[News] Pro-Israel racist group ADL moves to co-opt Black Lives Matter

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 30 11:28:31 EDT 2020

racist group ADL moves to co-opt Black Lives Matter

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 29 June
[image: Soldiers restrain a blindfolded youth]

The Anti-Defamation League tries to portray itself as an ally of Black
Lives Matter while shielding Israel from criticism for its abuses of
Palestinian rights.
ZUMA Press

For those who yearn for an end to systemic racism, these are exhilarating
times as Black activists and organizations lead a global uprising
against symbols
and structures
of white supremacy.

But if you are a racist group masquerading as a civil rights organization,
these days are fraught with the danger that you’ll get found out.

It’s a balancing act that has for years bedeviled the Anti-Defamation League
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/anti-defamation-league>, a major
Israel lobby group in the United States.

Its counterparts in the UK are facing the same challenge.

The crisis is particularly acute right now as the ADL tries to portray
itself as an ally of Black Lives Matter while also shielding Israel from
criticism over its plans to annex
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/annexation> Palestinian land in the
occupied West Bank, further entrenching the system of apartheid

A leaked memo
obtained last week by *Jewish Currents* writer Josh Leifer highlights the
dilemma of ADL leaders.

The memo sets out how the lobby group can, in Leifer’s words: “find a way
to defend Israel from criticism without alienating other civil rights
organizations, elected officials of color and Black Lives Matter activists
and supporters.”

The gist of the strategy is to allow some soft criticism of Israel while
fending off more precise and accurate descriptions of Israel’s violations
of Palestinian rights as “apartheid” and “separate but equal” – the latter
a term <https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/plessy-v-ferguson>
long used to whitewash violently enforced, legalized racial segregation and
subjugation in the United States.

The authors of the memo fear that a clash with progressive forces over
annexation could put ADL on the “wrong side” of the Black Lives Matter
movement and “challenge relationships between ADL and many civil rights
organizations and coalitions.”

It is ironic that the ADL fears Israel being associated with apartheid.

While the Israeli-armed
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/feb/07/southafrica.israel> South
African apartheid regime was still destroying Black lives in that country
in the 1980s and 1990s, the ADL ran a massive spy ring in the United States

As well as infiltrating Palestine solidarity groups, the ADL spy passed on
confidential files about anti-apartheid activists to South Africa’s brutal
intelligence agency.

The latest ADL leak confirms concerns that were revealed in a private report
obtained by The Electronic Intifada in 2017.

That report – jointly written by the ADL and the Reut Institute, an Israeli
think tank – lamented that Palestinian rights campaigners have been “able
to frame the Palestinian struggle against Israel as part of the struggle of
other disempowered minorities, such as African Americans, Latinos and the
LGBTQ community.”

The report recommended that Zionist groups try to disrupt this dynamic by
“Partnering with other minority communities based on shared values and
common interests such as on criminal justice reform, immigration rights or
in fighting against racism and hate crimes.”

Today the ADL sees Black Lives Matter as a chance to burnish its “civil
rights” street cred while advancing its anti-Palestinian agenda.
Call for tighter censorship

The ADL is one of several lobby groups – which like the the Israeli
government – have long seen Black Lives Matter as a major strategic threat

Its effort to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement – in order to manage
and diffuse criticisms of Israel’s harsh racist regime against Palestinians
– is currently on full display.

The group is a partner <https://www.stophateforprofit.org/> in the Stop
Hate for Profit campaign which is pressuring major corporations to pull
advertising from Facebook during the month of July to protest the social
media giant’s supposed failure to crack down on hate speech.

Already, major names
<https://www.stophateforprofit.org/participating-businesses> such as
Unilever and Starbucks have agreed to comply.

There are real reasons for concern about this campaign: In effect it
demands that Facebook act as a censor and arbiter of truth, a role no one
should want an unaccountable private company to play.

It’s especially concerning given that Facebook has already appointed
a former Israeli government official with responsibility for censorship to
its new oversight board.

While few may have qualms about seeing white supremacists and Nazis having
their public platforms taken away, the reality is that Palestinians have
been among the main targets of online censorship, particularly by Facebook

Israel lobby groups, including the ADL
have been promoting a misleading and politically motivated definition of
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ihra-definition-anti-semitism> which
conflates criticism of Israel’s policies and its racist state ideology
on the one hand, with anti-Jewish bigotry, on the other.

They have pushed governments, institutions and social media companies to
adopt this bogus definition in order to muzzle advocates for Palestinian
human rights.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign explicitly demands
<https://www.stophateforprofit.org/productrecommendations> that Facebook
“find and remove public and private groups focused on white supremacy,
militia, anti-Semitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine
misinformation and climate denialism.”

However much one may loath such viewpoints, that is a fairly sweeping
demand for censorship and regulation of opinion that is unlikely to stop

Yet, notably, there is no demand that anti-Muslim groups be removed,
despite rampant Islamophobia on the platform. That kind of hate is
apparently just fine!

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign also provides an opportunity for big
corporations to gain positive publicity while doing very little to address
structural racism. No doubt such corporations will be happy to start
advertising again on a Facebook sanitized of any dissenting views.
Boycott for me, but not for thee

There is also the rank hypocrisy of the ADL, which is calling for a boycott
of Facebook, while attacking
<https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/israel/anti-israel-activity-bds> and
smearing BDS – the peaceful campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions
to end Israel’s racist abuses and crimes against Palestinians.

The Anti-Defamation League has even supported anti-BDS legislation, knowing
full well
that such laws are unconstitutional because they violate free speech.

Undoubtedly, the ADL values its own constitutional right to call for a
boycott of Facebook even as it seeks to trample the free speech rights of
others, including whose who believe that Palestinians should not have their
rights denied in their own homeland just because they are not Jewish

But in backing the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, ADL is joining forces
with Black mainstream liberal civil rights organizations such as Color of
Change and the venerable NAACP – and thus using these relationships to gain
entirely undeserved credibility as an anti-racist ally.
Black activists in UK call for Israel sanctions

The problem faced by the ADL and the Israel lobby more broadly was
highlighted over the weekend when Black Lives Matter UK, an anti-racist
coalition, tweeted its support for the Palestinian struggle:

“As Israel moves forward with the annexation of the West Bank, and
mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and
Israel’s settler-colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our
Palestinian comrades,” the group tweeted.

The tweet got tens of thousands of likes and retweets.

Black Lives Matter UK followed that with a series of tweets debunking
Israel lobby claims that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

One tweet declared that as annexation looms, “we stand with Palestinian
civil society in calling for targeted sanctions in line with international
law against Israel’s colonial, apartheid regime.”

The tweets were particularly significant as British politics remain in the grip
of a witch hunt
against critics of Israel, especially within the main opposition Labour

Unsurprisingly, the tweets drew immediate hostility from the Jewish Labour
Movement <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/jewish-labour-movement>, a
lobby group within the Labour Party that has acted as proxy for the Israeli

Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said he was “sad” to see
the tweets from Black Lives Matter UK.

He also claimed that members of his organization “reject annexation and

That can be seen as another effort to steer criticism of Israel into
an acceptable
“soft” form
focused only on a limited number of Israeli actions, while trying to put
criticism of Zionism off limits.

The Board of Deputies, a British Jewish communal organization and leading
pro-Israel group, predictably accused Black Lives Matter UK of engaging in
an “anti-Semitic trope.”

But the Board insisted that this would “not stop us from standing alongside
Black people in their quest for justice.”

But, in fact, supporting Israel and Zionism is totally incompatible with
any quest for justice. All the slick spin and PR campaigns cannot hide this
simple truth: You can’t be an anti-racist racist
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