Dream Defenders: Defending the Dream of Anti-Israel Activism
In-depth research shows how Dream Defenders has been repurposed to serve the anti-Israel BDS movement.
We wrote recently how BDS is a settler-colonial ideology, in that it invades, conquers, and subjugates other movements to advance anti-Israel actvism.
There are few instances where this is more apparent than Dream Defenders, one of the key groups in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dream Defenders was initially formed to protest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in Florida, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
Yet, following the pattern of many organizations who organize under the ideology of ‘intersectionality‘, Dream Defenders has transformed itself from an organization fighting for a change in the criminal laws of the state of Florida, into one which is identified with the bizarre attempt to link Black Lives Matter to the Palestinian cause. The struggle to protect young black men in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. from allegedly unlawful police violence apparently also involves ‘liberating’ Palestine, i.e. the destruction of the state of Israel, and bizarre crushes on terrorist organizations like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
How? Why? What is the connection? Everything’s connected, say advocates of intersectionality.
3.8 billion to genocide overseas while the US denies the 400 year old genocide of Black folx in this country. 2016 🙃 https://t.co/tBSOBcXzXd
— Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) September 15, 2016
A New Generation of Freedom Fighters Is Taking It to the Streets—and the World via @thenation https://t.co/UKinzabvEV
— Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) September 16, 2016
This post will look deeper into the evolution of Dream Defenders from a local organizing committee in Florida into a national movement inciting against Israel.
In the course of just 3 years, the movement evolved from a group of college students and activists into a national organization celebrated by traditional ‘radical chic’ celebrities such as Angela Davis, and newer ones, like Marc Lamont Hill; was invited to the White House to meet President Obama; has organized propaganda ‘delegations to Palestine’ with high visibility on social media; has endorsed the BDS movement, advocating boycotts of Israel; celebrates terrorist movements, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and culminating in members of Dream Defenders authoring the highly controversial statement endorsing boycott as the official position of the Movement for Black lives, and smearing Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state that practices ‘genocide’.
In August 2016, various organizations involved in “Black Lives Matter” released a platform called the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) statement (Legal Insurrection coverage here). In particular, the document contained a section called “Invest/Divest”, which attacks Israel, accusing it of ‘genocide’ and of being an ‘apartheid state’. When the dust began to settle, it emerged that members of Dream Defenders were behind the statement on Israel, and in particular that one of the individuals responsible for the statement (one of two authors, the second was from a different organization), Rachel Gilmer, Dream Defender’s Chief of Strategy, was raised as an African American Jew.
Many were surprised by the antagonism towards Israel. They shouldn’t have been. The evidence of this development was long in plain site.
So who are the Dream Defenders?
This post will proceed as follows:
1. Dream Defenders in the Beginning
2. The Founding Trio: Phillip Agnew (aka Umi Selah), Ahmed Abuznaid, and Gabriel Pendas
3. The Turn to BDS and the ‘Delegation to Palestine’
4. 2015 Organizational Expansion and Collaboration with JVP
5. 2016 Mock Campaign for Presidency
6. Second Delegation to Palestine (May 2016)
7. Dream Defenders and the PFLP
8. Dream Defenders and the M4BL Statement
9. Post M4BL Statement and the Future
(Image via Flickr)
1. Dream Defenders In The Beginning
(a) Tides (and possibly Soros) Funding
As we’ve written about Dream Defenders before:
One of the groups spearheading the attempt to co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter movement is Dream Defenders, which carries a Tides Foundation logo on its website. The Tides Foundation is a major funder of left-wing activist groups, including groups exploiting the Ferguson riots and conflict.
Tides has been tied to funding by George Soros. Dream Defenders also has a connection to the Ford Foundation:
And unlike many of the newer groups that have emerged out of the protest movement, including #BlackLivesMatter and Ferguson Action, the Dream Defenders recently became classified as a tax-exempt nonprofit, a status that allows them to accept donations from organizations like Ford.
The group now has seven full-time staff members including a political director and a chief operating officer and an operating budget of about $500,000. Agnew said the Dream Defenders relationship with Ford was one that he had “full confidence in,” but he also cautioned against relying too much on foundation dollars to survive.
(b) Roots in Florida: Trayvon Martin shooting, and earlier…
Dream Defenders as an organization was formed in the wake of the Travyon Martin shooting in Florida. They gained national attention in protesting George Zimmerman’s acquittal in that case, by occupying the office of Florida State House.
