Churches Split Over Black Lives Matter’s Criticism of Israel

African American churches are split over Black Lives Matter’s stand on Israel, with younger clergymen rallying to the activists’ defense after a group of more conservative pastors rejected the group’s harsh criticism of the Jewish state.

(Article by Sam Kestenbaum)

The schism, which reflects broader divisions between emerging activists and more conservative leaders, was brought into sharper relief when a Black Lives Matter-affiliated platform came out on August 1, calling Israel an “apartheid state.”

Black church leaders, representing hundreds of congregations, jumped to condemnthe platform’s criticism of Israel. And on August 22 a group of six African-American leaders and advisors to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which serves some 9 million people altogether, also condemned the platform.

“It was a vitriolic attack against Israel laced with misinformation and anti-Semitism and an agenda that is not embraced by the broader African American community,” the clergymen said in a joint statement. “The anti-Semitism and misinformation found in this small segment is so misleading that it makes an experienced leader question the entire document and thus the intentions of the organization.”

But religious figures affiliated with Black Lives Matter dismissed the church leaders as “misguided.”

“Jesus was a Palestinian Jew,” said Nyle Fort, a young African-American minister aligned with Black Lives Matter. Jesus “lived under occupation and was ultimately lynched for speaking truth to power.”

The church leaders were criticizing a section of the Black Lives Matter-alignedplatform that called Israel an “apartheid state” committing genocide against the Palestinians. The platform also called for free education for blacks and reparations for slavery.