The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) Platform and Palestine Solidarity

The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a broad coalition of Black organizations, published Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 1.34.50 PMin early August a resolutely inspiring platform, bringing into clear focus some of the most urgent political issues of our era, from the criminalization of Blacks and immigrants to economic injustice to inequality in education to the militarization of US society. The M4BL policy platform represents without question the most far-reaching attempt in the 21st century to present the systemic nature of racial violence in the US, whose most spectacular and outrageous form finds expression in the police serial killing of Blacks, but which can be tracked to every sector of society.

While the pathetic response of US politicians to the rampant police shootings of Blacks may have provided the initial catalyst to organize M4BL, the movement’s platform goes beyond racist policing and addresses the devastating legacies of anti-Black racial violence in the present, which are linked to other forms of state and corporate assaults on people of color, women, LGBT people, Muslims, immigrants, and the unemployed. Furthermore, the M4BL policy platform does not stop at exposing the intersection of racial, gender, sexual, class and global injustice, it also calls for revolutionary solutions grounded in an unflinching commitment to equality and methodical research.

One among the many equally important issues that indicates the revolutionary politics of M4BL is its stated position in solidarity with Palestinians and its explicit endorsement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. A section of the platform titled Invest-Divest makes reference to US policy in the Middle East, especially aid to Israel, which is challenged as an example of excessive US military expenditures and also on the grounds that Israel violates Palestinian rights: “In addition, approximately 3 billion dollars in US aid is allocated to Israel, a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades.” Elsewhere in the same section, the platform elaborates on the questionable nature of the US-Israel alliance:

The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people. The US requires Israel to use 75 percent of all the military aid it receives to buy US-made arms. Consequently, every year billions of dollars are funneled from US taxpayers to hundreds of arms corporations, who then wage lobbying campaigns pushing for even more foreign military aid. The results of this policy are twofold: it not only diverts much needed funding from domestic education and social programs, but it makes US citizens complicit in the abuses committed by the Israeli government. Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people. Palestinian homes and land are routinely bulldozed to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli soldiers also regularly arrest and detain Palestinians as young as 4 years old without due process. Everyday, Palestinians are forced to walk through military checkpoints along the US-funded apartheid wall. (emphasis added)

To challenge US military support of Israel, M4BL explicitly endorses BDS and calls on others to oppose legislative repression of the BDS movement in the US: “Fight the expanding number of Anti-BDS bills being passed in states around the country. This type of legislation not only harms the movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but is a threat to the constitutional right to free speech and protest.” These statements in support of Palestinians are only a few of the many points of political alignment that characterize M4BL’s broad vision of political commitment, which connects domestic racial violence to US imperial policies overseas.

Unsurprisingly, the Movement for Black Live’s critique of Israel and its endorsement of BDS have provoked attacks from pro-Israel groups in the US. As was reported in Mondoweiss on August 8,   “. . .  some of the largest Jewish communal organizations in the United States, have even condemned The Movement for Black Lives’ language ‘in the strongest possible terms.’ Their harsh responses are indicative of skewed priorities regarding the struggle for social justice, both in the U.S. and in Israel.”  In contrast, Jewish Voice for Peace “endorses the Movement for Black Lives platform in its entirety, without reservation.”  And the Palestinian BDS National Committee issued a statement pledging “to firmly and consistently stand in solidarity with our black sisters and brothers in the United States and around the world by supporting the demands and policy proposals in this platform.”

MLA Members for Justice in Palestine also enthusiastically stands with M4BL, pledging to work for the realization of the vision put forward in its platform. Pledge your support for M4BL platform.

Update on August 13, 2016

Wilson Dizard reported for Mondoweiss that “Hundreds of Jews march for ‘Black Lives Matter’ in New York.” In his report from the march, Dizard interviewed Sandy Turner,  who “gave a simple answer to her thoughts on whether Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip qualifies as a genocide: ‘It’s true. It does. What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is a genocide. What it continues to do in the West Bank is genocide. What it did in Gaza is genocide,’ Turner said.” Several participants in the march were arrested and charged “with two misdemeanors and one civil violation: disorderly conduct for blocking vehicular traffic, disorderly conduct for refusal of law of order, and a ticket for being pedestrians in a roadway. Their court date is on October 24.”