Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin on Why #JewishLivesMatter

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., walks through an underground tunnel at the Capitol as top House Democrats plan to offer a measure that condemns anti-Semitism in the wake of controversial remarks by the freshman congresswoman, in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. Omar said last week that Israel’s supporters are pushing U.S. lawmakers to take a pledge of “allegiance to a foreign country.” Despite criticism from Democrats and Republicans, Omar has refused to apologize. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Remember #blacklivesmatter?

How could you not? It has been one of the most influential and persuasive movements in contemporary America.

What was the impetus behind the movement?

Very simple, and very sobering. There is the perception that police have targeted blacks for violence.

Then, the push back came. For whatever reason, conservative Americans were uncomfortable singling out blacks for special recognition. They simply did not want to affirm the unique status of anti-black violence in this country. They were skittish about realizing that you could draw a straight line from Ferguson, Missouri to lynchings in the deep South.

And so, what did they do? They deflected the conversation. They shifted it away from #blacklivesmatter to #alllivesmatter.

President Trump, in particular, stated that “Black Lives Matter” is divisive and inherently racist.

Blacks, and others, were rightly furious when conservatives hijacked the conversation and took the focus off the unique suffering of American blacks.

It is not only about race. Almost thirty years ago, I gave a sermon about the AIDS epidemic. A congregant angrily accosted me. “Why are we only talking about AIDS? What about all those people who have cancer, heart disease, etc?”

A little bit of probing revealed the reason for the encounter.

My congregant was simply not comfortable discussing a disease that seemed to have uniquely targeted gays.

So, let’s just talk about all diseases.

When the particulars of a situation trouble you, and you would rather ignore them — just shift the conversation to the universal.

You see where this is going.

Let’s review. Rep. Ilhan Omar makes reprehensible statements — about what? And, about whom?

  • She started with her accusation that Israel has hypnotized the world into ignoring its evil.
  • She then went into a riff about how congressional support for Israel was about the “Benjamins.”
  • She apologized for that remark, and then essentially accused American Jews of dual loyalty.

So, to all of those who support her right to speak out against Israel, and/or against Israeli policies, please understand this.

  • This is not about the occupation.
  • This is not about the settlements.
  • This is not about checkpoints.
  • This is not even about religious pluralism in Israel.
  • This is not about Israel.

This. Is. About. The. Jews.

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Source: Religion News Service