They were formed, however, much earlier, by organizing a three day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford to demand that Zimmerman be tried in that case in the first place. In fact, the group took credit for Zimmerman’s indictment.
During their 31 day occupation, they demanded a review of Stand Your Ground law, the elimination of racial profiling, and “the destruction of the school-to-prison-pipeline”, culminating in the so-called “Travyon Martin Act”, which was never adopted.
2. The Founding Trio: Phillip Agnew (aka Umi Selah), Ahmed Abuznaid, and Gabriel Pendas
The group’s executive director is Umi Selah, who was formerly known as Phillip Agnew, and is one of its three co-founders. The other two are Ahmed Abuznaid and Gabriel Pendast. The three met as students in Tallahassee (Angew attended Florida A&M, Abuznaid and Pendast attended Florida State) and organized in a sit against Governor Jeb Bush, in protesting the Martin Lee Anderson case in 2006. They called themselves the Student Coalition for Justice.
They rebranded in the wake of the Martin/Zimmerman case forming the organization Dream Defenders.
(a) Umi Selah (aka Phillip Agnew)
Agnew/Selah was among a group of young activists invited by President Obama to the White House in December 2014. He made a name for himself in 2011 by getting arrested for refusing to straighten out his baseball cap (in apparent defiance of the dress code) at the Epicentre shopping mall in Charlotte, and declaring that his arrest was racial bias.
Selah is charismatic and is described by admirers as follows:
There is a certain lyricism to Agnew’s voice, a power so enthralling that it dares you to turn away from its truth.
You can watch Agnew deliver his 2014 “State of the Youth” address to get a flavor:
(b) Ahmed Abuznaid
Abuznaid goes under the internet handle @DiplomatEsq or “Yezzir Arafat” (Update: he now goes by the handle EastJeruMade or @BoozSnow).
Abuznaid is the likely instigator in Dream Defender’s move towards Palestinian activism. A Jerusalem born Palestinian, Abuznaid’s father is the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the Netherlands. Unlike his father, who seems, at least, to be committed to the Oslo paradigm that established the Palestinian Authority, and is seeking a two state solution, Abuznaid views all of Israel as an ‘illegal settlement’.
Be Like Bill pic.twitter.com/AszytmVvUu
— Ahmad Abuznaid (@A7madAbuznaid) January 28, 2016
Abuznaid is the organizer of Dream Defender’s multiple ‘delegations to Palestine’, see below.
He is a graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law, and has lent his legal expertise to Dream Defenders, at least officially, but has worked primarily as an activist. Abuznaid is deeply committed to the Palestinian cause, perhaps to the point of obsession. Below, for example, is a picture of the cake her received on his 30th birthday:
He has a deep admiration for Yasser Arafat
And for Rasmea Odeh
and seems to feel the need to insert the Palestine issue into nearly every activity he is involved in.
Perhaps this is understandable, given his background. We mention this only because of its relevance in understanding how deeply committed to Palestinian activism this organization has been from the very beginning.
(c) Also involved: Linda Sarsour
Also involved, apparently from an early date, is Linda Sarsour, Palestinian activist and director of the Arab American Association of New York (Sarsour is now on the advisory board of Dream Defenders).
Ms. Sarsour was present at the sit-in in Florida in 2013, leading a Ramadan post-fast feast. It is apparent from this video that this was not out of concern for fasting protesters, but rather as a theatrical act of solidarity, or coalition-building:
3. The Turn to BDS and The ‘Delegation to Palestine’
(a) BDS Endorsement
Given this background, it is not surprising that at their annual conference in Florida on December 20, 2014, Dream Defenders officially embraced BDS. Apparently, this followed a process of outreach from the anti-Israel, pro-BDS movement, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
The context here is that over the previous summer (2014), Palestinian groups (both explicitly Palestinian groups like SJP and those that do not so explicitly identify, like JVP) formed ties with Black Lives Matter activists during the protests in Ferguson.
The formal endorsement of BDS was not all. The next step was to draw attention to the alleged linkage and to win over other Black Lives Matter activists.
(b) Delegations to Palestine (#DDPalestine)
One thing Dream Defenders has become known for is its “Delegations to Palestine.” The first of these occurred shortly after adopting BDS.
In January of 2015, Dream Defenders organized its first “Delegation to Palestine”, which it touted as ‘historic’. The trip was co-organized by Abuznaid, explaining:.
This trip, for me, and for the Dream Defenders, for Black Lives Matter, and all the folks who were involved, was a declaration that, you know what, the relationships are being revisited and we’re going to fortify them and take them to the next level
The other co-organizer seems to have been the pro-Palestinian Institute for Middle East Understanding.
