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This Guide Helps Jews Tackle Anti-Semitism While Supporting Black Lives Matter

"We May Experience Antisemitism. We Will Address it. We Must Not Walk Away."
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June 10, 2020

Zioness, a 30-chapter strong coalition of Jews who bill themselves as “unabashedly progressive and unapologetically Zionist” has released a guide for activists against racism and anti-Semitism.

The 10-page packet is meant to answer questions and prepare progressive Zionist activists for potential challenges in confronting their own privilege, showing up as allies and educating people about anti-Semitic tropes they may face.

The guide recommends that activists watch “Just Mercy,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” and “13th.” It also encourages readers to follow American civil rights activists Bernice King,  DeRay Mckesson plus leaders Rabbi Sandra Lawson and Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, reminding its audience that “being an ally is a title we earn by showing up and doing the work — not a title we assume.”

The third section, “We May Experience Antisemitism. We Will Address it. We Must Not Walk Away,” addresses how the movement for Black Lives endorsed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, characterizing it as “deeply hurtful.” Zioness recommends its members to “be conscious of the fact that what we hear often stems from a lack of understanding.”

“We were alienated by the Movement for Black Lives and its platform four years ago,” Zioness founder Amanda Berman told the Journal. “But we cannot sit this out. We cannot refuse to fight white supremacy and systemic racism in this country because of that discomfort, and we cannot cede this urgent movement for justice and equality to those who aim to splinter our natural and historic alliance with black leaders.”

Out of this vision comes the guide’s final section: “Addressing Antisemitic Tropes in Your Activism.” It provides pragmatic responses to concepts such as “Zionism is Racism,” “Jews were behind the Atlantic Slave Trade,” and “Israel trains American law enforcement to be racist.” The latter was the talking point of anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace’s “Deadly Exchange” campaign, which has been recently updated to note that “making connections between the U.S. and Israel without context can do harm,” and that “suggesting that Israel is the start or source of American police violence or racism shifts the blame from the United States to Israel,” among other caveats.

“We have always been allies and want to continue to be allies, and have no intention of debating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in any domestic justice space,” Berman said. “But we do need to be equipped with the language and knowledge to stand up to anti-Semitism, which makes Jews afraid to engage and divides the movements — to their detriment.”

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