JERUSALEM, Israel - The wave of protests calling for an end to racism and police brutality have also led to unforeseen consequences. Some Jewish leaders say these demonstrations have taken a turn toward anti-Semitism.
On July 1, a group of demonstrators in New York verbally attacked the police.
"The police that are around us are not our friends. You should not speak to them. They are our enemy,” they said. Then they turned to the Jews.
"The European Jews, who occupy, slaughter, and continue to force millions of Palestinians on to their killing fields, called refugee and concentration camps.”
The slurs against Israel spread beyond the Big Apple to the nation’s capital.
“Israel we know you too. You murder children too,” protesters are heard chanting.
It was only a matter of time before the DC protests turned anti-Semitic. pic.twitter.com/YTbwwGuOYh
— Nic Rowan (@NicXTempore) July 1, 2020
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center sees the racial justice protests as taking a U-turn towards anti-Semitism.
“The most troubling is the lie that Israel somehow was involved in training the bad apples of the police in the United States, of conflating anti-Israel sentiment led by Palestinians and their allies with the very real problems on the ground in the United States,” Cooper told CBN News.
That’s the accusation made by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in a speech on July 4th.
"You mayors, you governors, stop your police from going to Israel to learn how to kill better. Your days of killing us without consequences are over. You will pay a heavy, heavy price,” Farrakhan said.
Cooper said Farrakhan’s comments validate a statement by Winston Churchill, who said “a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on.”
Cooper wrote recently about the importance of the Jewish community and African-American leaders working together for the common good.
“I think that everyone identifies with the concept of black lives matter. African-Americans are still battling racism. That is the truth. But as we see, that some of the forces unleashed also have led to looting, violence, the tearing down or the attempt to tear down American history,” he explained.
Cooper says the relationship between the African-American and Jewish community can help counter speeches like Farrakhan’s that become fueled by social media and injected into the culture and society.
“A half a million people heard his speech, where Jews were called the devil and were linked to coronavirus and off we go to the races. So, this social media … is an incredibly powerful tool, but it also means that you don’t have to wait for the lie to get half-way around the world.”
Cooper says another current accusation is Jewish white privilege.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson apologized for posting an anti-Semitic message on Instagram, saying white Jews “will blackmail America … (they) will extort America” and incorrectly attributing the quote to Hitler.
“To me, it’s especially outrageous because apparently for six million Jews during the Holocaust, they weren’t white enough to avoid being mass murdered by the Nazis who were the ultimate supremacists,” said Cooper.
“Seeing how social media and a very politicized journalism situation means that some of the most vile, disgusting and baseless ideas are elevated to [discussion].”
Cooper believes coalitions must come together in this national discussion to fight both racism and anti-Semitism.
“What’s really important for our center, for the American-Jewish community and beyond, is we can’t defeat anti-Semitism without friends and allies. And that means that we have to not play it by the gamebook of Farrakhan or others who want to separate us,” said Cooper. Instead, he believes persecuted groups can “find common cause” in “fighting anti-Semitism and racism going forward.”
“I think what Farrakhan and the others want to do is to isolate and they want to bully the Jewish community. We’re not going to let them do that.”