The delegation, however, had been in the planning, since, at least 2013 and was postponed in the summer of 2014 due to the war in Gaza.
The delegation included five Dream Defenders (Phillip Agnew, Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, Ahmad Abuznaid), as well as Tef Poe and Tara Thompson (Ferguson/Hands Up United), TV show host and professor Marc Lamont Hill, Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez (Justice League NYC), Charlene Carruthers (Black Youth Project), poet and artist Aja Monet, Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter), and Maytha Alhassen, a USC PhD student.
The event was widely publicized on social media, using the #DDPalestine hashtag.
The predictable hyperbole and propaganda were soon to follow:
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors said “apartheid” is what immediately struck her about what she saw on the ground.
This is an apartheid state. We can’t deny that and if we do deny it we are a part of the Zionist violence. There are two different systems here in occupied Palestine. Two completely different systems. Folks are unable to go to parts of their own country. Folks are barred from their own country.
(image via Flickr)
Dream Defender Mission Director Selah’s reaction to the trip is noteworthy as well. Notice that his qualms are not with the ‘occupation’ but rather with Israel itself:
In January, I joined a delegation of organizers from the United States in a pilgrimage to Palestine. What I saw there was cold, calculating racism and ethnic privilege masquerading as a Jewish State.
The delegation met with BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti as well as with Diane Buttu from IMEU former legal advisor to the PLO:
As we reported at the time:
The group produced a video (embedded at bottom of post) of a “flash mob” it organized in Nazareth in Israel (which they referred to as being in “Palestine”):
“On a historic trip to Palestine, freedom fighters from Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York, Ferguson, and Atlanta were able to witness firsthand the effects of Israeli apartheid and occupation, and to learn from the people who are actively resisting on the front lines.
“In Nazareth, the delegates decided to do a solidarity demonstration as a call for support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that was called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.”
As you can see from the video, it wasn’t much of a flash mob, but more of a street performance by a few lonely activists hoping (in vain) for attention.
From the records of the trip, there is little to no evidence that the delegation met with representatives of the Israeli narrative or that they made any good faith attempt to either learn what the actual facts and arguments animating the conflict are, or that they expressed any sympathy whatsoever for the freedom or security of Israeli Jews.
In fact, Israel’s concerns were mocked by Agnew (Selah) in the piece he wrote upon his return. Agnew wrote a parable about a land called ‘Gilead’ (as a stand in for Israel):
Today, ‘Gilead’ continues the dehumanization, occupation, and incarceration of thousands of native peoples within and outside its ever-expanding apartheid regime. Human rights violations abound, children are bombed, while the ‘civilized’ world is split between defending ‘Gilead’s’ right to ethnic purity and looking the other way.
A second delegation traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2016. We’ll cover that more extensively below.
Meeting with ‘Palestinians of Color’
We noted above, that one of the conceits of the attempted linkage between racial relations in the United States and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the claim that Palestinians are ‘people of color’ oppressed by ‘white’ Israeli Jews on ‘racial’ grounds. This simplicity and ahistorical nature of this diagnosis is astonishing. Making this link, however, is key in the emotional appeal to solidarity between the two groups.
For this reason, it is worth pointing out how the propaganda is set up to make this link. This is by introducing the members of the delegation to black Palestinians.
One of the stops on the tour, which Abuznaid thinks is of particular importance, is of the Afro-Palestinian community in East Jerusalem. Watch here as Abuznaid explains the significance of this:
What is interesting about this argument: ‘there are Palestinians of color too’, designed, understandably to garner feelings of common struggle with the black Americans, is that it is an implicit admission that the non-African Palestinians are not’people of color’ in the relevant sense. If, after all, the racial nature of the Israeli Palestinian conflict were apparent and true, this detail, that some Palestinians are black, would be irrelevant. This goes without saying, even without even addressing the obvious complications of Afro-Israelis (i.e. Ethiopian Jews).
4. 2015 Organizational Expansion and Collaboration with JVP
(a) Jewish Voice for Peace National Conference, March 2015, Baltimore
In March of 2015, Abuznaid spoke at the Jewish Voice for Peace national conference in Baltimore. This was a first step in what has become a clear collaboration between the two movements. That collaboration culminated in the M4BL document this summer denouncing Israel, and JVP’s immediate endorsement of it. JVP also contemporaneously fomred a ‘caucus’ of ‘Jews of Color’ whose main purpose seemed to be to divide M$BL from the mainstream Jewish community.
