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Black Lives Matter and Self-Hating Jews

The BLM movement is spreading the libel that the Jews of Israel practice genocide. Self-hating Jews, once again, poison whatever they touch.

Joseph Telushkin
August 25, 2016
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement march through the streets of central London, England, July 10, 2016Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement march through the streets of central London, England, July 10, 2016Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Between 1939 and 1945, one-third of the Jewish people in the world were murdered. That was genocide. And since Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 in a war of self-defense, the Arab population in these two areas has gone from just over a million to well over 4 million. That is not genocide. If anything, it’s a population explosion.

Why is it worth mentioning this demographic data? Because the recently released manifesto of the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement set up to address the issue of innocent black men who have been shot by police officers, includes a broadened agenda denouncing Israel, the Jewish homeland, for practicing “genocide” against the Palestinians.

Rachel Gilmer, a woman born to a Jewish mother who has disavowed her Judaism, played a major role in insinuating this hatred for Israel into the Black Lives Matter document. And why am I not shocked? Because historically, Gilmer fits into a well-known description of a “self-hating Jew.”

One of the most famous such figures was the iconic Jewish communist Rosa Luxemburg, who when approached to denounce anti-Jewish pogroms, responded with this heartwarming declaration: “Why do you come to me with your special Jewish sorrows?… I cannot find a special corner in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the entire world wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

Well, not exactly the entire world. Luxemburg’s indifferent response to the death of her mother prompted her anguished father to write: “An eagle soars so high he loses sight of the earth below… I shall not burden you any more with my letters.” Other than her father, the only other person I know who referred to Rosa Luxemburg as an eagle was that “great humanitarian,” Vladimir Lenin. “But in spite of all her mistakes,” Lenin declared after Luxemburg’s murder, “she remains for us an eagle.” As the ever-shrewd Winston Churchill remarked of Lenin: “His birth was Russia’s greatest tragedy. His death [and succession by Stalin] was Russia’s second greatest tragedy.” And among Stalin’s few supporters in the United States—even after he was revealed to be a mass murderer —a large, perhaps the largest, percentage were, who else? Self-hating Jews.

It was another self-hating ex-Jew, Nicholas Donin, who instigated the 13th century Dominicans (the Catholic Church is no longer anti-Semitic, but in those years it was) to burn 24 cartloads containing many thousands of volumes of the Talmud, at a time when each volume was hand-written. And, of course, it was Karl Marx, a descendant of rabbis, and the greatest self-hating Jew of all, who wrote: “What is the secular cult of the Jew? Haggling. What is his secular god? Money. Well, then! Emancipation from haggling and money, from practical real Judaism would be the self-emancipation of our time.”

Because of Marx’s great prominence, this quote about the Jews is quite widely known. Less known is that Hitler claimed Marx as a mentor on the Jewish issue: “It is quite enough that the scientific knowledge of the danger of Judaism is gradually deepened and that every individual on the basis of this knowledge begins to eliminate that Jew within himself, and I am very much afraid that this beautiful thought originates from none other than a Jew.”

Now, people like Rachel Gilmer are spreading the libel that the Jews of Israel practice genocide, a charge that is not only an absolute lie, but one that is intended to cause people to see allJews who support Israel’s right to exist as evil and morally worthy of having terrible things done to them. Nor was the usage of the term a slip of the tongue. In an interview with Ha’aretz, Gilmer made it clear that the accusation of “genocide” was not “haphazard”; the term was chosen with deliberation. (In the same interview, Gilmer also referred to Israel proper, and not just the West Bank, as “Palestine.”)

So what about those Jews who are willing to accept the language of the Black Lives Matter manifesto accusing Israel of genocide without demanding that this language be dropped? What they are doing, I believe, is profoundly immoral. They know that what is being said about Jews is a lie—a fiction not one whit less vicious than the blood libel—but it would appear that they simply don’t care enough about truth and their fellow Jews to challenge it and insist that it be deleted.

On this issue, as on so many others, Martin Luther King got it right. When he heard a black student at Harvard launch a tirade against Israel, King stopped him and said: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.” (Professor Seymour Martin Lipset of Harvard, and Martin Peretz, the longtime former editor of The New Republic, were present when King said this, and confirmed that King spoke these words).

I don’t want to see black people harassed or shot, and I don’t want to see Jews maligned. Unfortunately, those self-hating Jews and ex-Jews who are now trying to hijack the Black Lives Matter movement and turn it into an anti-Israel hate movement only agree with half of that statement.

Joseph Telushkin is the co-author with Dennis Prager of Why the Jews: The Reason for Antisemitism, the Most Accurate Predictor of Evil.