As we pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is necessary to distinguish between his true beliefs and the distorted exploitations of demagogues and poverty profiteers.
Dr. King would be terribly disheartened to see decades of anti-Semitism preached by African-American leaders who sell themselves as Dr. King’s heir to the civil rights movement. He’d be particularly ashamed of how Black Lives Matter and its offshoots have resorted to vilifying Israel and even partnering with terrorists.
History clearly shows that those white Americans that stood by Dr. King in the 1950s and 1960s were the Jews. From activism to financial support, American Jewry was there to support the African-Americans. And just as Dr. King preached equality and justice for African-Americans, he was equally supportive of the idea of a Jewish homeland. In other words, Dr. King was a Zionist.
“The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has a right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during a 1967 interview.
As far back as 1968, Dr. King warned of the hatred behind using “Zionism” as code for “Jews.” In the December 1969 issue of Encounter magazine, political sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset wrote about a Cambridge dinner he attended with Dr. King:
“One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, ‘Don’t talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking ‘anti-Semitism!’”
“Martin… warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism,” noted Clarence B. Jones, Dr. King’s personal attorney and close adviser. Aside from disgracing his memory, BLM misappropriates the legacy of Dr. King.
King was a student of history and brilliantly understood the evolution of hate and how enemies of peace and justice would adapt their tactics to fit modern times. Today, college campuses are flooded with students led by progressive and anti-Israel groups who claim they aren’t anti-Semitic, just anti-Zionist. In the eyes of Dr. King, these folks are bigots.
Under the guise of human/civil rights activism, attacks against Israel and Jews range from Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan praising Hitler as “a very great man” while vilifying Judaism as a “gutter religion,” to Jessie Jackson labeling Jews as “hymies” and New York City as “Hymietown.”
Yet, these snowflakes on college campuses and the silver-spoon leaders of BLM have no idea what real hate looks or feels like.
“[MLK] understood that a special relationship exists between African-Americans and Jews,” wrote Rep. John Lewis, a former civil rights leader who worked with Dr. King. “He knew that both peoples were uprooted involuntarily from their homelands. He knew that both peoples were shaped by the tragic experience of slavery. He knew that both peoples were forced to live in ghettoes, victims of segregation…”
BLM embarrasses itself by accusing Israel of being an “apartheid state.” Even before the State of Israel was established, its founders consciously avoided the apartheid system of South Africa by incorporating into its Declaration of Independence safeguards for equal rights for all its citizens.
Moreover, Israel airlifted thousands of Ethiopian (black) Jews facing starvation, marking the first time in history when thousands of Africans were being brought into a country as equal citizens and not as slaves. The country is now home to an estimated 126,000 citizens of Ethiopian origin. Israel also provides millions of dollars in aid to Africa, while building vitally needed infrastructure projects throughout the continent.
A major tenet of Dr. King’s philosophy was his strong commitment to non-violence. In a recent editorial for the Hill, Bridget Johnson of the Haym Salomon Center highlights how Dream Defenders (a BLM offshoot) sent delegations to the Middle East and pledged solidarity with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization, PFLP is committed to the annihilation of Israel through “paramilitary operations.” Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have encouraged BLM activists to feel reciprocal sympathy for jihadist groups.
Most disturbing is the BLM offshoot’s wholehearted embrace of terrorism. Executive Director of the Haym Salomon Center Paul Miller revealed in a recent article for Fox News how Dream Defenders not only lionizes the PFLP, but emulates it. An educational series produced by Dream Defenders condones violent PFLP strategies such as “hijackings, assassinations, car bombings, suicide bombings and paramilitary operations against civilian and military targets.”
Dr. King’s opposition to terrorism is on the record. The anti-Jewish bigotry of BLM and its association with anti-Semitic and terror organizations taints the legacy of what Dr. King and other civil rights activists suffered and died for. As long as BLM traffics in hate, they have more in common with the KKK than with MLK.