Ahmad Abuznaid @Dreamdefenders writes powerfully for #Right2BDS
as Anti-BDS laws are pushed https://t.co/vUXchxXreD pic.twitter.com/2YV31CoDx9
— Jewish Voice for Peace (@jvplive) February 22, 2016
As if to highlight JVP’s new tactic of linking Black Lives Matter to BDS, also speaking at that event to deliver the keynote was Angela Davis.
(b) “BlackforPalestine” Solidarity Statement (summer 2015)
Dream Defenders was a signator (one of 49 organizations) to the “solidarity statement” signed in the summer of 2015 between Black Lives Matter and Palestinians:
We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time
(c) Organizational Expansion in the Fall of 2015
Over the summer and Fall of 2015, Dream Defenders underwent some major changes. It hired Rachel Gilmer as ‘chief of strategy’ over the summer. In the beginning of the fall they announced a ‘social media blackout’, and on October 2nd they announced a new advisory board that featured Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, as well as:
Elijah Armstrong, a Dream Defenders organizer; Keron Blair, national director of Alliance to Reclaim our Schools; Alana Greer, attorney and co-founder of Community Justice Project, Inc.; Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California; Rafael Navar, National Political Director for the Communication Workers of America; Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York; and Ed Whitfield, co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities.
Around this time, Dream Defenders was heavily involved in the release of the October 2015 propaganda film “When I See Them I See Us”, by “Black Palestinian Solidarity”, a group whose leader is Kristian Davis Bailey, a former Stanford student who travels the country pushing intersectionality between African-Americans and Palestinians. The film featured multiple black and Palestinian celebrities reciting the slogan over and over again, apparently, in an attempt to form the association between the two causes in the mind of the viewer.
The transformation of Dream Defenders into a celebrity driven BDS outfit was, by this point, more or less complete.
Throughout 2016, Dream Defenders helped promote the Palestinian propaganda play “There is a Field”
This was done in collaboration with the African American Policy Forum, (founded by Columbia and UCLA Law professor Kimberle Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality”), Jewish Voice for Peace, and Adalah.
AAPF is where Rachel Gilmer worked before coming to Dream Defenders. She has been replaced by Dream Defender “delegate” Cherrell Brown.
5. 2016 Mock Campaign for the Presidency
Over the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Dream Defenders ran its own mock campaign for office: “We’re Black, Brown, Radical & Tired as Hell”. Abuznaid is one of its two proposed ‘Secretaries of State’, together with Didier Ortiz (former SJP activist and 2016 ‘delegate to Palestine‘). While this is obviously not supposed to be taken seriously as a campaign, one can learn about Dream Defender’s agenda from the proposals put forth.
You can watch Ortiz, stating that Zionism is racism and that liberation cannot come until “Zionism is utterly destroyed”:
Ortiz’s address is followed Abuznaid (with a Palestinian flag on his beret). The candidate for ‘President’, by the way, is Ashley Green.
6. Second Delegation to Palestine (May 2016)
More of the same, but controversy over the PFLP and a Florida legislator
Dream Defenders led a second delegation in 2016, again organized by Abuznaid. This time the delegation “connected Black Lives Matter activists, Puente Arizona, PICO National Network and others with grassroots organizations and Palestinian civil rights activists in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Haifa to explore their parallel fights”.
The delegation included included:
14 Latinx and Black activists, artists, ministers, students and educators who in May traveled throughout the West Bank to build connections with Palestinian organizers and see the effects of Israeli land control. The trip was the second in two years organized by the Dream Defenders and participants came from Black Lives Matter Toronto, BYP 100, Puente Arizona, PICO National Network and other groups focused on racial justice.
The group included Dream Defenders’ Abuznaid, Rachel Gilmer, Jonel Edwards, Didier Ortiz (also of the Green Party of Florida), Steven Gilliam Jr., as well as Maria Castro (Puente Arizona), Nyle Fort (a minister and divinity student), Janaya Khan (BLM Toronto) and Florida legislator Dwight Bullard, state senator for Florida’s 39th District (running this year in the newly drawn 40th district).
Not surprisingly, news of his attendance in the delegation created some controversy for Bullard back home in Florida.
Apart from the disapproval at Bullard’s very presence, the controversy was further spurned by the discovery that the delegation had contact with members of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Apparently, the tour guide Mahmoud Jiddah, a member of the African-Palestinian community in Jerusalem, was a former PFLP terrorist.
