In the Oct. 28 Jamaica Plain Gazette, Allen Spivack attacks the movement for Black Lives Matter statement for containing “virulently anti-Semitic language.” Apparently, he is referring to the terms “apartheid” and “genocide” used to describe Israeli policy and practice toward Palestinians. These terms have been used by many, including Palestinians, Israelis, and Jews to indict Israeli actions towards Palestinians.
Human rights lawyer Michael Ratner stated in a 2014 interview, “Its not just the thousands of people-Palestinians-that the state of Israel has killed over the years in its regular assaults, dwarfing the handful killed by Hamas’s rockets. Israel has for decades been carrying out what Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes as ‘incremental genocide’…It’s been going on for a long time, the killings…the expulsions…700 or more villages in Palestine were destroyed, and the expulsions that continued from that time until today. Its correct and important to label it for what it is.” (“UN’s Investigation of Israel Should Go Beyond War Crimes to Genocide”, Interview with Michael Ratner, The Real News Network July 27 2014, bit.ly/2fkpKHe)
Spivack’s position is that critical views of Israeli history and policy are “virulently anti-Semitic’. This is simply the McCarthyite tactic of shutting down discussion through character assassination. There are over 50 laws in Israel favoring Jewish citizens over non-Jewish ones (primarily Palestinians), a separation wall that separates Palestinians in the occupied territories from Israel, as well as separate roads for Jewish settlers and Palestinian inhabitants. Under the current UN definition, it is not so unreasonable to see this as “apartheid” policies. South African Bishop Desmond Tutu has commented on the similarities.
However, the historical and political argument is not the main issue here. Spivack has decided that because he disagrees with the use of certain words, he is now liberated from supporting the basic anti-racist statement, “Black Lives Matter.” He will not enter a religious institution that displays this sentiment. He is essentially placing himself in the company of those who refuse to recognize the unique and horrendous experience that people of color have had and continue to have in this country. If he can call those who object to Israeli policy towards Palestinians “virulently anti-Semitic,” then I call him and his supporters “virulently racist.”
Jamaica Plain resident
Member-Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston