Statement: The Jewish Community Needs to Support the Movement for Black Lives.

On Monday, after years of hard work, sacrifice, and visionary leadership, the Movement for Black Lives released the #Vision4BlackLives — a historic, 6 point platform that details their demands of federal, state, and local governments. The platform lays bare the numerous systems that deny black people in this country and abroad freedom and dignity, and specifies a broad vision for change.

While many of us in the Jewish community – Jews of color and white Jews – have marched and taken leadership in the Movement for Black Lives, our communal institutions lag far behind.

On Wednesday, the Boston Jewish Communal Relations Council (JCRC), which purports to “advance the values, interests and priorities of the organized Jewish community,” condemned the platform and the movement behind it because, in the midst of the the dozens of policy proposals calling us to become part of the global solution for black lives, it references Israel critically 11 times.

Oregon’s JCRC later released a statement using Boston’s language, with more cities expected to follow.

Instead of embracing the core values of the Movement for Black Lives – dignity and freedom for all people – the JCRC has chosen to prioritize its support for Israel and endless occupation. They have even gone so far as to declare their unwillingness to work with any of the 50+ organizations that have endorsed the broad-ranging platform.

We refuse to be distracted or lose sight of the real threat facing our community today. It’s not 11 words in the Movement for Black Lives platform – it’s the occupation and our community’s support for it that compromises our values and integrity.

We refuse to follow leaders that force us to choose between Jewish community and one of the most powerful movements of our time. We recognize the explicit links between Black, Palestinian, and Jewish liberation. We support relationships of solidarity and mutual support among marginalized peoples, understanding that anti-semitism and the fear that comes with it so often get in the way. While it is our task to battle anti-semitism, we cannot do so without battling injustice wherever it lives, in the United States and in Israel-Palestine.

We’re living in a historic moment: will we rise to the challenge and heed the call of the Movement for Black Lives? Or will we turn our backs, forsaking our values as a people who stand on the side of the oppressed?

We call on the Boston JCRC to retract its statement condemning the Movement for Black Lives and its Platform.

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Ethan Miller