The Zionist Fight for Black Lives
On Tuesday (June 3), more than 200 protesters arrived in front of the Tel Aviv branch of the US Embassy to demonstrate against police brutality in the US , Israel, and across the globe. Many of the attendees were American immigrants who experienced racism in the US, which inspired them to organize a protest in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
Gavriel Chinchester, a black Israeli, became the face of the protest, saying that "white people have to know that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere." Protesters held signs which displayed the last words of George Floyd and chanted "no justice, no peace." The protest was in memory of George Floyd and what he stands for, but it's important to note that these protesters are talking about more instances than just those in the United States.
Israel doesn't have a perfect record when it comes to racial injustice. Back in 2015, there was a series of protests from Ethiopian immigrants after a video surfaced that showed a video of an Ethiopian Israeli being beaten by two policemen. Four years later, in the summer of 2019, there were more protests after an off-duty policeman shot yet another Ethiopian Israeli, Solomon Tika. Time and time again, protests rise up in Israel against the mistreatment and inequality that black Israelis face, and to date, little has changed.
Today, approximately 2% of Israelis are Ethiopian Jews, and still others are non-Jewish African refugees who have limited rights and status in Israel. Both groups continue to struggle with police violence, marginalization, and mistreatment by people and the system overall. As educated pro-Israel activists, it is our duty to fight for black rights not just in the United States, but across the ocean in our Jewish home. If Israelis are fighting for us, we should be fighting for them.
Some have said that, due to the Black Lives Matter movement's history of anti-Zionism and supporting BDS, we should not be supporting their cause. However, it is exactly the opposite. It is the most Zionist thing imaginable to fight for the rights of black people around the world. To do otherwise would be to put the Jewish community on the wrong side of history, the side of defending intolerance and perpetuating violence.
As pro-Israel activists, many of us feel responsibility for our homeland. We have our takes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on Bibi's trials, and on the endless debate between falafel and shawarma. Part of having stake in Israel means that we have an obligation to stand up for injustices in Israel when we see them.We must stand by marginalized communities if we want to improve Israel in the future. We have to make sure that black lives matter, in Israel and everywhere.