is no need to choose between them.

The Reut Group defines itself as “an Israeli non-profit organization dealing with the most acute challenges to the State of Israel and World Jewry using a unique research and strategy methodology and an innovative impact model.”

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According to the report, titled “The Pro Israel Community: Navigating the George Floyd Protests, Corona Annexation,” on the bandwagon of the corona effect, the Jewish community in the U.S. finds itself now in a quagmire: While many identify with the struggle against systemic racism, Jewish socio-economic privilege and ‘whiteness’ fuels ideological disagreements and anti-Semitism. Indeed, anti-Israel groups strive to draw parallels between the police brutality in the U.S to Israeli conduct towards the Palestinians.

The communal approach towards the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement may have a far reaching impact on the status of these organizations within liberal circles. According to Reut Group CEO Eran Shayshon: ”The decentralized nature of BLM makes many organizations associated with the movement theoretically ‘engageable’ despite the anti-Israel positions of some of their members”.

The report argues that the coronavirus and the George Floyd protests are broadening the gap between Israel and U.S Jewry. Shayshon says: “Although it seems to be a tactical and temporary ‘time-out,’ powerful trends are expanding the gap between Israel and world Jewry, putting stress on this already fragile relationship. Against this backdrop, Israel’s potential annexation of parts of the West Bank will be interpreted as a “point of no return” for certain segments of world Jewry.”

The paper asserts:

Meanwhile, the coronavirus and the George Floyd protests are broadening the gap between Israel and U.S Jewry. Although it seems to be a tactical and temporary ‘time-out, ’powerful trends are expanding the gap between Israel and world Jewry, putting stress on this already fragile relationship. Against this backdrop, Israel’s potential annexation of parts of the West Bank will be interpreted as a “point of no return” for certain segments of world Jewry.

Pro-Israel leaders feel as if they are fighting a rearguard battle: on the one hand, many of them oppose annexation, as it means losing control over their fundamental Zionist narrative that Israel is a democracy seeking peace; on the other hand, they carry a unique responsibility to dismantle the point of “no return” dynamic within the Jewish communities, that could lead to a beyond-repair rupture within the Jewish People.

Finally, the pro-Israel community needs to engage in a process of ongoing learning in these volatile times that will enable the repositioning of the community’s place in the U.S and beyond, particularly within liberal and progressive circles. In rare moments of historical shifts, there exists greater reception to new conceptual frameworks and narratives.

Shayshon adds: “Several community leaders feel as if they are fighting a rearguard battle. on the one hand, many of them oppose annexation, as it means losing control over their fundamental Zionist narrative that Israel is a democracy seeking peace; on the other hand, they carry a unique responsibility to dismantle the point of “no return” dynamic within the Jewish communities, that could lead to a beyond-repair rupture within the Jewish People.”

The report claims that in rare moments of historical shifts like the one that we seem to experience now, there exists greater reception to new conceptual frameworks and narratives. This is an opportunity to repositioning the community’s place in the US and beyond, reframing the discourse on Israel, and changing the rules of the games in the struggle against hate campaigns.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.