Under attack from a group called Miami United Against BDS, Bullard was defended by Electronic Intifada’s Rania Khalek.
To Khalek, Bullard feigned ignorance:
When they showed me the picture [of Jiddah], I was like, you mean the guy who gave us a tour of Old Jerusalem? He’s a tour guide,” said Bullard, laughing.
Collusion between Khalek, Bullard, and Abuznaid, in defending the trip and protecting Dream Defender’s reputation was displayed on social media:
Other delegates, however, seemed quite cognizant of Jiddah’s affiliation.
Here, for example, is delegation member Nyle Fort:
What does it mean to control a people, not just in life, but also in death?” he asked before describing the Palestinian sumud or steadfastness that he witnessed.
“You see it in the graffiti on the apartheid wall. You hear it in the voice of Mahmoud, a witty Afro-Palestinian tour guide who served 17 years in prison for resisting Israeli oppression. And in the Sub Laban family, who refuses to leave their home despite Israel’s attempt to evict them. ‘I am enduring, and I won’t leave my home,’ Nora, the mother of the family, told us. That’s sumud.”
(As for ‘resisting Israeli oppression’: Mahmoud Jiddah served 17 years in prison for a terrorist attack and was released in 1985, with his cousin Ali (who served for a similar attack) in a prisoner swap in 1985).
Jiddah’s PFLP bona fides were not lost on Ortiz either:
Bullard survived his primary challenge, after receiving the endorsement of the Miami Herald, he now heads into November with the blessings of Bernie Sanders, as one of the few candidates endorsed by “Our Revolution“.
7. Dream Defenders and PFLP
The admiration for the PFLP is a curious one.
In 2014, Dream Defenders created an ‘educational’ campaign called “Blacked Out History” which was a tribute to “overlooked heroes” in history. One of the heroes is the PFLP. The heroes are celebrated by creating artwork in their commemoration and teaching about them in schools.
Here is a toolkit that is meant to indoctrinate school children, i.e. it is suggested for adopting this for ‘social justice’ curricula. The coverage of PFLP doesn’t shy away from citing PFLP’s violence, in fact it admits that the United States considers them a terrorist organization, but “other countries” don’t. The coverage is extensive and fawning. Here is the final bullet point on PFLP:
They want to be free from global imperialism. They want liberation. They want equal rights. Just like the Dream Defenders. We believe that this should inform the Free Campaign in the way that we educate our communities on issues relating to oppression in all areas of the world
The sentiment made its way to the delegation, despite Rep. Bullard’s protests of ignorance. Here for example, is a post from May 17th:
You can read a list of PFLP’s ‘accomplishments’ here.
8. Dream Defenders and the M4BL Statement
As said, in August 2016, various organizations involved in “Black Lives Matter” released a platform called the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) statement. In particular, the document contained a section called “Invest/Divest”, which attacks Israel, accusing it of ‘genocide’ and of being an ‘apartheid state’.
The statement was widely condemned by the Jewish community, with some notable exceptions, including the ever opportunistic Jewish Voice for Peace.
When the dust began to settle, it emerged that Dream Defenders members were behind the statement on Israel, and in particular that one of the individuals responsible for the statement (one of two authors, the second was from a different organization), Rachel Gilmer, Dream Defender’s Chief of Strategy, who was raised as an African American Jew.
Gilmer’s reaction to Jewish organizations that condemned the statement displayed a complete indifference to the hurt she caused her allies in the Jewish community or to the apparent costs to the Black Lives Matter movement by this alienation:
I don’t think it’s a loss…just made it clear that they weren’t real allies.
Meanwhile she defended her outrageous allegations of genocide with the following bit of sophistry:
There is a long history of those in power telling Black, Brown and all oppressed people how they can describe the violence inflicted upon them….those…suffering the brunt of oppression…have the right to name what is happening to them.
Of course, putting the merits of this ‘right to name’ argument to the side, for a moment, the criticism of Gilmer’s statement was not of Gilmer’s description of the violence inflicted upon her, or on black Americans, but on a conflict that was transpiring thousands of miles away. The common theme, is the conceit that Palestinians are ‘people of color’ whereas Israeli Jews are ‘white folk’. Thus, with the stroke of a pen, a complex ethno-religious conflict becomes just another instance of racism and oppression.
