Concern about antisemitism in the Black Lives Matter movement is reasonable and warranted, as indicated in the August Chronicle (an analysis article and a letter from Peter Gilbert). Jewish sympathy for Black Lives Matter should not blind us to this possibility.
Incidents of antisemitism within Wisconsin should be reported to the Jewish Community Relations Council. The JCRC deals with such incidents by publicizing them in an annual audit, by promoting education, and by strengthening relations with other communities, particularly with African Americans.
At the same time, we need to be careful in throwing around accusations. Opposition to Israel and support of Palestinian rights – even boycott, divestment and sanctions – are not by themselves antisemitic. Nor is having a Marxist ideology. Misapplying the accusation of antisemitism dilutes its meaning and makes it harder to combat.
The issue is not Black Lives Matter, but antisemitism, and the clear evidence is that the promotion and commission of murder and violence against Jews in this country has come from the radical right, not the left.
Finally, we should keep in mind that the reason for the Black Lives Matter slogan is that Black lives have not mattered in the U.S. Aside from residual racism that is still current, African Americans were saddled with 250 years of slavery and a century of Jim Crow terrorism and legal segregation. Our society has never taken steps to make African Americans whole. Even the Jews leaving Egypt got a better deal.
Jay Beder is member of the local Jewish Community Relations Council. His opinions are his own.