Partners in protest: The anti-Israel, cop-bash link
12/28/2014 by William Jacobson
People demonstrate against police brutality outside New York City Hall: Anti-Israel activism and the reaction to the Ferguson and Garner decisions are more similar than we think.Photo: Chad Rachman
One of the great under-told stories of the anti-police turmoil after the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand-jury decisions is the instigating role played by anti-Israel activists.
What, you ask, does anti-Israel activism have to do with the reaction to the Ferguson and New York City decisions?
Well, to understand that, you first need to understand the pathology behind the anti-Israel movement — particularly the Boycott Divest and Sanctions crowd.
This movement has a problem: Despite decades of anti-Israel propaganda, particularly on campuses, Israel remains more popular than ever in the US as a whole
But there are pockets of American society where anti-Israel rhetoric, which frequently borders on or crosses into anti-Semitism, has a receptive audience. One such place is among radical racial-grievance activists.
Racial divisions are fomented and exploited by the BDS movement, with phrases such as “settler colonialism” and “brown bodies” thrown around to give superficial intellectual cover.
Anti-Israel rhetoric also is common among the anarchist-extreme leftist “Occupy”-type groups. These groups create mayhem to use as a political tool.
For several months, anti-Israel activists have attached themselves to the racial-grievance and anarchist-extreme leftist protests in an attempt to redirect anger toward Israel.
In the earliest days after the killing of Brown on Aug. 9, violent protests erupted in Ferguson, with protesters clashing with police.
Anti-Israel activists immediately spotted an opportunity, and organized a Twitter campaign, whereby Palestinians expressed solidarity by tweeting advice for how Ferguson protesters could cope with tear gas.
Under the Twitter hashtag #Palestine2Ferguson, anti-Israel activists spread images equating Palestinian and Ferguson protesters — for example, comparing a Palestinian throwing a rock and a Ferguson protester throwing a Molotov cocktail.
False claims were spread on anti-Israel Web sites, Facebook and Twitter that Israel had “trained” the Ferguson police, including in crowd-control tactics. Dozens of anti-Israel activists and groups issued a solidarity call:
“We understand the impulse to rebel against the infrastructure of a racist capitalist system that systematically pushes you to the margins of humanity . . . With a Black Power fist in the air, we salute the people of Ferguson and join in your demands for justice.”
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink returned from an anti-Israel conference in Tehran to join other anti-Israel groups at an October rally in Ferguson.
A Palestinian-American anti-Israel activist was highlighted on local television leading crowds in taunts of police. That same activist tweeted out the phrase echoed by protesters: Put “pigs in a blanket” and “fry ’em like bacon.”
And that was before the grand jury decision in Ferguson.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of the incitement by anti-Israel groups there.
Ferguson exploded after the grand jury refused to indict the police officer in the Brown case. Anti-Israel activists added accelerant to the fire.
Anti-Israel groups also tried to co-opt the Garner protests, under the hashtag #NYC2Palestine, and banners such as “From the River to The Sea, NYC Will Be Free,” playing on a similar phrase used against Israel.
Last Saturday, Ismaaiyl Brinsley executed NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Brinsley’s final Instagram note referenced Brown and Garner, and ended with the phrase from Ferguson that was spread by the anti-Israel crowd: “I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket.”
“Pro-Palestinian” activists have sided with the looters and anarchists, and contributed to the anti-police atmosphere. I think they picked the wrong side and further alienated Americans from the Palestinian cause. If so, as someone who is pro-Israel, I guess I should thank them for that.
But they don’t deserve any thanks, even if they’ve set back their own cause. They’re just sad people who stir up violence and conflict, whether in the Middle East or America. When they win, everyone else loses.
William Jacobson is clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School and publisher of Legal Insurrection Blog.