It is difficult to know what Ms. Gilmer believes in her own heart, but it is also difficult to fail to notice that this entire exercise was an attempt to silence all criticism of Palestinian hyperbole as ‘racist’; precisely what BDS advocacy organizations like JVP did in their clearly rehearsed response to the fiasco.But it wasn’t just Gilmer. The Dream Defenders as an organization wasn’t far behind:
Those who have previously claimed to be allies of the Black lives matter movement have shown us that they are comfortable with our resistance so long as it fits within particular confines and restrictions. It is convenient to endorse black lives matter when it benefits you…We want no part in this quid pro quo form of politics. True solidarity does not come with strings attached.
We’ve been dealing with this type of hypocrisy with our supposed “allies” for generations. On the American left, there are many wolves in sheeps (sic) clothing. You have revealed yourselves. And now that we know who you are, we will not forget…
To all those who believe in a world in which all people are free, join us. For those who no longer stand with Black people because of this belief, goodbye. We do not need nor want you in our movement.
Thus began the exorcism of various ‘wolves’, including the Anti-Defamation League, J-Street, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Boston, and the Union for Reform Judaism (the largest Jewish denomination in the United States). Of course, these are only the organizations that explicitly called out M4BL for its statement. They did so because they mistakenly thought that as movements with sufficient ‘progressive’ bona fides, their doing so would matter.
This was clearly no accident. Its import should not be underestimated. M4BL has fired a shot in a war to purge the ‘progressive’ community of those who support Israel. If this means alienating mainstream American Jewry (or for that matter, the majority of Americans), so be it. And Dream Defenders has helped lead the charge.
9. Post M4BL Statement: Gilmer, the MB4L Document and the Future
Recently, Rachel Gilmer participated in a radio interview together with Rebecca Vilkomersen of Jewish Voice for Peace.
On @KPFK today w/ @RaGilmer of @Dreamdefenders re #M4BL &Jewish response. Great program! https://t.co/dV8ss4dBSj (Middle East in Focus 9/11)
— Rebecca Vilkomerson (@RVilkomerson) September 11, 2016
In the interview, Gilmer claimed that the M4BL platform had been a year long effort, beginning in a conference in Cleveland last year.
The pushback from Jewish organizations, she claims, was unexpected, but is nothing new to black people, who “have been told to stay in our place” before. Black lives, she says, shouldn’t matter ‘with strings attached’.
Vilkomersen, feigning similar surprise at the backlash the report received, expressed how appalled and ashamed she was at the Jewish community, and that JVP’s endorsement of the platform was “one of my proudest moments”.
More interestingly, Vilkomersen predicted a ‘realignment’ of the progressive Jewish movement. “If you want to be progressive, that must include Palestine” (at 22:46).
And here it becomes clear what has transpired.
Given JVP’s and Dream Defender’s long collaboration, it is now evident that this was anticipated all along. JVP, as longtime readers of this blog will surely know, has as its chief aim to drive a wedge in the Jewish community. Nothing could be more convenient to JVP than a wedge that ‘forces’ those who identify as ‘progressive’ to choose between ‘progressive’ values and Zionism.
The far left has, for a long time, been trying to persuade that ‘progressivism’ and Zionism are incompatible. With the aftermath of M4BL, the new story is that Zionism and solidarity with black Americans are not compatible.
The trap is set. Will anyone fall for it? Could anyone fall for it?
Plenty of Jewish leftists and ‘millenials’ already have. The damage is done.
Of course, the consequences for #BlackLivesMatter, ironically, are that it weakens, rather than strengthens, their movement. One does not build support for a movement by alienating large camps of your supporters.
Some might hail this as a positive development, as a wake up call to the radical nature of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But those progressives who support the BLM agenda shouldn’t.
The most obvious beneficiaries, however, are not black Americans. Rather, it is BDS and other movements of Palestinian Solidarity who stand to gain from this. They, together with JVP, are after discrediting the ‘Jewish establishment’, and thereby gain by sowing discord.
This, however, isn’t news. It is how this article began. It is yet another step in the long march of BDS’ settler-colonialist modus operandi. One more organization, one more cause, has been hijacked.
Meanwhile, Abuznaid apparently has left Dream Defenders as of August 31st. Now that his organization has been successfully hijacked to the Palestinian cause, perhaps it’s time to say ‘mission accomplished’.
[Feature Image via Dream Defenders Twitter]
The author is a graduate student who must write under a pseudonym for fear of retribution from pro-BDS faculty.
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I gotta wonder if you have to demonstrate a certain level of sullen, menacing, pissed-off look before you can get your black beret?
Do they practice for hours in front of a mirror to hone that look?
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